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Radical Awakening: Cutting Through the Conditioned Mind Stephen Jourdain

Dialogues A Childhood and Its Moments Gilles Farcet: Lets begin at the beginning, or at least what should be a beginning since, in fact, that experience whose praises you sing is situated outside of time. It is my understanding that even when you were a little boy, unusual inner experiences that others would not hesitate to qualify as mystical were common events to you. Stephen Jourdain: Uh-huh (Steve inhales deeply). It was only decades later that I became aware of the rarity of my experiences. The tendencies I had assumed were universal unfortunately turned out to be anything but that. In fact, my memory goes back a long way, from when I was no more than a year and a half old. I have crystal clear memories of that early period. One thing is certain: I was already endowed with all the interior equipment with which, fifteen years later, I would receive the rocker, when that thing fell on my head during adolescence. It would seem that I was more or less born fully assembled which, I came to realize later, is not the case with most people. At one and a half years, the inner me was perfectly established and I was fully conscious of myself without, of course, knowing the words or concepts with which I could have tried to express my experiences. Thus, I clearly remember having experienced what Ill call my first moment at the age of one and one-half while I was with my grandfather and amusing myself by trying to push a piece of gravel through a sewer grate-a very diverting and educational game! These moments continued throughout my childhood, cropping up almost daily, so often so that

I did not live one privileged instant but thousands of them. GF: Can you describe the characteristics of these moments? What would happen? SJ: The moments were very different. Let me make one thing clear: the content of the awakening is one and indivisible. The original illumination diversified itself little by little without its oneness being challenged. As to these moments or privileged instants, their content can be extremely diverse. Lets say that they always appear in the form of an abrupt and totally unexpected rupture. You cant prepare yourself for one; they hit you on the noggin without a word of warning. GF: A rupture? In regards to what? SJ: In regards to the quality of habitual perception, these moments always come with a profound bliss although there are nuances. But lets say these moments of bliss are nevertheless abnormal and unjustifiable in their intensity, their sharpness and the manner in which they differentiate themselves radically from ordinary perception which, let me clarify this point, is at its most acute in a little child. That an adults perception is dulled is to be expected, isnt it? For a big person, such an experience would appear like a spot of gold on a priests gray cape. But a small childs perception operates marvelously. However, these moments are so sharp in the intensity that they make even that small childs faculties appear uniformly dull. As to the exact contents of these experiences here are thousands! In several instances, the primary duality of me and the others vanishes. Undoubtedly, thats what many people today wish to evoke when speaking about the fusion of subject and object, an expression that

strikes me as, at the very least, totally inadequate. GF: Why? SJ: There is certainly a union of the subject and the object but they do not fuse, they do not disappear in some kind of undistinguishable magma. Whats miraculous in these experiences is that, without in the least losing my identity, in legitimately remaining who I am, I become the table, the stove, or the mountain, or the entire landscape, which, in turn, remains integrally itself. A remains A, B remains B, and yet A is in the heart of B, B in the heart of A. If both terms cancelled out each others original nature in this fusion, there would be no miracle, there wouldnt be anything at all. This point seems important to me to the extent that, ordinarily, I find it poorly understood. If one believes what one reads or hears, if John becomes the tree, the tree, such as it is, is consumed, as is John. But thats not it! John remains entirely himself, the tree remains the tree, and yet there is union. It is in this coexistence of fusion and maintenance of the intrinsic identities of both parties where the miracle resides. If an annihilated A fuses with an annihilated B, theres really not much to fuss about. The extraordinary thing is that two completely different things can be truly joined while each, at the same time, maintains its original nature. GF: Therefore, this miracle constitutes one of the characteristics of these instants. SJ: Yes. Ordinarily we always feel the rupture between ego and nonego to be more or less obscure. Theres a kind of primitive break between our inner reality and the rest. At these moments, the rupture is abolished. Once again, it is not a question of the simple abolition of duality, but rather the sudden appearance of a unity in

the heart of the duality. One derives from this an important impression of a healthy, legitimate duality. From what Ive heard, a number of teachings or approaches insist on a nonduality. Yet, if a falsified duality exists, there also exists a completely legitimate duality that manifests itself not only in space but also in time. Ordinarily, there seems to be a lot of insistence on spatial duality certainly there is that which separates me from the tree, but there is also that which separates me from what I was or what I will be, that which, for example, separates me from my death. After all, a mans life is very important! My death is an object that is, in its way, more solid and, for me, more real than the tree which means nothing to me! The duality is there; it manifests itself in space and time, and it is in space and time that the duality is either healthy or corrupt. In my opinion, it is a grave tactical error to set people going in an assault on duality without clarifying the difference between a healthy duality and a corrupt one. They run as much risk of hurting, or even destroying, themselves as they do of being saved. One cannot deny duality, since it is the principle of life. Certainly, a false duality that is the product of a given individuals mind should be destroyed. I repeat and insist: duality, to the extent that it is a duplicate of reality, a dreamlike and personally fabricated duality, must be ruthlessly destroyed. But when this veil, in the center of which we habitually evolve, is consumed, when this enormous subjective bubble bursts, what is then left? What will you see once youre outside the bubble? The world, plainly and simply. There is something! There is me and the tree. Duality exists. GF: Duality remains in a different fashion. SJ: Exactly. GF: If I follow you, there is a duality in itself real, which you qualify as healthy . . .

