Following is an interview with Jean Klein from the early 1990s, which apparently was published only in a small Seattle spiritual newspaper. I am not sure even where I came across it but it is well worth reading.
Q. Often you speak about the ‘I am,’ the silence beyond thought. By what means is this state attained, and why is it worth seeking?
JK: It is “attained,” as you say, when you see that there is nothing to attain. What you are fundamentally is not an object to attain. In all attaining you find objects. What you are is the ultimate subject, objectless consciousness, the subject of all possible objects. There is nothing worth seeking. One day you may see that the seeker is the sought; the seeker is what it is looking for. It is only an ambitious mind that looks desperately around in ignorance. A clear innocent mind is always open, constantly available to grace.
Q. But in your talks and books you use the expression ‘truth-seeker,’ so there must be some kind of seeking.
JK: Our profound desire is to be and this desire comes from being, itself. When you give all your love, all your intelligence and earnestness to this desire it brings you to what you most desire: desirelessness. Desire is the shadow which, if you follow it, brings you to its substance. But you must give all your love to it or you remain with only the shadow desire. A real truth-seeker is impelled by Truth itself. The momentum comes from Truth. All other attainment belongs to the mind, to ideas, to aspirations.
Q. Many teachers of Eastern thought seem to call for the renunciation of all desire and ambition. But for the world to function, for buildings to get built, crops to be harvested, discoveries to be made, someone has to have a vision, a plan, and the drive to turn the vision into reality. And the same would seem to be true in regard to personal or spiritual growth. Aren’t desire and ambition necessary to some extent?
JK: There is nothing wrong with desire, but it must be clear, have gone through discrimination. An ambitious mind is a blind mind. Only a clear and informed mind is open to the ultimate. It is a false notion that in order to function efficiently and harmoniously we need ambition, goals and so on. Correct functioning comes out of the facts of the situation itself. It is not we who find the solution, but the situation which offers its solution. So the important thing is to become fully acquainted with the facts, the real circumstances, and you cannot see the facts when you live from the personal, fractional point of view. In looking at a situation without judgment or preconceived ideas, the situation is free to unfold. You cannot impose a vision because the person has no vision. You must wait for the vision to come to you. This waiting without waiting is our real nature, openness, where there is no more doership.
Q. Is this not a passive state?
JK: Not at all. There is doing, but no longer a doer. You are passive only in that you do not impose old patterns, ideas, opinions, judgments, in short, yourself. When “you” are absent, what remains is alert presence. Within this alert presence all occurs.
Q. Advaita stresses the unity of subject and object, of perceiver and perceived. In trying to understand this concept, one comes face to face with the question: Who am I? Because if I and the world are identical, there is no such thing as the individual. Right? This is a terrifying thought.
JK: Terrifying to whom?
Q. Sometimes one has the feeling that life is a play unfolding, and we are like the audience watching the performance. It makes the idea of effort seem pointless. Is there any validity to this feeling?
JK: Yes. Don’t interfere with the play or create a psychological relationship with the happenings. Remain a silent admirer. Don’t take yourself for a doer, let it be done. When you interfere as a doer you interrupt the doing.
Q. Is there a moment when illumination strikes and one is changed forever, or does it gradually develop? Or is the whole idea of illumination or enlightenment false?
JK: First ask who is there to be bound or to be freed? Who is there to be illuminated? Enlightenment is only when you see there is nobody to be illuminated. When you see you are the total absence it is the most striking moment in your life. In this moment you are the ultimate presence but not presence as an object. This insight is instantaneous but its consequences are in space and time.
Q. Do you mean that the integration of the insight on the psychosomatic plane takes place in space and time?
JK: Yes, because we live in space and time. All appearances are in space and time, but the sudden insight of our absence is out of space and time. So, find out what never changes in you, what is timeless in you.
Q. Is the insight forever or does conditioning come back?
JK: The insight is forever, but it is important that this insight is established on every level of existence. After the insight life goes on, but now every circumstance is a pointer to the ultimate. You see your conditioning endocrine, cultural, language and so on very clearly, but you are no longer bound to them. You face them from the ultimate and they point to the ultimate.
Q. Is the earnest seeker ultimately any better off than the person who is blissfully ignorant of spiritual matters?
JK: The self is always present. The only difference is that one ignores it and another is it. What we are fundamentally is waiting for us. There is no effort needed to attain our real nature. We can never go to it; we can only be available to it, taken by it. It is our nearest.
There is no way to be still; Being Stillness is the way. The way is no-way … Stillness.