“Pain” is not Painful – Jean Klein

Dr. Klein, would you please talk about perception and exactly what you mean when you say that we must be open to pain? To accepting pain?

The non-accepting of the pain contributes to the pain.

I don’t understand very well what it means to accept the pain. How do I do it?

It is not a fatalistic way of accepting. It is not a masochistic succumbing to the pain. It is passive-active, with a view to knowing something about the pain. The knower of the the pain has nothing to do with the pain. When you feel this strongly, then you are distanced from the object, pain, and it is no longer painful. As long as you live in the “concept,” pain, you cannot face the percept. So to come to the percept, first free yourself from the concept. The concept “pain” is not painful.

I don’t quite understand what it is to accept, how to do it, how can I be fee of the pain, how can I change the pain into a stream of energy?

You know your pain through your reactions on the body level. When you look at how you function, you will see that you stay for a very short time with the perception of the pain because you immediately conceptualize it. And as the perception and the conception can never happen simultaneously, the moment you conceptualize you lose contact with the perception. So now the question is, how to face what you conceptualize as “pain.” You must go back to the body level. See where the pain is localized, explore the localization. Simply take note of it without interpreting it as “pain.” In doing so you will experience space between the knower and the known, and you become free of the identification with the pain.

This is what I was trying to find out: Do you mean to detach myself from the pain and to look at it simply as an observer?

Yes. When you see it as a fact, there is a space between the observer and the observed. And then comes a very important observation: You will see that the pain is in you, but you are not in the pain.

– Jean Klein

From Beyond Knowledge, Third Millennium Publications

You can read more from Jean Klein here.

Is pain, pain?

Jean Klein used to say that the word ‘pain’ is not the thing ‘pain,’ meaning that the word itself is not the experience of pain. That is the same for anger, love, etc. It is important because rather than actually experiencing the issue, be it pain, anger, etc., we relate to the word and all of the memory associated with the word.

If we feel that there is pain, it is more helpful if we experience the pain directly, immediately, without an intermediary like memory. We allow it to reveal itself without condemning or trying to eliminate it. Where is the location of the pain? What does it actually feel like?

When we do so, we may find that the pain is much smaller and less intense than we thought. At the very least, by experiencing the pain, we will notice that pain is an object in our awareness. It is not that we are in pain but rather pain is in our awareness. This is quite liberating.


This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.


%d bloggers like this: