Beware the “I am God” Trap

by Michael Maciel

razors edge
This warning is for all of us. It is a general principle that governs everyone who sets foot on the spiritual path. In fact, the farther along on the Path one travels, the more important the warning becomes.
 
Throughout the ages, mystics and priests alike have referred to the spiritual path as the Razor’s Edge, a reference to the sharp ridge of a mountain that leads to its summit. One misstep in either direction can plummet you to your doom.
 
It’s a metaphor for holding the tension of the opposites. On the one hand, we can say, “I am God,” and on the other, “I am human,” with all the frailties and sinfulness that implies—the sacred and profane wrapped up in one package.
 
No one likes to be condemned or to feel like there’s something wrong with them. The slightest accusation of that will make anyone defensive, because deep down we all know that we are God.
 
09 hermitBut here’s the truth, and it’s perhaps one of the greatest truths ever given in sacred scriptures throughout all lands and times. It’s a truth that everyone who has ever approached the summit of the mountain of spiritual attainment knows most intimately:
Freedom from condemnation comes through being utterly condemned.
 
Fundamentalists, the really thoughtful ones (and believe me, there are some) take great offense at the New Age statement, “We are all God.” They hold one side of the tension of the opposites. They know instinctively that unless both sides of that tension are held faithfully, the Razor’s Edge will take you down.
 
New Age fundamentalists (and believe me, there are some) are just as adamant in their faithfulness to the other side of the equation. They refuse to be called “sinners.” They refuse to be called anything but “Sons and Daughters of God.” They say, “I am perfect just as I am.”
 
But those with mystical training see themselves as both. They know that either side of the equation, taken alone, invites disaster. Like the Hermit in the Tarot, they stand on the summit, but they keep their head bowed. It’s the LIGHT they hold that is the truly holy thing, not themselves.
 
01 magicianAnd the Magician, though he stands proudly erect, knows from whence his power comes. It comes from above, not from himself. He holds the symbol of his power over his head, knowing himself to be the CHANNEL, not the source.
 
These two poles of the tension of the opposites stand like pillars at the entrance to the Holy Temple, the temple of initiation. Unless candidates can demonstrate that they can pass between them, without leaning on either one, they will not be allowed to enter.
 
“Being God” is tricky business. Lots of people have tried it and failed. They slip into megalomania and start proclaiming themselves avatars. They make people chant their names and throw flowers at their feet.

Ironically, being God has nothing to do with being yourself. This is the whole message of the Crucifixion: “He who loses his life will find it.” This doesn’t mean you have to die in order to know God. Neither does it mean that your ego has to die. It simply means that you have to be able to put your ego aside when the situation calls for it. You have to be able to create a space for others to shine, not just you.

Being yourself, trusting yourself, and overcoming the judgments of others is an essential part of the spiritual path, but it only frees us to set foot upon it; it isn’t the goal. The goal is the top of the hill, the crucifixion, where we let go of it all, where the ego says, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

pillars

The Middle Path

The name “Jesus Christ” is a mystical symbol—an equation: “Jesus” is our human identity; “Christ” is our divinity. “Jesus” is nailed to the Cross of Matter. It is “Christ” who rises from the sleep of death, infusing the body with life. This is the Word made flesh, the union of the opposites of Spirit and Matter.

The spiritual path is for rebels only. No one is celebrated for leaving the path of others. It is the flight of the alone to the alone. In the end, all of our rebelliousness comes to a laser point of intensity, that point where we finally rid ourselves of the tyranny of “me-ness.”

Therefore, it is never wise to proclaim, “I am God.” Never. We can know it, but we never proclaim it, because the second we do, we are at great risk. This is the “tricky” part I alluded to earlier. It is a warning to us all. And when I say “us,” I mean everyone who ever has or ever will set foot on the spiritual path.
 
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
– John, 14:10
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7 Responses to Beware the “I am God” Trap

  1. bacalove says:

    Excellent

  2. citizenzeus says:

    Excellent essay, Michael. Clear as a bell on a matter which is often muddled and contentious. Thank you. Zeus

  3. Succinct, to the point – you always make me smile, too. Love the way you write. Thank you!

  4. Willow says:

    In my humble opinion. It is not in the dichotomy that we will ever understand the statements “I am man” or “I am God.” Only when the two extremes are drawn together and the dichotomy becomes meaningless can we transcend the question of our nature..

    When Moses asked God to tell him God’s name. God said “I am that I am”. It is often contracted to “I am” and there are two truths in there that apply to human experience. First of all. I am that I am. Not defined by a position between extremes. No external signposts, just an inner truth which remains undefined. Then “I am” Another simple truth. The only one in existence actually. But again, likewise undefined.

    In other perhaps clearer words. Whether we are God or Man is not defined by who we are, but how we look at ourselves. I think “I am that I am” refers to the notion that God is to us what we see in him. He is all posibilities, all things, alpha and omega beginning and end. Yet when we look at him all we can see is what we bring before him. When we look at ourselves all we can see is again what we have chosen to expect.

    Much love. And thank you for sharing the space in which these thoughts can be enjoyed.

  5. Gary Markley says:

    indeed, the middle path. I like the analogy of the pillars. Michael, such clarity you bring through your writing.

  6. Teréz says:

    Clear Michel, particular in these times. Although there always were times in which some proclaimed to be God. Like al-Hallaj in his time –

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