We must investigate, get to know ourselves, what we generally understand to be our body and psyche. Most of the time we live in reaction and double reaction, for example, when we react in anger we may also try to remain calm and collected. We try many different escape routes. By such means we constantly limit our possibilities and turn in a vicious circle.
The only way out is to simply observe. This allows us to take note of our physical reactions, our mental attitudes and patterns and our motivations at the exact moment they appear. It involves no evaluation, no analysis which is based on memory. At first the observer might find it difficult to be impersonal, to free himself from evaluating. He tends to emphasize the object and thus become its accomplice. Later, however, observing itself is emphasized and becomes more natural, more frequent. There comes a time when a neutrality installs itself between the observer and what he observes, and both poles lose their driving force. There is silence, we no longer nourish the conditioned object.
What is the primary motivation for our actions?
At certain moments, when alone, we feel a great lack deep within ourselves. This lack is the central one giving rise to all the others. The need to fill this lack, quench this thirst, urges us to think and act. Without even questioning it, we run away from this insufficiency. We try to fill it first with one object then with another, then, disappointed, we go from one compensation to another, from failure to failure, from one source of suffering to another, from one war to another.
This is the destiny to which a large part of humanity devotes itself. Some resign themselves to this state of being which they judge to be inevitable. Others at first deluded by the satisfaction brought about by these objects come to realize that they give rise to a surfeit and even to indifference. Some are brought to take a closer look. The object fully satisfies us for a short time during which we are back in our intrinsic nature, fulfillment. At the moment of fullness there is no awareness of an object. Thus the object cannot be the cause of our experience. It is essential to come to know these moments of joy without object.
We habitually attribute a cause to joy, we turn joy into an object because memory links the two together, but in reality they are of two entirely different natures. Thus we realize that the object is consumed in the joy of our being.
Is it true that when we look at our surroundings from silent awareness they find their natural state of harmony?
It is only through silent awareness that our physical and mental nature can change. This change is completely spontaneous. If we make an effort to change we do no more than shift our attention from one level, from one thing, to another. We remain in a vicious circle. This only transfers energy from one point to another. It still leaves us oscillating between suffering and pleasure, each leading inevitably back to the other. Only living stillness, stillness without someone trying to be still, is capable of undoing the conditioning our biological, emotional and psychological nature has undergone. There is no controller, no selector, no personality making choices. In choiceless living the situation is given the freedom to unfold. You do not grasp one aspect over another for there is nobody to grasp. When you understand something and live it without being stuck to the formulation, what you have understood dissolves in your openness. In this silence change takes place of its own accord, the problem is resolved and duality ends. You are left in your glory where no one has understood and nothing has been understood.
You have said that the only reason objects exist is so as to point to the ultimate perceiver, what we really are. Don’t you think that there exist objects which, by their very nature, put us in direct contact
with the Ultimate? I was thinking of works of art, for these seem to me to stem directly from the heart of the artist.
When talking of works of art, we must first of all distinguish between true works of art and what we might call artistic works. A work of art always arises from the background: consciousness. Be it music, painting, architecture, poetry or sculpture, it is always seen by the artist in an instant, like a flash of lightning, as it surges forth from deep within him. Afterwards he elaborates it, gives it body and form, in time and space. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci was undoubtedly conceived in perfect simultaneity. We can say the same of the Art of the Fugue by Bach and of certain of Mozart’s compositions. An artist worthy of this name is never preoccupied by the material he uses, nor even by the subject matter or the anecdotal side of his work. His only interest is to arrange the different elements in perfect harmony so that they all fuse together and no longer impress the viewer as separate objects. The objective side of his work is thus eliminated. Tagore said that the aim of a true work of art is to give a form to what escapes definition. Then the viewer will no longer be seduced by the material used nor even by the anecdotal content; instead he will be immediately plunged into a non-state which is the aesthetic experience. Later he will qualify the object as beautiful because it stimulated awareness of his own beauty. We can thus see that a work of art is really but a vehicle, a means by which we are led towards the experience. It is truly creative. We feel what the artist himself felt at the time of creation: a spontaneous offering free from all desire for approval.
All objects point to the Ultimate, but the difference between an ordinary object and a work of art is that the ordinary object is passive in its pointing towards the Ultimate whereas the work of art is active.
You said that the object stimulates our own beauty but I thought beauty had no cause…
Apparently a beautiful object stimulates our own beauty because sense perception functions in time and space. But in the moment of living the beauty there is no object nor experiencer present. It is a timeless moment, where you live yourfullness. So cause and effect are only on the relative level.
They are simply concepts because they cannot be experienced simultaneously. Consciousness is always one with its object. There are never two—always one.
What gives the object this power?
Only a work of art born from beauty, in simultaneity, can point to beauty. Beauty is the same in all. When the artist spontaneously offers his most profound nature and through his talent finds its nearest expression, it awakens in the viewer, the listener, his own profundity. But when you live in beauty and look from beauty, everything points in different ways to your wholeness. Living is no longer from the divided mind. All belongs to your fullness.
But I am not sure everybody is capable of being openly receptive to these works of art.
Before encouraging people to find beauty in a work of art, we must first teach them how to see, how to listen. We will soon realize how difficult this is: listening and seeing are arts in themselves. To arrive at aesthetic experience we must be totally receptive, welcoming, free from memory, so that we are open to the play of color, sounds, rhythms and shapes. This openness, seeing, is the light underlying all sensations and sooner or later, we find ourselves knowingly in this light. Looking at a work of art in this way is truly creative. There is no analysis in it. Each time we are struck by it, it brings us back to our real Self.
As one comes closer to you, at some point or other you encourage your friends to learn to appreciate beauty in art and music and our surroundings. You obviously feel this is a very important “sadhana.” How exactly can an appreciation of art help us ask “Who am I?” more effectively?
All our senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell have been channelled or dispersed towards personal defense and aggression, used as tools to maintain the person. Through artistic appreciation the qualities of sensitivity and receptivity are awakened. Energy is sustained and the sense organs find their organic multi-dimensionality. In real listening the ear does not grasp the sound but remains totally relaxed and receptive to sound, silence and rhythm. It becomes a creative tool for the transmission of sound to the whole body. The senses no longer function fractionally but the body is one whole sense organ. Without this welcoming openness, global feeling and sensitivity, the question “Who am I?” remains intellectual. If it is ever to become a living question it must be transposed on every level of our being. The openness in the living question is the doorway to the living answer.
To read more from Jean Klein see: https://o-meditation.com/category/jean-klein/