The Inner Self has been revealed in many forms to those who have sought it. And the forms that the Self has taken have determined the course of the world’s major religions. Gautama discovered that Self to be the Buddha. Jesus discovered that Self to be the Christ. But Moses began with the inner realization of what, for me, is the cause behind the effect—the real Source.
When God appeared to Moses out of the bush that burned but was not consumed and gave him his commission to go and speak to the people of Israel and to rescue them from Egyptian bondage, Moses asked the voice that spoke to him, “Who shall I say sent me?” And the voice of God spoke and gave the identification that has been for time immemorial the source of light to his people. God said, “Tell the children of Israel that I AM hath sent you unto them.” And he gave his name as I AM THAT I AM.
This was the declaration of being, and upon that declaration of being was the mission of Moses. It was power. It was energy. It was consciousness. It was self-awareness. And the LORD said, “And this shall be my name forevermore.”
This name of God is not simply a name, but it is a word that comes out of that Word by which all things were made. When we say the name I AM THAT I AM we are confirming that the same God who spoke to Moses stands where we stand.
I think that this is the very beginning of the science of the splitting of the atom, the releasing of the energies of the nucleus of life. And it is also the beginning of the opening of the Inner Self of man and woman.
Everybody says “I am” many times a day. So are you saying that they’re actually naming God when they say “I am”?
The verb to be is the first statement of being, and as God is First Cause, he is Being. Some schools of metaphysics and teachings such as Unity have taught, as has Norman Vincent Peale, that what we affirm in a positive way we bring into our lives, and what we affirm negatively we also bring into our lives.
Some have evolved positive affirmations beginning with “I am”: “I am well.” “I am happy.” “I am whole.” And they have cautioned us not to say “I am sick” or “I am tired” or “I am unhealthy.” And we find that these affirmations work, not only because of the power of positive thinking but because the very name I AM itself releases the energy of God.
Is the element of ego involved in this? I think to many people it appears that when one says “I am,” one is asserting one’s ego.
It is the Divine Ego of us all who declares within us, “I AM.” We can choose to be that I AM. We can choose to be one with that Divine Ego or we can rebel against it and say, “Well, I’m going to be what I want to be.” We can affirm a separate identity from that inner I AM, and we can affirm it so long that we eventually lose contact with the inner Divine Ego and we live the life of the human ego.
You have mentioned the teachings of Buddha. Where is the teaching of the I AM found in Eastern religions?
In the East, the corollary to the I AM THAT I AM is the Om, which is spelled Om or Aum. The object of religion and of devotion in the East is to go within, to go into samadhi, to go into nirvana. And the going within to the source of energy is reflected in the way of life. For instance, in India, where religion is of major import, the outer conditions of many reflect poverty, but the people have a rich inner life.
In the West the goal of contact with God is to go within and draw forth the inner flame for the mastery of the matter plane. And we find that mastery being expressed in our environment.
One of the mantras used in the East to go within is the Om. In the West, God has given us the word Om as I AM THAT I AM. When it is repeated as a mantra, “I AM THAT I AM, I AM THAT I AM…,” it has the effect of drawing forth energy to meet every challenge of our life.
Can one use it in a broader sense? Is there more that one can do with it other than simply affirming that I AM?
Jesus said, “I AM the way, the truth and the life” and “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Jesus actually gave many affirmations that have been recorded in scripture, and he gave many more to his disciples that were not recorded. He taught them what we call the Science of the Spoken Word. That science begins with God and it ends with God, and it places man* in the middle as the one who is the instrument for God becoming God.
What is the relationship between God and his Word?
John says that in the beginning was the Word and without the Word was not anything made that was made. We find that the Word was made flesh in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. So the Word figures as the Second Person of the Trinity, the Christ, the Son of God. And the function of the Word is creation, the bringing forth out of the Father and out of his law the physical manifestation for us to behold. Man’s lack of understanding of the Word before it is made flesh is that darkness that comprehended not the light.
With the coming of the Son of God, we discover the meaning of the Word as the Christ Consciousness, as the very mind of God, of which Paul said, “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
This means that we can all become the incarnation of the Word. We can all attain to the level of Christ consciousness. In fact, it is our soul destiny to do so, and not only to be aware of the Self as God but to be aware of the Self as Father, as Son and as Holy Spirit—or, as the Hindus would phrase it, as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
I suppose it’s good to say that everybody can become the Christ, but how many have succeeded? Isn’t Jesus the only one?
I think that people have an idolatrous sense of Jesus. They worship their own concept of what Jesus was. He is seen as the perfect Master, and he was indeed the perfect Master. But he is depicted in people’s minds as someone robotlike, perfected in the flesh, so far above everyone else that no matter how well people do in their daily lives they can never come close to approximating the life of Jesus Christ.
And yet the saints have told us that we must imitate Christ. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis is an important Christian work because it tells us that we must try to imitate Jesus’ life. Jesus told us, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Now, many think that it is blasphemy to try to become like Christ. They believe that there was only one Son of God and that no one else can be like him because we are all sinners. It is this concept of original sin carried on and on generation after generation that makes people not even try to master the basic principles of life that Jesus taught. I believe this to be error and to be anti-Christ, and I believe that it deprives Christians, Jews, Muslims and the whole world of the very essence of the life that Jesus lived.
This essence is expressed in Jesus’ statement: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father.” This statement is the promise of the LORD Christ himself, and our assignment is to work with him and with the Father and to be an imitator of his work.
If Jesus is giving us this assignment, then he must know that God has placed within us the resources to fulfill it. What are these resources? The basic resource of life is the spark of cosmic consciousness, which is the flame in the heart—the threefold flame of love, wisdom and power. The threefold flame is our inner focal point of the Trinity.
I believe that Christianity, as well as Judaism and Islam, has been stripped of the very meat of the Word because Jesus, Muhammad, Moses and the great prophets have been made an exception to the rule rather than the rule of living for us all.
Now is the hour for the coming of our understanding of God as Mother—a Mother who takes her children by the hand and teaches them the wisdom and the law of the Father, a Mother of consolation who explains the role of the Holy Spirit as the great Comforter and the great forgiver in life.
Our understanding, then, is not of original sin but of “original bliss,” as we are born of the Father-Mother God, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. As we see our souls coming forth from the Father-Mother God, we realize that we come into the world not with the sin of Adam and Eve but with the original blueprint of our Maker.
This divine blueprint endows us with the ability to become joint heirs with Christ, with Moses, with Muhammad and with Gautama Buddha.
*Because gender-neutral language can be cumbersome and at times confusing, we have often used he and him to refer to God or the individual. These terms are for readability only and are not intended to exclude women or the feminine aspect of the Godhead. Likewise, our use of God or Spirit does not exclude other expressions for the Divine.