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Nondual Highlights Issue #1624 Saturday, November 22, 2003 Editor: Mark

 I am - The First Name of God

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad there is a verse that describes how, at the beginning of the universe, the Self became aware of itself as 'I':

In the beginning this [universe] was the Self alone… He [the Self] reflected and saw nothing but the Self. He first said, 'I am He'. Therefore He came to be known by the name aham ['I'].(1)

'I' thus became the first name of God. Bhagavan corroborated the sentiments expressed in this verse when he told a devotee, 'The one, infinite, unbroken whole [plenum] became aware of itself as ''I''. This is its original name. All other names, for example Om, are later growths.'(2)

On another occasion Bhagavan, commenting on this famous verse from the Upanishads, explained how, due to a felicitous combination of letters, the name aham not only denoted the subjective nature of God but also implied that it encompassed and constituted all of the manifest universe:

The talk then turned to the name of God and Bhagavan said, 'Talking of all mantras, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says 'aham' [I] is the first name of God. The first letter in Sanskrit is 'A' and the last letter 'Ha' and 'aha' thus includes everything from beginning to end. The word ayam means 'that which exists', Self-shining and Self-evident. Ayam, atma and aham all refer to the same thing.(3)

The name aham merely indicates that God experiences himself subjectively as 'I'. When one adds the word 'am' to the name there is the further implication that God is, that God is being itself. Bhagavan expounded on this idea in Guru Vachaka Kovai and then went on to say that 'I am' is not merely the first name of God, it is also the most appropriate:

Since along with 'I', the aforementioned first name [mentioned in the previous verse], 'am' always shines as the light of reality, 'I am' is also the name. Among the many thousands of names of God, no name suits God, who abides in the Heart, devoid of thought, so aptly as 'I' or 'I am'. Of all the known names of God, 'I', 'I' alone will resound triumphantly when the ego is destroyed, rising as the silent supreme word [mauna para vak] in the Heart-space of those whose attention is Selfward-facing.(4)

The word 'Heart', which appears twice in this passage, was often used by Bhagavan as a synonym for the Self. In Tamil the identity between the terms 'Heart' and 'I am' is clearly evident since the single word ullam can mean either 'am' or 'the Heart'. In Arunachala Pancharatnam, for example, Bhagavan wrote, 'Since you shine as ''I'' in the Heart, your name itself is Heart'. This can be expanded to mean, 'Since you shine as ''I'' in the ''I am'', which is the Heart, your name itself [I am] is the Heart'.

- Excerpt from
I am - The First Name of God First published in The Mountain Path, 1992, pp. 26-35 and pp. 126-42.

-Image of Milky Way and Sagittarius submitted to Nonduality Salon by Joyce, aka "Know-Mystery".

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 The tree of meditation casts a cool shade in which all desires and cravings come to an end and all the burning distress ceases. Meditation expands the shade of self-control that promotes steadiness of the mind.

A deer known as the mind, which had been wandering in the wilderness of countless concepts, notions and prejudices and which somehow finds the right path, takes shelter under this tree. This deer is pursued by its many enemies who covet its hide or covering. The mind hides itself in thorny bushes known as the body to save itself. All this effort wears out its energies. Running hither and thither in the forest of Samsara, harassed by the winds known as Vasanas or latent tendencies and scorched by the heat of ego-sense, the deer is afflicted by interminable distress.

This deer is not easily satisfied with what it gets. Its cravings multiply and it continues to go out far in search of satisfaction of those cravings. It gets attached to the many pleasure-centers known as wife, children, etc., and it wears itself out in looking after them. It is caught in the net of wealth, etc., and it struggles to free itself. In this struggle it falls down again and again and injures itself. Borne down by the current of craving, it is carried far away. It is haunted and hunted by innumerable ailments. It is also trapped by the different sense-experiences. It is bewildered by its alternate rise to the heavenly regions and its fall into the hell. It is crushed and wounded by stones and rocks known as mental modifications and evil qualities. To remedy all these, it conjures up by its own intellect various codes of conduct, which prove ineffectual. It has no knowledge of the Self or the Infinite Consciousness.

This deer known as the mind is made insensible by the poisonous exhalation of the snake known as worldly pleasure and craving for such pleasure it is burnt by the fire of anger. It is dried up by worries and anxieties. The tiger known as poverty pursues it. It falls into the pit of attachment. Its heart is broken by the frustration of its own pride.

At some stage, this deer turns away from all this and seeks the refuge of some tree already described (the tree of meditation) and there it shines brightly. Supreme peace or bliss is not attained in any other condition excepting the unconditioned state of Consciousness, and this is attained only in the shade of the tree known as Samadhi or meditation.

Thus having obtained rest, the deer (mind) delights itself there and does not seek to go elsewhere. After some time, the tree known as meditation or Samadhi begins to yield its fruit, which is the revelation of the Supreme Self. The mind-deer beholds that fruit above itself on the tree of meditation. Thereupon it abandons all other pursuits and climbs that tree to taste its fruits. Having ascended that tree, the mind-deer abandons the worldly thought patterns and it does not contemplate upon the baser life again. Even as the snake abandons its slough, this mind-deer abandons its previous habits so that it might ascend the tree of meditation. Whenever memory of its own past arises, it laughs aloud, "How was it that I remained such a fool till now!" Having discarded greed etc., it rests on that tree like an emperor.

- Excerpts from Swami Venkatesananda's
The Supreme Yoga, A new translation of Yoga Vasistha

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 Nothing can match or even come near
the miracle of who you truly are.
Let this be the mantra of your life.
A Being of Indescribable wonder
has, again, become a bearer of
the Light on Earth. Let nothing
dissuade you from this truth.

- Emmanuel's message of the month.

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Wind-torn leaf,

every falling moment

another memory.

One breath,

another -

a tonal architecture of

gradual release, a bridge to

Narayana, controlled or not

controlled, I’ve heard

that question asked --

answers forgotten

when I became


Nobody expects the answer

they receive, nobody can

anticipate its nearness.

By then,

it doesn’t matter -

it’s here.

- by b, posted on AdyashantiSatsang YahooGroup

Do Not ZZZZ:

When I feel I haven't got time
I vow with all beings
to light incense, and making my bows,
touch the place of no time

Preparing to enter the shower
I vow with all beings
to cleanse this body of Buddha
and go naked into the world

Waking up in the morning
I vow with all beings
to listen to those whom I love,
especially to things they don't say.

In agony over my koan
I vow with all beings
to give up and refer it along
to the dragon who never sleeps.

When someone preaches false Dharma
I vow with all beings
to begin my clarification
as though we were holding hands

- Excerpt from
The Dragon Who Never Sleeps by Robert Aitken

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: