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Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent

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I'm reposting this from awakennetwork, It is meant to be a mini-book of a post on Stephen Jourdain, who's existence endlessly fascinates me.

Of all the living, dead, non-fictional, fictional, and semi-fictional awakened people I have come across, Stephen Jourdain is my favorite. He is my favorite because he comes across as having an unshakable tremendous awakening and simultaneously exists outside of every single tradition unlike say, Joseph Goldstein, or even Eckart Tolle. Because of this, I consider him one of my core GPS triangulating coordinates in terms of my spiritual journey because he’s just so dammed cool.

Jourdain ‘awoke’ at 16 years old after what appears to be a 2 hour randomly inspired Koan mantra using Descarte’s statement, “I think, therefore I am.” After this, he never meditated again in his life it seems.

I have a book that is a discussion between Stephen Jourdain (SJ) and French writer Gilles Farcet. (GF). The following are some excerpts I pulled from the book. The only request I have is to understand that Jourdain writes about awakening independent of reading any scripture of anything whatsoever. That is, try to read the words of a man coming to terms with his experience and not through the conceptual castles of Buddhist or other mystical scriptures.

I’ve posted quite a bit, my apologies for the coming walls of text with this rather unique man. This is all from the book Radical Awakening. I’ve picked random excerpts and chapters here and there and given a small sentence title to delimit where the gaps of the different excerpts are.



On Jourdain’s Childhood and Duality/Non-Duality:

Gilles Farcet: Let’s 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 I’ll 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. Let’s say that they always appear in the form of an abrupt and totally unexpected rupture. You can’t 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 let’s 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 adult’s perception is dulled is to be expected, isn’t it? For a “big person,” such an experience would appear like a spot of gold on a priest’s gray cape. But a small child’s perception operates marvelously. However, these moments are so sharp in the intensity that they make even that small child’s 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, that’s 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. What’s 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 other’s original nature in this fusion, there would be no miracle, there wouldn’t 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 that’s 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, there’s 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 non-ego to be more or less obscure. There’s 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 I’ve 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 man’s 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 individual’s 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 you’re 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. I’ll try to sum up the situation. What at one time would have been called the “soul”-a term that’s 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-I’m not speaking about an historic origin but the instantaneous origin-this source that’s 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! That’s 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; it’s already there when the infant emerges from the mother’s 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: Let’s 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 wouldn’t call it that because we are not talking about awakening but about experience. It’s not about the vision of the sea but, say, the sand dune. My entire childhood was dominated by this atmosphere. I didn’t 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. Let’s 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 we’re 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, that’s 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.




On Compassion:

(Side note: These horrible visions are some sort of 'powersy' mind reading where Jourdain has the experiences of experiencing the other person's mind, a sort of telepathy. They're considered horrible because they're so awful compared to his way of experiencing the world.)

GF: When you have these horrible visions, are they accompanied by a feeling of compassion or pity?
SJ: Not at all. Let’s get one thing straight: the awakening I am talking about cannot be intellectually exploited. Any doctrine that issued from it would be a pure lie. There is nothing to deduce from the awakening. The nature of the awakening is to render all deduction, all logical expression, null and void. Understandably, I’m obliged, when attempted to explain it, to use intellectual and philosophical tools. But in writing a book, the ideal page would be to fill the left page and inscribe on the right: “The page that’s been written should be trashed!” Therefore, on the one hand, my relations with someone else are in no ways changed. On the other, they’re fundamentally modified. In fact, the other person is annihilated. By that I mean you, as another consciousness fundamentally separate from my own, as an autonomous reality dissolving into itself outside my own spiritual space, in that sense you are nothing! Be assured that the same applies to my wife, my children, and my grandchildren! The other is exterminated. The awakening is, in a way, the death of the Other since the consciousness of another constitutes the very heart of the hallucination. The Other perishes—which, as you see, isn’t very well thought of.

GF: But, at the same time, isn’t the other annihilated in order to rise again more easily?

SJ: Yes. Absolutely! That leads u back to the notion of the two sources. There’s the falsified otherness which is destroyed. As far as being a consciousness separate from my own, you’re destroyed. In the depths of the Other, we plant an objective substratum—something truly astonishing because we plant it in the heart of a subjectivity—but there is no objective substratum! One could define the hallucination as the all but eradicable belief in an objective substrata. “But,” One cries, “There must be a form…” No there is not! “Yes, but the Other? Your wife?” Nothing, nothing, I tell you! From the instant the void returned to its abode of nothingness, the good duality makes its appearance and the Other resurges—with the difference now it’s an Other whose objective substratum has been definitely eliminated.

GF: One could see that as simultaneously going beyond and creating the substructure of morality. “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” as the commandment says. But if you don’t sense the Other as Other, how could you harm him?

SJ: That’s a very complex and very dangerous question. I’ve always had a very great faculty for love. Oh, I’m not talking about universal love, Love with a capital L, love of humanity in general—all those notions fill me with mistrust. On the other hand, I passionately love the people dear to me, my family, and certain other human beings. It’s all very localized. As to humanity, to the hell with it. Moreover, I don’t believe in it any more than I believe in my bodily organs. You see, if a doctor were to walk in right now and tell me, “Oh, oh, you have an extremely acute cancer in this bone and it’s likely to suddenly spread elsewhere,” I wouldn’t give a tinker’s damn. That would leave me totally cold. I am, as it turns out, one of the rare men on the earth who’s unimpressed by all of that. I respect scientific exactitude and can be passionately interested by one subject or another, but I don’t look for truth in it. The truth is something completely different. What one usually calls truthfulness is something I don’t believe in and don’t give a damn about, since I only see the ultimate degradation of the truth in it. In what people term “fact,” I see the face of Satan and I run him through with my sword! I have no respect for my organs, no respect for the five billion mortal and vulnerable humans—the little Chinese and all the rest—I have no respect for the cosmos. As far as I am concerned, it can all go to hell! The only thing that strikes me as legitimate is the earthly landscape in which I find myself this very instant. All the rest is mere nothingness, a trumped up fable produced by the wrong source. All that to is to say I possess a great faculty for love, applicable not in general, but in particular. So much so that love renders me very vulnerable.
Yes, I claim to be awakened and, yes, I would flinch if I learned of the death of my wife or children. Some people think that being awakened means no longer having human sentiments, but that’s not so at all! Dehumanizing the awakening is tantamount to killing it. The awakening is the plentitude of the humane. Not only am I vulnerable, but I intend to remain so to the extent that that vulnerability is an anchor to my humanity. The day my vulnerability bores me stiff, I’ll hand it its walking papers, but for humane reasons.




On the Awakening:

GF: About “you, “ yes, you could say that.

SJ: No, not “you could say that.” It’s about me in the most personal sense of the term. Of course, everything depends on what one means by “personal” and “impersonal,” but if you get to the bottom of the meaning of the words, it’s obvious that it is the substratum of personal existence. Let’s suppose there is a God—an honorable hypothesis: God sacrificed himself to his creature. He decided to descend into the heart of the latter by destroying himself. Why? So that his value would burn higher. That is the creature’s mission. The divine principle and creative principle and one and the same.

