Jean Klein: Master of Listening

klein2The last time I saw Jean Klein was in 1996 in Santa Barbara, California. Amido and I had gone with him and his wife, Emma, to see the parade downtown. We had spent the weekend helping to care for Jean and giving Emma a break. Jean had had a stroke and was also suffering from dementia, although suffering is not the right word; I couldn’t find another. He really didn’t seem to suffer though it was clear that the conditions were affecting his body/mind.

Enlightenment with dementia, not two words you expect to experience together. Jean said he was not the mind. I found myself thinking, although unreasonably, that it would not be possible to have dementia with enlightenment. But if we are not the body and not the mind why should that be so? We know that Ramana Maharshi suffered from cancer. J. Krishnamurti’s bodily sufferings are well known. But the mind suffering, somehow that seemed different. So it was a good experience to see, from the outside anyway, enlightenment with dementia. The body, the mind were both suffering from the stroke and the dementia and yet sitting with Jean or just being around him was as before. The lightness of being that was Jean was always present.

In fact I received the strongest teaching, the sharpest Zen stick from Jean during that weekend.

I first came to know about Jean Klein when a friend dropped by my new age music shop, Mysterium, in Boulder, Colorado. He handed me a copy of I Am and offered to leave it with me. After reading the back cover I immediately accepted.

What you are looking for is what you already are, not what you will become. What you already are is the answer and the source of the question. In this lies its power of transformation. It is a present actual fact. Looking to become something is completely conceptual, merely an idea. The seeker will discover that he is what he seeks and that what he seeks is the source of the inquiry.

Even before Osho left his body I had become deeply interested in self-inquiry, in advaita. I was reading Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi. Some shift had happened. Up to that point meditation consisted of awareness focused on phenomena, sensations, thoughts or feelings, but now awareness was turning on itself. This felt to be the beginning of “inquiry,” and inquiry seemed to be the entire teaching of Jean. Also, it was compelling for me that here was a Westerner who was a living master.

Discovering that Jean lived part of the year in Santa Barbara I immediately made contact with the organization and was informed that a weekend workshop would be taking place in Joshua Tree, California, in a couple of months. Amido and I participated in the workshop. Later we also attended one of his weekend gatherings in Santa Barbara. Soon we were making arrangements for Jean to come to Boulder.

During the question period in the Boulder workshop I asked Jean, “So is it this, more and more subtle?” He responded, “I would say less and less conditioned.” Through the years I have found that statement to be extremely significant.

For me the most important word in Jean’s teaching is “listening.”  He uses it in much the same way that Osho uses “witnessing.” Do you notice how similar the two words are?

We cannot precisely say what this listening is, because it is not a function. It is without intention. Being free from intention also means being free from concentration. In both we are looking for a target, looking for a result, but in listening we are simply open, directionless.

In listening there is no grasping, no taking. All that is listened to comes to us. The relaxed brain is in a state of natural non-function, simply attentive without any specific direction. We can never objectify listening, because that would mean to put it in the frame of space and time. It is listening to oneself.

In listening to oneself there is no outside and no inside. It is silence, presence. In this silence-presence there is a total absence of oneself as being somebody.

In listening we are not isolated. We are only isolated when we live in objects, but free from objects we live our essence where there is no separation. In listening there is not a you and not another. Call it love.

Jean Klein – From The Book of Listening, page 130

One night during his stay, Amido made a beautiful pasta dinner which we took to where Jean and Emma were staying. Over dinner we had some time for gossip. Jean said that he had once looked into one of Osho’s books, I Am the Gate, and read where he was talking about Hitler. Osho says that “Hitler was a vehicle for other forces. . . . He was just a means: he was used.” Jean strongly objected to Osho speaking of Hitler in those terms. Jean had helped Jews escape from Germany during the war.

In those days Poonja was very well known in the advaita circles. Jean didn’t seem to have a very high regard for Poonja, but he didn’t say why. He told us that Poonja had once stayed with him for some time in Europe. A couple of years ago I ran across the following account of one meeting between Jean and Poonja in David Godman’s book Nothing Ever Happened.

Meera [Papaji’s second wife]: It was a sort of dinner party that was attended by Papaji, Jean Klein and a small group of students from each teacher.

David [Godman]: What happened?

Meera: The disciples of the two teachers got into a debate about the teachings of their respective Masters, but the two teachers themselves kept mostly quiet. Though Jean Klein taught self- inquiry there was a lot of difference between
his and Papaji’s approach to liberation. Afterwards Jean Klein advised all his students to stay away from Papaji, telling them he was a dangerous man with a dangerous teaching. He came up to me (Meera, Papaji’s defacto wife)
afterwards and told me directly that I should leave Papaji because I would be in great danger if I stayed with him any longer.

