Listening: “… when you really listen, the listening refers to itself. In this listening, there’s not a listener, and nothing to listen to. There’s only quietness  …” ~ Jean Klein

listening only quietness klein sunset lake reflection

“… Objectivity, in any form, is the only obstacle to Truth …” ~ AK Menon

“… The sense of ‘I am’ is your own. You cannot part with it, but you can impart it to anything, as in saying, I am young; I am rich, and so on. But such self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage …” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Indeed, both these “titans of non duality” are giving us a real clue to the mystery of our real nature … via obstacles or issues 🙂

As to our real – or True – nature, Ramana Maharshi says : “… You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you …” and re objectivity he says : “… Relative knowledge requires a subject and an object, whereas the awareness of the Self is absolute and requires no object …”

Jean Klein, who was influenced by AK Menon, says: “… Our real nature is not an object …” … and … “… your real nature is not anything to be found or attained …”

So, objectification – especially to our bodies or body-mind – is an obstacle to self discovery … and yet Jean discovered the gem within this “problem” : “… In getting to know the body-mind, one can discover more clearly the nature of identification, and so let it go …”

This “getting to know” … or, more aptly, observing is the basis for Jean’s key teaching of Listening … which is the focus of this multi part series … where …

the book of listening jean kleinWe offer an in-depth preview of The Book of Listening … which is based on private conversations with Jean … and is structured as “… Volumes 1 – 10 of Jean Klein´s journal Listening, published on a limited basis between 1989-1995 …” … where each volume is “… loosely arranged around a theme …” and includes “… an original private discussion or a transcription of a public talk with Jean Klein, various favourite articles, one question answered in depth (Your Question) and a brief description from different angles of Jean’s unique approach to the role of the body in his teaching …”

So, … via excerpts from Volume I, this post – part 1 – explores the topic of our real nature … naturally touching on awareness, body, observing, stillness, quietness, reality, presence, and more … all in a Q&A format …

{All italicized text below and Jean’s above quotes are from Jean’s book and is published here with the publisher New Sarum Press’ generous permission. Scroll to the bottom for a free downloadable Table of Contents.}


“… When you become more and more accustomed to listening to your body and listening to the movements in your mind, you will one day discover yourself in this listening, in this looking …”  … “… what you observe dissolves in your observation, in your attention. In this moment there’s no longer an observer and something observed, there’s only stillness …”

listening only stillness klein lake tahoe

Jean Klein: You cannot find your real nature. You cannot look for truth or enlightenment. All that you can find is objective. Our real nature is not an object and so it can never be perceived. When you realize that all you are looking for is an object, and that your real nature is not anything to be found or attained, you go away from looking. And you discover that the looker is what he is looking for. In this approach there is no system. There is nothing special established to do. It is an approach completely free from all volition, completely free from all intention.

You already know moments in daily life when you are completely free from all intention. You have taken these moments to be an absence, an absence of function. But these moments without function are not an absent state. Here there is reality, presence, with which you must become attuned, identical.

Q. So there is nothing to improve, one must simply be very peaceful and very quiet?

JK. This quietness you will find first in your body. Then you can transpose this quiet freedom from tension onto the level of the mind. But first you must become, as you said, quiet. To become quiet you must take your body as an object of your observation.

reality presence sunrise klein

First you will discover that you don’t observe, that you come constantly to interpretation, to conclusion, to evaluation, comparison. I mean here a completely innocent observation, without any expectation, only taking note of any heaviness or tension of your body. And then you transpose this same quietness on the level of the mind.

Q. It sounds so easy and I find that when I’m by myself and I’m not doing anything, not organizing or cooking or rushing somewhere, there is a possibility of being quiet. But just the fact of having to do something puts me in a different state. I can’t seem to keep that quietness and do things. And I’m sure a lot of people feel the same.

JK. But the quietness of the body, the quietness of the mind, is not this quietness of which we are speaking. This quietness, which is your real nature, is beyond mind. When you become more and more accustomed to listening to your body and listening to the movements in your mind, you will one day discover yourself in this listening, in this looking. You can never objectify this looking, this listening. It is totally in the absence of yourself.