GF: What you’re saying seems very Christian.

SJ: You see, I really don’t know Christian dogma. Thus, what I can say on the subject has very limited significance. My sentiment is the following: if someone hands me oriental texts, on Zen in particular, I have the feeling they’re pertinent to what I’m saying. However, at the same time, it seems that this experience isn’t sufficiently described, and that the mountain has another slope which my very well be Christian. Nothing is harder to describe than this phenomenon. One might believe there is a choice, but there is none. The sword thrust of Zen and persona, human existence are one and the same thing. Zen’s thunder is the human being; it’s my humanity. One attains God only through the son, through one’s own humanity.

…Skipped material …

GF: Let’s get back to the Story of Stephen Jourdain, awakened, if only to breathe five minutes… Okay, awakened at sixteen, you do not breathe a word about it after a few unhappy attempts. And then? What happens? Did you go back to school?

SJ: No. This happened at the beginning of my sophomore year. In fact, because my parents were in the Resistance against the German occupation, I hadn’t gone to school much during the war. A few freshman classes at most – two or three classes, then I skipped directly to tenth grade, which managed to cause me a few problems. Since I was in a very good school, I was able to pass the first part of my exams, but that was a miracle. You see, when that thing erupted, the only preoccupation that could remain was keeping the fire burning. (Side note: I love how he takes literally the absolute opposite metaphor to Nirvana with respect to the notion of awakening as a fire to keep burning) This fire is inscribed in your innermost self, as well as the knowledge of the timeless act by which you make it burn. This fire generates itself but, at the beginning, its unthinkable to do anything else but maintain it, so to speak. Oh, there’s no contradiction where a soda or girls are concerned. But it’s impossible to really pay attention to anything else.
One day, if you have a son and he turns out to be a real brain destined for a brilliant academic career, I hope, for your sake, he is never awakened. His career will be stopped short. The rupture is total. I had absolutely no possibility of continuing my studies.

GF: Just the same, I find you highly articulate, intellectually speaking.

SJ: Of, that part was all right, the awakening didn’t turn me into a vegetable. But it might have. One shouldn’t underestimate the force of the impact produced by this experience. That’s why, even if it’s only said in passing, all these little handymen, these little chiropractors of spirituality who range almost everywhere make me chuckle. If they were to experience a quarter of a tenth of what I experienced before the awakening, when I was little, they would fall on their knees in ecstasy and take themselves for God the Father everytime! And if, by chance, they were to experience a small fraction of what I experienced with the awakening, they would be completely destroyed, they would die on the spot.
That’s all there is to it! In short, the eruption of God in me went pretty well, for I was very strong and very healthy—in very good shape. Which, moreover, came as a big surprise to Godel…

…Skipping a lot more material…

GF: Let’s resume. There you are, awakened and good for nothing according to the usual criteria of our society. Didn’t you want to retreat from the world? After all, if the only thing that interested you was maintaining that private flame…

SJ: No, I never felt the desire to retreat…Ah, explaining oneself isn’t easy! I insisted on the profoundly, supremely human character of that experience—if on can call it that. Thus, it is legitimate to speak about the repercussions on the human level; but, at the same time, it’s extremely delicate when the awakening suddenly happens; its as if you have left earth and found yourself in the center of a black hole, another dimension where all the laws of logic are overturned. All the foundations of the human spirit are in a primal and unknown state; logic itself takes a wallop. The most extraordinary thing is that in the very center of the strangeness befitting this spiritual “black hole,” not only does on remain human, but one gains access to the plentitude of one’s humanity. Therefore, on the one hand, there was an enormous distance—you might say I was lightyears away—at the same time, since nothing happened, no kind of distance existed in relation to the young man I was. I was still on the same level of the reality of coffee and croissants. But from the moment that it was no longer a question of accomplishing an act as simple, holy and sacred as dunking my croissant in a cup of coffee at a bistro table, from the moment it was necessary to demonstrate a more elaborate intellectual comportment, I was faced with a quasi-impossibility. Nonetheless, I never felt the temptation to retreat. On the contrary, I mostly felt an extraordinary hunger for life. A second before the awakening klonked me on the head, I felt very much alive. In fact, I was, according to all usual criteria, a young man full of life. But, come the awakening and I discovered I was dead, that I lay recumbent, stunned, inside myself. The awakening provoked an immense surge of life. I felt huge hunger pangs.

GF: In the figurative sense?

SJ: Yes, but above all in the literal sense! I, who had had little appetite began to devour. Additionally, the awakening created an unprecedented amount of energy. This was a completely secondary phenomenon, but the truth is that one finds his energy augmented to a considerable degree. Lastly, I’ll mention the reverence towards existence itself. My love for life was multiplied by ten thousand. I recognized something absolutely sacred in it. Consequently, the awakening does not alienate one from life, it reintroduces one to it.

GF: You say sacred. A number of people supposedly awakened, or presenting themselves as teachers, deliberately create around themselves a fairly religious environment—a climate particularly fitting for meditation, and vigilance. But here, there’s nothing like that and one could even say you’ve taken the opposite standpoint.

SJ: Right. There is indeed neither structure nor ostentation. Nevertheless, the word “sacred” retains its full sense for me. Awakened, I ancountered the infinite value compared to which the most precious pleasures and moments are merely straw. This should seem like a legitimate comparison but, in fact, it’s almost heresy, seeing that the difference is immeasurable. All that to say that the sacred is definitely there. The mobilization of a human being is around this infinite value of an unparalleled intensity. Each and every fiber of your being celebrates and gives witness to that infinite value. Thus, I feel well-centered in it. Yet, that cannot detach me from my humanity, in the ordinary sense, because the heart of that infinite value is none other than the human essence.

GF: Sixteen… That’s the age of first crushes …How does one deal with his adolescent sexual impulses when he happens to be awakened?

SJ: As far as that’s concerned, the awakening didn’t change anything. I was constantly chasing girls, sometimes successfully, never as successfully as I had hoped. Nothing changed except that the awakening gave a never before known luster to life in general and my love life in particular. Quite simply, all that became a game. Not that life became light, or that love became unimportant; it’s just that everything took on a playful aspect.


On Desire:

GF: Lots of people seem to expect an awakened one to show a sublime detachment from the outer world. Yet, according to Swami Prajnanpad, to be awakened doesn’t mean that one is “without desire,” but “free to desire.” This nuance is important.