Jean Klein’s character seemed to undergo a strange change that evening. There was a hostility and a rudeness in him that I had never seen on any of our previous meetings. He seemed to see something in Papaji that made him afraid. He wouldn’t say what it was, but he did go out of his way to tell all the people there that for their own safety they should have nothing more to do with Papaji. It was a very strange response because he had previously seemed so calm and self-assured. I was very disappointed by his behaviour and by the meeting in general. It was not a success. 

After the weekend Amido and I drove with Jean and Emma to Rocky Mountain National Park which he enjoyed immensely and commented several times on how young the mountains were.

The next year we again invited Jean to Boulder. This time he came with Leif a longtime friend. We were having a difficult time finding the right space to put Jean up and Maitri who was working with the American teacher Gangaji came forward and said he could stay in Gangaji’s mountain house. Gangaji would make other arrangements for herself.

On the day after the workshop I received a call from Maitri asking if it would be possible for Gangaji to have a meeting with Jean and so it was arranged. At the end of the meeting Maitri phoned to tell me how much Gangaji had enjoyed the meeting. Leif said Jean too had enjoyed meeting Gangaji.

By this time Amido and I were already planning to sell our house in Boulder and move to Crestone, Colorado. Because Crestone is such an alternative spiritual community, we thought it would be wonderful to arrange a workshop there with Jean.

By the summer of 1995 we had sold our Boulder house, bought a house in Crestone and began scouting out venues for Jean’s workshop. Baker Roshi had started a Zen center and that was one possibility.   A suitable building that was part of the Aspen Institute was another possibility. Before we settled on a site Jean had a stroke and it was clear that he was not going to be coming to Crestone, probably not taking any trips and certainly not to 7,500-foot elevation Crestone.

We received a call from our friend Sundro, who had been with Osho as well as Jean, telling us that he had returned from spending some time in Santa Barbara helping out after Jean’s stroke. He told us Emma could use any relief that could be offered. Amido and I made arrangements to go for a weekend and off we went.

Despite the circumstances it was a remarkably intimate time with Jean. We were a small group,  a friend of Jean’s who was his caregiver, Amido a nurse, Emma, myself and of course Jean.

One afternoon I had taken Jean out on the patio to sit and enjoy the sunshine.  I was sitting with my eyes closed when Jean said to me in a very loud voice, “What do you want from me?” It was startling because Jean was always so soft spoken, often described as having the demeanor of a European gentleman. So to hear him speak so loudly and sharply was a shock.

I had been in some subtle way begging for his bliss. There was a part of me that was reaching out to receive, rather than diving into myself. I was going to him with a begging bowl and in that moment, with that Zen stick, I could see very clearly and returned home in myself.

Emma and the aid reassured me that it was just the dementia speaking, but for me it was not. It was just what the doctor ordered and I was grateful.

Saying goodbye to Jean after the parade, with my hands held in his, gratitude overflowing and the light of awareness shining bright I bid him farewell.

– purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled Here to Now and Behind.

For more posts on Jean Klein look here.

Listening – J. Krishnamurti

How do you listen? Do you listen with your projections, through your projection, through your ambitions, desires, fears, anxieties, through hearing only what you want to hear, only what will be satisfactory, what will gratify, what will give comfort, what will for the moment alleviate your suffering? If you listen through the screen of your desires, then you obviously listen to your own voice; you are listening to your own desires. And is there any other form of listening? Is it not important to find out how to listen not only to what is being said but to everything— to the noise in the streets, to the chatter of birds, to the noise of the tramcar, to the restless sea, to the voice of your husband, to your wife, to your friends, to the cry of a baby? Listening has importance only when one is not projecting one’s own desires through which one listens. Can one put aside all these screens through which we listen, and really listen?

-J. Krishnamurti –  From The Book of Life,  Jan. 2nd

See also Listen With Ease, The Book of Life, Jan. 1st.

Listen With Ease – J. Krishnamurti

Have you ever sat very silently, not with your attention fixed on anything, not making an effort to concentrate, but with the mind very quiet, really still? Then you hear everything, don’t you? You hear the far off noises as well as those that are nearer and those that are very close by, the immediate sounds—which means really that you are listening to everything. Your mind is not confined to one narrow little channel. If you can listen in this way, listen with ease, without strain, you will find an extraordinary change taking place within you, a change which comes without your volition, without your asking; and in that change there is great beauty and depth of insight.

-J. Krishnamurti

From The Book of Life, Jan. 1st

See also Listening, The Book of Life, Jan. 2nd.

