There are so many swamis, yogis and gurus teaching people that they are "God." It is a good business. People like to be told that they are God or will become God.
What I am teaching is, "Guess what? You're not God, I'm not God, none of us is God." None of us is the Supreme Lord; we're all spirit souls, sparks of God. We are not these material bodies. We are all parts and parcels of the Supreme Soul.
The chief historical proponent of “I am God”ism philosophy was Sripad Shankaracharya. Shankaracharya lived and preached throughout India in the eighth century. The preaching of Shankaracharya and his followers was so strong that, practically speaking, it drove Buddhism out of India. Today, throughout India and the world, Shankaracharya's teachings (or slight variations of them) are still having a tremendous influence on people.
In Calcutta, India, for example, we can see the ridiculous sight of a starving, sore-infested man meditating on the side of the road: “I am God. I am God.” In America and Europe, you'll find many so-called yogis and gurus who are directly or indirectly in Shankaracharya's line of “I am God”ism teachers.
One man, Swami Muktananda, attracted thousands of disciples in America with his “I am God” teachings. Muktananda states:
Honor your Self. Worship your Self. Meditate on your Self. God dwells within you as you. 1
Rajneesh, infamous for his advocation of “free sex” among his thousands of Western disciples, writes:
The word “brahmacharya” means that you have come to attain, you have come to know that you are the Brahman, the ultimate, the divine, that you are God Himself. 2
Satya Sai Baba, India's most famous contemporary mystic and “holy” man, says:
You have not heard Me fully; I say I am God; I say also that you are God. The difference is that I know it and you do not know it. 3
The idea of the “I am God”ists is that each of us is actually the Supreme Spirit, but that somehow we forgot our true identity as God and came under the spell of ignorance. So you are supposedly God, the Supreme Being, but you are now caught under the laws of material nature. You are supposedly the Supreme Lord, but you are now bound on the wheel of birth and death. It is an absurd proposition.
Swami Muktananda notes:
The highest consciousness becomes bound by … limitations, its primal powers of omniscience, omnipotence, perfection, everlastingness, and all-pervasiveness are experienced in a reduced condition. Although omniscient, He knows only a few things; though omnipotent, He feels helpless and acts effectively only in a small sphere. The Master of perfect bliss, He is ensnared in pleasure and pain, attachment and aversion. The Eternal Being cries aloud from fear of death, regarding Himself as mortal. Pervading all space and form, He grieves because He is tied to a particular place and a particular form. This is the condition of Shakti-poverty; it is the experience of all creatures caught in the transmigratory cycle. 4
So, according to the Mayavadi philosophers, God becomes bound up on the wheel of birth and death, and this is all due to His having forgotten that He is God. According to this ridiculous theory, God needs to meditate and struggle against material nature to remember who He is. Being caught in ignorance and misery, God supposedly must then struggle to find Himself through so-called “meditation.” Muktananda says:
God forgets His own true nature and looks for God. God worships God. God meditates on God, and God is trying to find God. 5
Such “I am God”ists fail to ask: “How can God forget who He is? How can God be overcome by ignorance and illusion? How can God, who is the Supreme Controller, lose control?” Such “I am God”ism is absurd and dangerous.
1 Swami Muktananda, quoted in “The Siddha Yoga Teachings” page at http://www.siddhayoga.org/teachings-siddha-yoga.html, accessed June 13, 2005.
2 Rajneesh, Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, vol. 3, p. 36.
3 Andrew Shaw, Words of Truth: A Second Compilation of Sayings by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Private Ltd., 1998), p. 7.
4 Swami Muktananda, Siddha Meditation (Oakland: S.Y.D.A. Foundation, 1975), p. 73.
5 Swami Muktananda, Siddha Meditation (Oakland: S.Y.D.A. Foundation, 1975), back cover.
If a so-called God forgets His identity and needs to meditate in order to remember His identity, then that so-called God cannot, by definition, be God.
Sometimes a person who practices mystic yoga or chi gong will take to the “I am God” philosophy. The combination of these two—namely, increased psychic or mystic powers and the belief that the individual spirit soul is actually God—is disastrous. Such people often use their powers to mislead less intelligent people to worship them as God. Mystic or psychic powers, whether inborn or developed through yoga, chi gong, or whatever, are not spiritual. They are subtle material powers—that's all. A person can have great mystic powers and be able to impress people, but if he is not a loving servant of the Supreme Lord—if he claims that he is God or that we're all God—then he is not enlightened. He is not to be followed, and he is not to be trusted.
An actual spiritually realized soul is not interested in power—psychic or otherwise.
~Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (Chris Butler)
© 2007 Science of Identity Foundation