Tat tvam asi 1,2
(THAT you are)
The pantheist’s self-description ‘I am IT’ expresses the experience, thus knowledge of the actual identity of ‘I’ and ‘IT’.
‘I’, indeed ‘I am’, ‘warts and all’,3 represents a, indeed any and all of the actual universe and ‘IT’ is taken to mean GOD as ground and all of its emergent (i.e. the actual universe).4,5
Since ‘I am IT’, hence not different from IT, I do not operate, have no separate identity, hence existence.6 That means that I have (or am) no individual soul, spirit or life; for, because ‘I am IT’ I am all the former.7
When ‘I am’ emerges as identifiable reality, so does GOD (as identifiable reality). When ‘I am’ dies, so does GOD (as my ‘I am’).8,9
Nothing remains of my ‘I am’ save my past affects10 (i.e. acting as conditions) upon the Universe ≈ GOD.11
© 2019 by Victor Langheld
1. In the Chandogya Upanishad (VI.8.7 ff) the full context of the tattvamasi statement indicates that the ‘you’ referred to is the ‘you’s’ essence (i.e. its atman as identical with the universal ATMAN) rather than its whole existence as ‘You, warts and all.’ There it is stated: “That which is the subtle essence (i.e. the root of all) this whole world has for a self. That is the true. That is the self. THAT ART THOU, Svetaketu.” And so on… Whether or not the essence of the world and the whole world as the essence’s local elaboration are identical is open to question. The radical pantheist believes that it is. The Vedantin, like Shankara, can’t admit that it is for he needs a dualist world to achieve political leverage. For the juvenile Chandogya tattvamasi operator samsara (i.e. the world) is ≠ atman/Brahman (or the Buddhist nirvana, so Nagarjuna). The earlier statement: ‘This whole world is Brahman’ (Sanskrit: sarvam khalv idam brahma) is ambiguous in that it doesn’t specify which Brahman is being referred to, i.e. the nirguna (unqualified) or the saguna (qualified) Brahman.
2. Taken out of context the three words tat, tvam, asi, none of which is defined/qualified, are unconditional (albeit fuzz words). Hence, out of context tat equals, is identical with tvam and therefore appears to support the radical pantheist view. Within their context they are conditional, hence not identical, In other words, in context tat ≠ tvam and which supports the henotheist view. In practice that means for the conditional tatvamasi believer the sacred (or divine or spirit) and the profane (or secular or body) are different. For the unconditional tatvamasi believer the profane (i.e. the secular) is identical with the sacred (i.e. the divine).
3. ‘I am THAT, warts and all’ is the unqualified, hence radical pantheist, hence adult view ‘I am actually God.’ The ‘I am THAT minus the warts and all’ is the qualified henotheistic, hence juvenile/adolescent (i.e. Jesus’) view: ‘God or the Kingdom of God is within (what is not the kingdom i.e. the body)’, whereby ‘warts and all’ is what is not THAT, and which is experienced as unpleasant, sorrowful. The latter necessitates flight from the body (as painful, evil sheath) in order to achieve union with, or return to Brahman/GOD and which promises eternal delight to some, unconscious non-being to others.
4. This is the early Middle Age Christian radical pantheist, hence unqualified GOD view (adapted from Plotin) of God as natura naturans, first proposed by the Irish monk John Scotus Eriugena (later excommunicated), later upgraded by Spinoza (threatened with lynching by both Christians and Jews).
5. God as ‘ground of emergence’, whereby he deemed the ground as different from its emergents, thus proposing a qualified theism, was put forward by Meister Eckhart, and for which he was excommunicated and, possibly, murdered.
6. Every ‘I am’ is not different from, hence identical with the existence as such (hence the ‘I am’ of the whole (universe). This is the final, the adult insight and which the Upanishads did not reach, or reached and then rejected for political reasons.
7. In other words, while ‘I am’ I am the soul (i.e. en-souled), the spirit (i.e. spirited) and life = GOD itself (albeit in situ).
8. Death = demerging happens if and when ‘I am’, that is to say, my identifiable reality, extinguishes.
9. In other words, as the Buddha discovered, ‘I am’ is non-abiding, transient because conditionally arisen. That is to say, each and every ‘I am’ serves as one GOD = Universe condition.
10. Elsewhere called karmic residue.
11. In short, I live and die like a leaf on a tree. While alive I feed the tree and so am one with the tree. When I fall off the tree and die the tree continues to exist together with my no longer identifiable input/affect to its survival.