Physics and the Merry-Go-Round
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PHYSICS AND THE MERRY-GO-ROUND
Document: 13, March 4, 1982
Copyright(c) Jan M. Cox, 1982
In one of my earlier maps, I encouraged you to Consider all of Life, including all of humanity, as a giant merry-go-round, much in the way that I had previously used the map of Life as an infinite playing field. To correctly picture the merry-go-round, transpose upon it the map of Life as a gigantic playing field. For all intents and purposes, your life and awareness are limited to this field, and everything you see is part of the game: People pushing and shoving, people fighting, people laughing, people playing seriously or with gusto, and people who seem not to be playing at all. But everyone plays; there is no choice. Everyone is on the field: There is no way off.
I want to take this idea into a new dimension, so I’m going to refer to it as a merry-go-round. What passes for movement and progress on the ordinary level is simply the movement of the merry-go-round: The wheel turns around, the horses go up and down, but it never really goes anywhere. What passes for new knowledge, for new information, is simply a different-colored horse coming into view, or painting a horse a color that’s never been seen on a horse. A red horse gets painted chartreuse, and consciousness exclaims, “Aha! Something new! Now I know not only red horses, but chartreuse ones as well. Yes sir — I’m learning more every day.” But there is no new information, no real growth. It is just taking what has always been there, and moving it around. It is just continually combining and re-combining the same stuff, over and over.
The merry-go-round map is an expansion of the playing field scenario. It is a more particular, detailed description of man’s continual progression, and the growth of Life through man.
Picture the merry-go-round as revolving on a center worm screw, so that every complete revolution raises the level of the whole structure one notch on the screw. Thus the level of humanity’s development continually, gradually rises. A single revolution may take 500 or 5,000 years in ordinary time, but what I want you to see is that it continually moves upward, in another dimension, at the same time it is turning. The gradual, upward movement of Life-as-a-whole is much too slow to be of any benefit to anyone attempting to do This, but it can be seen. It is a quite real, a quite literal and physical progression. People today look different from people a hundred or five hundred years ago, and it has nothing to do with a change in hairstyles and fashion. It has to do with the fact that man’s nervous system is in a continual process of expansion.
I have pointed out to you that if you take the ordinary idea of a man being somehow divided into “physical” and “psychological” — if you’ve only got those two choices — then there is no such thing as “psychological”. Given just those two, everything in a man, from his toes to his “religious longings” and his “mystical states”, is all literally physical.
The level of the merry-go-round at any particular time is the level to which man’s nervous system has been activated. It is the literal, physical I-level of humanity, and it is also just as literally the eye-level. It is quite common for people to remark that, “You can tell a lot by looking in someone’s eyes.” Such statements reflect a certain reality, but a reality never visible to one who is tied to the current level of the merry-go-round. You can indeed tell a lot by looking in someone’s eyes, but only if you can look from above your own “I”-level. And what you see, if you can See it, is a person trapped at a certain horizontal level. You see a person trying to think and be intelligent, but he can only be as intelligent as the current level of humanity as a whole. And he can only think what is contained in the current level of the merry-go-round. What can be seen behind the eyes is the level to which a man or woman’s nervous system is activated. You can look right through a man’s eyes, and you can see his brain. You can see where he is operating from in his nervous system.
You don’t even have to be there in person: Turn on the TV and watch an interview with a politician or a scientist, or even just a man-in-the-street spot. The interviewer asks a question, and the interviewee pauses to think for a second — he doesn’t have a ready-made answer to this particular question. If you watch carefully, you’ll see his eyes darting back and forth along a horizontal plane. It is like watching a trapped rat running back and forth on his own internal merry-go-round. You see the level of his nervous system development, and you see as well the level of development of his whole generation, of his whole culture. You hear him say, “Well, I’m glad you asked that question…blah, blah, blah…” It doesn’t matter what he says because he can only say that which is known at the common, ordinary level. This is the only information to which he has access and it is all contained on the flat, horizontal plane of the merry-go-round.
Consider now, for an apparently unrelated topic, something that has happened in the scientific community since the ideas of quantum physics have become generally accepted. It is considered pretty much common knowledge that on the subatomic level, matter doesn’t really exist, that it’s really just energy. What used to be considered particles, i.e. things, are now referred to in terms of quantum-energy-packets. You probably learned in school to visualize particles as little balls whizzing around in their orbits like planets revolving around the sun. But that picture is no longer valid, even in the ordinary world. At that level, you have not things, but probability zones. Even mass is now described in terms of its energy-equivalent, in electron-volts. The current theory is roughly that, “We know there is undoubtedly something there, because we can observe its manifestations and measure its effects. But whatever it is, it is not actually a some-thing.” My verbalization is, to be sure, a loose layman’s translation. But you should all hear something disturbingly familiar in all this. What they are saying is that when they investigate matter to the most fundamental level now possible, what they find is no longer matter: It is no longer seen as a thing, but as energy. Let me jog some of your memories even further by suggesting that in place of “energy”, we substitute “process”: It is not a thing, but a process. Does that not begin to sound familiar?
