Photograph by the author
A few more notes on this prayer.
I am represents where I am now. It represents seeing myself ;
It represents the truth of this moment — how I am, as I am now. Fairly spoken, this encompasses my egoism. I am. That's all. Objectively, there isn't much more to me than the fact that I am. I can know myself as I am: egoistic, limited, constrained by the simple fact of my materiality.
But the prayer has a second part. I wish to be. Now, if I already am, it doesn't seem as though there would be a need to wish to be. After all, I already am. So, clearly, this wish represents something different than the fact that I am — mere existence.
I wish to be represents not mere existence, but Being, which is a different relationship to life than mere existence.
Being transcends the limitations of egoism; it is to become part of a living force that is much greater than myself.
So the prayer represents a wish, a desire — an urgent desire — to move from the constraints of my egoism, defined by "I am" into a realm of Being which is larger than my ego. Being, with its objectification of existence — something that exists outside of this limited "I am" encompasses a much greater understanding. It isn't limited to me anymore.
So the prayer represents a wish for transformation from go into Being, or, in other words, a wish for transition from the right (lower, or natural side) of the enneagram to the left hand, or spiritual side of the diagram, where forces ascend back towards the divine.
Understanding this, and remembering that I am — I wish to be represents the first conscious shock (conscious labor), I can see that the six words in the prayer also have a meaning related to the diagram. Each one of these words can be put on a note representing the circulation of energy in the diagram. the first three notes— I am I (re, mi, fa) represent the egoistic right side of the diagram; wish to be (sol, la, si) fall on the left side. In this way the six words, divided into two triads, neatly describe our inward efforts in regard to the diagram.
Now, this may be coincidental; maybe not. The point is that it does provide an interesting interpretive perspective from which to study the prayer in more detail. In the end, the play of forces (ego versus Being) which it manages to describe is an objective one.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.