Advaita Vedanta Page
I thank Sky for sharing this personal account of Jean Klein with us.
First hand account of Jean Klein by site regular Sky McCain
I became aware of Jean Klein quite by chance in 1986. My wife Marian was attending the California Institute of Integral Studies and came home one day from a meeting with a psychologist in San Francisco . She told me that this woman had a photograph of Jean Klein on her desk and told Marian that Jean was her teacher and that she had incorporated his methods and teachings into her practice.
A couple of months later, we were browsing the used book section of the East West book store in Menlo Park, CA, when I spotted fairly worn copy of Be Who You Are by Jean.
Having had a brief look and remembering what Marian had told me, I bought it, took it home and read it. Although I had no prior knowledge of Advaita or background in non-duality, it reminded me of what I had struggled with in the little book by Ken Wilbur called No Boundary. Wilbur had explained in several ways the concept that there is no separate I in here looking out at a separate world. As Jean says, there is only the seeing with nobody doing the seeing. Captivated, I felt a desire to know more. I thought my opportunity had come when I saw a notice announcing a Friday evening talk in Santa Cruz , CA . Marian and I drove over the mountain from Silicon Valley to attend. Unfortunately, Jean had taken ill according to the cancellation notice on the door. Marian felt like it was just not going to happen for her, but I felt an even greater desire to meet him. My next opportunity came up when I saw a notice for a Friday evening talk and weekend body movement retreat in Oakland . I booked it and attended.
By Saturday evening, I was feeling disappointment and voiced it to a few of Jean's faithful followers over dinner. One of them recommended that I mention it to Jean.
I was immediately horrified and just couldn't see myself criticising this wonderful man.
My problem was fairly trivial, looking back. I simply was disappointed that I had made no personal, psychic connection with Jean even though I admired him from what I had read. Perhaps I wanted some attention.
The final event was a dialogue session. Typically, many of his friends would bring cut flowers and vases to place up front around the pillow that he sat on for the session. Jean would enter at the appointed time while we sat in silence and meditation. He would sit and immediately scan the room from right to left, then close his eyes for a varying length of time. Then he would usually but not always, just start speaking. After a few minutes of talking, he would quietly say, "Are there any questions?" There always were and such a variety. Jean would look intently, listening carefully, and then look away for a few seconds. I firmly believe that he was not rationalizing. Then he would answer. His answer was not always exactly right to the point of what was asked, but most appeared to find it helpful and looked satisfied.
I thought about mentioning my disappointment and remember that he was talking to someone on my far right hand side. After feeling a resolve to ask, I was aware of kind, loving thoughts rushing into my beingness as I waited for him to acknowledge me. Soon, he moved his head around to the right until he saw my hand and immediately looked straight into my eyes. We held eye contact for what seemed a timeless period and I was first aware of a movement out of normal consciousness. I had been there several time before but pulled myself back this time because I wanted to speak. We gazed at each other and I was bathed in or came into an indescribable state. It was beyond joy or pleasure or satisfaction. The best I can say is that I saw infinity in his eyes. Then I explained my feelings and he answered. My memory of what he said is dim mainly because, I guess, I was so overwhelmed with the experience. All I remember was that he said to be patient. When he finished, I felt filled and complete. How had he known what I desired before I spoke? Looking back, I feel like that I was given grace, perhaps the Transmission of the Flame which is the title of one of his dialogue books. Naturally I have pondered about what happened to me. From that moment, I moved permanently, so far, out of the realm of searching, of being on a path. Hopefully, I got the message and realize that there is nowhere to go and nobody going anywhere. I saw him several times afterwards and was privileged to met him at a social gathering of the faithful, so to speak, and blessed with a few minutes of his time and shared time with he and Emma Edwards, during a visit to his home before he died.
At an evening early the next year, I was sitting after the dialogue session with Marian and felt the strong desire just to thank him for making himself available to speak and be with us. I voiced this to Marian who asked me to turn around and observe him talking to a younger man behind me. She said, "Why don't you go up to him?" So, I went closer and when the other chap was finished, I walked over and was greeted with a huge smile. Just after I did tell him how grateful I was that he had come there to be with us, I noticed, suddenly, that he looked over my shoulder and I saw the most beautific smile come over his face. He just radiated love and joy. I had never seen or experienced such beautiful and intense, concentrated loveliness. Curious, I turned to my left and saw that the object of his countenance was Marian who was walking up to him. He held out both hands and took hers. I don't remember what, if anything was said. I was just too shaken and stunned. I thought, what wouldn't a person give to be looked at like that.
So, to me, Jean was an avatar. He left me with total freedom; no obligations, no guilt, just a bottomless pool of truth.