I do hope you know I’m not giving a lesson in physics. What I am pointing to, and what Life itself points to through such discoveries on man’s part, is something that even the physicists can’t see. It is the fact that man can no longer be described as a “who” or a “what”, but must be understood as a verb rather than a noun if he is to be understood at all. Any real growth must come from Seeing the process, the energy behind man-the-form. I ask you again: What have you found in all your attempts to observe “I”? Have you found a thing? Or do you see the effects and manifestations of a process?
It is an absolute fact that there is no physical or emotional trick that will ignite the higher areas of the nervous system. A man can eat nothing but radishes and put boulders in his shoes; he can pray every minute of his life and chant “rutabaga, rutabaga” until his ears turn blue but it will never produce true Vertical growth. It will not activate him above his own “I”-level, above Line-level in my Xross. And yet I insist to you that there are certain physical things you must do, to wit, you must feed the body, both in terms of exercise and food. And there are certain constraints on the so-called “emotions” which you must demand of yourself. I’ve told you that a man cannot be hostile and do This. It is simply a matter that certain basic requirements must be met in order for anything else to be possible. As Life’s energy rises through the system, each level extracts a certain amount and kind of energy to sustain itself. At the lower levels, for instance, there is a certain amount of energy needed to feed the body, to simply keep it minimally healthy, to keep you physically alive. And a certain amount and kind of energy will be extracted to feed what appears to be the emotions. (And in this case, the proper amount is a minimal amount.) And the remainder of the energy is that which is available for your own willful use, for your efforts to extend your nervous system. You can’t run back down into the system, confiscate the energy properly used at the lower levels and expect it to produce growth above the Line. There is a process, a graduation of levels and energies, which though not sequential, cannot be profitably interrupted. What you can do is to insure that the lower areas of the system get the nourishment they require for the health and maintenance of the system, and then forget about it. Beyond that, it is simply irrelevant.
Whatever remains of the original influx of energy your system receives from Life, is what you have available for your own willful use. But in an ordinary man, there is nothing left over. The energy rises to Line-level and falls back, recycling through the lower areas until it is all used up. To have any energy for pushing above the Line, you must learn to distinguish between what is required, and what is ordinarily wasted on needless, habitual repetition. You must learn where to find the energy that is available, and how to put it to use for your own purposes.
Let me give you something, or perhaps several somethings, to Consider on your own. I’m not going to tell you anything in particular to look for, rather I’m pointing your attention in a certain direction to let you See what you can See. As always, if you need a way to start, just Consider it on the basis of, “What is going on here? What is Life up to, what can I See, from Considering this matter of man-the-process rather than man-the-form?” I’m not going to give you much more of a hint than that — at least not for now.
Keeping all that in mind, Consider what happens to ordinary people when they reach a certain advanced age. In our day and time, it’s normally somewhere around sixty. Whether it begins earlier or later for a particular individual, you can easily observe once it starts: Uncle Joe or Aunt Minerva just starts sinking physically, intellectually, and emotionally. They seem to go over some hump and afterward it’s all downhill. It becomes one thing after another. They were never sick a day in their life, and now every week something new goes wrong. They develop a terrible temper, they forget things, they seem to be imagining things; you just can’t deal with them anymore. What is going on?
Or what about this one: Try and picture an ordinary “intellectual”, someone who seems to live almost exclusively in the mind, in the upper area of the system. Try to picture a scientist or a mathematician who has developed a new theory and he’s being interviewed on TV. You’ve all got some kind of picture of such a person in mind by now, so ask yourself this: Would you ever picture such a person as being overweight? Have you ever seen such a thing — have you ever seen a fat intellectual? Just Consider it, “Here he is, Professor So and so, he won the Nobel Prize for his theoretical work on the inter-reactive dynamics of quasi-dimensional hyperspace”. You just don’t find such people with more than the bare minimum of flesh on their bones. What can you make of such an observation?
