You Are Only in the Now

by Jean Klein

It is useless to pursue truth and enlightenment.
You can only see what is not truth, what is not clarity.
You cannot see truth with the mind because you are truth.

You Are Only In The NowAS A YOUNG MAN, JEAN KLEIN studied music and medicine in Vienna and Berlin. During this time, he became familiar with the philosophies of Gandhi, Lao Tze, Chuang Tzu, Tagore, Coomaraswamy, Aurobindo, and later became acquainted with the writings of the French philosopher Rene Guenon. What struck him about Guenon’s views was the distinction he made between the traditional and Tradition—the latter being a principle, which is transmitted from teacher to disciple through initiation. He remarked of this approach: “This awoke in me the feeling that it was actually humanly possible to become fully integrated and awake in the whole.”

Jean Klein left Germany in 1933 and spent World War II in France, secretly helping thousands to escape from Germany. After the war, he left Europe for India seeking an environment that would welcome self-inquiry. There, in Bangalore, he met a Pandit—a professor of Sanskrit—who became his teacher and subsequently initiated him into the wisdom of advaita. After living intensely with this understanding, one day the teaching became an awakened reality—a living truth that became fully integrated in him.

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Dr. Klein, how can daily activities get done if there is no personality and no ego?
In your absence you will feel your real presence. All that appears in your life is like that which appears on a stage, but you don’t identify yourself with the person on the stage, you simply remain in the hall as the witness. Real joy is when you are the witness to all that appears and disappears. Then your relationships will change completely, because there is no personality with which you are identified. The personality is a very good, useful tool, but you don’t identify yourself with the personality. You act spontaneously and this acting is not reacting; it is really appropriate to every moment. Spontaneous acting means there is no actor, there is no doer, there is only action. There is no entity in the cosmos, there is only functioning. And functioning without the interference of the personality belongs to the new age.

Jean Klein PhotoWhat did you mean when you said, “There is no entity in the cosmos”? Surely there is some universal being that uses us as a kind of tool, and we are being used in a very natural way by that which is other than us? There is no form, but there is something other than us, which is operating the whole show? Or don’t you believe in God?
There is not an operator, there is only operation. This question is completely different when you feel yourself in your real nature, but the moment you feel yourself an isolated individual, you take yourself for something unique and separate.

Would you say that the problem with human beings is that we think too much, and place too much importance on those thoughts, and we then see the world according to our thoughts instead of seeing the world as it is—and therefore our thoughts, which are the product of memory, our science, experience, and knowledge are the things which create every conflict that mankind has experienced?
It brings us to the question: What is thought? What is thinking? What is the moment when you start to think? When you go deeper you will see that your thinking starts from thinking. This thinking is only reaction, nothing else. But you also know another way of thinking; this thinking starts from silence. Thinking which starts from thinking keeps you in a vicious circle; it is only repetition. Thinking which starts from silence is creative thinking, creative living and doing and feeling. Real thinking is going away from thinking, so free yourself from thinking!

Can you explain what you mean when you say, “Thinking starts from thinking”?
Thinking starts from thinking only when there is an “I,” when there is a “me”; otherwise there is only spontaneous thinking. Spontaneous thinking starts from non-thinking. When I say, “Free yourself from thinking,” that means free yourself from thinking which only has its roots in the “I” concept, the “I,” the “me,” memory. The “I,” the “me,” is psychological memory, past, future, but when you are free from the “I” you are only in the now.

When there is an absence of the psychological entity is that when the divine play happens?
It is only in the absence of yourself that there is divine play. All that is expressed is an expression of life; it is in space and time. Generally, we take the expressions of life to be life itself. Being life is this listening of which we are speaking, being listening, being still; there is no entity to be still, there is only stillness and there is love. When you speak of a concept of God, where is God? It is nowhere; it is only here when you are not. When you look at a tree, the tree is perceived through your five senses; it is seen, smelt, heard, and so on. If the perceived is very attractive, you may remain for a long time in pure perceiving where there is not a perceiver. But we generally escape from the perception by making it immediately a conception. We judge it, compare it; we use it—mainly we use it. All interpretation is memory and it refers to the already known, but you know situations when you simply observe from point to point without interpretation until there is a global impression without interpretation. It is taking note, only seeing facts until, at a certain moment, there is an instantaneous upcoming of the whole picture. This understanding is not the result of the mind; it comes from the situation itself. It is only by seeing the situation as a whole that you are brought to action which is not reaction, but acting according to the situation. It is useless to pursue truth and enlightenment. You can only see what is not truth, what is not clarity. You cannot see truth with the mind because you are truth.

