"I am what I am" = "Tat tvam asi"

I have been for years intrigued by the canonical phrase "I am what I am."  At one level of analysis this tautological, circular pronouncement points to the ineffability of what is being described.  Indeed, that which is being defined only by self-reference is beyond definition, is indescribable, since all description is really analogic (we describe by equating "this" to "that.")  When, however, we describe "this" by "this," we leverage no additional descriptive information.  We thus remain at an informational impasse: in adding nothing, we learn nothing.  

So, it would seem that this kind of tautological, self-referencing statement is designed to philosophically (or theosophically) underscore the incomprehensibility of god, reality, nature - the ultimate namelessness of this it-less it.

Over the years, however, I have found another way of making sense of the "I am what I am" meme.  To understand this we have to look at this pronouncement in its dialogic (dialogue-based) form.  Who says this?  And to whom?  Only by reconstructing this mythical dialogue (between a guru and a disciple) can we make sense of this pronouncement. 

Biblically speaking, this phrase is uttered by a Divinity to a Disciple.

Divinity says to Disciple: "I am what I am."

So, what is being said here?  Here's what I think is being communicated here.  I am going to paraphrase.

Divinity says to Disciple: "I am what I am."

Disciple: "Sorry, bud, I don't get it..."

Divinity: "Ok, lemme see if I can shed some light on this, he-he... I am that which you experience as I am..."

Disciple: "Whatcha talkin bout, Willis?!"

Divinity: "Take 2 - nondualistically speaking, that is... I am THAT which You experience as 'I am,' in other words, I am YOUR sense of am-ness... When you look inside, plumbing the depths of your subjectivity, you FIND me, not you... As YOU look for YOU, as you swim up the thought-stream of your separative narrative, you find ME..."

Disciple: "Huh?"

Divinity: "Think of a wheel.  Each spoke is connected to the hub. I am the hub, the GROUND OF YOUR BEING which you erroneously perceive as your being... I am your AM-NESS... and his AM-NESS, and her AM-NESS, and everybody's AM-NESS.  I could've said "I am what 'I am' is" but that just didn't drip off my dualistically-forked tongue too well, kapish?!"

Disciple: "So, you are saying that... we are... YOU?!"

Divinity: "Exactamundo... Or, as I say in Sanskrit, 'Tat tvam asi," which - in English - means 'I am that.' I am the am-ness of anything and everything, the ground of all being, the being itself that ontologically underlies ALL THAT IS which I too AM..."

Disciple: "So, you are saying that you are THIS and THAT?"

Divinity: "Yes and no: I am what I am - both in the sense of circular self-referencing that this blogger talked about above, and in this other sense of being ALL THAT IS, ontologically speaking.. But - get this - I am also neither THIS nor THAT... Or, to put it in good ol' Sanskrit mother-tongue - Neti, neti - "Not this, not this."

Disciple: "I am confused!"

Divinity: "Nope, bud, you are enlightened: a confused mind is an open mind; a mind that knows is a blind mind."