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Document: 5, January 7, 1982
Copyright(c) Jan M. Cox, 1982
The tension that is present in every living thing can be seen as a continuation of the electrical charge that was the source of your energy at birth. Every person receives only so much of this energy-of-Life. It is this allotment that fuels your growth and development to adulthood, that carries you until the process of growth is overtaken by the process of decay. It is this allotment of energy that makes you you, and it continually charges the system. Even when you’re physically still, it is visible in the form of day- and nighttime dreams. People who are involved with so-called meditation are attempting to still this electrical activity. And they may claim to be refreshed by such practices. But this continuing nervous system energy cannot simply be cut off, under ordinary conditions.
A man’s nervous system is developed only to a certain point; the electrical energy-of-Life flows up the spine as far as the system itself is developed, to the Line of consciousness, and can go no further. The level of the Line is the highest point of development in a man, and it is fixed in his time and place. In the historic sense, as humanity develops according to the needs of the Great Machine, the Line of consciousness is raised and man moves higher in his nervous system. But at any given time the highest part of a man’s nervous system is absolutely fixed at the Line of consciousness.
Without the effort to activate higher areas of the nervous system above Line-Level, there is nowhere for the electrical energy to go once it has reached the Line, and it is recycled through the system. Thus you think the same things over and over. I am giving you a physical, albeit electrical, description of what happens when you “think,” and why you continue to think the same thoughts, dream the same dreams. That’s what you’re supposed to do. It is the cycling of energy through your system in a certain predictable, physical pattern. So you think what you’ve always thought, you do what you’ve always done. And absent extraordinary effort, there is no possibility of change.
This drawing is a map of man’s nervous system. The small circle at the bottom represents the base of the spine; the Vertical Line is the spine itself; the large circle at the top represents the brain; and the Horizontal Line is the highest limit of nervous system development, Line-Level consciousness.
I will give you something a little more specific now about the so-called human emotions. This is a temporary description, and a valid one, though it is neither literally true nor untrue. What people call “emotion” is tied to the lower nervous system. In the drawing it is the spine below the brain. Emotions, as people commonly conceive them, are more closely aligned to the process that preserves and protects the body rather than to personality. (For the purpose of this description, we may consider personality as that which protects the system’s development into higher, intellectual areas.) The ordinary, Line-Level concept of emotion is gradually expanding and changing. You should be able to See objectively, that is, not from some cynical viewpoint, that throughout history men have always said that mankind should be more humane, that man should strive to be more god-like. Man has always talked about emotional possibilities that were not yet activated. Since the beginning of recorded history people have written, “We should do away with war,” yet we still have wars. The theoretical idea has always existed that men should live in peace, but it has yet to be put into practice. The nervous system activity you call emotion is subject to a process of gradual change as the level of the Line rises, but it is still primarily in charge of physically preserving and protecting you as a cell in the organism of Life.
All men are subject to the limitations of the Line of consciousness of their time and place, but among individuals there are differences in the potential for higher nervous system growth. There are people who have absolutely no further potential. It’s as if an invisible sword had cut them off at the Line. They’re not all that uncommon; they are the people who are the least dissatisfied. They love life, they can’t wait to get up in the morning and run the rat-race; they seem to have limitless energy for the game of Life and are always involved in new deals, new plans. From one viewpoint, you could say that these people are happier than the norm. They’re well-adjusted, well-equipped; they have no problems and never complain. Yet from the viewpoint of This Thing, these people are, in a very real sense, dead.
If this example is one extreme of the spectrum, then the vast majority of humanity falls closer to the middle. They are the ordinary, the majority, the mainstream. They are out there in the middle of the game. There are slight variations in potential, but by and large they are all cut off at the limit of the Line. And there is no possibility of further change for the majority: you can’t go back and piece the nervous system together. If we move toward the other end of the spectrum, we move toward the people who yet retain a desire to activate the higher areas of their nervous system. They don’t know what to call the desire, but they could tell you stories of the dreams they had as children, of wonderful things they wanted to do with their lives, and of the subsequent disappointment when those dreams slipped away from them.
If you move still further toward this end of the spectrum, you find people who are involved in what I have called the pseudo-forms of This Thing; and they constitute a sizable segment of humanity. They have a desire not unlike that which brought you and keeps you here. But in them, something has stopped. The original desire is sidetracked into any number of strange pursuits, whether it’s reading tea leaves or searching the mountains of Tibet for the perfect guru. But whatever strangeness they pursue, it is all a reflection of This. And these people are still subject to some degree of unnatural desire. They have not been completely cut off from further possibilities, and they don’t fit well into the mainstream of Life.
