‘Live With This Representation Of An Unthinkable Subject’

Listen very closely, openly, as a child would, to Jean Klein’s reply to a student’s question during satsang:

[Student:] I find myself overwhelmed by the idea of geometrical representation which you spoke about the other day. How could one begin to approach understanding this?

[Jean Klein:] You know that all you perceive is an object perceived in time and space and an object exists because there is a subject. You know you are the subject, the subject of all objects, but you don’t see clearly yet that this subject can never be an object, can never be perceived. So there is a picture, a representation, of an object needing a subject to be perceived and a subject which can never be perceived. So this logical understanding, this representation shows you that, in order to know the subject, there is nothing to attain or obtain, or to grasp, because all that you grasp or that you attain or achieve is perceivable and therefore can only be an object. Knowing the subject belongs to a completely new kind of knowledge. So the mind sees its limits and gives up. Then you no longer live in thought but in a kind of fore-feeling which is at the threshold of an insight. So live with this representation of an unthinkable subject which are are. Live with it until there is a moment when it dissolves completely and you are it. That is an instantaneous awakening of yourself, what you are, the ultimate subject.

Transmission of the Flame, p. 137.

1. You know that you are.

2. “You know that all you perceive is an object.”

3. You know that all objects require a subject in order to be perceived. There must, that is to say, be that which is aware of these appearances in order for them to appear.

4. You know that you are this subject.

5. You know that the subject is not an object. Thus, you know that you, as the subject, cannot be perceived.

6. Therefore (to bring these strands together), you know that you are. You know what your basic status is (to wit, that of the subject). But you don’t know what you are really. Furthermore, you know that all that you’ve “tried” in order to “know yourself” has been futile since all such attempts–to grasp, to obtain, to attain–involve treating the subject as if it were an object. But it’s not; but you are not. Now what?

7. Points 1-6, Jean suggests, brings us to the limits of the mind. Here, then, we have a very natural koan: who am I?

8. Let the mind give up. Live in this tensile, quivering state. Live with this unverbalized, non-mental Life Question.

9. “Live with it until there is a moment when it dissolves completely and you are it.”