You could Consider this further in light of my temporary map of man serving as a kind of roving brain cell in the body of Life, as a kind of special-purpose “psychological cell” through which Life can be seen as attempting to comprehend itself. I have pointed out to you that without such cells — without the continuing activity of the higher areas of the ordinarily activated nervous system, in Life’s body or your own — no manner of self-awareness or self-comprehension would be possible. This does not belie the great joy and satisfaction that can come from purely physical activity: the effortless groove you can get from running, the deliciously sweet sensation of a perfectly hit backhand or a behind-the-back bank shot into the corner pocket. Such feelings can be responsible for as much pleasure as ordinary life can offer. But notice that no one can successfully describe such an experience beyond, “Well, it’s like…I don’t know, it just feels good.” Can you see the connection between this and the fact that, (if we divide the system into a biological and a psychological part), there is no possibility of any kind of self-knowledge or self-awareness below a certain point in the system? What I want you to Consider is this: Why is it that if we cross the line from the lower nervous system into the brain, into what is ordinarily considered to be the psychological self, that this part seems not only capable of a certain self-awareness, it seems to be almost its only activity? What possible reason could Life have for such an arrangement?
Moving right along, try to Consider for a moment the possibility that a man’s sense of “I”, if considered in terms of the Three Forces, could be seen as a kind of illusionary Second Force, sustaining and supporting the continuation of unfinished business. The unfinished business being the higher regions of the nervous system, the areas yet to be developed. Consider again my recent description of man as the only piece of unfinished business on this planet. He is the only open-ended system; he is the only creature whose nervous system culminates not in a closed line, but in continuously searching, moving nerve endings. I pointed out that it is the fact of his unfinished system that is responsible for all of man’s dissatisfaction with himself and his life. But if there were a magic wand, if a space-god came down in a spaceship and said, “Okay, I know you are all upset, you’re all dissatisfied — here’s the secret, here’s all you need to know to end dissatisfaction forever,” — if that were possible, it would kill everybody. It would kill everyone’s sense of “I”. If there were some mechanical way to shut off these searching nerve-endings, if it were possible to cap off the upper end of the system, it would also shut down the system’s self-awareness.
Now I’m going to push your Consideration in what seems to be a slightly different direction. On numerous occasions, I have referred to people who believe they are engaged in some form of This Thing — to various forms of pseudo-groups and people who have experienced some moment of accidental activation of the normally unused areas of their nervous system. In a certain sense, it could be said that everyone in the world at some time or other, experiences the urge to expand themselves, to extend their nervous system’s activation. It is a part of what man is, of the purpose he serves in Life’s body. Remember my picture of the nervous system with graduations of finer and finer wires reaching for Line-level, and looping back down. They can go no higher than the highest horse on the merry-go-round; they rise to a certain place right behind a man’s eyes, and drop back. But there are always a few people who get that one wire activated just a wee bit higher. And ofttimes they believe they have become involved with some form of This, that they have been blessed by the gods with some kind of spiritual or mystical experience. It is such people who become swamis and gurus, even ministers if they are of the type who believe they have received some kind of direct calling from their god, and are not just carrying on the family business.
But here’s what happens. The kind of people I’m referring to do not have the Aim of This Thing — they were not involved in actually working on the full activation of the total system. They accidentally get one little piece activated Above the Line, and they immediately believe they have become spiritual masters, that they have a direct line to the source. But they are not equipped to see that they continue to feed the very activities and Life-induced habits that keep a man drained, that make further activation impossible. They continue to process energy at Line-level as they always have, they continue to be just as physically and emotionally insane as they always have been and they even weave such insanity into their attempted explanations of what has happened to them. But what it does is kill them. It kills that one little wire that was activated, and they are done for. They have exhausted their possibilities in that one wire, and they will never See or Be anything more.
Can you see the justice, the double-barreled justice at work? From one viewpoint I could say that such people have indeed had a quite extraordinary experience compared to the rest of humanity, and that they are quite justified in trying to collect followers and to say, “I have found a great secret, I now understand what the gods want us to do. I have been to the heavens and flown with the angels.” From one viewpoint, they are not lying. But that one little wire, that one possibility that they had going for them is now capped off. It’s dead. They tell the truth to say, “Hey, I’ve had the kind of experience you people just dream of. I’ve been there, I know what it is.” It’s true. But by having been there on the basis of that one little wire, they have also been shut down. They can’t show anyone else how to get there because they can’t even get back there themselves.
Some of you should understand now why I say that anyone who talks about god doesn’t know what he is talking about. And the more insistent he is, the sadder it is. I say sad on the basis that, whatever potential he might have had, now he is absolutely finished.
If you want another view of more complex justice, try to Consider this: If gurus went around and visited one another — which you surely have noticed they do not do — but let’s say one of these accidental gurus came here to hear me, along with hand-picked members of his flock. As he listened to me, on a non-verbal level he would begin to feel, “This is what I started out to do, this is where my original hunger was leading me and I had forgotten all about it. I should be here, sitting at the feet of this man.” But the justice is that he could not forsake his position, and he would be driven to denounce not just me, but the very source of his original hunger. He would have to turn his back on the urge that was once his reason for living, and in so doing he would repudiate the source of his original experience. He would have no choice but to reaffirm and solidify his own death.