SJ: Healthy, simple, and divine! GF: As well as an unhealthy, unreal duality that is merely the product of our subjectivity. SJ: This duality thing is a complex phenomenon. Ill try to sum up the situation. What at one time would have been called the soul-a term thats fallen into disuse and, at any rate, was clumsily used with one saying, I have a soul instead of I am a soul -which I call our spiritual essence-is the unique source of everything. It is our essence that is at the origin of what we call the world -and by that term I mean not only the so-called exterior reality, but also my spirit, the spirit in my body, my body in the world; and all this together conveyed by time. In other words, everything springs from our innermost selves. Our essence is creative. Originally, that is to say right now, immediately-Im not speaking about an historic origin but the instantaneous origin-this source thats within me generates the world: it produces perceptible reality as well as my spirit and my body. To the extent that we abide there, we are at center-stage of the creation of the world, that is to say, the Eden-like phase of things. Then, instantaneously-and this is where everything gets spoiled-a second creation takes place. For our source is, so to speak, the double, in this second creation, it is I, personally, Steve Jourdain who is the father of the world. I claim both paternity and credit for it, while in the first type of creation, everything issues from my innermost self but in an impersonal way with no personal intervention on my part. At any rate, it is impossible for me to take credit for it. In short, there are two sources: the first, legitimate, which while being the foundation of the person, functions in such a way that that person cannot in any manner claim that he is responsible for what springs forth.

GF: Therefore, an impersonal source. SJ: To qualify it as such would be improper, since we are at the very center of the person! Thats exactly the paradox, the miraculous paradox. Well, let us say a nonpersonal source in the sense that the ego appropriates absolutely nothing whatsoever. GF: And the other source, polluted. SJ: From which proceeds this counterfeit world, this pale copy of a reality-interior and exterior-in which we live. This second source falsifies everything all at once. The falsification takes place from birth; its already there when the infant emerges from the mothers body. So much so that, from the start, we live in a state of permanent hallucination, in the torrent gushing from this impure source. GF: Lets go back to your childhood experiences. These breakthroughs were thus an integral part of your daily life? SJ: Yes, and while certain of them were spontaneous, there were others that I elicited. I knew how to make this or that interior gesture that was to lead to one experience or another. It was a game for me to which I dedicated a good hour a day to playing, the way other children play with blocks. GF: You played with consciousness. SJ: In a manner of speaking. Nevertheless, I wouldnt call it that because we are not talking about awakening but about experience. Its not about the vision of the sea but, say, the sand dune. My entire childhood was dominated by this atmosphere. I didnt speak about it to my parents because it was part of the secrets of my childhood. Be that as it may, since each individual spontaneously considers himself

universal, I thought everybody experienced what I was experiencing. Much later, when I was around thirty and began to talk about it, I was very surprised to discover that my childhood experiences were completely out of the ordinary. GF: You thought everybody was awakened? SJ: No, no. Lets not confuse the various inner experiences with the awakening itself-the vision of the sand dune and that of the sea. I knew very well that the people I met were not awakened. That which had produced itself, if I can put it that way, for me at the age of sixteen had not been produced for them. On the other hand, for me it was a foregone conclusion that everyone had experienced what I had during childhood. Discovering that this was not so came as one of the greatest surprises of my life and was, at the same time, very disquieting. For, after all, what happened to me at sixteen seemed to have depended on pure luck. There would be one chance in a billion that such a thing could occur. One in a billion is not much, but it is something, after all. But I discovered that almost nobody else had even an inkling! As a result, it became even harder for me to share with others what I had experienced. I already had the feeling that an abyss separated me from others, but that chasm then became infinitely wide. GF: Before going further, I have a question about your remembrance of things. You say your memories go back a long way. Do the experiences were talking about favor that kind of long term memory? SJ: Yes, and I would even say that to a certain extent I never was a child. In fact, when comparing myself at one and a half and at sixteen, a fraction of a second before the awakening, I do not see any difference. I was exactly the same. In fact, I think my memories go

