Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Nonduality and Creativity of Silence

According to twentieth century philosopher of Advaita (Nondualism), Jean Klein, it is only in a "spontaneous state of interior silence that we can open ourselves to our true nature: the 'I Am' of pure consciousness." Klein goes on to define this silence as “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.” 

Klein redefines intelligence as “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. When you are intelligent, there is no quantity or quality to that intelligence. It is right acting…This spontaneity does not go through the discriminating mind. Spontaneous, intelligent acting occurs naturally the moment there is pure perception, perception without conceptualizing.” 

So thought and feeling arise in us, but we do not need to attach the “I-concept” to them. We, instead, take the viewpoint of ever present awareness of all living beings, with a quiet mind and open heart. We act, not based on ego or “I concept,” but on the creativity that comes with our pure perception. Is it possible to live our lives in this silent manner? 

What do YOU not think?


Ashok said...

To restate Jean Klein, you are already living in this silent manner. That, reflecting in the world, in emotion and thought, causes multiple images ( as possibilities ). We are identities associated with these images, a conditioning, a habit, an idea particular to each. That which reflects, " living in this silent manner," is non - dual, real. The identities associated with images are also real but limited to being within the domain of space - time, and are transcended, proving illusory. Until then, the illusion is real. As a dualistic phenomenon, we are a dream, a mere possibility that is real to us for now.

Nabil said...

I do not think that understanding is possible for us, because we are always connected to a physical world that changes the variables that we base understanding upon.
You ask?
Is it possible to live our lives in this silent manner?

I do not think that we can. And I do not recommend that we use silence to manage our lives, or in any attempt to find better answers. There are many reasons for that.
One can't feel silence within the cacophony of the world today. The attempt to reach that silent state is a difficult endeavor, that will hurt us more than it will help.

The world we know and live within right now is loud, violent, and as real to our conscious as can be.
We can't deny our being, which includes all of us.
We are building upon universal consciousness, that we do not yet understand. Silence is not always the best way to move forward.

Anand said...

In my extremely limited understanding of all the philosophical pursuits in the History, Advaita is the most difficult yet apparently the most complete thought system.

Since I am not familiar with Jean Klein's work, I will take the liberty of what he describes as "Intelligence" to mean "Consciousness". As my understanding tells me that the non-dual "Consciousness" manifests itself through "Memory" & "Intelligence" - the latter two being closely inter-related and inter-dependent.

But whether "Individuality" contains"Consciousness" or vice-versa - I am a little confused on this one.

Irrespective of that confusion, if by removal of "I-Concept", she means either merging of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness or freeing of the Individual Consciousness from the limitations imposed by the physical brain or physical existence altogether (Since Advaita does not recognize the physical existence terming it as "Illusion"), then an existence in silence is feasible. Since the greatest exponent of Advaita, Adi Shankaracharya himself described the state of the Absolute as "Bliss Indivisible", probably what HPB thought as "Be-Ness". Bliss must have silence (absence of noise).

If not, then within the illusory physical existence, the absence of noise appears infeasible - even for those who are successful in removing the "I-Concept", like Gautama Buddha and Adi Shankaracharya.

Bruce said...

I regard Jean Klein as my "root guru," although I've never met him and have only exchanged letters with him. But it was through his "pointing" that I had my first nondual "recognition." I love that man.

Bruce said...

Here's an except from a book in which Jean Klein talks about the guru-disciple relationship in relation to living creatively in/from silence.

Tomas said...

Is it possible to live our lives in this silent manner? I struggle to connect and find words to draw me closer, to a connection that I need. Most often the words distance and the meaning is misunderstood, lost, or not heard. So why? Why use words and struggle? Emptying my mind and open it the universe and be silent. It is then I receive small gifts, and rather than try to understand, just draw them to my heart and feel their presence and contemplate their meaning.

