IAWIA

I AM WHO I AM

An acronym (IA-WIA): I Y

A mantra: I Why!

A mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. Mantras are used to focus the mind so random thoughts don’t distract us. When the mind is calm, like an undisturbed pond, we can clearly ponder images of the universe reflecting off its surface. The images, though seemingly real, are an illusion like the illusion we see when viewing ourselves in a mirror. The images appear as discrete shapes and forms, yet the universe is one. The universe and nothingness is all there is. 

A koan: I why? Who am I?

A koan is riddle to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to awaken us to enlightenment. Who am I? I am who I am as I can’t describe myself more tangibly because in the middle of the sentence describing myself the person I’m describing has by then passed and the person I am now is not the same person I started describing. This is impermanence. Realizing the temporary and ever-changing nature of the tangible universe is the foundation of wisdom. Wisdom is the realization that there is little point thinking about the past, beyond as a learning tool, as what’s next is unlike what’s passed. We are here now. There are endless possibilities as to what’s next. Amalgamating different perspectives as to what’s next is wisdom.

All things, including ourselves, are interdependent manifestations of energy. While the manifestations are seemingly independent, like the inside and outside of a circle; each side cannot exist without the other. This is the foundation of compassion: the realization that we are connected to a common ancestor or source (energy) and our existence is dependent on the existence of everything. As such, we treat everything as we treat ourselves because we and everything are one.

A biblical riddle: When Moses asks God (“HaShem,” the name) at Mount Sinai who God is, God says: “I am who I am.”

God has no name and cannot be described as doing so would mean that God is one entity and not another. Everything is the manifestation of God.

In the bible, God appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush with its flames not devouring its branches. This is the nature of the universe which is the manifestation of God: ever-changing, impermanent (flames) and yet eternal (the bush never devoured by the flames). While appearing as fire, the flames are light which is why they don’t burn the bush into ashes. However, based on our past experiences seeing burning wood, we don’t initially perceive the flames as light. This reveals a truth of the universe: trust not appearances based on preconceptions. Moreover, the ever-changing flames represent wisdom: as all is forever-changing, we cannot be certain of anything; yet, knowing there are infinite possibilities is our guiding light. As to the bush, it is unaffected by the flames; eternal, the soul.

The burning bush also appears in the bible as “the fiery ever-turning sword” that guards the way to the Tree of Life. As with the burning bush, what looks like fire is light (Presumably, eternal life comes to those who eat the Tree’s fruit.) Moving passed the fiery sword is not difficult once we realize its flames are light not fire. As we pass the fiery sword and come before the Tree of Life, we feel unlike any experience heretofore, though it feels familiar. We are awakened and calm in its presence, no longer feeling as an independent branch (a piece) of the universe but at peace with the universe; eternal beings who will not suffer death.

The Tao: I am who I am (I cannot be named)

“The Way [Tao] is ever nameless. Though simple and subtle…As soon as rules were made, names were given. There are already many names. One must know when it is enough. Those who know when it is enough will not perish.” — Tao Te Ching, Chapter 32.

Names are descriptions, generalizations and identities. They are essential to the network of social order, identifying aspects of reality. However, names mask reality. Describing and explaining too much can make us oblivious to reality.  Reality cannot be described, it is what it is whatever it is. However, reality can be known. Those who know reality know that though it appears in infinite temporary forms, it is one with no beginning and no end. They know that they and reality are one and as such they never die as death is also a name.

Self-realization: I am who I am

We describe ourselves in terms of characteristics, stories and circumstances in our acting roles in the play of life. These descriptions are not who we are. I am God and so is everyone. However, there is a  difference between sentient beings, consciousness; some of us conscious that we are God and others not. It’s the difference between being one with everything or viewing ourselves as finite beings in our roles in the play. It’s the difference between realizing we are actors in a play for the entertainment of God or taking our roles seriously.