An impersonalist yogi can be very dangerous because he may try to take the position of the Supreme Lord, believing himself to be the Supreme dominator and enjoyer of all that he surveys. This is the darkest region of ignorance. He may try to act on the illusion that he is God and that the world is his playground. He may become, in other words, a “super-hedonist.” One such “I am God”ist, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), formerly a professor at Harvard University, declares that no one exists except oneself, and that after merging with the impersonal Brahman, one returns to the world and is the world and is everyone.
If you come back into form from having merged with God ... you fill the forms [bodies] though there is no one home, it is just more lila, the dance of God.1
The late Swami Muktananda, a well-known “I am God”ist who had thousands of followers, wrote:
Assuming physical bodies, He appears as separate entities.2
According to the “I am God”ist, the apparent existence of others is just a hallucination. And since you are God, you are the creator of the laws of the universe (or as Ram Dass puts it, “You are the laws of the universe!”).3 And since you are the laws of the universe—since you are God—then there is no higher person or law to which you must subject yourself. Your will, your desire, is God's desire—God's will—so there is no need whatsoever to check or control your desires or actions. As another “I am God”ist, Werner Erhard puts it:
What you're doing is what God wants you to do. Be happy.4
So according to the “I am God”ist, since you and I—each of us—is God, whatever you and I and others are doing is what God wants us to do. You can be engaging in the most illicit or the most heinous activities, but since you are God, you are doing the will of God. Your will is God's will. In other words, he believes his will is God's will because he wrongly believes he is God.
1Ram Dass, Grist for the Mill (Santa Cruz, CA: Unity Press, 1976), p. 166.
2Swami Muktananda, Siddha Meditation, p. 59.
3Ram Dass, Remember, Be Here Now (Albuquerque, NM: Lama Foundation, 1971), p. 86.
4Quoted in Adelaide Bry, est (Erhard Seminars Training): 60 Hours That Transform Your Life (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), p. 66.
The chief historical proponent of such “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.
~ Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa