All About I AM Movement
The “I AM” Activity Movement is the original ascended master teachings religious movement founded in the early 1930s by Guy Ballard a mining engineer, (1878–1939), and his wife Edna Anne Wheeler Ballard (1886–1971) in Chicago.
It is an offshoot of theosophy and a major precursor of several New Age religions including the Church Universal and Triumphant. Despite legal and public relations difficulties, the I AM movement thrived and inspired several subsequent movements based on its teachings.
The movement had up to a million followers in 1938 and is still active today on a smaller scale. According to the official website of the parent organization, the Saint Germain Foundation, its worldwide headquarters is located in Schaumburg, Illinois, and there are approximately 300 local groups worldwide under several variations of the names “I AM” Sanctuary, “I AM” Temple and other similar titles.
As of 2007, the organization states that its purpose is “spiritual, educational and practical,” and that no admission fee is charged for their activities
The Name Of “I AM Movement”
The name of the movement is a reference to the Bible verse in which God replies to Moses, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14).
It’s also the term “I AM” is a reference to the ancient Sanskrit mantra So Ham and the divine biblical name “I Am that I Am”.
Messages Of The I AM Movement:
Ballard claimed that in 1930 during a visit to Mount Shasta (a dormant volcano in northern California), he was contacted by St. Germain, one of the Ascended Masters of the Great White Brotherhood. Many occultists believe that this order of spiritual beings guides the overall destiny of humankind and speaks through human messengers.
The first modern contact with the Masters was allegedly made in the 19th century by Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831–91), one of the founders of the Theosophical Society.
Writing under the name Godfrey Ray King, Ballard compiled his experiences in a book, Unveiled Mysteries, published in 1934, and he afterward claimed to receive periodic messages, termed “discourses,” from St. Germain and other Masters.
Because one of the Masters from whom Ballard received dictations was Jesus, members of the I AM movement consider themselves Christian. The Ballards claimed to have received more than 3,000 messages, which formed the body of the movement’s teachings.
Following Guy Ballard’s death, Edna Ballard became the movement’s leader and revealed the messages she had received from St. Germain. With her death in 1971, the Board of Directors, established at the movement’s incorporation in 1932, took control of the movement. Since then, no further dictations from the Masters have been received, because no new messenger has been appointed to succeed the Ballards.
Beliefs Of The I AM Movement:
According to the group’s teachings, ascended masters are believed to be individuals who have left the reincarnation cycle of re-embodiment.
The Masters’ discourses emphasized ways for individuals to become aware of their “I AM,” or “God Presence,” which flows from God, the mighty Creative Fire at the center of the universe.
The movement teaches that the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent creator God (‘I AM’ – Exodus 3:14) is in all of us as a spark from the Divine Flame and that we can experience this presence, love, power, and light and its power of the Violet Consuming Flame of Divine Love through quiet contemplation and by repeating ‘affirmations’ and ‘decrees’.
By affirming something one desires, one may cause it to happen. Ultimately, each person hopes to ascend into the divine realms, as the Ballards are believed to have done at the end of their lives. The reciting of decrees invocations of the divine that call for the manifestation in the visible world of the desired condition or the removal of an undesirable one is the primary devotional activity of members of the movement. Listening to the messages recorded by the Ballards is the central activity of I AM gatherings.
As that The “I AM” Activity calls itself Christian because Jesus is considered to be one of the more important ascended masters.
It also refers to itself as patriotic because the I AM movement also promotes American patriotism. The messages received by Ballard suggested that the United States had a unique role in the Masters’ world plan, and members of the movement believe that Ballard was a reincarnation of George Washington.
ascended master St. Germain is believed to have inspired and guided the USA Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Followers claim that St. Germain belonged to the same Masonic Lodge as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. However, Guy Ballard tended to downplay any relation of his ideas to Freemasonry because of his great discordance with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a famous Freemason.
Thus the notion that Saint-Germain belonged to a Masonic Lodge was more part of general occult lore than part of Ballard’s emphasis. Plus The group sponsors special programs on patriotic holidays.
The Goal Of The I AM Movement’s Teachings
The spiritual goal of the teachings is that, through a process of self-purification, the believer may attain the perfected condition of the saints, or become an ascended master when leaving their body, contrasted to common concepts of ‘ordinary death’.
The process of attaining these results includes one or another of interior practices to facilitate resonance and alignment with the “I AM Presence”: self-assessment in light of saintly exemplars such as Jesus, care in the use of language, devotion (to the Divine), gratitude, meditation, invocations and affirmations; and external practices such as “decrees” (repeated prayers given aloud with conviction), all of which are said to amplify the energetic presence of the divine in one’s experience, resulting in the desired positive changes. Members believe there is actual science behind decrees and affirmations and claim these practices are acknowledged by medicine as effective.
The group also emphasizes personal freedom as essential to spiritual development.
These “positive thinking” beliefs overlap with several movements, such as New Thought, the so-called New Age movement, and the Human Potential Movement.
I AM Movement:
the growing movement was disrupted by Ballard’s sudden death in 1939. Soon afterward, several former members accused the Ballards of teaching a sham religion, which led to the indictment and conviction of Edna Ballard and other movement leaders for mail fraud. In 1946 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction.
As a result of the lengthy judicial process and the subsequent bad publicity, the movement assumed a very low profile in the 1950s, and many thought that it had died. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced steady growth, and in the early 21st century it reported more than 300 chartered I AM sanctuaries in the United States and around the world.
The most prominent group inspired by the I AM movement was the Church Universal and Triumphant. Others, such as the Aetherius Society, pictured the Masters as officials of an extraterrestrial government who offer guidance from unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
Recent history and present day:
As of 2007, Saint Germain Foundation maintains a reading room in Mount Shasta, California, and its headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. Several annual conclaves are held at their 12-story “I AM Temple” at 176 West Washington Street in downtown Chicago.
Among the hundreds attending, there are usually dozens of “I AM” students from other nations. Classes and conclaves are regularly held in approximately 300 locations in America, Europe, Latin America, Australia, and Africa. The Saint Germain Press, a subsidiary of the Saint Germain Foundation, publishes historical books and related artwork and audio recordings of the Ballards’ teachings, and a monthly magazine available by subscription, titled “The Voice of the ‘I AM”.
It has been estimated that the Saint Germain Press has printed and put into circulation over one million books.