SJ: Yes, it’s a good formula. For my part, I could never really understand the kind of Puritanism that seems to be at the base of spiritual philosophy of a number of people converted to oriental thought. All those virtuous statements, considering desire as impure … In France, all those saints are bad enough but what the devil are all these religious trappings doing in the Orient? Let’s get back to the essentials: the question is not whether I chase girls or not, but whether I define myself as a sixteen-year-old boy chasing girls. Before the awakening, I was enclosed in an identity, that of the inner subject who thought this or that. After the awakening, the dream dissolved and I discovered that my real nature was forever irreducible to any identity. That goes a very long way – it means that the objective reality invades any situation I might engage in. That’s not nothing! It’s equivalent to treating “me” thinking about this or that – whether its something philosophical or trivial – as fundamental unreality with respect to what I really am. There isn’t a chance that I’ll let myself be fenced in by any identity.

GF: Under those conditions, what pushes you to undertake the merest action? Why the devil does Steve, stripped of any identity and thereby no longer taking himself for a sixteen-year-old prey to adolescent emotions, take the trouble to court Vera – which I sense wasn’t an easy task?

SJ: That’s a very pertinent objection. One could indeed imagine that such a back stepping from all identity and from the man that I am would generate total indifference to the latter. Well, not at all! Undoubtedly, such an equation would satisfy logic but, quite simply, it is not the case. Things are much more complicated than that. I would even say that spiritual teachings often prove invalid, it is because they approach, most uncouthly, this type of question. Faced with such a problem, they give responses that, in my opinion, are highly inadequate. The truth is that the tide of human conduct not only is isn’t exhausted by the awakening but, on the contrary, gushes forth more vigorously, with the difference that this flow is henceforth pure.

In fact, there’s a phenomenon reason could never explain. Imagine a triangle. Normally, it can’t go beyond its three sides. If you take them away, you find yourself facing nothingness, an absence of a triangle. In the same way, if you take away from Gilles what makes him Gilles, if you reject Gilles who’s thinking about this or that, there would seem to be no more Gilles. It’s there that an unheard of, yet universal, phenomenon occurs that is endlessly at work in all things. The triangle that one considers a result of its three sides can abandon them and not only persist but be born, attain its true nature, above and beyond those three sides. There’s nothing rational about this phenomenon. The triangle is born in the very center of that which, from the rational standpoint, appears to be its complete absence. The triangular nature is attained at the very instant that triangle transcends its three sides. In other words, and to sum it all up, contrary to what certain styles of describing the awakening, might suggest one to believe, one doesn’t have to choose between the personal and the impersonal, the triangle and the non-triangle. It’s simply a matter of knowing that the triangle possesses the miraculous power to do without itself while still retaining its integrity. What’s more, the triangle is entirely contained within the movement by which it disengages itself from its three sides. It is only at that time that the triangular nature appears. Moreover, as long as the triangle is in the center of its three sides, it is, to a certain extent, in contradiction to the square, the circle, and all other geometric figures. It is separate, but the moment it realizes it is not reducible to its three sides, it abandons them and emerges as itself, thereby negating the distance separating it from the other figures. In short, the more I am me, the more I am everyone else.


On Perennial Philosophy:

GF: You knew nothing of the Orient up to that point?

SJ: I knew nothing at all about it until I was thirty years or thereabouts. Then someone gave me a book on Zen—by I don’t remember who anymore—a Japanese…

GF: Suzuki?

SJ: That’s the one! I thumbed through it and was extremely taken with it as well as troubled. It seemed extraordinarily pertinent and precise. I liked the way the author succeeded by successive harsh negations. I think that if what I’, talking about is related to anything, it’s Zen. Several hundred or thousands years ago, people had understood that one cannot attain oneself without piercing all the eyes of thought—I didn’t find that in other writings that people have set before.

GF: You say the Zen writings are close to your experience. Couldn’t one suppose that others knew that same unique experience but that their formulation, different for a bunch of reasons to do with their culture, their education, their manner of thinking, or what have you, simply didn’t appeal to you? You see what I’m getting at—the fact that their manner of describing the experience didn’t satisfy you doesn’t prove that their experience in any way was different or less valid.

SJ: You have asked a very important and delicate question. When the awakening erupts, it recognizes itself as such in its entirety, in the most perfect fashion. What happens within a man whom awakening has erupted? Does that perfect knowledge transmit itself entirely in all its perfection to the fellow in whom it suddenly arrived, or does it do so only partially?
In fact, certain essential information about the nature of the awakening necessarily and luminously filters through the “awakened one.” There are things the awakened person immediately, intuitively, and luminously knows about the awakening: infinite conciousness; infinite self; infinite self = infinite consciousness, infinite value…All that principal information pts itself automatically in place. (Side note: he differentiates this infinite consciousness from a different infinite consciousness a few paragraphs down, which I suppose is the jhana of infinite consciousness, implying this usage of infinite consciousness here is not a jhana, despite similar wording.) One could not be awakened without clearly knowing that. On the other hand at the same time that he cries, “I am,” its corollary, “I am not that thought,” surges. “Conscious of that thought that’s born in me, I am not that thought. All thought is nothingness.” Educated or uneducated, every awakened person can only bear witness precisely to that very reality. This being entirely clear, it then suffices for me to examine the texts one sets before my eyes. If I find, “I am,” without, “I am not this, “it’s not worth the trouble to continue. We’re not talking about the same thing. I’m familiar with my village; I know where the bakery and butcher shop are. If some guy pretends he’s from the same village and declares that the bakery is in the square when it’s located on a tiny street, it’s useless to go any further. We don’t live in the same place. Whatever the origin or culture of the person touched by this experience, he or she can but instantly proclaim, “I am,” followed immediately by, “I am not that thought.” However, Krishnamurti, for example, I certainly found allusions to, “I am not that thought,” but it wasn’t clear and precise, contrary to the diamond-like precision of the Zen texts people showed me.

GF: Which means?

SJ: Which means that, in my opinion, they’re not talking about the same experience. I think that several types of great experiences exist for which one could establish an inventory. But, as far as I’m concerned, there is on that is ultimate, the others are merely ersatz, no doubt. Beautiful and marvelous ersatz compared to ordinary consciousness, but nevertheless ridiculous compared to the ultimate experience.

GF: Just the same, it appears that some things remain constant. For example, lets take your metaphor about the person reading a book. One finds everywhere, among serious writers, in every account of experiences worthy of attention, this idea of the nonimplicated witness, of the actor not identified with the role he has been cast in, yet acting it perfectly. If you talk about this and others talk about it, how can one not suppose that you’re all evoking essentially the same thing?

SJ: I, myself, am troubled by certain similarities. I think certain spiritual experiences, more or less similar to the awakening, exist and yet they are not the awakening in the precise and ultimate sense that I give to that word based on my own experience. But there I’ve got to be very prudent. Somebody speaks to me about the sky: “It’s big.” Exactly. “It’s a vault.” Completely. “At night, the stars shine in it.” I begin to be won over. It seems my interlocutor really knows the sky. And then, after an hour, I notice something—he hasn’t told be the sky is blue! So I ask him the question and he tells me, “The sky is pink.” That’s pretty much the position I find myself in when faced with a number of texts or reports about the experience. My natural reaction, therefore, is to think that we’re quite simply not talking about the same sky.