Over the past weekend, I was at a gathering in Golden Gate Park. The energy was great and those around me were active and animated. I sat, watched and was silent. Children playing, lovers in embrace, musicians blessings with their heavenly sounds, the movement of the water, the reflections in the pool, the clouds tumbling in the sky, the leaves dancing in seemingly random form from the whispering wind. Nothing was said, my mind was silent drawing in all the forms around me. Nothing was said and nothing was asked of me. There was no " I ". There is no " I ", I was invisible to all. Although, passing through my mind, was the question of what my existence means and what my purpose is. That was the " I ". That day, I wondered if I mattered at all. I said nothing, but gave a hug and kiss to parents who had lost their child to cancer. They understood, that I understood their suffering, and that my love was theirs. I needed not a word to express this.

I did use my voice at a time most needed. The silence was broken, with a boom. It was used to stop a group of young ladies who where stepping off the curb in front of a car they did not see. My voice stopped them in their tracks. So the silence was broken, only to save a life or two. But it was meant to be, and they thanked me, and I blessed them. Perhaps that was the real reason I was there that day. Silence is the best, but sometimes the silence needs to be broken, when it is used to save a life, when the stakes become so high, that I can't remain silent. Do these words fall silent? Do I make any sense? Usually I don't. But I felt your post deserved a thoughtful response from this mind.

Molly Brogan said...

It seems to me, Tomas, that you acted with the creativity that comes with our pure perception, maintaining the integrity of your silence, especially in the exchange of "But it was meant to be, and they thanked me, and I blessed them." The paradox of nonduality is that it includes the dual experience, and yet, if we are posited in our connection with all living beings and pure perception, our actions and relations will stem from there.

Annie said...

Christians call it Love, the force moving within and without, no longer directing because there is no one to hinder its movements.

I like the word spontaneity, but I also think that it can be disruptive and oppositional, you know without knowledge of any reason.

Kerry said...

In Thailand during the height of their political strife this last May I began to write into how the creativity, spontaneity, and intelligence which Klein elucidates is a force for social and cultural evolution.

The AQAL zones provided a dynamic basis for viewing our natural access in non duality as pertains to conflict and suffering.

Stanley said...

I tend to keep stepping over just how simple and everpresent our true nature is. We can call it the silence. We could simplify the above quote to; interior silence is our true nature. This silence is always between, behind, and within our words and thoughts. We might as well be grateful for this.

Dawid said...

In my opinion, it is indeed possible -- when it is experienced that there is no one who could ever live a life in a silent manner to begin with. As long as you dwell with the question: "Am I properly living life in a silent manner now?" it isn't possible to live life in a silent manner in the way Klein is describing.

Dawid said...

Why does he tell us that you can never know it, and in the next sentence teach us what it is - the knowing? Don't we then know what the supposed answer is, namely: "the knowing"? Why doesn't it suffice with the first sentence? Is the latter sentence really necessary?

Personally, I think this is why I'm not an Advaita-follower. Advaita always seems to have some final dualistic answer(s) which the ego can become cozy with.

Molly Brogan said...

I think that Klein's statement breaks the subject/object distinction to encourage the I AM understanding. I AM the knowing. Remember, the nondual includes the dual, so there is no contradiction, only paradox.

Dawid said...

I guess it's simply a matter of personal preferences. I personally don't feel like saying that ultimate reality is something in particular, be it knowing, I AM, emptiness, or whatever.

That said, language is by nature dualistic, so when we speak about ultimate reality it often turns out that we simply use positive language. And as you said Molly, the non-dual includes everything, so ultimately there's no problem with positive language.

David said...

Advaita is in agreement with Madhyamika on ultimate reality, that ultimately it is beyond the mind and that nothing accurate can be said about it. They are in agreement on this issue. There is nothing "special" about Madhyamika in this regard.

Higher interpretations are characterized by paradox, among other things.

Shashank said...

language is by nature dualistic, so when we speak about ultimate reality it often turns out that we simply use positive language. And as you said Molly, the non-dual includes everything, so ultimately there's no problem with positive language.

