An individual human’s relation with The Other, is neither constant nor consistent.
When we think of the upanaiSadika statements like aham brahmāsmi, it appeals to us differently at every age and frame of mind.
We know that the stuff of the body is the stuff of the universe and vice versa. A lot of give and take and transformation.
We acquire an idea of our individual identity that depends largely on our sensations and our feeling of control. We are not above praying to an Iśvara or controller to communicate our needs and fears. Through prayer we believe/hope that we can in fact control events that would generally appear out of our control. For eg., “Please don’t rain till I reach home”. And thus, unconsciously, we have a sense of an identity that is greater than ourselves. Since This Other can be communicated with and It responds to our prayers, we project on this Other a human relationship such as a parent, friend, spouse, teacher and such. parama pitā, sakhā, pati, guru …. We also suspect that It monitors and controls us.
“I” an identity connected to individual sensations, will and actions. “That” an identity with an all-powerful will and infinite reach over the all time and all space.
One fine day, it dawns on us that we are in fact a part of “That” and not different from It at all, however large and powerful It may be in comparision to us. Through prayer/chanting/work etc., we align ourselves to It’s Will and It to our needs. Prayer is now less about communication and more about connection. It is reminder of our real nature and the real nature of “That”.
“I am brahmā” now reads like :
Whatever I have been thinking of as “I” is a perfect bit of the perfect whole.