Monday, July 09, 2012
What follows is an excerpt from "Be Who You Are: An Interview with Jean Klein," by Stephan Bodian in Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology
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.
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.
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.
NOTE: Although Jean is here not talking about Kundalini, it seems to me that much of what she says would apply to the 'direct path" (inner rather than outer directed) rather than a prescribed practice. Certainly, one can incorporate "practices" from various traditions into one's own "sadhana (practice, but one follows a free form approach, "the pathless path to the gateless gate."