I agree that they agree that ultimate reality is beyond mind and nothing accurate can be said about it. I also agree with Daiwid that Madhyamika[and a lot of other Buddhist schools for that matter] and Advaita have very different, almost opposite ways of expressing this insight.

Advaita is inclined and even enjoys saying positive things about what realization is, thus it can at its worst lead to people pronouncing truth intellectually without having realized anything beyond their mind. As Dawid says it gives the ego something to be cozy with.

Madhyamika tends to undercut all mental positions, thus leaving no place to stand. It can at its worst suppress the fullness of realization[using Wilber's freedom and fullness metaphor], and thus suppress the joyful/overflowing quality of realization. It can become a philosophical position tainted by a kind of paranoid elitism.

Both taken together come close to a paradoxical languaging of realization. Personally I have moved from a primarily Madhyamika like stance, to a Advaita stance, and now to appreciating both while finding each a bit one sided in its emphasis and thus intellectually clinging in its expression, not necessarily in its realization which I think are somewhat comparable.

David said...

And egos get every bit as cozy with negative formulations. The Madhyamika position doesn't undercut its own position on the conceptual side of the street. It leaves its own conceptual position standing, and lots of egos get very, very cozy with it, telling themselves that they are so free of conceptualizations just because they choose a negative-sounding conceptualization.

Only satori or realization will ultimately undercut every position, and that is ultimately not an intellectual task.

if they are not taken together, there is intellectual clinging. That is what is so rare, a Turquoise, cross-paradigmatic interpretation that doesn't see one approach being inherently superior because it is negative sounding or appears to undercut positions on the surface while leaving its position intact.

Da expressed a Turquoise, cross-paradigmatic view when he used the metaphor "perfectly subjective and perfectly non objective."

The pre-Turquoise Advaita will side with the former, while the pre-Turquoise Madhyamika will fixate on the latter. One fixation is not inherently better than the other. In fact, I think it is arguable that it is better to teach self than no self, as some Buddhists have argued.

I also think that the Madhyamika position could actually prevent vertical enlightenment if people hold on to it too tightly or can't integrate anything else. It could prevent ("negate") the type of vertical realizations Almaas talks about involving the guidance or optimizing force (L/9)--because nothing can be asserted in association with enlightenment.

Shashank said...

Here is a shortened/edited excerpt from p 275-8 of The Book Of Enlightened Masters By Rawlinson about how Jean Klein became a teacher, I find it quite fascinating and thought people who weren't familiar would find it useful. [I have referenced this book before in relation to hot/cool, and structured/unstructured categories. ]

"He had what he calls 'a strong urge for freedom' as a teenager. He read Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche, and was especially influenced by Gandhi...He also read people like Coomaraswamy, Aurobindo, and Krishnamurti. But the person who had the greatest impact on him was Rene Guenon...

At the same time, he had experiences that confirmed what he had read. He describes a glimpse of oneness of self awareness that occurred when he was 17.

'I was waiting one afternoon for a train. The platform was deserted and the landscape sleepy. It was silent. The train was late, and I waited without waiting, very relaxed and free from all thinking. Suddenly a cock crowed and the unusual sound made me aware of my silence. It was not the objective silence I was aware of, as often happens when one is in a quiet place and a sudden sound throws into relief the silence around. No I was ejected into my own silence, I felt myself in awareness beyond the sound or the silence. Subsequently, this feeling visited me several times' [Transmission of the Flame, iii]

He went on to become a doctor and outwardly lived an ordinary life. But there was still a 'lack of fulfillment.' Then he 'felt a certain call to go to India' and arrived there around 1950.

