Re Talk: 218
Still on the subject of real change, let me try something subtle on you. In humans, the apparent desire for change is always accompanied by thoughts of action. At the same time, the actions to be changed are not accompanied by thoughts. Behavior is quicker than consciousness. Yet, to change behavior requires thinking of changed behavior.
CHANGE = T.O.A.
HABITS = PURE ACTION
But the fact remains — for humans there are only two possibilities: acting or thinking about acting. In light of these two possibilities, it would seem impossible to change — you’re trying to alter something faster than thought by thinking about it. Yet humans continue to spend generous amounts of time thinking about change.
Let me repeat, all ordinary behavior is pure action. If you think otherwise, you haven’t even made it to kindergarten yet. What seems to be consciousness (that is, thinking of action) is always the last to know what went on. By the time you can think about a piece of behavior, the behavior is already completed.
To look at action and thinking of action another way, consider my old story about the catered banquet. You are at a lavish banquet carefully set up by a caterer, yet you believe you ordered your own refreshments personally. You perform some behavior and then you explain why you did what you did. I am telling you, regardless of what your voices may say, you don’t order the food you eat at the banquet. You don’t decide to do anything. Action is faster than thinking of action. To continue with my picture: you simply turn around and there it is — the Golden Gate Bridge done out of chopped liver. There’s wine over here, spilled drinks over there, and bromides to-go. A band over here is playing music you like and one over there is playing music you don’t like. Some people over here are too noisy, someone over here intimidates you and you wonder if he recognizes you. You are at the banquet and it is a catered affair.
Your forefathers believed that the gods do the catering. I’m not saying anybody does the catering, but at the ordinary level, you are attending a catered affair. Yet as soon as somebody asks, “How did such-and-such happen?”, you reply that you were responsible — that you ordered the meal. Somebody asks you, “How did you end up standing in this particular place, with this drink in your hand, saying what you are saying, dressed the way you dress, acting the way you act?” And suddenly you have a reply to the question: “I ordered all of this the day before yesterday — it was about 1953. I made arrangements to get myself exactly where I am today, and I don’t mind admitting it.” You surely know that ordinarily you have no such awareness? You are not responsible for what you do. If your consciousness were actually faster than your actions, you would be one of those who could answer the question, “What am I about to say next?”
What seems to be consciousness (thinking-of-action) is always the last to know what is happening. The action is done, the affair has been catered. Action may be just a tiny bit quicker than thought, but that tiny bit quicker will kill you. That tiny bit quicker is killing you. Put the swiftness of pure action together with the sensation that “I should be doing things differently,” and ask yourself, “What could Life be up to?” JC talk 218