But I want to bring you closer to Seeing something specific about people in this position. These people are attuned in a certain way to one of the Forces that moves through Life; these people are always mechanically involved with the certain ideas that speak of future possibilities, certain squeaks in the machinery of Life that point to what man will be, and should be, tomorrow. It is as though they are separated from the sea by an invisible shield. But they can smell the salt air; they become intoxicated by the breeze. They make up strange stories about what the sea might be, they dream of what a life on the sea might be. This end of the spectrum of humanity can smell it, but they can’t see it. And they can’t get to it.
At the extreme end of the spectrum exist the Few. Those who actively attempt to ignite the higher areas of their nervous systems — those trying to grow in relationship to the reality of their time and place. But an absolute line exists between the Few and those others at this end of the spectrum who are caught up in dreams of oceans. I can see it; I can even see it change in humanity; I can see it and see that it cannot change in the individual. Those trapped in their dreams can never move past this line. They become so intoxicated with that smell of salt air that they never make the move to reach it. Among themselves, they trade stories of what the source of the smell must be; they paint verbal pictures of water stretching beyond the horizon. They see pictures, nervous system dream pictures, of the sea, of great sailing vessels, of places across the water. The more they talk about it and the more they smell, the more they begin to delude each other. They become intoxicated to the point that you can’t separate them from their dreams. They become convinced that their dreams are the reality.
When such a person encounters This Thing he is wont to say, “I know what this is all about. I know some of the problems. I couldn’t agree more with what I’ve heard here.” But his agreement stops him. That very agreement keeps him right down with everybody else; and even though his system was not absolutely cut, there is no way that he can break through his own agreement.
Consider my old description of ordinary consciousness being a sealed-off room in one’s brain. In this group of people near the end of the spectrum, it’s as if Life did a bad job of plastering the ceiling of consciousness’ room. There are little cracks in the ceiling, and they can hear strange sounds coming down from above; every once in a while, exotic aromas filter through, but they don’t know what to make of them. They will always smell it, but these people will never actually hear This Thing. They end up entrapped in what I have called the pseudo forms of it; they begin to imagine great stories involving the cracks themselves and the sounds and aromas which come through the cracks. Without that extra impetus to actually move, they have no alternative but to accept their own dreams and stories, until they become inseparable from the dreams. From the viewpoint of This Thing, they have effectively filled the cracks. They’ve stopped them up with their imagination. The cracks may still be there but most people can no longer pursue the reality of where the cracks may lead because they now believe they know what the cracks are.
I have not spoken of this in detail before, but a certain real emotion becomes manifest when you get a glimpse of the reality of what lies above the Line. It is literally an indescribable experience. Once you See, once you poke your head above that ceiling, your best descriptions will sound insane — to ordinary ears, that is. But you are, at that time, closer to the reality of all the dreams humanity has ever had, closer to the dreams of the wildest dreamer; you are closer to understanding the reality of Life than all the great priests and ministers and philosophers combined.
But if I contacted the heads of all the great divinity schools, the great religious theorists of our day, and let them read the kinds of things one might write in the aftermath of an excursion above the Line, they would say whoever wrote those things needs psychiatric help. Anything you can say from the above the Line, from the viewpoint of understanding, makes no sense below the Line; it sounds insane. But there is a certain emotion hidden in the words.
When one gets close enough to the ceiling in his little room of consciousness — when he gets his head up into one of those cracks — he finds the experience to be emotional. I’ve hinted, and some of you have suspected, that This Thing is connected to Real love, Real compassion and charity and perhaps some form of Real religion. And there is an emotional content, an emotional tenor, that can’t be described. It can’t because it’s outside and above the level necessary for ordinary humanity’s self-defense system. It’s beyond the necessary protective and self-preserving device that operates at the continuing end of the nervous system, the device called man’s personality. No word exists for it. And that’s why I’ve never really described it. I could call it a higher emotion, or better yet, simply Real Emotion. It is the emotion that humanity has always dreamed of. It is the emotion the religions have always spoken of. But it is not available at the level of dreams and religions; it is not available at Line-Level consciousness; it simply does not exist there. Real Emotion exists only above the Line; but it’s heard below the Line as a bellwether of where humanity is moving in the future. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it. Man has written about love and compassion since he could write, and there are more murders now per capita than there were 3,000 years ago. So you can’t sit around and wait for it. You must leave the waiting to the ordinary.
Above Line-Level is freedom. And freedom is a description I should be able to abandon now, because for some of you it’s becoming irrelevant. Although it has no significance for an ordinary man, all of humanity speaks of the direction “up” as synonymous with “good”: “Things are looking up.” Gods, heavens, are always up. Contrarily: hell is down, “Down in the mouth,” “The economy is going down.” This directional bias in man has no great consequence, but it is a reflection of something, and you may find it interesting fodder for Consideration.