He says that he was not looking for a guru...But he did meet a teacher...Dr. Klein refers to him simply as Pandiji' and says that 'I never asked personal questions and I never spoke personally about him. It was a sacred relationship'
the one morning,

'between deep sleep and awakening, there was a sudden vanishing of all the residues of my persons, each having believed themselves hitherto to be a doer, a sufferer, an enjoyer. All this vanished completely, and I was seized in full consciousness by an all-penetrating light, without inside or outside. This was the awakening in Reality, in the I am...I knew myself in the actual happening, not as a concept, but as a being without localization in time or space. In this non-state there was a freedom, full and objectless joy.' (Transmission of the Flame., vii)

This realization is regarded by those who have accepted Dr Klein as their teacher as 'total illumination.' It therefore makes him quite independent of his own teacher...

He began teaching about 1960, 'People came to me. I have never taken myself for a teacher, so I never solicited students' (transmission of the flame, xx)

'The way of approaching truth belongs to a certain current, but there are no entities in a line...It is only accidentally that I call the current of my teaching Advaita' (Transmission of the flame, xxii)
If there is no meditator and hence no one to find the truth, what is the function of the teacher? Answer: to make the truth manifest...

'Let us say you are looking at a sculpture from Angkhor Buddhism...The smile on the face of the Angkhor statue is perfectly beautiful. When your attitude is receptive, you may be completely taken by this smile.' [The ease of Being, 7]

In a similar way the teacher/guru/master embodies the quality that one is seeking and thus helps to bring it out in the seeker. But since this quality is our true nature, it cannot be given or transmitted from one to another. It can only be pointed to by one who already manifests it."

Shashank said...

At its best it does lead one beyond conceptualization, in that it undercuts the intellect's ability to position itself with references and thus leaves one standing on a pole, almost like the Zen koan:

what do you do when you are standing on a pole. Walk on! [as recalled by me]

I agree that people's ego cozy up to it as well, that's what i meant when i said: " It can become a philosophical position tainted by a kind of paranoid elitism."

I'll have to let that one sit for a while. It seems related to what I said earlier, "It can at its worst suppress the fullness of realization[using Wilber's freedom and fullness metaphor], and thus suppress the joyful/overflowing quality of realization." In that the vertical part is an aspect of the fullness of realization at any given time.

Still that is at its worst, at its best I'm not sure it would prevent such a vertical question for me. Curious what Dawid thinks, I'm pretty sure it's something different.

I think he does express a cross-paradigmatic view:

"The Way of the Heart is the Way of natural, inherent, or always prior Abiding as the Radiant Transcendental Being, free of the self-based or inherently contracted tendency toward phenomenal extroversion or noumenal introversion. In that natural State (Sahaj Samadhi), all arising conditions, whether phenomenal or noumenal, conceived as self or as not-self, are transparently obvious (or tacitly recognized) as merely apparent or unnecessary and non-binding modifications of the Transcendental Being (or Consciousness). That very Being is the Ground or Identity of self and/or not-self as well as the Substance or Condition of self and/or not-self. It is the Real Status of the Energy and apparent Creative Will that moves the phenomenal flow. All of that inheres in the Transcendental Being without qualifying the Bliss or Radiance of Consciousness even to the slightest degree.

The Way of the Heart is to Abide in this Awakened Realization of the Transcendental or unborn Being or Consciousness, recognizing all that arises in It, tacitly allowing the manifest world and self to be spontaneous expressions of the Radiant Self, until that very Divine Self or Reality Outshines all noticing of conditional existence."

(from Nirvanasara, chaper 6, Adi da)

David said...

Sure, but so does self-inquiry and other paths. There is nothing special about Madhyamika in this regard. Self-inquiry and other paths may even be superior.

Also, of course, neti-neti is very big in Advaita, and neti-neti dates back to the earliest Upanishads, 600 or 700 BCE, centuries before Buddha was born, many centuries before Nagarjuna.

Shashank said...

I never said it was special or somehow came about without any historical precursors, only that it can lead[not cause] to satori, of course it can also leave some hugging a pole very tightly.

Further it certainly does appeal to people with a very intellectual bent, thus it's really the main non-western philosophical approach to the mind that a few living western philosophers have engaged and thus a nice bridge between two very different traditions.

