The Sanskrit Mantra “Aham Brahmasi” typically translates as “I am Brahman” It is one of the four principle Mahavakyas or “Grand Pronouncements” from the wisdom texts of the Upanishads. Aham Brahmasmi is used within yoga philosophy to refer to the unity of the Atman (the individual self or soul) with the Brahman (universal consciousness or the Absolute). This mantra is one of Meta Positioning, where the perceiver thinks “I am Divine”, “I am God”, or “I am sacred”, thereby reflecting an understanding of one’s connection with the Higher Self.
Aham Brahmasmi unites the macrocosmic ideas of God and universal consciousness with the microcosmic individual expression of the Self. This mantra highlights the notion that all beings are intimately connected to universal energy and cannot be separated from it. To recite Aham Brahmasmi is to recognize that Brahman and Atman are one, and as such, there can be no ego or sense of separation.
The Destroyer of all Sins
To chant or think the phrase “Aham Brahmasi” is to destroy negative thoughts and let go of attachment to our lower drives. Within each being exists the potential for goodness, unselfish action and peace of mind. Residing simultaneously to and alongside this positive moral leaning and in opposition to our potential are fears, selfish desires and incessant desires. To chant Aham Brahmasmi is to concentrate on our higher self, and to weaken the pull of our “shadow self”. In this way Aham Brahmasmi is a weight against our weaknesses. It is a way to train our memory against negative stimuli like the popular news cycle, weaponized video content on our social media feeds and messages from advertisers who want our hard earned dollars in their pockets.
Each one of us is an Imposter
The eternal question, asked by our ancestors since they first stood up, is “Who am I”? When we try to answer this question and we think we are our name, the contents of our bank account, the lovely home, the union of husband and wife, or any personal achievement, we are far from the mark, when compared to the true nature of reality. These are temporary identities, subject to time, our likes and dislikes, and reflect our clinging to pleasures and aversion to pain. These are external markers of identity.
Deep within is the formless, eternal reality of our spirit, or “God Within” This being inside of us was never born, and will never die. When we learn to identify with our spirit, while alive in a body, we find true courage, strength and resilience. If we lose our job, a loved one, or money in a business investment we are not shattered. There is wisdom in identifying the external and temporary, in relation to the eternal and lasting. This is why to learn “Aham Brahmasmi” is to know one’s True Self. This mantra only works in relationship, cultivated through many repetitions over time. Knowledge of Aham Brahmasmi is of the highest order and heals all psychic disease. This is the meaning of spiritual self-realization. To know thyself, is to know God.