Jean Klein on mindfulness

In the condition often called mindfulness, one lives now rather than in memory. We see what we see rather than what we expect to see or want to see or have seen before.

Notes from Jean Klein’s The Transmission of the Flame, a book in the form of an interview.

Look at your fear; become very familiar with it. You don’t really know your fear; you know only your idea of it, your memory. You must face the actual sensation of fear, in the moment itself, when you are in the fear. Become more sensitive to your body and mind. One must become more and more acquainted with innocent observation. Take note that you don’t observe, that you don’t observe without qualification. Your observation must be completely open. The observed must come to you because the observed is you. Let it come back to you, let it completely unfold in your observation. Then you will have a right relation with your surroundings, a love relation. The poet knows how to observe, to look at things completely innocently.

Klein, Jean. Transmission of the Flame (p. 18). New Sarum Press. Kindle Edition.

To look at things innocently is what Suzuki called “the beginner’s mind.”

Could you say more about that moment when the subject-object relationship reappears?

Subject-object is mind, is memory. When you take yourself for a subject, you will see an object. An object without a subject doesn’t exist. When there is no subject, there is no object. It is a bad habit to objectify yourself. Each time the reflex comes up, be aware of it. Think about it. I stop here. How can you free yourself from memory? When you really see the illusion of the “I,” the “me,” then you are free from memory. We speak of that memory which gives the “I,” the “me,” its existence. All memory used to build up security for maintaining the “I,” the “me,” is psychological. With the disappearance of the “I,” the “me,” psychological memory disappears and you are living in your presence. But as long as you live with the “I,” the “me,” you are not living in the present, you are either in the past or the future. You should become aware of this pendulum movement, past-future, past-future. It is the result of living constantly in end-gaining and anticipation: the becoming process. So see how you function, how you are completely detached from reality, how you live only past moments. Daydreaming and anticipation take so much energy, they waste all your creativity because there’s only repetition. In life there is never repetition, every moment is new. It is the “I,” the “me,” which projects the already known, for the “I” can find no existence in the unknown. Seeing this whole mechanism is an instantaneous occurrence. What is the impact of this seeing on you? Don’t let the seeing remain intellectual. What is the impact?

Transmission of the Flame, 22-23

If you’re no longer living in memory, every moment is a kind of creative act.


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