Jacques Lusseyran (1924 – 1971) was a teacher, French author and political activist.
Born in Paris, France, he became totally blind as the result of a school accident at the age of eight and he spent the rest of his life learning to adapt to the circumstances that having no vision brought to him.
Whilst many disabled people during that era were drawn to live very limited lives with equally self-limiting concepts about what they could do, this proved not to be the case with Lusseyran who, with the support of his parents, led an extra-ordinary life.
Opposing the Enemy
In 1940 the Germany war machine rolled across Europe and eventually invaded France. In response, in the following year, at the age of 17, Lusseyran formed a Resistance group called the ‘Volunteers of Liberty’ where he operated as its head of recruitment.
Such was the group’s success that it eventually grew to number 600 members and Lusseyran went on to create an information network via a newspaper to keep the volunteers informed of events.
As a direct result of his resistance work he was arrested in July 1943 and came to be interrogated by the Gestapo thirty-eight times before being shipped off to Buckenwald Concentration Camp.
As it turned out he was one of only thirty inmates to survive at the time that camp was liberated by the Americans and Lusseyran believes that he survived the brutal regime – one in which those inmates who were not physically capable of work were killed, as a result of his skill in translating the German radio broadcasts.
After the war he returned to France and completed his studies with an intention to move into a career as a teacher. However he found himself at the butt-end of disability discrimination within the French education system though later on he went to teach at Case Western University in the United States.
Collection of Observances
In his book ‘Against the Pollution of the I’ Lusseyran shares his own personal perspective regarding his lack of sight. He reflects upon the experience of navigating his physical world without the ability to use sight.
Rather than evaluating his life, as most of us do, with direct recourse to visual memory he instead explains how his life has simply been marked by times of ease – times when he was in alignment with what he describes as an ‘inner light’ and times of difficulty and challenge when that same guiding and illuminating power was temporarily unavailable.
In operating within a modern, visually-dependant world, Lusseyran developed more keenly his other senses as a way of compensating. However, in his chapter ‘Blindness, a New Seeing of the World’ he explains how these senses came to meld into one singular function which he refers to as
…a single perception.
With this tool as his aid he found that he was able to intuitively intuit most physical objects and obstacles within his world. Whilst unable to explain exactly how this process works he does reveal in his book that he senses objects within a field of pressure or a as he calls it a
field of vibration
As Within So Without
Lusseyran also credits his ability to operate within the physical world as a normal human being by his ability to observe within himself all those things that exist without.
Here he is reflecting upon one of the deepest truths in spirituality which is that our external world directly mirrors our inner domain – or vice versa.
This is such a fundamental part of the personal philosophy that Lusseyman developed that he extended it so far as to believe that the source of all light us not something that exists outside if ourselves but us, instead, something that we express from a place within our deepest being.
He even explains how he learnt the ability to turn this inner illumination on and off at will – to illuminate himself so powerfully and strongly that at times it actually hurt his eyes.
The Essence of ‘I’
With a lifetime spent carrying such a strong discourse with the inner world it perhaps comes as no surprise to discover that one of the articles in this book deals with the ‘I’ or as Lussetran describes it
…our inner space’.
Here the author delves into the essence of his life experience and the pollution that he feels tangibly inflicts upon use all and damages upon our internal condition.
Make no mistake about it: war is being waged against the ‘I’. And just those who have traditionally been closest to the ‘I’, who have been as it were its guardians and prophets – the intellectuals and the artists – we now see going over by legions to the armies of the aggressors.
This comment, it should be mentioned was made several decades before the advent of our culture’s fascination with celebrity status and mobile communication devices used as a way of interfacing with a non-real ‘reality’.
The book completes with a philosophical appraisal of a life that was not only extra-ordinary but which also stands asa testament o the resilience of the human spirit.
Against the Pollution of the I is a book that stands as a giant in a world replete with mediocre commentary on the nature of the human condition.
Furthermore it is a book that speaks from a place deep within the isolated recesses of a courageous and powerful spirit and as a result presents a philosophy on life that puts many in the current so-called human potential movement to shame.
As it stands most modern psychological commentary is formed around a process of observation. Through its need to evaluate it is inherently tainted by the visual patterning to which all sighted people are subjected.
What makes the philosophy of Jacques Lusseyran so different is that his focal centre is not that of the physical eyes but instead is formed through a function that few of us ever explore – that of the heart.
The moment that you realise that Lusseyran is right in his ascertain that light is not the medium for evaluating life experience absolutely everything changes. Not only does one move towards developing new, psychic senses, but the methodology for evaluating material experience also changes.
As a consequence this book is replete with examples of an approach to life that standard spirituality simply fails to comprehend because it is so reliant upon its observance of cause and effect.
So, Against the Pollution of the I by Jacques Lusseyran is probably a publication without precedence – one written by a man of extra-ordinary powers of insight into where our culture is heading. Although several decades old there is little that dates these articles other than the occasional quaint reference to out-moded technology.
Indeed their core wisdom and power is not only insightful but prophetic of the sociological problems that we currently face through our reliance upon external visual projections to entertain and educate us.
This is a pure gem of a book and one that offers us a refreshing point of rational reference at those times when life and the modern condition confuses and confounds us.
Against the Pollution of the I simply places the hard-nosed and resilient philosophy of Jacques Lusseyran up there amongst the insights of the greatest thinkers of our modern era.