I am That Too.
Tat Tvam Asi. It’s Sanskrit for I am that too. But what is the ‘that’ that we are too? Tat tvam asi is one of my favourite meditation practices, but it is more than that. It invites us to connect with the oneness that is our universal divine nature and also our universal suffering. We are the that in this instance. In meditation, the practice is to still down, to take a comfortable seated position, back straight, eyes lowered and soft or closed, and to open the practice by imagining someone you love, and saying in your internal voice, ‘I am that too’ or ‘tat tvam asi’, whichever language is most authentic and resonates with you. Work through all the people you love, repeating the phrase tat tvam asi every time you visualise a new person. And why limit it to people? Visualise places, pets and objects you love, and merge with them in your mind by acknowledging your oneness.
Now expand your view. Start to call into your visualisation a random assortment of people. Cycle through faces, you may not even know their names, and for each on hold the face in your visualisation and say in your inner voice ‘I am that too’ or ‘tat tvam asi’. Keep going, and make it harder, bring to mind people who have hurt you, who have caused you pain, hold their face in your mind, and say it again ‘I am that too’. Now think of those people you despise, those who are despots, who have caused unthinkable harm to the world, whoever they are for you – you know the drill by now, ‘tat tvam asi’ as you are them too. Keep going, allow your mind to bring up every face and place, every person or thing, invite them all in, and become one with them, no matter how pleasant or painful, make no differentiation. Don’t quickly dismiss the painful ones, hold them in your mind and heart, ‘I am that too’ pay attention to these faces and feelings, this is where the heavy lifting of compassion really happens.
This is the oneness, the merging, the real work of the union of yoga. It is pleasure and pain, and within that duality, step out and find the place that is compassionate observation. You are that too. I am that too. We are all good and bad, nice and nasty, lover and killer, we are all those potentialities, but we are also commonly all divine, all Buddha nature, all impermanent. We can choose what ‘that’ we are, knowing that nothing we are is real or fixed, we are all capable of everything imaginable and cannot halt or change the endless becomings of our mind and body, minute after minute, day after day. While the That of ‘I am that too’ is you, it is also the ‘That’ of your consciousness, it is the vast ‘That’ which is the knowledge turned wisdom that is already inside you, that is being woken up by your search for peace and self. That ‘That’ is also what you are, and whether for you that is the divine, or God or god, or creator, or science or nothing, you are that too, and you can merge into that great oneness as part of your meditation.
This is a powerful and confronting process, that teaches us that we are not separate from others, or different, or better or worse, we just are, as they just are, united far more by our connections that by our separation. Practice this with eyes wide open, everyday, with everyone you see. There is no one that you are not too. No one. Begin to bring a feeling of love and compassion to these conscious thoughts. As repulsion or love arises, bring it all to compassion, no separation, I am that too. Work towards automatically empathetically greeting the world and its sentient beings with a loving acknowledgement of ‘tat tvam asi’ and before long, the jagged edges of being solo will soften to a world of connection, where you, and they, and us, and I, are that too.