Q. That’s what you call attention?

JK. Yes. It is attention without tension. And attention without tension is when the attention is free from all striving and all anticipation, free from all end-gaining.

mountains sunset quietness real nature klein

Q. Is there a feeling of sinking in, a kind of collapsing into the body like a very relaxed state?

JK. No, there is no identification with the body. You are not involved in the body. You feel the heaviness, feel the weight, the tension. But in this pure uninvolved looking, there’s no longer an accomplice to the tension, to the heaviness. You will see then that there’s a moment when the body becomes completely quiet, and you come to the different levels of your body, of energy. Because what you call body, physical body, is not your body. Your body has a much bigger extension than your idea of your physical body. You become aware of this extension of your energy when you are completely relaxed, expanded in space, when you are quiet.

Q. But I don’t seem to have control of my quiet body. As I said before, when I’m in a busy situation, I can’t control what’s going on in me.

JK There’s nothing to control. You must only listen. And then, when you really listen, the listening refers to itself. In this listening, there’s not a listener, and nothing to listen to. There’s only quietness. There’s not systematic meditation, there’s not systematic being quiet, because the moment you look for systematic meditation or quietness, then you create a state. Your real nature is not a state. Your home ground is not a state. It is a total presence when there is total absence, total absence of yourself as being somebody. It is only in this total absence of ourselves that we are the self.

totla presence absence listening klein grand canyon

Q. Do I understand you to say that you don’t go through any process in order to detach yourself from identification with the person?

JK: The moment you look at your fear, anxiety, and all your striving force, your desire to change, you will find space between yourself and what you are looking at. You will find yourself outside the process. Then you are spontaneously detached, not identified. And when you are not identified with the body, you are also detached from the environment. Because your environment is only the five senses. So first become aware of your nearest surroundings, your body, senses and mind. When your observation is really free from all expectation, free from memory, then this observation refers to itself. Awareness refers to itself. What you are looking for can never be found in any object. It is objectless, like love, freedom, peace. You can never put these in the frame of a concept, in the frame of the mind.

Q: Does this awareness that you talk about, does this require effort on the person’s part, or is it effortless?

JK: It  is effortless because you are it fundamentally. To be still, you don’t need to make any effort. It is only the giving up of effort. When you clearly see that you make an effort, then there is no longer an accomplice with the effort and it goes away. There is nobody who gives up. It is simply giving up.

awareness klein wind river range wyoming

Q: I find that when there is a giving up and I am without intention then I am also without interest in self-inquiry. It no longer interests me.

JK: What you observe must be interesting for you. It is the only way to sustain the observation. It is only in the giving up of all old patterns, memory, that your life can appear new and interesting to you. But you must come to the moment when what you observe dissolves in your observation, in your attention. In this moment there’s no longer an observer and something observed, there’s only stillness. What you observe is in space and time. But the observer is timeless. I don’t speak of the relative observer; I speak of the ultimate observer: consciousness, awareness.

And, stay tuned for more in this series … on Jean Klein’s teachings of Listening ...


All italicized text above (except otherwise noted) is from The Book Of Listening by Jean Klein and is published here with the publisher  New Sarum Press generous permission.

And click here for a FREE downloadable copy of the Table of Contents, graciously and generously made available by the publisher New Sarum Press.

As we do the “listening” deeper and deeper, one of the natural emerging behaviors is to appreciate the oneness of us all … and in that spirit let us minimize (& hopefully dissolve) the current humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine … by helping in whatever way we can … and to that end here are some options:

1) NPR: Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here’s how you can help

2) Washington PostHere’s how Americans can donate to help people in Ukraine.

3) Go Fund Me: How to Help: Donate to Ukraine Relief Efforts.

4) USA Today: Want to support the people of Ukraine? These apps and websites can help you send money.

— — — —

We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then please do so …


And, may you embrace Jean’s listening … and …

May you remain safe and healthy as you navigate these unsettling times.

Opening quotes in the 1st blockquote section: AK Menon’s from The Householder Sage, Nissargadata Maharaj from I AM The complete ‘I am’ quotes of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj by Pardeep Apte, and Ramana Maharshi from his Wikiquote page.
Images (edited & Logo added): 1 & Featured) Summer sunset kayak paddle reflections on lake Oregon by NicholasSteven, 2) The Book of Listening cover image from New Sarum Press, 3) North Lake Tahoe Sunset by adonis_abril, 4) A scenic view of an inlet with a picturesque sunrise by Wirestock, 5) Beautiful landscape of mountains during sunset by kwasny222, 6) Fantastic landscape. Toroweap by AlexeySuloev, 7) Hike in Wind River Range in Wyoming, USA. Autumn season by kamchatka. 1, 4-7 purchased from depositphotos and 3) from YAYImages. All are for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post),


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