Dawid said...

"If there were the slightest thing which were not empty,
Then there would be that much emptiness as well,
But if there is not the slightest thing which is not empty
How could emptiness exist?"

Nagarjuna here shows that even emptiness doesn't exist independently, since it wholly relies on that which is empty. Therefore Madhyamika calls for non-abiding and not-knowing; it is not a fixed position with a final view which you can become cozy with. He famously says:

"The victorious ones say that emptiness
Undermines all dogmatic views,
Those who take a dogmatic view of emptiness
Are said to be incurable."

That said, I agree with you David that the mind is very clever and can become attached to (non-affirming) negations as well. I have two things to say about this:

1) These people have not understood the soteriological and pragmatic purpose of the spiritual negation, which is to overcome mental fixation. If they understood this, they would not be incurable and bound in chains of conceptuality - but they'd be free and happy.

2) My classification or hierarchy of what is able to be expressed about ultimate reality doesn't end at non-affirming negations, but there's another crucial step:

Affirming positives: “Ultimate reality is X”.
Affirming negatives: “Ultimate reality is not X, (but it is X.)”.
Non-affirming negatives: “Ultimate reality is not X.” “Ultimate reality is not X, not not X, not both X and not X, not neither X nor not X.”
Direct, non-conceptual expressions: Koans. “Crazy Wisdom”. The Flower Sermon. (Paradoxical, silly, confusing, illogical.)

For people stuck at a subtle nihilistic position of negation there is a cure: the direct, non-conceptual expressions - the most profound expressions of ultimate reality. This medicine has the capacity to remedy all attachments, even the attachment to non-affirming negations, if there is such an attachment.

Shashank said...

Klein seems to represent a growing trend in western spiritual teachers: their independence from traditions.

Their authority comes from their experience/realization and they tend to communicate using common words as opposed to technical/tradtional language.

This includes Klein and people like Eckhart tolle, Adyashanti, Osho, and many many more.

Side note: Jean Klein is very cool unstuctured [if you don't know what that means: ]

Rawlinson on Klein:

"He teaches Advaiata but he rarely uses its technical terms. In fact, he has developed his own vocabulary which consists mainly of special use of words like 'listening', 'transparency', and so on. Nor does he refer back to the tradition for any kind of confirmation. He occasionally gives quotation from Gaudapada but nothing more. He does not mention other teachers (such as Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj, to name only two of the best known). His is not an approach which makes itself more persuasive by making connections of this kind."( Book of Enlightened Masters, p378)

I think there is a lot going on here.

A few introductory thoughts:

For one most traditions are bankrupt in modern[orange/green] people's eyes, thus they are more likely to listen to people outside of them.

There is a universalistic trend in spirituality[despite all the postmodern haggling] the idea that direct experience transcends all cultures and traditions is quite popular and powerful.

Further realizers are awakening in a context where they can see cross- paradigmati views and have a tendency to not identify with any one school.

Mystics tend toward universality from Kabir to Klein as it were.

What does this mean for lasting teachings: will there have to be constant independent realizers teaching, will new more inclusive traditions emerge?

What do you all think?

David said...

Yes, I think we agree there, the "direct experience," so to speak, right? It is also the medicine for any error on the reifying side, and I think it is really the only medicine ultimately.

Why is "non-abiding and not-knowing" less fixed than "knowing"? Klein wasn't referring to any particular kind of knowing.

It's hard to know exactly what Klein was referring to (maybe Molly and Bruce can interject something and we can discuss Klein; I haven't been able to find much about him this time or the last time he came up), but it is possible that he is referring to psychic knowing with that remark, a kind of vertical enlightenment rather than just nonduality, or maybe he was referring to jnana, which might imply psychic knowing (L/9) in some cases (I think Ramana Maharshi is an example).

