Tuesday, 21 October 2014


The story of Moses comes in Bible.  At the time of Moses’ birth, Hebrews were slaves in Egypt.  The king of Egypt, Pharaoh, was afraid the rising population of Hebrews will pose a future threat to the kingdom and so he decreed all the male Hebrew children should be killed at birth. Moses’ mother hid him in a basket and let him float in river Nile.  As it happened, Pharaoh’s daughter, found the floating child, took it to the palace and prevailed upon her father to let her bring it up.  Moses grew under her care as an Egyptian prince. But he did not forget his Hebrew lineage. As the slaves were whipped and beaten, he watched helplessly with disgust and in anguish.  One day he lost his temper, when he watched a slave being brutally beaten to death by a guard.  In his fury he killed the guard and buried the body in the sand. When the body was found out, he left Egypt and fled into the desert to escape the punishment of death. There he married a shepherdess by name Zipporah and lived with her.  One day as he was looking after the sheep he saw a burning bush that burned but was not consumed.  When he looked closely at the burning bush wondering what it was, God spoke to him from the bush revealing His name as “I AM THAT I AM”.  What interests me in this story is God’s declaration “I AM THAT I AM”

In the statement “I AM THAT I AM”, there are two parts “I AM” and “THAT I AM”. In our usage the expression ‘I am’ is followed by a defining statement, that spells out the identity or the physical, mental, intellectual status.  So here “THAT I AM” is the descriptive statement spelling out the identity of the voice from the burning bush. ‘I am” by itself without any defining statement, is a simple statement of existence applicable to any entity in the universe, if it could articulate. So the ‘I AM’ statement without any qualifications stands for pure Existence, the Sat principle which is the intrinsic characteristic of Brahman, the Cosmic Supreme, here referred to as God. Further “I AM”, by itself without any defining statement is also a statement of unconditioned awareness, pure Awareness, Chit principle, the intrinsic characteristic of Brahman. This “I AM” is also always here and now, and suffers no limitation of time and space.  So ‘I AM’ plain and simple refers to Brahman/God. (Pl. refer to my earlier blog “I am Brahman” uploaded in Nov.2012)

We always in our ignorance regard Brahman, that is God, as not only separate from us but also distant from us. In the Mahavakhya ‘Tattvamasi’  that spells out the identity of individual self with Brahman, the Cosmic Self, Brahman is indicated by the phrase ‘That’.  Putting these together we find ‘THAT I AM’ stands for Brahman. So what the voice from the burning bush said is only the upanishad Mahavakhya  ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahman) with the difference that in upanishads this declaration is made by the individual self on realization while here God/Brahman Itself reveals Itself with this declaration.

Reasoning from ‘I AM THAT I AM” backwards, now some Western philosophers also arrive at the identity of one’s Self with Brahman, only their idioms and expressions are different.  It is stated that  ‘I’ refers to our ego, the lower self and “I am” stands for our Higher Self, God, which is also referred to as Presence and Being among other things. To quote two instances:
1)    David Allen in the foreword to the book “The Power of I AM”, quoting the statement “I AM THAT I AM’ states, “I AM is the name of God” and also “I AM” is “who you are”.  When we put these together we arrive at “God is who you are”, same as “Tattvamasi”.
2)      Dr. Wayne Dyer in his Program “I AM”  quoting the statement “I AM THAT I AM” says “’I am God’ is not blasphemy, it is your birthright”, conveying the same idea of  “Aham Brahmasmi” 

No comments:

Post a Comment