GF: Does that mean there are several skies—a pink sky, a red sky, a white sky—the blue sky being the ultimate?

SJ: I admit one must exercise extreme caution on this point. It’s possible the discrepancies could, in part, arise from differences in culture or intellectual equipment. I, myself, must admit that today I don’t express myself in exactly the same manner that I did twenty or thirty years ago. Let’s say that some differences aren’t significant while others are. In fact, I wouldn’t permit myself to say such things if I didn’t possess a considerable range of experiences.
Before the awakening, I experienced all sorts of extraordinary states—infinite consciousness of myself, etc., etc. I could have very well already considered myself awakened. When I describe these experiences, I sometimes wonder where the difference lies. Yet, it exists precisely in the fact that, in these moments prior to the awakening, the saber didn’t thrust forth. One feels the “I am” without simultaneously feeling the “I am not.” People have the potential of states that radically contrast with the habitual state, but which still are not at all the ultimate experience—yet can be mistaken for it. Let’s go further—what separates the “almost awakening” from the awakening? With the one as with the other, one is obliged to talk about an encounter of the self with the self, of “I am” with “I am” –an extraordinary thing: how can red become red when that’s what it already is? The idea of the encounter of “I am” with “I am” seems universal. But there are two conceptions of the encounter which seem to correspond to two completely different ways of living it. In the first case, the most common one, this encounter is an immersion of me in me, and thus the return of me in its original state. It is a phenomenon of immersion, a starting over from scratch. The “I am not” thus isn’t very clear or quite simply doesn’t exist at all. It’s not a matter of a new principle cropping up, but the end of an exile. It’s an enormous experience, but there is neither mutation nor transmutation. In the second case, that of the awakening such as I know it, there’s definitely an encounter, the immersion of the self in the self, but there is also and above all a spark which is suddenly produced by this collision of the self with itself, the erection of a new, spiritual principle. It’s in this spark which generates a mutation that the truth resides. My essences not only reentered itself, it mutated. Please note that I ask myself questions and am merely offering an hypothesis here, an hypothesis which nevertheless appears more and more credible to me.

GF: Still, your experiences remains close to the descriptions found in the oriental texts than those one finds in Christian texts.

SJ: Undoubtedly, but let’s not forget the essential dominant place I accord to the human individual. My story isn’t that of a fusion into a great, anonymous mass, but that of a birth of a new person. It must be well-understood: A spiritual person, an entity without either features nor contours yet definitely a person. One could thus call it an individual soul, “Gilles.” Gilles is here; he exists infinitely. Gilles’ existence isn’t relative, but absolute. You have your place, as does each person, in the kingdom of Beingness. You exist personally and infinitely, yet having that miraculous potential to be more than you are. This brings us back to the triangle—the true triangle lies upstream from its three sides and the true triangular nature begins with the pure absence of the triangle. Gilles, in his own right, exists infinitely without being, for all that, the prisoner of his contours. He’s not the sum of the entities of the qualities that determine his being. He doesn’t cease, in truth, to overflow himself.

GF: What you’re saying could provide a bridge between the Orient and the Occident.

SJ: True. If I precisely describe my experience, I find in it the destructive aspect of Zen—the “I am not” aspect—at the same time as the surging forth of the individual “I am.”

GF: You’ve never been in the Orient?

SJ: I feel neither the need nor the desire to go anywhere at all and meet other awakened ones, for I have my own certitude which is absolute and cannot be enhanced by others’ experiences. Moreover, my job as a man, to the extent I want it, consists in translating the awakening in my own words and with my own concepts, independent of all external influences. I read nothing I see no one, so that my testimony is genuinely my own. I’m determined to speak about what I know and not about what I might have read or from hearsay.



On Powers, Reincarnation and its Ecstasy:.


SJ: It’s 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 doesn’t approach it in the hope of any gain. One could speak of lack of involvement as with moral value. One doesn’t 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, it’s because the simple fact of doing good permits me to maintain an inner state that’s much more precious to me than what I’d feel after doing evil.

SJ: Excellent observation. Let’s 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 one’s intentions, all one’s wishes, even the highest. One doesn’t 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 you’ve just posed. It’s an objection one is certainly entitled to make: “You’re 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 wouldn’t tolerate it for a second. It’s the most precious asset in the world.

GF: That’s a paradox.

SJ: Yes? So what? In the end, why should I give a damn if there’s a paradox? What’s important to me is to describe the phenomenon, not try to explain it.

GF: There’s another objection people always make: Isn’t 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, I’m my own man. On the other, in accomplishing the spiritual act that allows me to induce the awakening, the infinite value. I’m no longer strictly my own man. The underlying reason for which I accomplish this gesture is of another order, it’s nonselfish, universal-but I cannot really explain it.

GF: Since we’re talking about selfishness, has the experience made you regard other people differently?

SJ: That’s a profound question. Among the faculties, powers, or savoir-faire inherent in the awakening I spoke of earlier, there’s 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.

…. Skipped to reincarnation stuff …

GF: You say the sun rose because the sky was ready. Why was the sky, your sky, ready? For, after all, everyone doesn’t land into the awakening at sixteen . . .

SJ: Yes.

GF: Let’s 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 time-there’s 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, it’s 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, I’ve formulated a hypothesis: if I passed on to the other side, it’s 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 wasn’t 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. It’s atrocious, scandalous, but that’s 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 didn’t keep me from looking for explanations myself. As far as these stories of reincarnation are concerned, if I weren’t 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, it’s a purely spiritual fire. Then an unexpected phenomenon occurs, which is that this spiritual fire suddenly inflames perception in its totality. It’s 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-that’s accompanied by a prodigious undoing of the world’s 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, let’s 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. Thingamabob’s apartment.” It was an aberrant situation, so laughable that I’d 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 they’re 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 don’t know the words. . . Fairies? That doesn’t 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 old-fashioned bathtub water heater. There’s 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 I’m seeing? First, I see them with my soul, my spiritual essence. It’s a matter of direct perception, alongside which the most extreme human joys appear insignificant. It’s a dagger’s 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. There’s 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. It’s thus a matter of a very strange relationship, leaving the great question: What, in God’s name, do I see? I’ve 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. It’s not unthinkable that, through these qualitative beings, I’m put in direct contact with entire segments of human lives. Is it a question of my previous lives, other lives? I don’t know a damned thing. But there’s 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, I’m not at all certain about this, and, moreover, don’t think that anyone can be.

.
GF: It’s 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 that’s the case with you.

SJ: First of all, it’s 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 it’s 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 it’s very important. From the moment the awakening sets fire to everything, there’s 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 he’ll 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 that’s very easy to avoid, one in which you can’t 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, it’s humanly impossible not to regret them. It’s a very pernicious phenomenon-let’s say the awakening is God and the ecstasies are heaven. On the one hand, I’m 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. That’s 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, it’s always there in a latent state. I don’t 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 don’t 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 I’ve done all my life. But it’s not a problem; I know how to do it and, for thirty years, I have behaved in such a way that the awakening hasn’t budged.