Spontaneously Ejected from Time and Space – Jean Klein

What inspired you to go to India?

An inner need, an urge to find peace, to find the center where you are simply yourself—free from all stimulation. All that I’d read about traditional India, especially ancient India, led me to feel that present-day India might still reflect the ancient wisdom, that it might be a society centered in truth. Of course it’s dangerous to think you can adopt another culture, but my going to India was not in search of a new belief, religion or culture. I was aware that I would not find what I was looking for by assuming a new way of living or point of view. From the beginning I was convinced that there is a core of being which is independent of all society, and I felt the urge to explore this conviction.

So you were not looking for a teacher?

No, I was not looking for anything specific but, arriving in India, in a completely new environment, I was left with no referenced to anything in my previous experienced. In this suspension of evaluation I was catapulted into an openness, a receptivity to everything. And I was astonished to meet so soon the man who later became my teacher. You can’t look for a teacher. The teacher finds you in your awareness.

This inner need, the eagerness for freedom—must it be very strong?

The urge to freedom must be tremendous. But it cannot be learned or acquired. It comes through self-inquiry. In self-inquiry there appears a fore-feeling, an intimation of reality, and it is this fore-feeling which brings up a tremendous ardour. It can make you sleepless!

When you inquire, you may first feel a lack. You may not know what kind of lack it is and you will go in many directions in the hope of filling it. As each direction is attained there may be a moment when there’s no longer a lack and the desire it brings. For a moment you are in peace. But because you are not aware of this desirelessness, you fixate on the object, the so-called cause of your satisfaction, and of course eventually it loses its charm and once again you are hungry. You will travel down many of these dead-ends, like a hunting dog who cannot find the scent and runs around frantically. But these cul-de-sacs of experience bring you to a kind of maturity, because inevitably you will question more deeply all the happening and their transience. It’s a process of elimination. You must inquire, inquire like a scientist, into your life. Take note that whenever you attain what you want you are in desirelessness itself where the initial object, the supposed cause of your desirelessness, is not present. See that this desirelessness is really causeless and it is you who are attributing causes to it.

At a certain point of maturity you will suddenly be attracted by the scent of reality and your running around in all directions, your dispersion, will cease. Spontaneously, you will be oriented. Your whole perspective will change. The scent lures you and gives you a fore-taste of reality, the fore-feeling, and this brings up the tremendous urge we spoke of.

Would you speak ore about this fore-feeling? Exactly what is it?

The fore-feeling comes from what is fore-felt. It is the reflection of truth. It is the spontaneous orientation when dispersion becomes one-pointed. The ego becomes more transparent and in this transparency the energy that was fixed by the ego in objects of dispersion is transferred to orientation. When the fore-feeling is there, give your whole heart to it. You must be very alert, very watchful, because the forgetting, which is our conditioning, is very strong.

Did suffering play any part in propelling you into the path?

It depends how you understand suffering. Suffering as an idea, a concept, can never bring you to the knowing of yourself. But the direct perception of suffering is, like all objects, a pointer to your Self. What was important for me were those moments when I faced myself and found a lack of fulfillment; this produced the dynamism to explore more deeply. In a certain way when you really feel this lack without conceptualizing it, it is great suffering—but it is not the kind of suffering caused by a robbery, losing a job, a broken marriage death, and so on. Of course these difficulties lift you out of a kind of complacency, a habitual way of living. They wake you up to interrogate, to inquire, to explore, to question suffering itself.

Make suffering an object. In complete surrender to the perception, light comes up. You must understand that by surrender I don’t mean a fatalistic acceptance or a kind of psychological sacrifice. Real surrender is letting go of all ideas and allowing the perception, in this case suffering, to come to you in your openness. You will see that it does not “go away,” as is the case with psychological acceptance—where the energy fixed as suffering is merely shifted to another area—but it comes to blossom within your full attention. You will feel it as free energy, energy that was previously crystallized. Thus surrender is not a passive state. It is both passive and active, passive in the sense of letting go as with Meister Eckhart’s “Poor Man,” and active in that it is a constant alertness.

Did you practice yoga to come to deeper levels of surrender and alertness?

The word practice generally means habit. We must use it only in the sense of becoming more and more aware of body and mind. We must see that the body is a field of fear, anxiety, defense and aggression. However, the emphasis must not be on the body but on presence, on listening. What is important is to become acquainted with the field of tensions and see that the constantly interfering I-image is not separate from this field but belongs to it. When this is clear, tensions finds no accomplice, the perception is freed, and energy integrates in its totality. The traditional approach is through listeing to the body, not mastering it. Dominating the body is violence. But one can sweep the floor or wash the dishes and be in listening. It makes no difference.

