#4648 - Sunday, July 8, 2012
Nonduality Highlights Issue #4648, Sunday, July 8, 2012
Jean, I find you and your teaching interesting for a number of reasons. For one thing, you are a Westerner who went to India long before such journeys were common and ended up attaining a high degree of realization. What prompted you to go to India?
I was hoping to find a society where people lived without conflict. Also, I think, I was hoping to find a center in myself that was free from conflict the kind of forefeeling or foretaste of truth.
While in India, you found a teacher with whom you studied for a number of years. What is the value of a teacher for the spiritual life?
A teacher is one who lives free from the idea or image of being somebody. There is only function; there's no one who functions. It's a loving relationship; the teacher is like a friend.
Why is that important for someone on the spiritual path?
Because generally the relationship with other people involves asking or demanding - sex, money, psychological or biological security. Then suddenly you meet someone who doesn't ask or demand anything of you; there is only giving. A true teacher doesn't take himself for a teacher, and he doesn't take his pupil for a pupil. When neither one takes himself to be something, there is a coming together, a oneness. And in this oneness, transmission takes place. Otherwise the teacher will remain a teacher through the pupil, and the pupil will always remain a pupil. When the image of being something is absent, one is completely in the world but not of the world; completely in society, but at the same time free from society. We are truly a creative element when we can be in society in this way.
What did your teacher teach you?
The teacher brings clarity of mind. That's very important. There comes a moment when the mind has no reference and just stops, naturally, simply. There's a silence which you more and more live knowingly.
And the teacher shows you how to do that. Did you learn any meditation or yoga techniques from your teacher?
No. Because what you really are is never achieved through technique. You go away from what you are when you use technique.
What about the whole notion of the spiritual path - the idea that you enter a path, follow a certain prescribed way of practice, and eventually achieve some goal?
It belongs to psychology, to the realm of the mind. These are sweets for the mind.
What about the argument that if you don't practice, you can't attain anything?
You must first see that in all practice you project the goal, a result. And in projecting a result you remain constantly in the representation of what you project. What you are fundamentally is a natural giving up. The mind becomes clear, there is a giving up, a stillness, fulfilled with a current of love. As long as there is a meditator, there's no meditation. When the meditator disappears, there is meditation.
So by practicing some meditation technique, you're somehow interfering with that giving up.
You interfere because you think there is something to attain. But in reality what you are fundamentally is nothing to obtain, nothing to achieve. You can only achieve something that remains in the mind, knowledge. You must see the difference. Being yourself has nothing to do with accumulating knowledge. In certain traditions - Zen, for one - you have to meditate in order to exhaust the mind; through meditating the mind eventually wears itself out and comes to rest. Then a kind of opening takes place.
But you're suggesting that the process of meditating somehow gets in the way of this opening.
Yes. This practicing is still produced by will. For me, the point of meditation is only to look for the meditator. When we find out that the meditator, the one who looks for God, for beauty, for peace, is only a product of the brain and that there is nothing to find, there is a giving up. What remains is a current of silence. You can never come to this silence through practice, through achievement. Enlightenment - being understanding - is instantaneous.
Once you attain this enlightenment or this current do you then exist in it all the time?
Constantly. But it's not a state. When there's a state, there is mind.
So in the midst of this current there is also activity?
Oh, yes. Activity and non-activity. Timeless awareness is the life behind all activity and non-activity. Activity and non-activity are more or less superimpositions upon this (and) constrain beingness. It is behind the three states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, beyond inhalation and exhalation. Of course, the words "beyond" and "behind" have a spatial connotation that does not belong to this beingness.
In the midst of all activity, then, you're aware of this presence, this clarity.
Yes, "presence" is a good word. You are presence, but you are not aware of it.
You've often called what you teach the direct way, and you contrast it with what you call progressive teachings, including the classical yoga tradition and most forms of Buddhism. What is the danger of progressive teachings, why do you think the direct way is closer to the truth?
In the progressive way, you use various techniques and gradually attain higher and higher states but you remain constantly in the mind, the subject - object relationship. Even when you give up the last object, we still remain in the duality of subject and object. You're still in a kind of blank state, and this blank state itself becomes an extremely subtle object. In this state, it is very difficult to give up the subject - object relationship. Once you've attained it, you're locked into it, fixed to it. There's a kind of quietness, but there's no flavor, no taste. To bring it to the point where the object vanishes and you abide in the beingness, a tremendous teacher or exceptional circumstances are necessary. In the direct approach, you face the ultimate directly, and the conditioning gradually loses its impact. That takes time.
So the ultimate melts the conditioning.
Yes. There's a giving up, and in the end you remain in beingness.
You say that any kind of practice is a hindrance, but at the same time you suggest practices to people. You teach a form of yoga to your students, and to some you recommend self-inquiry, such as the question, "Who am I?" It sounds paradoxical - no practice, but you teach a practice. What practices do you teach, and why do you use practices at all?
To try to practice and to try not to practice are both practice. I would rather say listen, be attentive, and see that you really are not attentive. When you see in certain moments in daily life that you are not attentive, in those moments you are attentive. Then see how you function. That is very important. Be completely objective. Don't judge, compare, criticize, evaluate. Become more and more accustomed to listening. Listen to your body, without judging, without reference - just listen. Listen to all the situations in daily life. Listen from the whole mind, not from a mind divided by positive and negative. Look from the whole, the global. Students generally observe that most of the time they are not in this listening, although our natural way of behavior is listening.
The path you are describing is often called the "high path with no railing" which is the most difficult path of all. The average person would not know where to begin to do what you're talking about. Most could probably be attentive to their inattention, but after that, what? There's nothing to grasp onto.
No, there's nothing to grasp, nothing to find. But it is only apparently a difficult path; actually, I would say it is the easiest path.
Listening to something is easy, because it doesn't go through the mind. It is our natural behavior. Evaluation, comparison, is very difficult, because it involves mental effort. In this listening there is a welcoming of all that happens, an unfolding, and this unfolding, this welcoming, is timeless. All that you welcome appears in this timelessness, and there is a moment when you feel yourself timeless, feel yourself in welcoming, feel yourself in listening, in attention. Because attention has its own taste, its own flavor. There's attention to something, there's also attention in which there's no object: nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to teach, only attention.
And in that moment of pure attention, you realize the one who's being attentive?
I would say that this attention, completely free from choice and reflection, refers to itself. Because it is essentially timeless.
The Zen master Dogan said: "Take the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate the self." That seems to be similar to what you're talking about.
Yes, but one must be careful. Turning the head inwardly is still doing something. There's really no inward and no outward.
I noticed that you use the word "attention." Is this the same as what the Buddhists call mindfulness - being acutely aware of every moment, every sensation every thought?
Mindfulness mainly emphasizes the object, the perceived, and not perceiving, which can never be an object, just as the eye can never see its seeing. The attention I'm speaking of is objectless, directionless, and in it all that is perceived exists potentially. Mindfulness implies a subject-object relation, but attention is nondual. Mindfulness is intentional; attention is the real state of the mind, free from volition.
- excerpt from "Be Who You Are: An Interview with Jean Klein," by Stephan Bodian in Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology