Living with I AM
I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life,
I Am the True Vine
The upper room – mystical conversations with the Christ
The inner reality of the I AM sayings was a significant part of my teacher Mario’s revelation of the Christ Way. And for many years I was privileged to experience his Easter meditations into the profound Christ mystery as portrayed in the Gospel of John.
In this gospel the last supper in the upper room differs from the other gospels. There is no establishment of the eucharist, and the meal takes place at a different time, on the eve of Jesus’s arrest and trial. The gospel does not name the disciples present apart from a few key players. But the profound love Jesus expresses embraces those who have followed him to the end – surely including the women.
Significant for the Way, the supper involves a long discourse by Jesus. Although set before the Jesus’s crucifixion, we need to picture this taking place in the soul of the beloved disciple in a post-Easter atmosphere. A mystical inner eucharist is taking place with the risen Christ which unfolds through deep recognition.
The discourse includes the last two I AM sayings.
I AM the Way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6).
I AM the true vine (Jn 15:1).
The first is followed with, ‘No one comes to the father but by me.’ The second with, ‘And my father is the vine dresser.’ This points to a specific route and a specific destination. And a gender-based elephant that needs to be sent out of the room.
Why the Father?
Patriarchal emphasis in language has drastically distorted spiritual reality. As well, centuries of church doctrine have given us a remote father figure, a god beyond ‘his’ creation, looking down from outside and shaking his hoary head. To reach this father we must find him outside space and time, perhaps only in heaven when we die.
The origin of such an idea lies in Greek philosophy which in New Testament times had spread through the Roman empire. It included Plato’s concept of an ideal spiritual realm of Ideas, of which the physical was a lesser copy – a profoundly influential teaching which hung on and led inexorably to a perception of the divine as ever separate from creation.
Jesus’s statement comes from Judaic thinking which in the first century still bore the marks of its origin in Egypt, where Atum the prime mover, the male-female beginner of all is also creative in the flux of the world. The same ground of being, the fundamental source, the power active both beyond and within creation is what the gospel calls ‘the Father’.
Then we have ‘by me’. This is I AM, the Sun Being, the biblical ‘I AM that I AM’, the Christ, the high being that incarnated in the world through Jesus. Christ does not belong exclusively to Christianity but to all humanity. The Christ is now the spirit of the earth, embracing the earth soul and united with ‘the Father’. This is the meaning of the saying, ‘I and the father are one.’ (Jn 10:30).
We are learning to walk the way of truth and life over many lifetimes. Yet every life with its struggles and learnings is transforming us. Our soul aligned with the spirit will enable the transformation of our whole being, including the mind, the senses and at last the physical body.
All the I AM sayings are there to guide us and to reveal the Way. When we listen to the I AM and hear its truth, we are directed towards the future, as we work towards our destiny as a fully realised human being.
The awesome experience of the fully Christ-filled person is beautifully depicted in, ‘I AM the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser’. The work of a human vine dresser is to monitor and shape the plant to enhance nature’s fruitfulness, and the divine vine dresser is also active within the earth’s rhythms of coming into being and dying, and within the rhythms of our life and death. The initiate now participates with the ground of being in this activity.
It is an awesome story but importantly even if we travel slowly and every step tests our endurance, our soul’s progress enables us to participate bit by bit in the earth’s spiritualisation.
The Way of Passion
At Easter time the Pope washes the feet of twelve people as Christ washed the disciples’ feet. Christians pour into Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa in the footsteps of Jesus. Others walk a symbolic via or even re-enact the bloody events of the crucifixion. Through physical imitation the intent is to connect with Christ. Yet this materialises and can limit the spiritual reality.
‘I AM the way, the truth and the life’ points to a different kind of ‘imitation of Christ’, about the inner path of the soul. It echoes the experiences of the few whose love gave them the courage to follow Jesus to Golgotha – three Marys, his mother, Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas and one man, Lazarus-John the beloved disciple. So close to their Lord, the events came alive in their souls. This living closeness, leading to further and deeper experiences of the Christ impulse within self and of the Christ within the macrocosm has become the mystical way of passion, which is also the way of love.
The word passion comes from the Latin passio meaning ‘suffering’. Suffering happens through what we feel within our souls, so this is a path of feeling and an experience of mystical union with Christ. It is not so much about strengthening and fine tuning our inner qualities as a complete metamorphosis, to be ‘born again’ in the true sense of a new self emerging.