On monism and priorities:

GF: Now a more pointed question arises: You sometimes speak of “Gille-ness,” of “Steve-ness,” of that eternal and infinite value that is proper to me and proper to you. What about that? According to a certain comprehension of oriental spirituality, it could be roughly summed as follows: I came out of the Whole of Things and I take myself for Gilles. It’s a matter of no longer taking myself for Gilles. If I succeed, at my death I will return to melt into the Whole of Things.

SJ: I realize you’re offering me an out. All that is ideology, satanic ideology! Ignorance is at work here in the most terrible way, since it adorns itself with the name of God! Let’s be precise: there are two ways to knock at the door of “I am.” If the usual state of consciousness is an illusion, it’s either one thing or another. Either it’s the personal being that’s illusory, in which case speaking of an “ultimate me” is totally incorrect. The word “me” ought not to be used in reference to something impersonal. If the self is illusory, one must get rid of it and attain I don’t know what—something that one can’t even qualify as “self.” Or it is I who am the ultimate reality and take myself for something that I am not. In either case, it is necessary to solve the problem. It’s obvious the second hypothesis that I consider to be the right one.
There’s been a misconception and the me has taken itself for something which it is not. Me, in the most personal sense of the term, is the ultimate reality—but it takes itself for something which it is not. Thus, there is identification, falsification, without one being able to deduce at all that the me isn’t personal or that the person is not the ultimate basis of all “Steve-ness” of the being? As inadmissible as this might seem to most people, this personal me is the infinite, the absolute being, the ultimate. Whoever doesn’t conceive things this way cannot hope to knock at the door of himself with the chance of seeing it open. Evidently, it’s then necessary to specify what the real person is in relation to the false, what the real personal me is in relation to the false personhoods. Let’s not fool ourselves. But in your “Gille-ness,” you are the beginning, the end, and the middle of all things. This must be compared to what we said about the triangle which, having miraculously arisen from its three sides, thus having entirely destroyed itself, is born in the center of its pure absence. You, Gilles, you are something so indispensable, so hoped for. Let’s devise hypothesis of a creator: you are so hoped for by him that, even in the center of your own absence once you’ve been totally annihilated and everything that makes up your identity as Gilles has been destroyed, at the center of your pure absence, you continue to burn.

GF: Almost no human being, even the religious one, knows anything about what we’re discussing. They’re going to die without having an inkling of an idea. What is your stand on this situation?

SJ: I can only throw the question back in your face. In fact, one of the characteristics of what I call the awakening is to kill what others call the truth, even the intellectual truth. There are empirical, contestable truths but which, in general, are those that scare the hell out of us, like, for example: “I’m going to die. And then there are the “truths” such as two plus two make four. Unawakened spirits are going to consider that it’s not merely a matter of illumination of the intelligence, but of a fact. They’re also going to constitute that truth as an object and treat that object as reality. Two plus two makes four becomes, for them, a sort of objective substratum, which is not in their power to change. It’s a sort of implant of pure exterior consciousness in the center of their own consciousness. The awakened person, on the other hand, behaves totally differently. They have calculated once and for all the nothingness of the truth. They truth for them is like a piece of deadwood. It’s there, they pick it up and break it over their knees. In other words, in the face of truth, I take a very strange position. The truth is true if it pleases me that it’s true. It’s nothing if it pleases me that it’s nothing; You’ve asked the question which is, in fact, that of universal suffering, of that shocking injustice by which I’m awakened and my neighbor is not. Most people are going to die before knowing themselves, before attaining their eternity and that infinite value. What effect has that on me, then? I can only say this: if it pleases me that the truth is real, the compassion is there, and I suffer greatly from that affairs. But when it doesn’t please me that it is real, all that suffering has quite simply never existed! From the time the reality that I can attribute to universal suffering insists on separating itself from me and really constitutes itself as an object, I annihilate it!

GF: With that said, if human beings had an ounce of good sense, they would try as hard as they could to approach the awakening.

SJ: That’s oh so obvious! It’s incommensurable folly not to dedicate all one’s energy and all of oneself to a search aimed at exposing the truth of self. But, once again, what I’m now saying to you is on the order of the truth, the allegation, and I can only, in the same breath, destroy this truth.

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/12/15 12:02 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
Thank you, Ryan, for this.

As, I'm sure you know, the serendipity of when things appear just when you're ripe for them plays out quite often if you're receptive to it. For some reason, the Dharma Overground is a place where that happens for me more than anyone might expect. 

I purchased a used copy of his book on Amazon after reading your post. It was $0.00, plus $3.99 shipping. It just goes to show, the marketplace isn't always right.

I wish you the best on your own journey, and thanks again!

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/12/15 9:42 PM as a reply to tsetse fly.
Glad you enjoyed it! I put a lot of writing here, but the whole book is one long mindblowing dialogue, so there's plenty more to get out of Jourdain. I had a hard time choosing what to put in the post because everything he says is utter profundity of a flavor I have simply not seen so uniquely expressed. For me, at least, he has given me a very fun vantage on awakening that triggers a sense of, 'That's it!'. I have a lot to say on Jourdain, but some of the things I find captivating about him is his raw sincerity, there's not a gimmicky bone on his body and from this just raw humanity pours out. May reading Jourdain allow you to realize that which is appropriate for you to realize (My way of well wishing!)

(Same person fyi, can't login to my old account)

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/13/15 12:14 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
The Poster Formerly Known As Ryan J:
Glad you enjoyed it! I put a lot of writing here, but the whole book is one long mindblowing dialogue, so there's plenty more to get out of Jourdain. I had a hard time choosing what to put in the post because everything he says is utter profundity of a flavor I have simply not seen so uniquely expressed. For me, at least, he has given me a very fun vantage on awakening that triggers a sense of, 'That's it!'. I have a lot to say on Jourdain, but some of the things I find captivating about him is his raw sincerity, there's not a gimmicky bone on his body and from this just raw humanity pours out. May reading Jourdain allow you to realize that which is appropriate for you to realize (My way of well wishing!)

(Same person fyi, can't login to my old account)

Jourdain is my favorite awakened guy. He is very comfortable in it and expresses it quite naturally. Radical Awakening is a great book. I put it up there with Nisargadatta’s I Am That as one of those books that can kind of work its way through the cracks in the mind to loosen things up.

There is also a great 2 hr interview with Jourdain on youtube in English (more in French). Seeing and hearing him is an important part of what he has to say.

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/13/15 9:46 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
This Stephen Jourdain figure has puzzled me ever since you first posted about him here Ryan J, he's an extraordinary character.

It appears that Stephen Jourdain was a young child, who was born 'equipped', and lived a happy life, and due to the right circumstances, and the sensitivity of his nature, was able to wrestle with a question that consummated and blew up everything quickly and accurately.

His great intuitive speech and wisdom obviously stems from the rapidity by which he passed through the veil or barrier to the other side, and thus the painlessness, skillfulness, and the quickness by which he was able to attain awakening.