back even further. Fine, thats not important, I say that in passing, but to the extent that one can accord the slightest reality to intrauterine life, I have memories of that life, too. . . . . An Awakened Adolescent. . .. GF: Is reading the great authors a requisite of the awakening? SJ: In any case, it cant do any harm. Lets get one thing straight: Im not saying its absolutely essential to read these authors-and there are others-nor even that its indispensable in itself to be interested in literature. Yet the terrain must be prepared, the garden cultivated, the sensibility refined . . . One cannot misinterpret the importance of culture in the profoundest sense of the word. Of course, literature, Rimbaud, Proust, and all the others also participate in hallucination and sleep, but its a good way to dream. And its hard to wake up when youve dreamed badly. In my humble opinion-which is,to be sure, highly pretentious-for a Westerner, reading Rimbaud is more practical than reading I dont know which Sri Whatshisname. GF: I see you then as a sensitive, curious, cultivated adolescent-And then the awakening is sprung on you, if I can put it that way. Would you be kind enough to try to describe this non-event one more time? SJ: Ill try to put it another way-for my own ears if for no one elses. The psychological circumstances were very precise. It produced itself one evening. Several days earlier, I had discovered Descartes famous statement: I think, therefore I am, and I had the intuition that it concealed-at least for me-a secret of enormous importance. I felt I was directly, in my very essence, involved in this formula. On this great evening, then, I was trying to extract the secret from this statement. Apparently, I approached it in the same manner as one does with koans-a word I wouldnt discover until I was fifty years old. My approach was very realistic-let me mention in passing that

one of the characteristics of my dream is to be extremely pragmatic: when I want to kill a fly, I grab a newspaper and swat it. Most people act that way, you say. As to material things, yes, but not when it concerns the spiritual. By that, I mean that when they encounter the illusion, they try to suppress the Illusion, in general, rather than confront themselves with their illusion. Its like trying to liquidate the entire species of flies when swatting the one thats bothering you. In short, I came to grips with my problem in a practical manner. I think, therefore I am: instead of examining the question of Being, Thought, and their relationships, I made myself the subject of the sentence, referring to the living reality of these words in me. I tried to grasp that formula, not intellectually, but with my very life. I pursued this effort for half an hour, an hour, until exhaustion. My intellectual faculties cried for mercy, I felt as if I were dragging myself along on bloodied knees and said to myself, Youre crazy! Give it up! In the state youre in, you dont have the slightest chance of penetrating the mystery of that sentence. Yet, I did persist beyond good sense, showing a considerable aptitude for folly. Nevertheless, it would appear that this inner capacity to drive myself on like a madman was not without its virtues, for, all of a sudden, everything exploded. How can I describe the sudden nature, the total abruptness of the event? I detest using the word supernatural, but its the only one I can find that properly describes the suddenness of the awakening. With indescribable rapidity, I passed through to the other side of the mirror and found myself waking to an infinite wakefulness in my very center, in the center of that wakefulness which, itself, wasnt an object but an intemporal act I was able to perform. I knew that I knew all there was to be known, that I had attained the infinite value, touched the essence of the essence of all things and of myself. . . I knew. What did I know? Impossible to say. Lets try nonetheless to define

the phenomenon more precisely. That indivisible unity which is the awakening has, despite everything, several names: me, being, consciousness, infinite value. But, to cap that indivisible unity, there is something more important and that relates to knowledge. Not only I am but I know. In a sense, I know precedes I am. Knowledge is the strongest piece on the chessboard of the absolute and its irreversible: its as impossible to unlearn this intimate act as to unlearn riding a bicycle. Ive insisted on the indivisible nature of the awakening. Still, and here again we must come upon a paradox: as soon as this other, interior light flashes, it rapidly gives birth to a certain number of powers. Powers .. .. Its true that the great joys susceptible of being generated by that infinite, inexplicable, unjustifiable value are completely unheard of. Compared to these joys, the greatest pleasure accessible on earth in the usual conscious state is nothing but straw and dust. But these joys are themselves nothing but straw and dust in relation to the unjustifiable, supreme quality, the inexplicable infinite value. Seeing this value supplies nothing; one doesnt approach it in the hope of any gain. One could speak of lack of involvement as with moral value. One doesnt do good in order to be rewarded; one does it for goodness sake. GF: From a certain point of view, yes. Still, if I do a good deed, even in the most unselfish way, its because the simple fact of doing good permits me to maintain an inner state thats much more precious to me than what Id feel after doing evil. SJ: Excellent observation. Lets be clear: the awakening does in no

way constitute an end. One can only attain it by passing backwards through all intentions, all motivations-including that of attaining the awakening. One must strip oneself of all ones intentions, all ones wishes, even the highest. One doesnt move towards the awakening, for if one can invoke even the slightest argument for moving towards awakening, one turns his back to it. In fact, the infinite value, once again, offers nothing. That leaves the problem youve just posed. Its an objection one is certainly entitled to make: Youre in the process of telling me that this value offers nothing in the usual sense of the term, but would you tolerate, even for a second, having someone deprive you of it? The answer is an immediate and resounding: No! I wouldnt tolerate it for a second. Its the most precious asset in the world. GF: Thats a paradox. SJ: Yes? So what? In the end, why should I give a damn if theres a paradox? Whats important to me is to describe the phenomenon, not try to explain it. GF: Theres another objection people always make: Isnt the awakening selfish? SJ: In a sense, yes, absolutely. If the awakening withers in me, I will die spiritually. I care about it more than anything else as if it were my very essence-for the simple reason that it is my essence. Thus, on the one hand, Im my own man. On the other, in accomplishing the spiritual act that allows me to induce the awakening, the infinite value. Im no longer strictly my own man. The underlying reason for which I accomplish this gesture is of another order, its nonselfish, universal-but I cannot really explain it. GF: Since were talking about selfishness, has the experience made