Almaas speaks about knowing in a similar way and also how not knowing and knowing work together:

“In a very direct way, dynamic unknowingness is the expression of dynamic knowingness.” (Spacecrusier Inquiry, p. 104)

There is a long discussion about that in that book, about not knowing and knowing, spanning at least a couple of chapters. You can read some of it here.

"I sometimes call the Diamond Guidance the essential nous, the individual soul’s version of the universal nous of the Greeks, as described by Plotinus. In Sanskrit, the essential nous is referred to as prajna, while the discriminating awareness – the universal nous – is called jnana. It is known in both Buddhist and Hindu teachings that you use prajna to arrive at jnana. Prajna is referred as discriminating insight and jnana as inherent knowingness, or discriminating awareness. So Prajna is the recognition of patterns, understanding, insight, realization, while jnana is the inherent self-knowing of pure awareness. Jnana is not the experience of a specific insight or understanding; it is the recognition that all experience is knowledge and that you exist as knowingness, as knowledge. (Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg 42)

"Knowing is a fundamental characteristic of every moment of our experience. Our sensation is knowledge of sensation; our emotion is knowledge of emotion. Our seeing is knowledge, our hearing is knowledge, our thinking about past, present and future is knowledge. Questioning is knowledge. Our sense that we don’t know something is knowledge; we know that we sense that we don’t know." (Inner Journey Home, pg 46)

"The inherent knowingness, or nous, was called the logos by some Christians, total intellect by the Sufis, and discriminating awareness by the Buddhists. Now, this discriminating awareness or knowingness is the source of all experience – the various impressions, forms, and colors. Whether they are extraordinary physical experiences or unusual spiritual experiences, they are all the same to the inherent knowingness – they are all knowingness at different levels and intensities of brilliance. The ego experience is just dull knowingness, while the essential experience is bright knowingness, a luminous presence." (Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg 41)

There are several more passages in his online glossary as well.

I heard Andrew Cohen mention knowing once and say it is an important thing to look into, but mostly he emphasizes not knowing.

Bruce said...

It's not easy to find Jean Klein's material on the web, but he has some wonderful books, if you can get ahold of them. I have most of them. Jean Klein taught a mixture of Advaita and Shaivite Tantra, although, as Shashank and Rawlinson point out, he did so in a non-traditional (and rather poetic) way. Regarding the Shaivite portion of his teachings, this showed up primarily in the subtle body yoga he taught -- which I loved practicing, but was never able to go far enough with it because I was only briefly exposed to teachers of it (for about two weeks, when they visited the Krishnamurti school in Rajghat where I was working).

I just found this brief piece on Jean Klein and his body work, with comments by one of his students, Francis Lucille (an Advaita teacher in his own right):


“It became apparent, through meeting people, that identification with what we are not is confirmed and reinforced by contraction on the psychosomatic level. The I-concept is only a contraction on the level of the body-mind. It has no more reality than a bad habit. It is a defense against being nobody. … In getting to know the body-mind, one can discover more clearly the nature of the identification, and so let it go. The relaxed body is a relaxed mind. In a relaxed body and mind you are open to receiving, available, welcoming, open to the openness. The relaxed, light, energetic, sattvic body-mind are a near expression of your real nature.”

Jean Klein, from his great collection entitled The Book of Listening.

What is the "vital body"?

“When you close your eyes for a moment and detect the subtle body, you will realize that your body is not limited by the formation of the skin, of the bone-muscle structure. You will feel yourself expanded. I myself have no idea or sensation of my body being limited. Whether my eyes are open or closed, I am everywhere, expanded in space.”

So, if the body is an illusion, why do bodywork at all?

Here is Francos Lucille...with a direct answer:

"Jean Klein never meant for the world to be an illusion pure and simple, for the world as an experience is undeniable. What he meant was that a world existing independently from consciousness is an illusion. But as an expression of reality, or consciousness, the world is real. Jean Klein’s teachings are at the crossroads of Advaita and Tantrism (Kashmiri Shaivism) and the latter tradition emphasizes the reality of the world, and the intrinsic oneness between the world and consciousness, between Shakti and Shiva.

