Advaita Vedanta

Jean Klein, A talk in Delphi, 1990

Jean Klein

Open to the Unknown

“ The desire comes from what you most desire ”

A talk in Delphi, 1990


If I am already fundamentally free, then why do l not feel as though l am free?

The only obstacle is your belief that you are an independent entity. That is the only obstacle. You are stuck in this belief. It belongs to a personality invented by society, education, experience, beliefs, second-hand information and all kinds of reading. You have identified yourself with this fictitious “I” and you live from this point of view. You look at and contact the surroundings from this viewpoint. Because the personality is an object like any other, you live in object-object relationship.

What happens when you become aware of it? The moment you become aware of it is the most important opportunity, an opportunity to see how this insight acts on you. Until now your brain has functioned in the pattern of taking yourself for someone, and when this pattern suddenly collapses there is a reorchestration of all your energy, a transformation of your being. The old reflex, which is so deep-rooted, may come up from time to time, but you are now aware of it. You ignore it and then forget it. Why put yourself in the cage of a fraction? You are the whole, the global.

Is this insight —that you have taken yourself for someone— enlightenment, or is it a forefeeling?

This insight frees the mind from wrong thinking. It comes from your real nature. Often the mind appropriates the insight again, and it appears as a point, an experience in space and time. The insight itself is constant.

Is the insight that you are not the personality the ray of light in the dark room?

Yes, but you are still in the dark room, even though there is light in it. You must give yourself entirely to this light, and it will take you towards its source. Then there will be a sudden moment when you are no longer in the dark at all but are completely taken by the light. This was my experience.

The mind is identified with objects, but it governs. Is there something, other than simply being open, to help the mind let go of its hold?

The natural state is a non-state of not-knowing, non-concluding. When there is knowing, there is a state. But your real nature is not-knowing. It is a total absence of all that you think you are, which is all that you are not. In this total absence of what you are not, there is presence. But this presence is not yours. It is the presence of all living beings. You must not try to be open. You are open. When you say, “I must be open”, you create a state. When you say, “I am going to meditate”, you make a state of it. You are meditation. When you go into the state of so-called meditation or openness, you are like a donkey in a stall.

What is intelligence?

Intelligence is spontaneous behavior. It is creativity. When you are free from the person, from the “I-concept”, when you are free from psychological memory, then you are open to intelligence. This intelligence is in you, it is not outside.

Then is there no such thing as a person being more intelligent or less intelligent?

When you are intelligent, there is no quantity or quality to that intelligence. It is right acting. By right acting I mean let ting the situation tell you what it needs, not your telling the situation what it needs. When you stay out of the picture and patiently wait for the facts to unfold, you will undoubtedly be surprised by what the situation tells you. Then you will act spontaneously without the premeditation that accompanies the ego. This spontaneity does not go through The discriminating mind. Nor can it be confused with impulsiveness, which only apparently does not go through the discriminating mind, but which is founded on old patterns of behavior, reactions. Spontaneous, intelligent acting occurs naturally the moment there is pure perception, perception without conceptualizing.

In many of the teachings of different traditions and philosophical systems, we are encouraged to live with a certain amount of measure in our lives. For example, nothing in excess, the Middle Way and so on. Or we are told to pursue a certain diet or way of life. What do you think about this?

On the physiological level, one could say you are what you absorb. As soon as you come more in contact with the workings and sensations of your body-mind, you will see how the things you absorb act on you. You will notice how what you take in, not only by the mouth but also through the skin, affects how you wake up in the morning, how the body feels to you in the morning. You will be interested in how the body appears to you before going to sleep at night, or after a nap in the afternoon. But all this calls for observation, not the concentration of a hunting dog, but a relaxed observation without ally intention. Then, in this observation free from reaction, you will act intelligently. Where you feel a lack you will make an addition of certain elements, and where you feel a heaviness you will omit certain things, until you come to the organic body, where the expanded, light, energy body is freed. No system can bring you to know yourself in this way. Only reaction-free observation, seeing the facts as they are.

All this is on the level of observation. Simply observe in openness, and you will come to the right way.

What is the role of sex in life?

When you love someone and are, yourself, love, you win see in the other only love. And there may come a moment, which you cannot project, when you would like this oneness to be expressed also on the level of body feeling. It is a pure act of love. Making love must be understood in this way; otherwise, it is a deviation. But it is not necessary that true love come to a sex relation. The oneness call be expressed in a look, a touch, a scent.

By deviation do you mean it is an act of pleasure, a kind of escape, and not an expression of the joy of oneness?

When you look for pleasure, there is also pain.

What about making love to have children? Is that a deviation?

No, if it is to make the oneness concrete in a certain way. A child ideally is the result of oneness where there is no lover or beloved, only love.

If love, where there is no lover or beloved, is timeless, then from the ultimate, not social, point of view, can it not be a timeless moment of oneness even when there is no longstanding relationship?

I agree perfectly. But where there is intention, to have pleasure or to make a child, oneness is not expressed, because there is still a duality —someone wanting something. There is tension and anticipation. And it is interesting that often the child does not appear, because the love is hindered from full expression.

What do you think of religious traditions which say one must only make love to make children and not for any other reason?

There’s not a “must”. When there is a moment to show love, it is spontaneous behavior, and this spontaneous behavior is right behavior.

When is art true art? Is it when it doesn’t have a purpose or a cause?

First, let us be clear about what art is. The producer of art is, I would say, in a thanking position. I say a thanking position because he thanks for being allowed to be. Being allowed to be in this joy, in this equanimity, brings him to produce art and to share this joy with others. So art, in a certain way, points directly to our real nature.

The science of creating art is to free our expression from the material part. By this I mean that the creation should take us beyond the five senses. It must free us from matter and also from ideas. Art must be conceived in such a way that it meets the observer. To do this, to come to this meeting with others, there must be room for the observer to participate. This means one must know exactly where to stop. When you know really where to stop, what not to put, there is a coming together of the artist and the person who looks at it, because the observer is invited to participate, to complete the work. This is true of painting, music, architecture, poetry, dance. This coming together is the goal, if we can speak of a goal, of the work of art.

So when there are too many words or images, when the work is too busy, the observer has no room left to be creative?

Exactly. There must be space in the work, and this space can only appear when the artist as “an artist” is absent. When the artist puts himself into the work, it ceases to be art and becomes a piece of self-expression, often suitable only for discussion on the analyst’s couch. When there is no one writing or painting, there will automatically be an economy of expression. Look how a couple of images in a few lines of haiku poetry can evoke a whole realm of emotion in the reader. That is an example of what I mean.

If we can give an example from the theatre, at what point should the actor stop, to have this coming together with the spectator?

It depends what kind of play you present. But, in any case, the actor must take the audience with him. He must not dominate them with his personality or his technique. It belongs to the high art of the actor to give the right amount of stimulation. If he gives too little, his role is bland like a tasteless dish. If he gives too much, the audience is nauseated. The actor gives the audience the opportunity to be creative and to complete it. In completing it there is the joy of creating together. So the member of the audience finds himself in a passive-active state. He listens and at me same time he completes what has knowingly not been revealed. Art is to express the inexpressible.

By not expressing it…?

Yes. When there is no interference from the “I”, there is economy of expression. But too much economy of expression is also interference, because there’s too much volition in it. Not interfering is interfering.

What is happiness?

When you say, “I am happy”, you are not happy, because in this moment you have created a state of happiness. When you are actually happy, you don’t think of saying, «I am happy”, because in that moment of happiness there is not a knower of the happiness, and you are in your glory, your wholeness, your globality. Happiness is causeless. You think that it has a cause —a lovely car, a beautiful woman, a lot of money, a nice house, a prestigious job. But when you look deeply, you will find that when you are actually in happiness, there is just happiness with nobody who is happy and no cause of the happiness. This is your real nature. What hinders you to live your real nature, happiness, is that, knowingly or unknowingly, you project a cause.

Many desires come up in daily life and bring me continual agitation. How should I deal with these desires?

When you look really deeply into the motive for your actions in daily life, you will see that they are generally for the survival of the “I-concept”, the person. It is important to be aware of this. When you really feel in you the desire to be happy, totally follow this desire. Fundamentally, all desire leads to the one source of desire, the desire to be desireless, to be free from desire. But we must follow desire like we follow the shadow projected by a tree. It leads to the tree.

Can we distinguish types of desire, or is desire one?

The desire comes from what you most desire. To be the self comes from the self. When you follow the desire, there comes a kind of reorchestration of the energy where all dispersed energy becomes centered. S0 it is useless to say, “you must be like this, you must be like that.” This or that are the result of experience, deeper experience.

It is a fact that we are identified with what we call the gross body, because if a person dear to us dies, we often cannot overcome the grief, the loss. What can you say about this?

The person, before dying, must become free from the body-mind. If the person is not, in daily life, really free from the body-mind, it is very difficult to be free when the ultimate moment comes to pass away. The people around the person who is dying can be an obstacle, because family and friends retain a hold on the personality and won’t let the dying one go. This applies not only to those present, but to those absent. Very often, the family is an obstacle.

Sometimes, in meetings like this, questions come up in me which remain incomplete and cannot be expressed. Could you say something about this?

When your question does not come to formulation, just be still. It is only in your stillness that the question can become clear.

Is it important, then, that the question become clearly formulated?

Yes. But do not anticipate an answer. Keep to the question, then you will be open to the answer. The verbal answer can only be a suggestion. The formulated answer is never (…) level must abide in silence. It must abide in awareness. Then it is completely understood. What appears is the question, but what does not appear will be the answer. Live completely this absence of formulation. On the level of the mind we use symbols, but we must come to what the symbols symbolize. When we have a question, we must live in the questioning feeling and not force it to a conclusion.