Exploring the body brought me to deeper layers of relaxation and this relaxation brought about the cessation of repetitive patterns in the body and mind. In welcoming the body I became more and more aware of the feeling of letting go, so in this way the yoga participated in the fore-feeling of reality. But it only led me to where I no longer emphasized the object, the body, but the ultimate subject. Yoga brings you to a kind of alertness, a tranquility, and a tranquil body reflects a tranquil mind. But of course you can come to the peaceful body-mind without yoga!

If yoga is not in itself the teaching, what is?

The teaching points directly to what is not teachable. The words, the actions, are a crutch and this support gradually loses its concreteness until suddenly one day you find yourself in the non-state which cannot be taught. The formulations are symbols, pointers, and ultimately you do not see the symbol but that to which it points.

When the teaching lost its concreteness for you and there was this shift in emphasis from the object-symbol to the subject, that to which the symbol points, how did your life change?

The old patterns of thinking and acting—of false identification with the body—having lost their concreteness, no longer had any hold. It was that reduction from dispersion to orientation we spoke of a strengthening of the fore-feeling of truth. It became more and more present and less conceptual. This being understanding gave a new direction to my life. Everything was perceived in a new way. I became more discerning, and although I made no voluntary changes, many things that had occupied places in my earlier life just dropped away. I had been lured by names and forms as I strove for having and becoming, but with the orientation of energy there came a new order of values. You must not interpret this as adopting a new morality of any kind. Nothing was added or given up. I just became aware of the “clearness,” sattvas, and a transformation spontaneously followed from this awareness.

My Master explained to me that this light, which seemed to come from outside, was really light reflected by the Self. In my meditations I was visited by this light and attracted by it and it gave me greater clarity in action, thinking and feeling. My way of listening became unconditional, free from past and future. This unconditional listening brought me to a receptive alertness and as I became familiar with this alertness it became free from all expectation, all volition. I felt an establishing in attention, an unfolding in fullness to awareness.

Then a complete change occurred one evening on Marine Drive in Bombay. I was watching flying birds without thought or interpretation, when I was completely taken by them and felt everything happening in myself. In this moment I knew myself consciously. The next morning I knew, in facing the multiplicity of daily life, that being understanding was established. The self-image had completely dissolved and, freed from the conflict and interference of the I-image, all happenings belonged to being awareness, the totality. Life flowed on without the cross-currents of the ego. Psychological memory, like and dislike, attraction and repulsion, had vanished. The constant presence, that we call the Self, was free from repetition, memory, judgment, comparison and appraisal. The center of my being had been spontaneously ejected from time and space into timeless stillness. In this non-state of being, the separation between “you” and “me” vanished completely. Nothing appeared outside. All things belonged in me but I was no longer in them. There was only oneness.

I knew myself in present happening, not as a concept but as a being without localization in time and space. In this non-state there was freedom, full and objectless joy. There was pure thankfulness, thanking without an object. It was not an affective feeling, but a freedom from all affectivity, a coldness close to warmth. My Master had given me an understanding of all this, but now it had become a bright and integrated truth.

-Jean Klein

From The Ease of Being, Prologue 

You can download a pdf copy of the entire book at:  https://pgoodnight.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/the-ease-of-being-jean-klein.pdf

To read more from Jean Klein see:  https://o-meditation.com/category/jean-klein/

 

Arises from Wonderment – Jean Klein

To discover your innermost being you must start from where you are at this moment, wherever that is. You cannot begin anywhere else. Whatever appears before you—your body, sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.—must be accepted, listened to as a whole. This does not mean you should analyze, interpret, understand or look for an inner meaning. What is important is to discover listening itself, which sooner or later will be revealed to you. At first the accent is on what is listened to, the sensation, feeling or thought. But the more the listening is sustained the more the emphasis is shifted to this listening itself without a listened to. Then you are at the threshold of the source from which the listening derives. That very instant listening will become a living reality.

Real listening can be neither improved nor perfected, for it is perfection itself. It reveals itself when the mind is struck by wonder, when it no longer refers to the slightest object. This fulfillment is later erroneously attributed to an object but one who is aware of the true perspective knows that the cause of this peacefulness is not to be found in an object, but is a pure reflection of silence, of what is.

Listening arises from wonderment, to which it also points—a state where there is no projection, where nothing appears. It is as if you had suddenly opened the windows of a dark room full of objects, and in streams daylight. Everything becomes clear in an instant.

– Jean Klein

From I Am, page 120 

To read more from Jean Klein see:  https://o-meditation.com/category/jean-klein/