Bruce said...

Jean Klein would often say that the distinction between subject and object used in the teachings was a pedagogical tool: if the disciple believes to be a separate perceiver, provisionally assuming that to be true, he is told that just as he is the witness of the world, he is the witness of his feelings and of its thoughts. This understanding liberates him from his identification with the body-mind, and opens the possibility for consciousness to be universal rather than personal. But this distinction has to be eventually transcended: the subject and its object are one, there is no “gap”

Now there is a gap of a different nature , the one Jean is referring to when he says: “but there comes a moment when the space is felt as our real nature, we abide in it, and the object, the sensation, appears in it.”

This space, this gap, is no longer between subject and object. At that point the conceptual subject has vanished. All objects appear for what they are: an expression of the space/awareness/reality in which they appear and of which they are made, just as waves are nothing else than the water they are made of.

The problem we are facing here is that for most of us, the experience of pure Presence without objects is not recognized, and when we speak of it, our words are checked against the sole touchstone of phenomenal experience and miss the mark.

All we can hope for is for the listener to be open to the possibility of a different type of experience, a non phenomenal, non objective form of knowledge, the mode of knowledge through which we know that there is consciousness, reality, the kind of knowledge through which we experience happiness. If this openness is there, the experience will sooner or later follow, an experience which is not a thought or a perception, but rather something like the perfume of love, peace and happiness that you and I felt in Jean’s presence."

Bruce said...

And here is Francis Lucille describing his own awakening:

Sometimes, I had a foretaste of its limitlessness, usually while reading Ch’an or Advaita texts or while thinking deeply about the nondual perspective. Due to my upbringing by materialistic and antireligious parents and to my training in Mathematics and Physics, I was both reluctant to adopt any religious belief and suspicious of any nonlogically or nonscientifically validated hypothesis. An unlimited, universal awareness seemed to me to be such a belief or hypothesis, but I was open to explore this possibility. The perfume of this limitlessness had, in fact, been the determining factor that sustained my search for the truth. Two years after the first glimpse, this possibility had taken a center stage position.

That is when the radical change, the “Copernican shift,” happened. This event, or, more precisely, this nonevent, stands alone, uncaused. The certainty that flows from it has an absolute strength, a strength independent from any event, object or person. It can only be compared to our immediate certainty to be conscious.

I was sitting in silence, meditating in my living room with two friends. It was too early to fix dinner, our next activity. Having nothing to do, expecting nothing, I was available. My mind was free of dynamism, my body relaxed and sensitive, although I could feel some discomfort in my back and in my neck.

After some time, one of my friends unexpectedly began to chant a traditional incantation in Sanskrit, the Gayatri Mantra. The sacred syllables entered mysteriously in resonance with my silent presence which seemed to become intensely alive. I felt a deep longing in me, but at the same time a resistance was preventing me from living the current situation to the fullest, from responding with all my being to this invitation from the now, and from merging with it. As the attraction toward the beauty heralded by the chant increased, so did the resistance, revealing itself as a growing fear that transformed into an intense terror.

At this point, I felt that my death was imminent, and that this horrendous event would surely be triggered by any further letting go on my behalf, by any further welcoming of that beauty. I had reached a crucial point in my life. As a result of my spiritual search, the world and its objects had lost their attraction. I didn’t really expect anything substantial from them. I was exclusively in love with the Absolute, and this love gave me the boldness to jump into the great void of death, to die for the sake of that beauty, now so close, that beauty which was calling me beyond the Sanskrit words.

As a result of this abandon, the intense terror which had been holding me instantaneously released its grip and changed into a flow of bodily sensations and thoughts which rapidly converged toward a single thought, the I-thought, just as the roots and the branches of a tree converge toward its single trunk. In an almost simultaneous apperception, the personal entity with which I was identifying revealed itself in its totality. I saw its superstructure, the thoughts originating from the I-concept and its infrastructure, the traces of my fears and desires at the physical level. Now the entire tree was contemplated by an impersonal eye, and both the superstructure of thoughts and the infrastructure of bodily sensations rapidly vanished, leaving the I-thought alone in the field of consciousness. For a few moments, the pure I-thought seemed to vacillate, just as the flame of an oil lamp running out of fuel, then vanished.