you regard other people differently? SJ: Thats a profound question. Among the faculties, powers, or savoir-faire inherent in the awakening I spoke of earlier, theres the immediate and exhaustive knowledge of the structures of the normal state of consciousness. The very make-up of the awakening inscribes the knowledge of, on the one hand, the act through which the awakening will engender itself and, on the other, the nature of the error or falsification from which the normal state of consciousness proceeds. From the moment the awakening produces itself, you know more about the six billion inhabitants of the planet than they know themselves because you know the exact nature of the dream they are dreaming. You know the mechanism of the hallucination that holds them spellbound. All that because this mechanism is precisely the same for everyone. GF: Youre speaking in a general manner, but, here and now, Im sitting across from you, my wife is also sitting across from you. Does the awakening give you any particular sensibility or faculty of perception about each person you encounter? SJ: Youve just asked me a very indiscreet question. In order to respond, I need to return to this non-event that is the experience were talking about. Its perfectly obvious that the awakening burned the psychological being that I was. But since, at the same time, it burned the flame with which it burned that being, nothingness returned to nothingness and the psychological being that I was escaped intact and unharmed. A universal destruction takes place at the moment of the awakening, but since that destruction is itself implicated in the range of what is destroyed, the universal sword thrust stabs itself so thoroughly that the psychological being rises again, healthy and whole. Thus the awakening is a thrust for nothing, so to speak, whose sole effect is to eliminate all the rot, and separate

the wrong duality from the right one. The psychological being annihilated in the fire of the awakening is reborn, covered with the dew of the dawn of creation. Fundamentally, as I already said, absolutely nothing has happened. I became me. Nothing changed, everything changed. As to the question you just asked, from a psychological standpoint, its obvious that I have an intuition about the interior atmosphere in which the person Im speaking to evolves. But this is a rational, explicable intuition. On the other hand, Ive had abominable experiences, so abominable that I hesitate to mention them. Sometimes I have a direct access to some one elses consciousness-a devastating experience because I see the corruption and, moreover, its variables. The coloration of the corruption isnt always the same. If I were a Christian, Id say I see Satan. I avoid, or should I say flee, these appalling visions because theyre so painful. I can be with someone refined and brilliant and suddenly, without meaning to, I fathom his putrefaction. Moreover, that doesnt necessarily happen in the persons presence. Take careful note that I recognized my own corruption prior to the awakening! Nevertheless, I want to vomit into the toilet. These are horrible experiences, really, that I could compare to the horror that seizes me when I try to remember, to regain the sensation of sleep. You know, in a certain sense, the awakening evolves gradually as one lives it. The sun rises and remains the sun, but its not exactly the same color at noon as at dawn or at five oclock in the evening. In the same manner, theres a sort of full day to the awakening. The sun of the awakening that rose for the adolescent Jourdain has since continued its course and modified its glow. After forty years, I no longer have a body. By that I mean I am no longer situated in a body. Evidently, if someone mentions my foot, Im not going to confuse it with the table! But my body, as an experience, no longer exists; the fundamental

modification has taken place. Its accompanied, moreover, by a modification of spatial perception. In the same manner, I no longer have a spirit. It has been a good thirty years since my spirit, in the usual sense of the term, totally disappeared. And about a year ago, I said to myself: Shit, I no longer have a spirit, no longer have a body. How in the hell will I be able to explain all that to someone who has a spirit and a body and who, to boot, snoozes? Ive got to remember what its like to have a spirit and a body. Thus, I made a great effort, all alone in the kitchen, and suddenly I rememberedonce again, I found myself incorporated, I became once again a spirit in a body. That only lasted a few seconds but I almost croaked! Fine, okay, its a matter of a universal experience, almost everyone lives in this manner and I myself spent sixteen years like that and stood it very well. But there in the kitchen, I couldnt stand it at all, it was a dreadful shock. I felt as if a layer of spiritual ammonia had spread over me. It was a moment of inner agony. All this to say that those times when, suddenly and without wanting to probe the consciousness of the guy Im talking to, I experience the same sort of agony; suddenly, and with my soul, I receive the unmentionable stench of the everyday of consciousness full in the facea stench that obviously isnt detected by those who wallow in the cesspool and have never escaped it. Really, its a horrible odor of decadence and carrion. Obviously, its not a physical odor, but a stench that, as spiritual as it might be, is no less nauseating. Reeking is not exclusive to the material world. A spiritual stench exists and its dreadful. Lets talk about something else, shall we? . . . . Writing the Awakening. . .. I had to retake the road traveled by philosophers for the last several thousand years to confront and solve the various philosophical enigmas. To a certain extent, I have succeeded in this