Can you understand why people can’t be converted to This Thing? After a certain point, it simply isn’t possible. I don’t refer only to leaders of pseudo-systems. It applies to their followers as well. Those involved in such activity who have passed a certain point have irrevocably attached themselves to it. Even if they thought they heard something in This, even if they offered themselves as followers, they would have no possibility here. You simply can’t retread the nervous system.
From time to time, I hear from groups of people in other countries, in areas where English is not the primary language. Once or twice, a sizable group of people has collected on the basis of a common interest in what they thought This was, on the basis of reading my books — and the possibility of my going to talk to such a group on a regular basis has been seriously discussed. And there are people here who have an extremely hard time with the English language, people who literally don’t understand the words I say because of a language barrier. Yet they keep coming back. Someone asked me once, as a kind of joke, what would happen if I just got up in front of a group of people who didn’t understand the language I was speaking, and babbled; if I just strung together nonsense syllables that didn’t mean anything in English or any other language. What if I did get up in front of a group of people once a week, for several hours a night, and talk complete gibberish? And Consider the further possibility that that group seemed to get as much out of my talks as you have. How would you explain that? For that matter, how do you explain the fact that for every two hours of talking, most of you go away with but one or two sentences, maybe one idea that seems to make sense to you. You knew I was speaking English, my sentences are fairly reasonably grammatical. But on another level, it all seemed like lightning running through your head, like something moving at such a speed that you’re not sure what it was, even after all this time.
I want to go back to the idea of the merry-go-round and what I was saying about the eye-level of humanity. And I want you to Consider and Remember something in a particular way: Namely, that you can See people trapped in their ordinary consciousness, at the current level of the merry-go-round. Consider this: Whenever you try to “think”, when someone asks you a question and you attempt seriously to answer — what happens? Why have I always insisted that those who pass for being thinkers, the philosophers and critics of humanity — are not engaged in true “thought” at all, that something else is at work here? Even the idea of Considering itself — trying to remember something without thinking about it — is a kind of passing trick, by which you can See what ordinarily passes for thought and consideration.
A man attempts to come up with a new idea. Let’s say he has been teaching philosophy or psychology for years. And over those years, it’s as if he has gradually assembled his ideas and opinions into a recognizable structure — into a map. And let’s say that his students and his colleagues tell him, “You ought to put your ideas into a book. The world will be interested in it.” So he begins work on his book. Up to this point, he has just been following his own nose, responding to the breezes blowing through his own wiring. But now he begins to examine other successful books of that genre, and he decides, “Well, I need a chapter on how it affects politics, and perhaps one on how it motivates man’s interest in religion, and definitely one on the effects on the economic relationships between people.” In other words, he’s making connections to the only things that are already available on that level. He is trapped. His “new idea” connects chartreuse and purple horses for the first time, and that’s about the extent of it. It’s not even a new paint job. He just thinks the horse has been repainted. But he is absolutely trapped, and that is all he can do.
Try and Consider what I mean by Consider — what is the purpose of it? If you could take whatever it is you are trying to Consider and let it float outside, above the current level of entrapment, you could go to places where there is no existing connection. I have encouraged you to try to think of humanity as simply a whole bunch of little brain stems walking around, opening their mouths, bumping into each other, playing at being human. And if you have tried it, you have found that it is almost impossible to hold that objective awareness, because you go back to being one of them. Before you know it, you’re drawn back into the game; you’re sucked back into the current level of the merry-go-round where you take everyone as being a person, a stable entity responsible for its thoughts, words and actions. It is, I know, almost impossible to maintain awareness that the person you’re dealing with at the moment is not a person, but a waving, searching nerve-ending. A brain stem. So I am going to give you an alternative: How about trying to see everybody as trapped rats? Look into people’s eyes, and you can See it. Consciousness is a rat trapped in an itty-bitty maze, and it’s just barely got room to move. All it can do is run back and forth. You can See it, then you get hypnotized by it. Then it’s you and everyone else in the world in this tiny maze, running back and forth bumping into one another. But if you Remember to hold yourself apart, you’ll see that everyone, is in a real objective sense, a trapped rat. I say “objective” to remind you that there is nothing negative or pessimistic about it. It’s just another picture, another way for you to See Life more nearly for what it is, and not merely as you have always been made to see it. If you can truly begin to See men as trapped rats, you See also that you have always been a trapped rat, and that thinking you were not was what kept you trapped.