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Manifesting the Great I AM

Tuesday, December 22, 2020


Manifesting the Great I AM
Tuesday, December 22, 2020

For all practical purposes, the dualistic mind is not able to accept the orthodox teaching that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine at the same time. Our dualistic minds need to choose one or the other, with the result that they understand Jesus as only divine and humans as only human, despite all scriptural and mystical affirmations to the contrary. The overcoming of this divide was the whole point of the incarnation of God in Christ, and precisely what we celebrate on Christmas.

The manifestation of the Great I AM in Jesus was the momentous Christian epiphany. It became so thrilling to early Christians that they forgot the continued need to balance Jesus’ newly discovered divinity with his personally and even more strongly proclaimed humanity. Remember, virtually Jesus’ only form of self-reference—eighty-seven times among the four Gospels—was ben ’adam, a son of the human one. Jesus is emphasizing “I am of you”—a mortal and human!

Our preoccupation with Jesus’ divinity did not allow us to hear about his own clearly emphasized humanity. In practice, most Christians have been guilty of thinking of Jesus as having only a divine nature, which misses and avoids the major point he came to bring. We have not been able to balance humanity and divinity in Jesus, which probably reflects why we are unable to put it together in ourselves. We did not have the proper software for the task. Jesus is the archetypal model for all of us.

Theism believes there is a God. Christianity believes that God and humanity truly coexist in the same body, in the same place! These are two utterly different proclamations about the nature of the universe. In my experience, most Christians are very good theists who just happen to have named their god Jesus.

With dualistic minds it is always one or the other—it can never be both. The result is that we still think of ourselves as mere humans trying desperately to become “spiritual.” The Christian revelation was precisely that we are already spiritual (“in God”), and our difficult but necessary task is to learn how to become human. Jesus came to model the full integration for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:47–49). He told us, in effect, that divinity looked just like him—while he looked ordinarily human to everybody!

It is the contemplative, nondual mind that allows us to say yes to the infinite mystery of Jesus and the infinite mystery that we are to ourselves. They are finally the same mystery.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (Crossroad Publishing: 2009), 68–70.

Image credit: The Virgin and Child with Archangels, Scenes from the Life of Christ, and Saints (detail), early 17th century (Early Gondarine), Tigray Kifle Håger, Ethiopia, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one,
received not in essence but by participation.
Just as if you lit a flame from a flame,
it is the whole flame you receive.
—Symeon the New Theologian
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