At that precise moment, the immortal background of Presence revealed itself in all its splendor.

Shashank said...

a great tale from someone who meet Jean Klien and cooked for him now and then: a nice glimpse into the man and teacher

David said...

I'm not saying a Madhyamika is independent of cognition or kosmic addresses. Not at all. I'm saying, however, that a Madhyamika isn't attached to the perspective of emptiness; she feels no need to cling to that perspective as "the way things truly are". And that is the game changer.

Compare that with an Advaita follower. He must concede that ultimate reality has inherent characteristics. For example that it is patently subjective, because I AM or Awareness is by definition subjective in character. Awareness for him is not merely a conceptual and conventional game or illusion -- like Madhyamika followers concede that emptiness is, since it is dependently arisen -- it is an actual reality, and he expounds this spiritual knowledge with absolute authority.

But I'd be extremely happy to be proven wrong. Please show me an Advaita follower who openly say that Awareness is an illusion, i.e. on precisely the same ontological footing as a desert mirage.

in my direct experience I've come to see that as soon as I think know something with absolute authority, I've created an omni-frontal war. All kinds of suffering available to human experience has the potential to explode when I claim to know something with absolute authority about reality.

Luckily, Nagarjuna demonstrated -- with conventional authority -- that there is neither something nor nothing that can be known with absolute authority.

"When neither something nor nothing
Remains to be known
There is no alternative left
But complete non-referential ease."
- Shantideva
My opinion is that he was referring to a metaphysical knowing; a knowing free from kosmic addresses because it is a "pure knowing", like God knowing itself or something. This is very common with sages who're not also post-Orange philosophers. And there is no real problem with Klein's statement per see. It's only that at Green it is seen that these kinds of metaphysical assertions are, among other issues, often dangerously connected with totalitarianism, and therefore Green seek an alternative to assertions with a believed status of absolute authority.

I hope I am making myself clear:

When it comes to reality - nothing nor something can be known. Period. (And I say this with conventional authority, so it is not a statement about reality "as it really is", which would be a vicious contradiction.)

When it comes to the conventional reality (NooMatrix), where we play at being separate individuals in a separate world consisting of separate objects - things can here be known with conventional authority, but not with absolute authority. AQAL, emptiness, E=mc2, quantum wave functions, and other theories may have conventional authority, but when it comes to describing "reality as it really is" they are all illusions.

This is an important distinction, 'cause I'm not advocating that we walk around in the supermarket, "not knowing" what ketchup to choose, or where the cash register is located, or when the store closes.

I'm sorry for ranting, been watching the Swedish election debate for hours now, heh. I'll stop now!

kris said...

let us analyze this closely. I see a subtle contradiction in the statement - it is only in a "spontaneous state of interior silence that we can open ourselves to our true nature: the 'I Am' of pure consciousness." Why would we need to open ourselves to our true nature when we are in a spontaneous state? If we need to do anything it is now when we are not in a spontaneous state. The real question is - what do we need to do to get to the spontaneous state of interior silence?

I submit that the answer lies in understanding the difference between spontaneity and doing. Doing entails karma while spontaneity is beyond karma or devoid of karma. The paradox here is doing something to reach a state of not doing anything karmically. There is a need to reconcile doing in way that entails karma with doing in a way that does not entail karma.

We should note here that I-concept arises from ahaMkAra or literally "I-do-ness". As to how we get to the spontaneous state, I rely on the tradition of yoga sAdhanA or the way of yoga.

FishHawk said...

"Conversations With Chris Bernard" has been included in this weeks A Sunday Drive. I hope this helps to attract even more new visitors here.