If we try to understand it through memory, the past, it will never give us the total answer. When you live with the question in lovingness, not touching it, not forcing it, it is like a child, who one day maybe will tell you its secret.

What is it that can help us to discern between the answer at the lever of the mind and the answer that comes from silence?

The understanding that comes from the mind is still in conflict. Understanding that comes from silence returns to knowing yourself in silence.

There must not be any wishful thinking in your listening. You must accept the facts. The solution is in the facts, and the answer is also in the facts. Accepting facts means seeing things as they are. In this unqualified acceptance of the facts, the truth unfolds. It unfolds in your accepting, which is a global feeling. The mind can only be clear when it is grounded in your wholeness, your globality. Otherwise, the mind functions in fractions. You can only really know the facts from your totality, where there is not a knower, not a fraction, there is only knowing. Sometimes the ego comes up and questions the wholeness and throws you again into doubt. You should not fall into the trap.

Would you not say that doubt, a certain skepticism, is a very important tool which prevents one from falling into beliefs?

No. Skepticism is anticipation. How can you come to understanding by projecting a result? In doubt you can never become happy. Falling for one belief system after another comes from a lazy mind that is looking for a quick solution. An inquiring, not a skeptical, mind is the only tool necessary.

In many schools or teachings it is said that we must help our fellow humans. Often this “must” doesn’t come automatically to the person. What is your opinion?

The “must” is never spontaneous. When life asks for help, help. But don’t become a “must helper”, a professional helper.

The ideal is to help spontaneously. But until we reach that point, isn’t the “must” a useful way to it?

The “must” makes you a dull and stupid person. Free yourself from the “must”. When a child falls clown, you don’t think, “shall I pick her up?” You just do it. When you are thirsty, you just get a drink of water. Don’t make a problem in life where there is no problem.

Sometimes help entails a psychological cost.

Who suffers?

The one who tries to help.

But who suffers? Find out who. Who is this me? Only an object can suffer, but you are not an object. You know the suffering, you are the knowing of the suffering.

But l have not reached that point where l am the knower of the suffering.

You haven’t understood. Perhaps tomorrow morning you will understand.

Please talk to us about what is called satsang.

First tell me what you understand by satsang.

The usual meaning of the word is that you are in good company, near someone who is blessed.

But it depends completely on the stand which you take. From the level of the mind, the level of the “me”, you are never in good company. You are constantly in “I want, I need, I must”. From here you can never be, or have, good company, because good company starts wit yourself. A teacher doesn’t take himself for a teacher. He or she gives without asking for anything. He takes himself for nothing, and in this way he awakes nothingness in you when he says, “You are nothingness”. That is real togetherness. That is perfect company.

You said the teacher asks for nothing. Has the teacher then no hope or expectation of the disciple?

For the teacher all is possible. He teaches what life asks for in the moment itself. He does not anticipate any result. He is completely in the present.

What is it that a teacher most wants in his disciple?

That he is free from himself. Then there is togetherness in love.

And what are the qualities of a good disciple?

Eagerness. The profound desire to be free from himself, the personality, an that he or she is not. One must be ripe to look for freedom. See how much energy you spend in making money or in pleasing your lover or in showing off your personality. Look how much energy you spend in order to be admired. Begin by giving a fraction of this eagerness to self-inquiry, and you will see what a beautiful taste it has. This beauty will solicit you and take you beyond all expectations.

Is the person wrong who wants to do many things in life?

What is the goal in doing many things? What is the motive to do many things? Don’t you see in the moment itself what nonsense it is ? Alors…

You may want to do many things because you like to do many things. It is not necessarily an illness.

It is merely an escape, because you have not become profoundly oriented and so you feel bored.

What is spiritual greed? The need to learn more and more?

Will you make the point here that certain things are not spiritual? All things are spiritual, and all things are beauty.

If what man is looking for is in him, why has he forgotten about it? Why is it not realized every day?

Again the why! There is nothing spiritual or not spiritual. All is spiritual. Everything becomes spiritual the moment it refers to its background, to silence. It is silence which makes an object sacred. It is sacred when it refers to ultimate awareness. Then it ceases to be an object, because it is an expression of consciousness, an extension of consciousness. Don’t forget it; there are not two, there is only one.

With the kind permission of the Jean Klein Foundation.

This text is taken from the book Open to the Unknown: dialogues in Delphi, Jean Klein, Third Millenium Publications, 1992, ISBN 1-877769-18-5, pages 28-41.

This book is available from the Jean Klein Foundation, PO Box 2111, Santa Barbara, California 93110, USA
tel: (805) 967 5150; fax (805) 967 0721
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