The path to enlightenment is full of surprises. First time I heard about this I AM THAT I AM thing was when I was 16 in my native language, which is French. And I am 40 now. The translation of the eminently poetic verse of the bible Eyeh Asher Eyeh has always puzzled me.
אהיה אשר אהיה
Eyeh Asher Eyeh
Many French translations of the Torah or Bible state Je suis Celui qui Suis. If I were to make an attempt translation of a translation to help you realize the awkwardness of that Je Suis Celui qui Suis, I would say I AM THE ONE WHO ARE (?!). This doesn’t really help to understand what it is exactly that I am, should be, or what the godhead speaking to Moishe might be. Je suis means I am and I AM itself in this divine affirmation comes from the mysterious Eyeh, an archaic Hebrew form of the verb to be ( היה – pronounce he – yeah) in Hebrew .
The combination Asher Eyeh is a tug of war for every translator of the western world because the archaic it uses a very uncommon, mysterious and awe-some tense: the Imperfective. Imperfective is tense, or should I say tightness of the unaccomplished state. Imperfecting means being constantly, being still in a state of becoming. How is that even possible, have I asked some priest or Guru when I was young at heart to be God and still be in a state of becoming? I’ve always thought (at least when I was in a position of actually conceptualizing about it) that God is all-compassing, completely complete, perfectly perfect, finished, finito. Then the embarrassment of the teacher teaching something we all have to learn came. Then the silence. Then the stillness of a life waiting to discover its origin and its deservedness arose. And then out of the stillness of a mind peopled with disembodied streams of consciousness(es) and Sanskrit mantras, the answer slowly came.
In fact, that which we call God is perhaps that which in us keeps becoming. The desire that changes after a while in order to turn into something more than what it has previously been; the unique idea that births thoughts of all kinds, all good and bad, negative and positive, subtle and gross, always unique, always unending. Je Suis Celui qui Suis doesn’t make any sense grammatically and is a very lazy-lousy translation that sorely misses poetry. But as weird as this French affirmation might sound, it does succeed in one thing: stimulating inquiry and meditation. That is how it finally makes sense. Churning this odd phrase ends in an impossible attempt to find words that would help describe precisely the being of an expanding desire while it unfolds.
Desire is. It bes. That bes. Now some other French translations of the bible say: Je Suis Celui que je Serai meaning I am that which I will be. Interesting, openly philosophical, very flattering for the analytical mind, but not as soundly poetic and mysterious as Eyeh Asher Eyeh. Funnily enough, some languages fail to translate powerfully what others express with simple grace. I have to acknowledge the defeat of my beautiful Molière’s native language here and salute Shakespeare’s victory instead. I AM THAT I AM does render some of the tightness of the unaccomplished state. The sound of it sings like an ancient Sanskrit mantra made for your lips’ delight. It even has the same ability to zap your mind into it and to create a compelling mise en abyme, making us dizzy with the persistent permanence of that infinite I that is infinitely busy being (in) all of us, without any object, without any need to define itself, it seems. I need to be Atalante Lemuria to be. You, Dear Reader, need to be the reader who reads this article, or a man or a woman, a scientist, an astrologer, an artist etc. We need to be some-thing, we have to be some-one. Well, that Being talking to Moses doesn’t need any of that to be…
This brings about a reflection on Desire in our western culture and how it came to be marginalized as a gross bodily function destined to vanish with consumption only. We consume desire and desire consumes us in return. How sad, how sadistic…How limiting, isn’t it? What we call desire is either a vague emotional state that drives us wild or a philosophical concept we keep reasoning about without being able to own it properly and positively. We suffer from our desires and the reason behind it is bluntly simple. We keep desiring what is there, what our senses, or the senses of others can measure for us and seem unable to desire anything beyond. Instead of loving the potential which is always endless, we desire the accomplishment, which is always finite. And once we are done consuming what is there, we are left with the same existential question because paradoxically, our mortal lives keep conjuring immortal desire: Now what?
Eyeh Asher Eyeh is transcendental beingness speaking: it desires and becomes and then desires to become again again, birthing endless expression of itself with this ever-expanding appetite. Funnily enough, this being seems to perform that through human bodies (or bushes, set on fire by its overwhelming presence). I heard a great story about the Hindu Archetype Ganesha one day.