You are correct in that Ramana Maharshi does not come close, Ramana Maharshi never appeared to me to be awakened... this is where it gets tricky. Ramana Maharshi was definitely awakened, to himself, and thus the scope of the problem that he solved, was complete, but only for himself. Thus it was his subjective experience that he did not suffer.

I get the feeling that the scope of Stephen Jourdain's problem solving was far more comprehensive, greater, vaster, but also quick, such that it turned everything to ash.

There are only a few awakened teachers that I have ever taken seriously, they are:

1) Stephen Jourdain (thanks to you)
2) U.G. Krishnamurti
3) Jed McKenna

Bernadette Roberts, Chögyam Trungpa, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Adi Da Samraj, Aleister Crowley, can be analyzed as follows:

I throw Chögyam Trungpa and Aleister Crowley out with the bath water, they were very poetic, angst-ridden, avant garde, enfant terrible, artsy individuals whose best contributions were the notion of "Vajra hell" and the "Black brother" respectively. Both Chögyam Trungpa and Aleister Crowley believed if an individual on the journey to enlightenment failed to follow through with the process, he or she would be cast into an Abyss from whence there was no return, and had to await another lifetime to escape. This is not the same as the dark night that this community proposes.

Both CT and AC wrote about awakening from a primarily poetic, existential, artistic, angst-ridden perspective, and this is why their writings have so much appeal. It doesn't appear to me that they ever reached any sort of unitive, state. This is why the themes of "Vajra hell" (condemnation from breaking samaya, disobeying your master), and the eternal lost state of the black brother in the Abyss figure so much in both their writings. They felt condemned, guilty or evil, and ironically their behavior (as a pair), seemed to be the most ridiculous and extravagant out of the whole group of teachers listed above.

Bernadette Roberts' condition was more or less unexplainable to herself, and she attempted many times to create a large and coherent doctrine in order to explain what she went through, but was more or less unsuccessful in doing so, due to the bulkiness of her latest book: The Real Christ. She definitely had very subjectively compelling experiences, but they were never unitive or final, and so her condition kept changing, and she was unable to reach a good clean resolution.

Adi Da Samraj was probably awakened to some degree, but again his condition never reached a synchronized, unitive resolution, and so he kept seeking and trying to reconcile his experiences with his messiah-complex, he spent most of his life trying to regain the condition he experienced as an infant (called "The Bright"), which he later claimed he did.

Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj rank the highest out of this whole group of teachers, this is because they solved both their problems (in a synchronized, complete, whole and unitive way) completely, even though the scope of their knowledge was not the same as Stephen Jourdain's.

The best out of all these however, are these three teachers:

Stephen Jourdain
U.G. Krishnamurti
Jed McKenna

While RM and NM experienced the notion of awakening and the subsequent resolution of their problems, by unifiying their concentration on a single point (the self-inquiry they practiced), their awakening was mostly blissful and meditative.

The awakenings of the three teachers I list above are superior because they are more intellectual, honest, and investigative. And their journeys were more painful, heroic, and lead to more insight, and knowledge than the previous 6 teachers I list.

The three above are able to articulate insights into awakening much more clearly than any of the above 6 teachers, but they are more or less (as a group), unable to replicate their condition in anybody else. They are paccekabuddhas.

SJ is superior to Jed McKenna because of the rapidity of his awakening. Jed McKenna took ~2 years, and then 10 more years to integrate, but his problem was fully resolved. U.G. Krishnamurti's awakening was sudden, catastrophic, acausal (not willed), and totally complete. But he was unable to explain how it occurred to him, moreover his awakening only took place after many years of seeking, and still many more years of non-seeking after the initial period of seeking, wherein he claimed he had lost interest or given up in the search for awakening.

So yes, Ryan J, you are correct, from all the awakened individuals we have knowledge of from recent history, this fellow, Stephen Jourdain, is by far the best, because he decided to solve a problem, and two hours later, during a thrilling conclusion, rapidly, and quickly solved it.

The burning and passing through the fire he experienced that was so quick (a leap), is what allowed him to speak about everything so nicely, and intuitively, his speech as you note is very pleasing.

Ultimately I really only consider two individuals to be awakened in the past century:

Stephen Jourdain
U.G. Krishnamurti

Jed McKenna comes in at a close third, but his awakening took too long.

I'll have more to write about your Jon Kabat-Zinn visions thread.

Ciao,

Glazer of Doughnuts

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/17/15 3:46 PM as a reply to Doughnut (Supreme Arbiter of Peace and Concord) Glazer.
So, I was originally going to post a lot of my thoughts about Jourdain, but I'm going to indefinitely refrain from that because I cannot do so without basically saying this and this is wrong, that and that is wrong, etc. I simply don't want to go there currently, and so I will simply leave some more writing of Jourdain to the reader to get something out of it. The only thing I mention is to note Jourdain's phenomenological associating of awakening with infinite value, and very strongly so. I've never seen anyone mention it as strongly and as regularly as him. Either people use very different wordings or they don't have that aspect of awakening.


More from the chapter on 'Powers'
GF: What are these faculties?

SJ: First and foremost, the discernment of a primordial thought springing forth directly from the spiritual essence. Therefore, it does not concern the thought that emanates from the usualy psychological subject, but from the original thought preceeding that. This thought does not gush from the faucet but from the spring itself which, as everyone knows, is the ultimate source of the faucet. This discernment is immensely important, because it is what brings about the "disidentification." Following that is the conscious discernment of this combination called my "spirit" or my "inner life" as an image. The usual state of consciousness proceeds from the postulate that if I can create a mental image of my mother or of a tree, they're like little paintings hung in a room, yet the room is not an image, no more, in fact, than I who produce all that. But the awakening brings the recognition that the room of "my spirit" is purely the recognition of a primordial, mental imagery issuing directly from the source. In other words, the picture my own spirit has of itself is a presentation of nature full of images. There is not, of course, any kind of awareness of this in the state of normal sleep. The extraordinary thing is that doing away with that means doing away with "my spirit." Finally, I'll mention the discernment of the me a originally conceived, which can be declared as the mortal enemy of me in its integrity. The usual state of consciousness is "me degrading into a thought of me." There are all sorts of other faculties I could list. What's important is to see that the One rapidly diversifies.

GF: The awakening is traditionally associated with happiness, bliss, beatitude. What does it mean to you?

SJ: That is a very important question. There's a reason to clearly distinguish two things that usually do not seem easily seperable, namely happiness and value. When the awakening erupts, it is nothing other than infinite value. But that infinite value is not bliss. Of course, the eruption is accompaied by a gust of unheard-of joy. But, in its essence, that value is independent of all beatitude. What I mean to say is that if one talks about awakening in terms of bliss, the infinite value seems somehow justified by happiness. Thus, one remains fundamentally on the rational plane: there's value because I feel joy, because I'm happy. But this infinite value has no substance, no appearance, and no justification. Therefore, there's a mystery: how does that value impose itself when it's unjustifiable? The mystery is there, blatant; that's the way it is. To put this in words that aren't mine--let's say there is a God and a paradise. If it's completely natural and legitimate that God leads to paradise, it's still imperative not to confuse one with the other. God is inexplicable. The divine value is fundamentally unjustifiable, mysterious, and gratuitous. It supplies nothing and doesn't remunerate us in coins of happiness. The fact it then generates paradise seems to make it explicit.

