Question: When we say that we must come to the end of the mind, that we must exhaust the mind, is it a necessary process, something which must happen, or is it possible to have an insight without the mind being exhausted? And secondly, is this process itself a meditation, or does meditation begin at the end of the mind?
JK: When the mind goes to its end – and it goes to its end when it thinks of the unthinkable – we can call it meditation, because in thinking the unthinkable, we are silent. Our thinking no longer starts from thinking, it starts from silence. When the mind comes to the end of its potentiality, it is a relaxed mind. This means that when there is something to think, it thinks, and the rest of the time it is in non-thinking, that is, a natural state of relaxed, non-directed attention. If we do not come to the end of the thinking mind, we will be bound to it, so that even when there are moments when there is nothing to think, we are still in the mind and live in constant agitation. The relaxed mind functions in discontinuity. Only when it functions like this can we be aware of the continuity behind all functioning. The continuity is timeless meditation. It is this presence which gives life and reality to all appearing. Any other so-called meditation you might do has no flavor. But really, meditation is praying, praying without someone who prays or is prayed to. Real praying is thanking for the joy of being. It is expressed at every moment. Experiences like joy, transcendence, peace and holiness, are all expressions borrowed from the mind. But the meditation we are talking about here is without any qualification. Its only quality is that it is without qualifications. It is the extinction of everything that could be a state.
As long as the mind is not exhausted, it will still be an obstacle to any real insight. Because the uninformed mind, that is, the mind which does not know its limits, will continue to try to understand what is beyond it. It will be driven by will or unconscious reflex, in the old patterns of becoming and attaining. The mind will still be looking for freedom, but in trying to attain it, it goes further away from it. Because there is no way to go to freedom, for there is nobody to go to it. When the mind remains in the reflex that there is something to attain, something to become, something to achieve, it cannot come to the only useful perspective for the mind, the perspective of living in not-knowing. When the mind abides in not-knowing, when it is, at every moment, open to the unknown, it is a tool of higher reasoning. Any other use of the mind is a nuisance.
The important thing is to realize that what we are looking for is the looker, is our presence. To achieve something in the phenomenal realm we must, of course, refer to something we already know. But regarding that which can never be an object, we can never go away from it. We must come to the organic memory of the body. This is important, because through this organic memory we will come to the absolutely relaxed state, where we have all our energy in our hand, so to speak. In this relaxed state the body and the mind come more or less together. There is no more duality. As we have said before, the relaxed body is dynamic, not passive. Passive relaxation is still in duality. It is not integrated because there is still emphasis on the object, relaxation.
Question: Even in a relaxed state, the mind automatically creates pictures, or thoughts. How can we exhaust the mind?
JK: These are residues, and these residues must also come to their exhaustion. When we let them come to their exhaustion, we have a forefeeling of the “I am.” Don’t go into the images or thoughts of these residues. Some teachers say to observe them, listen to them, but don’t go in, don’t follow them. My experience is that we must not observe or listen or follow them because the moment we look at them we feed them by creating a witness to them. Take your stand in the void, the “I am.” From here, you ignore them. But I think that when you become aware of the body, not the concept body but the feeling body, and you are at one with the feeling, in this becoming aware of the true body feeling, the residues of images and words and language have no more power. You are, of course, still in subject-object relation, the perceiver and the perceived body feeling, but there comes a moment where there is only the “I am.”
When we are living in our tactile, global body, we are no longer in our foreheads. Generally, we live in our foreheads, and this localization prevents all global sensation. When we remain in our foreheads, we are in the hands of the devil. So we must become free from the brain. In the beginning there may be some difficulty to be free from the brain, because it is partly activated by the taking and grasping of the eyes, which are very connected with the brain. It is important, therefore, to consciously relax the eyes, to sense the hollows of our eyes, their heaviness. When this part is sensitive, there is a deep relaxation in the brain. Some scientists don’t believe we can sense our brain, but they are studying medicine in a superficial way. We can sense and change our brain. For when the brain becomes relaxed, we feel ourselves no longer localized in the thinking factory of the forehead, but we feel ourselves behind, in the upper cervical vertebrae. When we feel ourselves behind, in our neck, we can no longer see from the point of view of the individual which projects individual objects. Because the individual is a thought construct which comes from the frontal area. From behind there is no longer any concretization. There is only a vague cloud of objectivity. Then this subtle localization behind the neck dissolves down into the heart, and the heart is the last door, the last expansion. Finally, we become free also from the heart. We become emptiness, emptiness without border and without center. We are the universe and the universe is us.
But I would say, take note of all this and immediately forget it.
Jean Klein was a French author, spiritual teacher and philosopher of Advaita Vedanta. Contemporary teachers who were influenced by him include Francis Lucille and Eric Baret. He died in 1998.This extract from Open to the Unknown (Third Millennium Publications, 1992) is part of a talk given at Delphi, Greece in 1990.