task. Once the thing was intellectually got hold of, it was a matter of expressing it and thus having recourse to words. Therefore, I had to learn to write-not make grammatical errors and, above all, initiate myself to the oh so important usage of the semicolon (a must in French literature). That took a while-years, to be exact. Once one knows how to write more or less, it is necessary to pay attention not only to the meaning, but also to the color of the words. Two synonymous terms do not have the same color. Its this attention to the color of words that differentiates the writer from someone who merely writes. The latter naively believes he has expressed his idea as soon as the sentence is grammatically correct and the words are logically aligned. But thats not so! The act of writing begins when the intuition of the qualitative aura of the word, beyond its intellectual sense, springs forth. GF: What you say makes me think of something Jean Sullivan wrote: Swindling: to convince others that the words arent very important because the spiritual reality is inexpressible and, thereby, to justify the platitude of mechanical associations. Yet, without language, that is to say with neither action nor creation, there is nothing. SJ: Thats brilliant! Brilliant! That leads us to another problem about which theres a lot to say and, preferably, say well. There exists a presumption as vile as it is widespread according to which the indescribable character of the interior experience authorizes us to give up when it comes to putting it into words. This presumption serves as an excuse for the enunciation of all sorts of platitudes and the collapse of language. Its the most vulgar alibi of thought. It exhibits unheard of naivete and thoughtlessness. Such statements, if they can be excused coming from a child of twelve, are intolerable when they come from the mouth of a man whos reached the age of twenty-five, thirty, or even sixty-five! Every supposed adult uttering

such idiocies deserves to be spanked. First question: are human thought and language adequate to grasp the reality were talking about? Personally, Ive always had the clear intuition that the response would be affirmative. To a certain extent, human thought and language can transmit this reality. I would not have sweated blood for forty years trying to say this thing if I didnt have faith in its expressible nature. Therefore, lets sweep away these presumptions once and for all. Second question: why is it describable and conceivable? This ultimate self is conceivable because it is the legitimate conception of itself. Theres no difference between the awakening and the awakening justly conceiving of itself. The same process is at work. Now, is the conception by which the self apprehends itself beyond the spoken word or at its very center? As far as Im concerned, it is definitely at the center of the spoken word-a word thats not human but preverbal, a language which, though original, is no less of a language. The perfect adaptation of the human word to this prehuman language isnt extraordinary if one accepts the idea that, in the beginning, there was the word. I am the word! The word is perfectly adapted to God because God is the word. GF: The presumption you denounce is part and parcel of the primary anti-intellectualism existing in spiritual circles. There again, taking as pretext the fundamentally irrational character of the ultimate experience, many people have an annoying tendency to cut short all attempts at zeroing in on the question by denouncing it as intellectual -an adjective that, in their mouths, is as loaded with horror as the epithet communist was in the conservative America of the 1950s. SJ: There you have it! Once again, it is a question of a shameful facility. Thus, another judgment of saying that that thing would be out of the range of human thought-to say everything is in

everything, and other prefabricated expressions, is like addressing only the popular masses. That well justifies reason, particularly against what is most noble in intelligence and sensibility. One tramples intelligence and sensibility with delight and in clear conscience. Plato? Sheer rubbish! Descartes? Into the hopper! Ah, its useful to feel oneself justified to thus trash all the attempts by exceptional men to approach and formulate the essential! It is useful and shameful. For if its true that neither Plato nor Descartes nor Kant made the ultimate breakthrough of which Im talking, theres still the fact that, by putting to work the higher faculties of the human spirit, they approached it. In the same manner that no legless man can hope to win the New York marathon, no intellectual cripple could pretend to make the quantum leap by which one becomes oneself. GF: Among the people supposed to have attained the awakening or approached it, history and tradition present us, on the one hand, examples of very refined, intelligent, cultivated beings and, on the other, with examples of uneducated monks sweeping the cloisterhumble characters living that which the literate and the wise men speak of without having had the experience. SJ: Thats exactly right, but theres no contradiction between those two extremes. When I speak of a man using the noblest and highest faculties of his spirit, Im not referring to an inflated ego. Any and every child of man has the possibility, the right, and the duty to measure himself, be it clumsily, against the major enigmas of philosophy. The value of this process doesnt reside in the fact that it can result in thick books or subtle considerations, but in the process itself. One can well imagine an extremely simple and totally uncultivated type initially asking himself all sorts of naive questions and finally arriving at the essential one: I am! What is me? and alone in his shepherds cottage, tackling this enigma barehanded.

