We are working our way through the I AM sentences, or some of them, from the Gospel of John. We are focusing on the unusual ones, the ones that tend to disappear in translation. For example, at the well with the Samaritan woman (John 4:26), he says, “Talking to you, I AM” -- not “I that speak unto thee am he” as in the King James version). The special talking involved, and how addressing others and being addressed by them enlivens us – that was our theme for this week’s meditation.
But next week, to refresh our take on the grand utterance, we’ll turn to a Buddhist slogan.
In the I AM statement, both of the tiny words involved are a problem. What do we understand by “I” and what do we understand by “AM”?
In seeming contradiction to the I AM formula, we have the slogan of Hui-Neng (638AD-713AD), the 6th Chinese Zen patriarch:
FROM THE FIRST, NOT A THING IS.
Actually, both Jesus and Hui-Neng express the primal principle. What is known as “nothing” in the East is known as “light” in the West (Georg Kuehlewind), and the bioluminescence of Jesus is the nothing of Huineng, for his nothing is not a nihilism, but a positive assertion of something that does not fall into normal consciousness and so is nothing for that consciousness. The I and the AM also do not exist in normal consciousness, or at least not in their full intensity. We have only a faint I and a faint AM in everyday life. Jesus’ emphasis on this principle, and his weaving it into human functions like eating, drinking, speaking, is a loving attempt to infuse the supermundane creative light (nothing) into the experience of all who walk the earth. It has come very close to us, and we reach into it consciously whenever we apply ourselves together with good will to the demanding themes.
All blessings to all,