Jean Klein ~ The man and his teachings

Jean Klein Biography


Jean Klein was a French author, philosopher of Advaita Vedanta, and a spiritual teacher. He was born on 19th October 1912 in the city of Berlin, Germany. He was also a French medical doctor and a musicologist. According to him, it is only in a “spontaneous state of interior silence” that we can open ourselves to our real nature: the ‘I am’ of pure consciousness.

Jean Klein is regarded as one of the most eloquent communicators of non-duality in the 20th century. His teachings drive directly towards any mental activity. It strives by pointing straight to the ultimate, where all that belongs to the mind, space, and time is integrated. His teachings exhort an individual to gain an insight into his real nature.

Although he read Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche, he was particularly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The latter’s teaching of non-violence led Jean to turn a vegetarian at the age of 16. His readings also included the works of Coomaraswamy, Aurobindo, and Krishnamurthy. Yet, the person who had the greatest influence on him was Rene Guenon.

Dr. Klein read The Symbolism of the Cross written by Guenon, which deals with metaphysics, cosmology, and tradition. He described this book to have overturned his own life. At the same time, he was having experiences that confirmed whatever he had read. He describes a “glimpse of oneness or self-awareness” that occurred when he was just 17.

Although he became a doctor, he still lived an outwardly simple life. His life was still unfulfilled. Then he “felt a certain urge to go to India”. He arrived in India around 1950. He was on the lookout for a guru who would teach him. In fact, he had no preconceptions of any kind – which was a central element in his teachings.

In India, he met a teacher whom he referred to as Panditji. He goes on to say that he did not ask the former any personal questions and he never spoke personally about him. It was a sacred relationship. His master always pointed out to him that all perceptions need an ultimate perceiver.

Teachings of Jean Klein

Jean Klein Biography

Although he teaches Advaita Vedanta, he rarely uses its technical terms. In order to connect with the people and get the message of Advaita Vedanta across, he has coined his vocabulary. This vocabulary consists of the use of special words like ‘listening’, ‘transparency’, and so on.

A vital aspect of his teachings is that he does not refer back to the tradition for any kind of confirmation. He is found occasionally giving a quote from Gaudapada. His teachings make no mention of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. They were the first proponents of Advaita Vedanta. His approach does not help people to make connections of this kind.

He narrated his experience in these words: 

“I was waiting for one afternoon for a train. The platform was deserted and the landscape sleepy. It was silent. The train was late, and I was very relaxed and free of all thinking. Suddenly a cock crowed and its unusual sound made me aware of my silence.

It was not the objective silence I was aware of, as often happens when an individual is in a quiet location and a sudden sound from somewhere throws into relief the silence around. I was ejected into my own silence. Subsequently, this feeling came to me several times.

The latter can never become the object of perception. One small identification in the body is understood, we are led to the question, “Who am I?” And the one who asks is himself the vivid answer. The searcher is he that which is sought. 

Then one morning…

“Between deep sleep and awakening, there was a vanishing of all the residues of “my persons”, each having believed themselves to be a doer, a sufferer, an enjoyer. All this vanished completely and Klein was seized completely by an all-penetrating light, without inside or outside”.

“This was awakening in reality, in the I am… He knew himself in the actual happening, not as a concept, but as an individual who was without any localization in time or space. In this non-state, there was unique freedom, full and object-less joy.” This realization is regarded by those who have accepted Dr. Klein as their teacher.”

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