It’s 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 doesn’t approach it in the hope of any gain. One could speak of lack of involvement as with moral value. One doesn’t 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, it’s because the simple fact of doing good permits me to maintain an inner state that’s much more precious to me than what I’d feel after doing evil.

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/23/15 3:07 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
"Accurate as it seemed perspective on it was however different now because I did not identify with anything there, just being able to see experience like it was. It could be made pleasant too but compared to not having to endure it and just seeing background even pleasure is like some sort of torment."

SJ: Since the awakening erupted I have been through everything, in the novel, I've been squashed. Really, I took it on the chin, but without ever compromising myself. I didn't give a damn about the blows! For a while, I was sick as a dog and accepted that fact with total indifference. People are going to cry, "How can he say such a thing when, sick, held his stomach, swearing?" And, yet, it's true. Even when I was screaming the loudest, the indifference was there. Go figure! The awakening forever abolishes certain types of problems--existential, spiritual, and energetic. It's too bad I can't turn myself into a power station for I've got energy, and then some.

"It actually is getting pretty tedious, maybe I should change them to allow someone else in... "

What? Are you referring to him not switching the siddhi's he experienced? Please give me a clearly worded version of your 4th path criteria.

"hey, stop screwing around and answer the darn question already!"

What question?

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/23/15 8:31 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ:

The only thing I mention is to note Jourdain's phenomenological associating of awakening with infinite value, and very strongly so. I've never seen anyone mention it as strongly and as regularly as him. Either people use very different wordings or they don't have that aspect of awakening.

I wonder are his words translated from French?  Sometimes nuances of meaning are lost in translation.  'Value' may have different or wider connotations in French.   The translator is then left to choose a word that he/she thinks might be a good fit in English.  
-Eva

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/24/15 2:34 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
My original response was to say I was going to respond to you in 15 years, as that is the time it would take me to give you an appropriately solid response to your list and my take on Jourdain. But, I hope you realize that capability as I support moonshot goals, that is, what appear to be impossible by current standards. Perhaps it is or is not, but I won't tell you no.

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/24/15 5:12 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
A few more thoughts, I make no claims of being beyond a beginner. Although I am happy to say I noticed profound peace while mulling over this topic, which I find nice considering I care about it a great deal more than almost any other topic.

You can make outrageous claims of mind 
 and I won't give you shit about it. I've been indoctrinated into the world of big dreams because I've seen too much anime to laugh at people aiming beyond beyond beyond.

Here are the types of thoughts I have, though. I noticed in another topic about magick you claim doing magick will drastically 'alter' your karma and make stream entry far more difficult. Perhaps it's true. But then I think about people like Alan Chapman, Duncan Barford, and Ona Kiser, and probably about 12 other people from the DhO who used magick outright in a bajillion ways, and yet they seem to have acquired stream entry quite readily? Should I trust your 4th path judgement or what seems to be empirical results? Are they exceptions to this rule?  Or have they not attained stream entry yet?

What I'm getting at is I feel like you're trying to assert your take on a Buddhist cosmology and asserting it as cosmic law, where my (beginner) suspicions is that there are no ultimate laws in the realm of the more cosmologoical mythology that comes from meditating a lot, opening chakras, etc. I mention this because you strongly assert 4th path authority. Do you still believe this about karma and magick? How do you make sense of the large # of exceptions on this board alone? Or is that type of knowledge not a part of the 4th path deal and hence not contradictory?

This was brought to my mind because demarcating awakening into 4 segments seems to be a part of Buddhist cosmological views, and I myself have the intuition I should disregard all cosmological views, and that's why I posted Jourdain as someone who doesn't really fit into any cosmology because he never practiced or read about mysticism 

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/25/15 1:05 PM as a reply to Ryan J.
Here are some more quotes I found of Jourdain off the interwebz. I can definitely see how his vocabulary that is more sudden path, like I AM stuff, would be troubling for some Buddhists, but interesting nevertheless!


-----

"It’s 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."

-----

GF: Why the sleep? Why the ignorance?

SJ: I have an answer to that question, whose context greatly troubles me because it appears very Christian but, in fact, is the only way to explain that cape of unconsciousness within hich we are shrouded, of that frightful forgetfulness of oneself--characteristic of the usual state of consciousness. To explain the horror of the situation, therefore, it is indeed necessary to refer oneself to an intimate event that comes an extraordinarily long time before the usual subject, as we know it. In the abysses of the inner human, at every moment, there occurs a dramatic event to what the Christian's call the "fall." One can interpret it in moral terms or consider it simply as a matter of an error of attention--little does it matter. The fact remains that there's a dreadful error that each one of us never ceases to make at the very root of our spiritual existence. From the instant its committed, all the bullshit is in place, the usual state of consciousness is established, and the reign of Ignorance is installed. Whoever has been awakened comes in touch with this mechanism.



-----

One must, at least after a certain
stage, see that the awakening lies
at the very heart of the idea one
has about oneself . . .

‘Me’ is to be
found at the core of the
concept of me

----

Another Characteristic of this Thing
is it's fantastic absence of characteristics.
No color, no taste, no form, no size, neither large nor
small, neither full nor empty:
without properties, not the least attribute: and above
all, without place; nothing to repeat: no eye, no light, no outer,
no point of view. 
NOTHING!
Nothing to justify the hurricane of certainty: I SEE!
How can NOTHING see?!
Nothing to justify the hurricane of certainty: I see
myself.
How can NOTHING be seen?!
Nothing to justify the hurricane of certainty:
THE ONE THAT SEES IS WHAT IS SEEN
Even more impossible, this negates all the laws!
I AM!
One is not. One is born, one has a body, one is like
this or like that, in the best case one exists.
I AM!



----

A kind of warmth makes its presence known in the least of
things. And then, each thing—a table leg, the slats of a chair,
that pile of books, the wall behind it—turns into a billion living,
vibrant, humming points, rather like plaster or packed,
powdered snow that could come to life. And here again, incomprehensibly, one is suffused with joy.


----

Gilles Farcet: Different traditions insist on the importance of grace. Does the sudden arrival of the awakening participate in something that totally escapes us?

Stephen Jourdain: In fact, there are two methods. One consists of leading the interlocutor to the understanding that all the eyes with which he’s perceived things since birth—in other words, the eyes of thought—are glass eyes which have never seen anything. It’s necessary to lead people to the brink of that understanding, that perception of nothingness.

It’s a dagger’s thrust which, if successful, must itself be included in what has been stabbed.