Undoubtedly, the shrewd Parisian intellectuals would double up laughing faced with such naivete. Yet, its precisely in this manner that one should proceed. Thus, I see nothing absurd or shocking in the idea that a monk or an uneducated peasant could open himself to this reality. It took me thirty years to learn what a koan is, yet it was precisely this instrument that I had used without knowing it. Descartes cogito was my Koan. Still, I wasnt a great philosopher. I was a sixteen-year-old kid. Yet, it remains a fact that the action and the usage of certain faculties were present. . . . . Reincarnation GF: You say the sun rose because the sky was ready. Why was the sky, your sky, ready? For, after all, everyone doesnt land into the awakening at sixteen . . . SJ: Yes. GF: Lets take the famous example of Ramana Maharshi. As he himself testifies, the Maharshi was a very lively youth, not particularly interested in spiritual matters until that famous night when the awakening happened to him at the age of sixteen. According to the Hindu perspective, this young man was an old soul, a highly evolved being. His precocious awakening had been preceded by spiritual preparation accomplished during numerous previous incarnations. The concept of reincarnation is certainly much more subtle than that which we generally UIiderstand in the West. The Hindus can thusly explain the awakening in an unruly kid. Where do you stand with respect to this kind of consideration? SJ: First, let me tell you what my position has been for a long timetheres indubitably a relation between the extraordinary energy I expended during my battle with Descartes Cogito, the madness and stubbornness I showed even when I was nearly passing out, and the

eruption of the awakening. The nature of this relationship remains highly mysterious since I can in no way consider that it was a matter of cause and effect. The cause, its the awakening! The fact remains that the awakening is born in a precise intellectual context consisting in an intense effort necessarily doomed to failure to pierce a mystery that included in itself the notion of me, of I am, and of thought. Moreover, there were circumstances relative to my sensibility. After having experienced at the end of my childhood, a slight loss of sensitivity, I took to reading Rimbaud. Thus, I lived in a world that made me profoundly vibrate second after second. In short, there was an intellectual disposition and a disposition of my sensibilities that were inseparable. Neither sensibility alone nor the intellectual approach alone would have led me anywhere. But in the end, all that explains nothing. At this point, Ive formulated a hypothesis: if I passed on to the other side, its because these two categories of circumstances made me take a detour, without my knowing it, to another world, that of the unborn where the spiritual colors, apparently endowed with creative power, emerged to allow me to accomplish the interior gesture in the proper way. GF: But where do you stand in regards to the concepts of reincarnation, of evolution? SJ: First of all, my vision changed when I became conscious of the extraordinary privileges I had enjoyed since birth. As I said, I thought people, if they were asleep, slept the sleep of the just right at the zenith of the dream. Once I realized this wasnt the case I, at the same time, became conscious of a truth that is not very heartening: people are not born equal; their chances of awakening are unequal. Some are gifted, others are not. Its atrocious, scandalous, but thats the way it is. To the extent that the scandal poses a question, one

would very much like to find explanations. For a long time, the people I saw harped on the ancient idea of the old soul refined by numerous previous lives. Given my family origins, I violently rejected all that, saw it as superstition, like flying saucers, and other hocus pocus that only merited my scorn. This didnt keep me from looking for explanations myself. As far as these stories of reincarnation are concerned, if I werent extremely cautious about my human insights, about what inhabits me, I would, in the end, be inclined to take them very seriously. There exist, in fact, in the very texture of my experience, elements that I can legitimately interpret, without total affirmation, in terms of reincarnation and previous lives. GF: What do you mean? What are you alluding to? SJ: You know, when the awakening erupts, its a purely spiritual fire. Then an unexpected phenomenon occurs, which is that this spiritual fire suddenly inflames perception in its totality. Its then that the multidimensional attention intervenes. The extraordinary richness of the landscape in which we evolve appears and one is capable of paying attention to a hundred billion things at once-thats accompanied by a prodigious undoing of the worlds hierarchy. When the awakening spreads the fire throughout the entire field of perception, a series of totally unknown qualities appears. Just as no one can have a true foretaste of awakening before it erupts, no one can know what the perception of these qualitative beings can be before having seen them. These qualitative beings are simply not part of usual human perception. To put it in humorous terms, lets say that that makes forty years that, with my soul and not my eyes, I see things no one else sees. And that makes forty years that I ask myself what the nature is of the things I see, without ever getting a satisfactory response. I am overwhelmed with love for what I see but simply do not know what it all means. When I was a real estate