You spoke of the observer, but I find the observer is just another thought.
Absolutely. The controller is also a thought.

So at that moment it seems to me that there is no perception, it is total conception?
There must be only perception where you are completely aware, clear-minded, and you take note of the situation.

Who takes note? So how do I eliminate this observer? Because I have been practicing it for many years. The mind knows it is an illusion, but the reflex is still there to make the observer someone. I still believe I am the observer!
You know the wishes and ideas of the observer, but this observer is thought, seen by a witness. The observer which can be known belongs to the cage of the mind. You try to get out of this cage because you feel uncomfortable, not at peace, insecure. But when you see that the observer belongs to the cage, then what happens? You stop. Never try to know the witness. The witness is not a function. The witness cannot be perceived. Just take it for granted from me, that you are, in any case, the witness.

I think my problem is that I don’t seem to stop the cycle of thoughts. I think the observer is a thought, but that is another thought; then that’s a concept as well.
The moment that you see it, let go of the object, the idea of the observer or the feeling of being an observer, and feel yourself in the seeing. Now I would say, feel yourself behind yourself! There is a moment when you feel yourself behind yourself. In a certain way it feels at first like a localization behind, at the base of the skull.

I see that, but I conceptualize it again . . .
You must not; you must feel it as a global feeling.

What happens when the thought immediately comes up, “Now I am behind”?
All thoughts are in the forehead so you cannot be behind and at the same time think, “I am behind.” In feeling oneself behind, you feel only a tremendous energy. This energy is not the directed power to strike the brain and form a concept. It remains only energy. It doesn’t come to any formulation of “I am this or that.”

So there is an awareness of the energy in globality, but there’s no thought?
Absolutely. Completely thought-free.

But there is a desire to grab that energy, to do something with that energy, to bring it to a function . . .
You are still master of this energy; it is still orchestrated in a certain way by you. You are aware that it is not coming to conceptualization. It is important for you, at this moment, to feel yourself behind yourself. This feeling behind yourself can be compared to the kind of tactile sensation you have when you sit there and let all the tactile sensation behind your body come up as you contact the wall behind you. You are certainly able to do this; not as an idea but as a feeling, a sensation. This tactile sensation is more or less at the surface, but the feeling of being behind; that I am speaking of is very strong. For one second there may still be some duality—that there is a feeler and something felt—but the feeler and what is felt disappear too, and there is only being the feeling.

So at that moment one experiences what you mean by “consciousness is one with its object”?
Yes, absolutely.

There is a quotation from the Bible which says, “The birds have their nests, the foxes their holes, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” It just seems that we would love to have somewhere to lay our heads. Could you say something about that?
We can see that we are completely identified with the personality. We take ourselves for our personality, and this taking ourselves for our personality immediately causes insecurity, because the personality can only exist in a continual situation. That is why we constantly create situations from the past, and projections into the future. We prefer a bad situation to none at all. So we must see how, in daily life, we are constantly creating situations for the survival of personality. We live constantly in end gaining. This is the first insight we must have. It is useless to pursue truth and enlightenment. You can only see what is not truth, what is not clarity. You cannot see truth with the mind because you are truth. You can never see the light because you are it. Just as the eye cannot see its own seeing. You may not have had the exact answer to your question, but when you have understood what I have said, you will see it is the answer to your question. The personality belongs to knowledge. It is a very important tool in our daily life, but to identify yourself with it, you will see, is nonsense.

What is the function of obedience in letting go of the personality?
I need to ask you for clarification.

What is the role of surrender in being faced with constant choice, “Thy will be done”?
You are
choiceless. In choicelessness you are free from the personality. The personality comes and goes like any tool. As long as you identify yourself with your personality there is intention, there is selection, there is choice and choosing whether to choose. But you know moments in daily life when there is completely choiceless living, without selection, free from memory. You take these moments as an absence of something, but in this absence of activity there is really presence. You superimpose an absence of activity where there is presence.

Usually people who are on this search will go to India, or to some quiet place. Is it really possible for those of us living in the very busy western world to come to this experience?
But the problem in London, in Delhi, in Berlin, and in Paris is always the same problem! The problem may be formulated and addressed in another way but it is the same problem.

You don’t need the quietness of a retreat?
Yes, London is a quiet place! (laughter) The problem is nowhere except the moment itself, so face the problem immediately there where it is.

For 40 years, Dr. Klein responded to invitations from all over the world to share his understanding. He lived in Europe and the United States and died in February 1998 in Santa Barbara, California. He is the author of several books in English and other languages.

From Transmission of the Flame, by Jean Klein. Copyright © 1990 by Jean Klein. All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with Third Millennium Publications, Santa Barbara, California.