At that moment, one is released from everything—being,
nothingness, tomorrow, yesterday, the universe, the cosmos, God, one’s history. Now that’s something I’d be inclined to do with passion. Unfortunately, this proves to be a process with limited effectiveness. People can understand intellectually without understanding totally.

That’s where we arrive at a second method. Some fellow may tell me, “With my intelligence, I understand very well what you’re saying. But the problem is that I can’t live it.”

They see an ideological schism appear right away—intellect on the one hand, life on the other. As though a fundamental difference exists between conceiving and being! There is none. One must, at least after a certain stage, see that the awakening lies at the very heart of the idea one has about oneself. The act to be accomplished does not consist in digging, in trying to get behind this idea to attain the reality of the awakening outside it, but to plunge directly into the heart of the idea of the awakening. It’s at this center that one finds the awakening. “Me” is to be found at the core of the concept of me.

What explains the suddenness of the awakening, its burning,
extraordinary immediacy, is that it is not a matter of suitably
forming the idea “me,” then considering it as the sign
of me outside the idea, but to immerse itself immediately at
the interior of the idea.

But beware!

When I speak of the idea “me,” I’m not alluding to intellectual thought “me,” but to the conception me. To think, in the usual sense, is to arrive at a judgment, legislated, affirmed. That has nothing to do with what I’m talking about, which is the healthy, divine use of the intelligence which consists in conceiving. One must seek “me,” not in the region beyond the conception “me,” but in its very texture.


----

"I am the secret nestled in the aroma of freshly cut grass, in the whoosh of the wind howling down the chimney, in the hundred thousand fingers of the snow squall, in the mother-of-pearl of a spring morning, in the silent message of a row of chestnut trees, in the hollow of the beach and the dance of the sand fleas. I am he who once rendered you living. I am the instigator of all your marvelings, all your astonishments, I am the sole reason for which anyone at all ever loved himself and loved another, I am the secret that irrigated each of your childhood secrets, I am the angel that each child holds in filigree that you killed. I am you"

---

"Not one thought—not one atom of thought—subsists in me, not even that of the miracle being accomplished, of the fabulous gem I am laying bare, not even the thought of that thought. My thought is dead, the illusion dissipated; that which I considered until that instant as the very armor of my interior existence, as the base of myself, has ceased to be. For the first time, in the silence of my thunderstruck thought, in the absolute vacuity of my mind where all form, all movement has succumbed, I AM." — Stephen Jourdain

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/25/15 10:36 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
One other reason I posted Jourdain was a proof of concept in that his phenomenological descriptions are (to me) vastly more impressive than much of what is found in the pragmatic Dharma community. To me, he symbolizes that the potential for awakening is higher than what many might believe possible. 4th path? Maybe not. Impresssive and a person who lived recently who shows how deep one can really go? Absolutely.

I don't entirely disagree with you on magick, much of it is silly. But to answer your last question and why I talk about magick at all.

I have run into the perception of spirits that at least have the aura of benevolence, which instinctively lead to merging in a way that was very pleasurable (Which occurred with absolutely no knowledge of magick or spirits or any intention to have such experience, I was doing a sort of noticing practice, but suspect I was opening part of my chakra system, which I am currently working on still), but I do not suspect what I ran into to be One Things, or, if it was, my brain currently does not have the capacity/infrastructure to process things at that level that your brain could, so the experience is vastly decreased. I could have gone further with those strange experiences, but stopped because it was obviously getting out of control in a way that was getting in the way of functioning in daily life. Which is crazy, because I had absolutely no warning or idea of something like that spontaneusly happening, which lead me to discover the DhO as a consequence when I started reading about holy guardian angel stuff via Google/reddit. It's still there, but I invest attention in noticing, heart meditations along with living my life as I find those to be solid investments, like eating healthy vs eating ice cream.

I don't actually do magick insofar I do heart meditations, which I would classify as magick, even the intention to notice would be considered magick by Daniel Ingram. Entire paths label white magick as skillful magick leading to awakening and black magick as leading to ignorance. Magick also goes somewhat together with ritual, which as a form of community (think festivals) are a part of the broader human community.  Most magick is silly, pointless, confusing, doesn't lead anywhere, but I do give it a proper place on the grounds that it is a part of the broader human experience. To be the most traditional person would to be a shaman, shamanism is a natural consequence of human development outside of the modern, protestant secular capitalistic rational worldview. Just as humans enjoy movies, parties, a good book, good wine,  so do they enjoy a more magickal worldview, insofar it is natural to humans, or, secular protestant rationalism is not natural and therefore unnecessarily alienating in no useful way as I'm probably one of the most rational intellectually developed people on this forum and function just fine. I don't plan to become a shaman, not at all, but I realize the broader field of human experience and broader potential of human culture is most likely lacking in the developed world. Like a dull robotic gray, the limit of lifestyle is at historic lows and I personally believe people will look back at our times in shock that we tolerated such dreadfully boring and awful lifestyles. Said another way, by the macro-scale interdependence of human experience and social structure, magick, ritual, and community have a place in the whole fellowship of a human village, so to speak. Just as people with repressed emotions around sexuality have shadowside behaviors, I suspect a sort of shadowside collection of behaviors exist in people who deny the more naturally occuring magical-ness of the range of normal human experiences that occur without surpression and aversion to experience. They occur without intention.

I would not recommend people go around doing magickal things all the time. I find most of it superfluous, unnecessary, boring, because I have enough, am at peace enough it just seems rather pointless where I am at. But knowing what I know, I would not cast it entirely aside more for community and cultural reasons, which enable a smaller subset of people in a village to go to the core of insight, a meta-stable harmonious balance of the whole village community that is sufficiently healthy. Everyone loves festivals, everyone loves Studio Ghibli anime movies, they long for what they've lost, and rightly so I think. I think such a community would actually be more enabling for people like you to go deeper than a community that denies the magical sides of human beings, and so everyone wins except secular protestant rationalists.

RE: Stephen Jourdain, the enlightened French Real-estate Agent
Answer
6/26/15 1:04 PM as a reply to The Poster Formerly Known As RyanJ.
One of the major 'projects' of my practice is opening my chakras, which came about by simply relaxing and the instinctual move arises to release which then what appears to be 'pure aversion' from a lifetime of tension/closing then arises. To let the selfing dissolve means to let these 'impurities' arise naturally, and as this occurs there appears to be big gains in a decrease of selfing, increase in peace, so I continue to work on it. Is that the chakra system? It certainly feels energetic, slowly working from my legs up to my spine, feels like release. There doesn't really need to be any trick to do except let it do itself, it wants to arise if there is a sort of full relaxing.

Anyways, I agree with your post. 2015 does present a myriad of many of cultural options that are far richer than they have been before. But what I should have said is that there is a particular alienation in the style of secular protestant rationalism that is alienating and doesn't have to be. That is another topic however, which I will need to be more educated on to write clearly. But that's not as important as core meditation work, of course.