agent, I went through situations worthy of the Marx Brothers. I had to cover my eyes in order to be able to continue functioning in my profession. I would almost have fallen to my knees to issue a prayer, Oh marvelous joys, oh marvelous fairies, marvelous angels, stop assailing me, bug off so I can make my phone call about Mrs. Thingamabobs apartment. It was an aberrant situation, so laughable that Id sometimes frankly crack up. Yet that was my life for a very long time. In short, I see these things without knowing what they are. I call them the one things, for theyre indivisible. Nevertheless, qualifying them that way, I have neither designated nor described them. Sometimes I speak of angels with regret because of my anticlerical ancestry. I dont know the words. . . Fairies? That doesnt sound very serious. But despite all my problems with vocabulary, the fact is there there are these damn, formidable angels assailing me. These things that are equivalent to an unimaginable thrust of joy. GF: You see that all day long? SJ: It floats in my perception constantly, functioning like an oldfashioned bathtub water heater. Theres the pilot light and if you turn the button-psscch! Everything ignites. I carefully maintain myself in the state of the pilot light, for if the water heater ignites entirely, my functioning, as far as daily life goes, is out of the question. GF: Could you be more precise about what you see? SJ: Yes, what are these things that Im seeing? First, I see them with my soul, my spiritual essence. Its a matter of direct perception, alongside which the most extreme human joys appear insignificant. Its a daggers thrust of bliss. In a word, these things that my soul sees, that make it tremble with joy, are something other than my soul while at the same time being nothing other than it. Theres absolute

identification between my soul and them-these things are more me than I am. On the other hand, my soul exists and contemplates them. Its thus a matter of a very strange relationship, leaving the great question: What, in Gods name, do I see? Ive often said to myself that it closely resembles the vision of previous lives. These qualitative beings are one and indivisible but resemble windows overlooking a landscape. The window is one, but through it, I perceive things that I cannot really identify-a great mix, like the great mix of human events and human lives. Its not unthinkable that, through these qualitative beings, Im put in direct contact with entire segments of human lives. Is it a question of my previous lives, other lives? I dont know a damned thing. But theres something there that could give credit to this idea that reincarnation exists. By that I mean that even if no one had told me about it, the perception of these things could have given rise to this notion in me. I have the impression of perceiving all that across immense temporal distances. Thus, in the very texture of my experience, there are elements susceptible to being rationally explained in terms of reincarnation. Nevertheless, Im not at all certain about this, and, moreover, dont think that anyone can be. . . . .Ecstasy. . .. GF: Its not unusual for awakened ones to put aside a time for meditation, give themselves, each day, an hour or thirty minutes of silence to regenerate themselves. I do not have the impression thats the case with you. SJ: First of all, its necessary to grasp that the awakening comes first in relation to the ecstatic and legitimate effects it induces. The supreme knowledge is of a radically different essence than the ecstasies and other extraordinary joys its likely to induce. It would be dangerous to concentrate on the ecstasies. GF: Moreover, all spiritual traditions warn against this temptation.

SJ: Oh, really? So much the better, for its very important. From the moment the awakening sets fire to everything, theres a danger of perversion at the very heart of the thing. The relationship between the awakening and the ecstasies that it induces exclude all attachment to the latter. The principal danger lying in wait for the awakened one is that hell get attached to the awakening. Certainly, when the awakening erupts in someone, the life of that person becomes a dialogue between that supreme knowledge and himself. The merest attachment to the awakening signifies the destruction of the awakening. In fact, it presents a trap thats very easy to avoid, one in which you cant fall if one is awakened. On the other hand, the trap of the ecstasies is less clearly marked. I have found myself in that position: for six months, I did a lot of stupid things and my experience wavered. I was totally forewarned of the danger of attachment, but when the ecstasies pounce on you, its humanly impossible not to regret them. Its a very pernicious phenomenonlets say the awakening is God and the ecstasies are heaven. On the one hand, Im loyal to God since I have no attachment to Him at all. On the other hand, I allow myself to be captivated by the heaven that God induces. Therein lies a subtle possibility of perversion. Heaven is merely an extension of God. To attach oneself to heaven and regret it is, in truth, to attach oneself to God and regret it-which is to say, to kill God. Thats what happened to me for awhile. I therefore took the most extreme measures to protect the awakening from the tragic tactical error consisting in attaching oneself to the ecstasy. It was very difficult, but I succeeded. Therefore, I absolutely no longer look for ecstasy. As it turns out, its always there in a latent state. I dont try at all to plunge into it. Once again, the pilot light is there and that suffices. If it ignites, so much the better. If it does not, tough luck. I dont give a damn! GF: You never meditate, then?

SJ: No. At most I make minor corrections. The awakening is a living thing, not a comfortable armchair to sit in. The powers of sleep are always present; the devil is always there, except that he has lost all his vigor, all his power. Thus, from time to time, I make small spiritual adjustments; I straighten out the course, as Ive done all my life. But its not a problem; I know how to do it and, for thirty years, I have behaved in such a way that the awakening hasnt budged. Death GF: Obvious question: wheres your death in all that, Mr. Jourdain? SJ: Obvious question, obvious answer, and nevertheless always surprising: death = the-thought-of-death = nothingness Once youve emptied death of all objective substratum, of all reality, it can no longer frighten you much. Death is a pure thought, a pure extension of my spiritual essence and thus. . . nothing! What about my physical death? Same thing! I dont believe in any way whatsoever in the existence of a physical reality. I dont believe in it intellectually or philosophically and, above all, emotionally. People talk to me about the physical body; I dont know what that means. Just the same, one exclaims, you have a body, organs. No! Those are conventions, thoughts one should erase. The blackboard of knowledge must be blank. Everything must be erased and, among the things erased, figure my organs, my heart, the bullet thats going to go through me and kill me, my death, and the universe. All that must be constantly eradicated; the blackboard itself must be erased. And thats all I have to say about death. GF: About death perhaps-but Gilles death, Steves, your wifes?