From Line-Level down, certain feelings exist which man calls “emotions.” I have never admitted that “emotion” was a proper name for these feelings, because one who can see them for what they are does not call them by any name. The popular use of the word “emotion” is another example of man’s calling something by a name until he can no longer differentiate the name from the thing itself. From Line-Level down, every Tom, Dick and Harry talks about having compassion. A man can appear to be compassionate; he can exhibit a certain tolerance when circumstances are just right. He can appear to love someone. But he is ultimately a nervous system, surrounded by flesh and bone and clothes, calling itself something without knowing why, looking after itself without knowing why. It’s not a nervous system’s business to know why it defends itself. It simply does. The real basis of what man calls his emotions exists in his nervous system below Line-Level, and it is nothing more than a defense mechanism.
But Consider that when a person begins to activate his nervous system higher than necessary, he suddenly discovers feelings that cannot be described. People have tried to describe the experience; but the best they can do is to fall back on descriptions they’ve already heard, descriptions that make Line-Level sense, i.e., “The gods spoke to me.” In comparison to the lower system’s repertoire of ordinary feelings, this new feeling is a higher emotion. But if a man is limited to Line-Level consciousness, he will never experience it. No amount of rearranging the lower system will produce an extraordinary experience.
An ordinary person cannot fast long enough, or read enough holy books, or attend enough churches to miraculously become compassionate. There is no place in the ordinary nervous system for Real Emotion. There is no place for something which isn’t yet necessary. There is a place for the dream, but below Line-Level one cannot take the kind of passion that is the defense mechanism of the body and turn it into this higher Emotion; one must go beyond the natural limits of his own development.
This description should give you a new perspective on my previous explanations of why the pressures of Life, indeed of the whole Universe, seem weighted to make real change impossible for a man. The necessary balance of humanity as a living organism requires that there not be large groups of people randomly popping up above Line-Level. The ordinary world would simply cease to function. And when you get your head above this Line a few times, when you see indisputably what is involved, you no longer have anything to say about it.
Once one has pushed himself above that Line, he is no longer limited to the natural ordinary operation of his nervous system. But it doesn’t change the structure of his relationship to Life. His nervous system must still defend and preserve itself, and there is an almost inescapable pressure to become stable again. When he pushed above Line-Level consciousness, he did something unnecessary and therefore un-allowed. He may have gotten away with it, but it is the physical nature of things for him to return to Line-Level stability. He has in a sense become dangerous, like a cell which has pushed out of its natural place in the body of Life. But when this occurs, Life rearranges itself in such a way that the man is no longer a threat. In other words, Life just expands a little in that area, and the man is suddenly back where he started. His Line-Level is now higher, but he is again a stable and functioning part of Life.
I want you to Consider another aspect of this. When you move your consciousness above Line-Level even a little bit, when you get your head up into one of those cracks in the ceiling, you understand in a way not even comparable to the way you understood before. But once you do it, it becomes a matter of “So what?” You got yourself up there, and the experience was indeed so miraculous you would have gladly kissed your own feet, since you did it yourself. But almost as soon as it happened, Life shifted just a little, hardly even noticeably, but just enough to put you back where you started. And the game rolls on. Once this has happened to you, you should be able to smell that, “I’m not the same person I was, but I’m me on another level.” And you find that there’s nowhere to stop; you have to run a little faster just to stay in the same place, even though that place is relatively new. Once the experience is over, it’s over, no matter how much things in Life have apparently changed. The electrical charge of Life now rises mechanically a bit higher in your system; it has adapted itself to a new area. But you can’t stop there, unless you intend to really STOP. If you’re not to fall into a lifelong condition of “So what?” you must stage a continuing rebellion. There’s no such thing as automatic, comfortable, eternal enlightenment.
When you are above Line-Level, you are not limited to what is below. You are doing something for which Life has not mechanically equipped you. No blueprint exists for this activity; there are no maps for the terrain above the Line. I’ve offered tricks and directions to help you get up there, but you must make the effort. When you get up there, you’re certainly conscious. But there is nothing mechanical to say about it, because you’re in a place where mechanical energy doesn’t run. You have no more problems, no more questions; you can look down and See almost everything. Except now you don’t know what to call it. Everything is stilled, yet it is the most active thing in the world. You simply See what there is to See: atoms moving, lines connecting everything in the world. You See the game in progress. But once you’ve beaten the path, the mechanical energy will move up to that level and that which you originally saw as great, esoteric, mystical truths without words, you will now be able to think about with your ordinary thoughts.
That’s why I change my maps and descriptions so frequently. At one time you might have seen a piece of a certain map and you would have been unable to do anything but smile. But now you could sit down and talk to someone about it almost without noticing. The miraculous very quickly becomes ordinary. And if you aren’t alert, you don’t even notice it.
Is there no way out? The only way out is to keep going. Keep Growing.