‘I AM the true vine’, is a living image of communion linking the fruitfulness of the grape with the blood of Christ. It is both a profound symbol and a reality for the initiate. That’s how in his letter to the Galatians Paul could write, ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’ (2: 20)
There are seven (potent 7 again) stages known as the Mystical Way of the Cross corresponding to what Jesus went through. Both symbols and inner reality they encompass the foot washing, the scourging, crowning with thorns, bearing the cross to Golgotha, the crucifixion, mystical death, entombment and resurrection. It takes many lifetimes to undergo these stages, and we would experience aspects and glimpses of each again and again on different levels. For they are about our Christ destiny as human beings.
Very briefly: 
The foot washing represents service. We are mediators between heaven and earth and need to live consciously according to that responsibility. It is about a radical shift that many already are growing into through awareness that we are the earth’s custodians and carers. More, it needs to be applied by anyone who has a position of authority over any being in this world, gained for any reason. Likewise let our higher self be caring custodian of our lower.
To experience the scourging is when our sense of self is attacked or undermined, from outside and from within. If we can stand firm, fear departs from us. Compassion takes its place to become a characteristic attitude, and we are able to see beyond self, to respond to the suffering and pain about us, and through wisdom know when to reach out to uplift any who have not been able to find this inner light.
The mocking crown that was thrust onto Jesus’s head signifies a major shift in consciousness as we develop the inner strength to be free of anger and doubt and remain true to I AM despite disbelief and scorn and especially the mocking of whatever we hold most dear. Inwardly we are confronted by the lower self that scorns the I AM. Yet this is the opportunity for love to free this lower double and raise it up.
The cross is the body we carry through life. We need to recognize that this is not who we are even while we need to take up our cross and willingly carry it with us. For the body, our cross, is the gateway to the spiritual worlds because it is the body of death. We come to understand by bearing its weight, that we come from the cosmos and can grow into deeper connection with the greater macrocosm. Detachment from identity with the body reveals to us the difference and relationship between self-love and universal love.
Crucifixion is experienced inwardly on different levels of intensity, and on diffeent levels of our being, which is to do with how far the evolution of consciousness has progressed in an individual. I believe that in many lifetimes we rehearse for our soul’s deepest experience of crucifixion. We undergo trial runs during those dark times when all seems lost, when we feel forsaken by the spirit and yet through faith that ‘this too will pass’, we find the inner strength to endure until the return of the light.
Mystical death concerns the law of metamorphosis, which operates in our organs and in the sphere of our inner life. In a biblical allegory the rich man is unable to pass through the eye of the needle because too many ‘possessions’ still cling to his consciousness. I AM is the eye through which mystical death can be entered into with confidence, knowing that new life will emerge. True metamorphosis brings body, soul and spirit together as one. This union will bring about the profound experience of life on a higher level and we can move to a relationship with the wider cosmos.
The entombment is what we are preparing for. To be conscious on this level lies far in the future for all except the rarest initiate. When this stage is reached recognition grows that the personal world of the senses is not real, it is maya. There is a feeling of belonging to the whole world, of uniting with the Mother, with the soul of the planet in all its fear, sorrow and pain, of carrying the earth’s karma, which is death. Through union with the Christ a new light shines in, and the one who emerges ‘reborn’ can begin to participate in the future evolution of humanity that will overcome death.
On the most profound level resurrection brings one into the realm of the Father. Tremendous responsibilities must be shouldered by the one who attains this authority. We can think of stories of super-heroes and super-villains as our feeble attempts to comprehend what is involved. But in reality, it is far beyond our normal thinking and feeling and beyond the capacity of ordinary language to describe.
This is when the soul is completed and harmonised, the outer with inner, the lower with higher, the body with spirit. The destiny of the human being is to become a spiritualised individual in the realm of the Father. Our potential humanity is life on this level. This is the longest journey a soul can take. It may take us until the end of this world, but if we can achieve this initiation, we will gain what is known as eternal life, that is life beyond and free of the physical. We attain the angelic level and assume the tasks currently performed by our guardian angel.
Contemplating our destiny
The gospel says, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only son … not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved by him.’ (John 3:16-17) It is through the divine love of the Father that the Christ the came into the world. And through the mediating love of the Christ spirit, we are able to continue along the long narrow Way that will return us, like prodigal children, home.
There is a simple chorus that sums up the purpose of the I AM:
Let’s be what we’re meant to be.
Isn’t this our destiny?
The affirmations for the I AM sayings, and especially these last two, are really prayers that we become who we are meant to be and answer ‘yes’ to our destined roles in creation.
~ I AM the way, the truth and the life ~
May my inner journey to the cross on Golgotha, bring me like Christ to oneness with the Father.
~ I AM the true vine ~
May my fruitfulness enrich friend and stranger as I seek to manifest the good through union with divine love.
 Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Gospel of St. John’ speaks in great depth about these stages as ‘Christian Initiation’ (Chapter 11). There are also seven stages of spiritual awakening in other traditions, for example Sufism and Alchemy.