SJ: I cant compromise and am obliged to answer sharply: that future you talk about in which youll die and Ill die is an extension of the principle me. In itself, it has no reality whatsoever. Theres no objective substratum and thus no death thats pure thought. Even when youre taking your last breath, Ill tell you the same thing-its pure thought. One must, imperatively and for practical reasons of spiritual survival, treat the problem in that manner. I can only reject what your question designates. Doing this, I reject the question itself, he who poses it, and he who responds to it. Its very important to approach things this way. In fact, its ones chance of survival and eternity. Im going to concede a point and admit that death is a real thing. The only victory that one can hope to have over death resides in its perception as pure thought. Thats all. . . . . The Dream at the Center of the Dream GF: You speak about the fundamental process by which I secrete my own reality. To defuse this incessant process of secretion, or at least to see it for what it is-an infernal mechanism that I operate myselfwould amount to an awakening of myself. But the process of secreting an imaginary reality lies at the very center of the latter. We dont even live the dream; we dream it. For example, I can come down to the kitchen in the morning, find you making coffee and say to myself, Oh, Steve doesnt seem too receptive; he appears in a foul mood; hes mad at me. And from there its possible to continue to think, Of course, its my fault, I dont know how to conduct myself correctly, I abuse his hospitality, etc., etc, while you are quite simply making coffee without feeling the least bit of animosity towards me. In this case, I ascribe an emotion to you; I dont see, I think. Most psychological problems and emotional disturbances cause our dream to seem more like a nightmare than sweet reverie, born from a propensity to think in the very center of this thought that is our existence. Not content to dream, we dream in the darkest

depths of the dream. SJ: Now theres a very pertinent remark! At the heart of the embryo of mental health that reveals to our self the unreality of its personal productions-and which thus prevents you from taking the mental image of your wife for your wife-theres a delirium of interpretation thats more or less serious. GF: Thats ordinary madness. Not to mention a persecution complex, what one considers psychological problems; all of us let our imaginations run wild, more or less, without that being considered the least bit pathological.,Most of the problems our existences are filled with could be avoided if we stopped thinking and began seeing. Were the ones who transform the dream into a nightmare. SJ: Exactly. Lets put aside the awakening and stay within the domain of the relative: its important to dream well, to dream happily. If the dream itself is corrupt, theres not a chance in a billion that it will explode. If people corrected the way they situate themselves in relation to their reality, theyd eliminate ninety-eight percent of their problems. That would not be the awakening, but a harmonious dream. They would be close to the zenith of the dream and in a position to burst it. The Importance of Dreaming Well GF: Isnt the first step, then, the most urgent, to become normal, to eradicate in oneself the functions that corrupt the dream? SJ: Youre absolutely right. I never thought of that! GF: You understand-I see the danger coming-certain readers of our dialogue are going to knock themselves out uselessly trying to pierce

the bubble even though they dream very badly, are nowhere close to the zenith of the dream, to use your expression, but somewhere in the lower depths. Wouldnt the first job, the only pertinent one, until the new order, be to force oneself to dream well? SJ: Youre right. I suffer from a grave handicap where teaching is concerned: my life stopped, for all intents and purposes, when I was sixteen. Moreover, I was a very happy child and adolescent. Not that I was devoid of problems, but I handled them very well and only made a slight deal of them. In short, from my birth to the awakening, I always dreamed very well. So much so that I gravely underestimated the nature and fullness of the problems to which people fall victim. I judge the extent to which the dream itself is perverted. Even Satan is capable of degenerating. Once again, were alone and its we ourselves who, without knowing it, make up the questions and the responses. If, at night, I dream that a wolf devours me, Im relieved next morning to substantiate the unreality of the wolf and of me devoured. Thats equivalent to recognizing that I am both the wolf and its victim. Both are creations of my dream. Also, if one could make people conscious that they are the creators of their relative existence and the problems it comprises, one would already have taken a large giant step. No use looking further: the great drama for human beings is to not feel theyre sufficiently loved, to not feel sufficiently appreciated by their family, their friends, etc., etc. If one could, for example, show the person who feels scorned that he himself generates the scorn, generates those who scorn him, and keeps this hallucination alive second after second, one would completely rid him of his problem. The dream would remain a dream, the fundamental hallucination would remain an hallucination, but it would considerably assuage itself. Then it would even be possible for a little light of the awakening to filter into the heart of the dream. That is certainly the first job that one must accomplish to

be truly effective. But on this subject, I can only verify my handicap.