…was just a child. His parents, God Shiva and Goddess Parvati were invited to a party in Kubera’s palace, Kubera being the opulent Banker of Heaven. Ganesha, known for his very round belly and his sweet tooth was hungry and Shiva kindly asked Kubera to feed his son while he was visiting the golden palace with his wife Parvati. Kubera bragged about his kitchen and cooks, all talented, all abundant and able to outrun the hunger of tiny little then-Ganesha and took the elephant kid to the palace’s kitchen.
Ganesha sat there and ate and ate. And ate again. And ate more, until there was nothing left. Kubera looked at the elephant kid with a bit of disgust, dismay and superiority and declared:
– You ate all the food of the palace. Neither my servants nor I or the royal family will be able to eat after you visited our kitchens! Why did you do it for Heaven’s sake, you idiot?
Very calmly but firmly, elephant-kid Ganesha responded:
– I AM HUNGER. And I might as well eat you to keep me satisfied if you insist.
The Banker in Heaven, feeling very vulnerable now, apologized to Ganesha and left.
I absolutely love that story. It has many versions but in all of them, Kubera is always left with the same emotional posture: FEAR and HUMILITY. FEAR of Ganesha’s evolving Desire, even if the very thing that Kubera fears remains an impossibility (or an illusion) because he who is the banker of Heaven cannot lack. And HUMILITY in front Ganesha’s infinite Desire, which confronts the vainness of the riches Kubera so pompously brags about.
I, the Writer, see priceless insight in this myth of Loving Ganesha, divine archetype of the universal God and…writer of the gorgeous and complex Mahabharata through many hindu sages who were channeling Him! Ganesha definitely knows about the writing experience and I am willing to trust what he has to say on the subject.
Sometimes, I have this huge hunger (I don’t know about the writer’s block, which is a wonderful blessing. It amazes me and also confirms that creativity is a gift from Source and what Source gives, no one, no adverse circumstances can take back apparently).
So I own a desire.
A desire that eats me up to write all the stories, all the books that I am inspired to write at once. And my soul says « Great, let’s do it. » While the perception that I have of time and ubiquity says « How on Earth are you going to do that? ». I feel the writer’s Hunger. I experience Ganesha’s hunger and Kubera’s fear and vulnerability at the same time. A complex emotion, an old friend of the inspired artist that precisely connects me to the very simple, yet powerful act of Creation.
Being a writer is being ready to channel love under any writable form.
Being a writer is simple readiness.
It all flows when we are ready. All the projects, almost at once: the poetry, the short story, the philosophy, the tale of enlightenment, the novel, the article, all of it. And on very rare occasions, exhaustion arises within the writer but it is luxurious, delicious. So the writer rests deliciously since the writer knows that being the receiver of so many beautiful ideas is divine wealth experienced. Sometimes, confusion or panic arises too and threatens to ruin the writer’s writing yoga for a few minutes. Just like when Ganesha threatened to finish all the wealth in heaven with his insatiable hunger. Mischievous Ganesha helps the writer think, cool down and smile. For no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to eat yourself up until there is nothing left of you. This myth conjures the feeling of exhilaration within the writer. Pleasure-memory is activated and momentum of joy and peace happens for the writer knows the writer is a vessel. Just a vessel for divine expression, not the actual writer who has to perform to maintain her identity of writer otherwise she won’t eat or he will die. There, Humility and Wealth consciousness paradoxically coexist.
Writing is what I AM. And I AM that I AM, that I AM not allowing myself to be, each time I worry about the unquenchable thirst of the Divine within me. Because I AM is precisely that, unquenchable thirst. Unquenchable thirst that sustains life and through which life flourishes in all its diversity and beauty. My I doesn’t write. Or let’s say that it thinks it does while maya does, the Sanskrit illusory state of human experience. Maya is but a mere magic trick. The Magician walks on stage and makes a pen appear in your pocket and you think the pen is yours. My I doesn’t write because my I is a magic trick that The One is performing to entertain Oneself, me included: observing myself in the act of creation or being suddenly possessed by a strange and exquisite rhyming idea is always a lot of fun and forces admiration. My I doesn’t write. I AM does and it is pure bliss to realize that. Long story short, as all the Great Seers and Sages of our planet keep saying: There’s only one of us here.
So, all the Writers out there, keep writing. Writing is unconditional inquiry, unconditional persistence. Unconditional persistence is unconditional power. Unconditional power is Source experienced. Source experienced is unconditional love, and unconditional love is who we really are.
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