“The Devil Tempting The Saint” Revisited
Video = none
Audio = stream or download from dots
AKS/News Items = none
Summary = See Below
Diagrams = See Below in transcript as Diagram #003 Illustration
Transcript = See Below
Jan Cox Talk 20, Apr 29, 1982, runtime 1:27
Notes by TK
[Tape side 2 has distortion which fades in and out. Jan’s comments launched from Group questions/observations].
[“A man trying to awaken has no right to suffer”. The absolute nature of the below-the-line organism IS suffering; it cannot be reformed of this. You must gain a taste of the reality above-the-line: the reality of enlightenment. Nevertheless the below-the-line process does not stop for this and must be lived with–if it quits, you’re dead! The Work does not offer a mechanical place of comfort, a cry-and-feel-better (for a while) process found in the tent revival meeting. There is no instant and final cure, no ready means of comfort for a man of The Work. This is why The Work is not popular. The only thing that can escape the suffering process of the lower spine is the piece of you that can look down upon it. Then it becomes merely irrelevant, although never disappearing from sight altogether. ]
[No one can truly be patient, or merely indifferent to a particular subject. ]
[The effect of alcohol on the system lessens the voltage at the Yellow Circuit level. There is a difference between the relaxation provided by alcohol after physical labor and that after brain labor. Alcohol activates normally unused brain patterns; alters apparent ‘personality’ traits, and this is its attraction. ]
[Ordinary creative ‘geniuses’ are even more dissatisfied and irritated by life than usual. ]
[If you have the least inclination to write–do so! But don’t become identified with it. ]
[Forget ideas of physical exercises producing enlightenment of the mind. There is no way to further enlighten the Red Circuit. Give it exercise and then turn your attention to other priorities. ]
[Random (dreamy) awareness vs. focused awareness, purposeful consciousness. You should attempt to focus; attempt to create a center of the energy pattern of the ordinary fountain-like ‘personality’ shape.]
[at 1:27 misc. group-pertinent comments. End 1:29]
“THE DEVIL TEMPTING THE SAINT” REVISITED
Document: 20, April 29, 1982
Copyright(c) Jan M. Cox, 1982
I have told you that a man attempting to ignite the higher areas of the nervous system doesn’t have the right to suffer. You can’t suffer and pursue This endeavor. Everyone has been exposed to similar ideas, whether through a book on positive thinking, or religion, or internally realizing “I am continually suffering.” Everyone suffers. It’s built into the nervous system at Line level. It’s the feeling that “I’m not up to par; in some way I’ve got to fix myself. I’m not smart enough. I drive a junky car; I have junky clothes.”
Since I have told you directly to stop suffering, it has created an interesting situation. It sounds as though I’m saying that it must stop; but I know suffering doesn’t simply stop just on my say-so. I am aware that this creates the feeling in you that at some point you’ll have to straighten up and become super-men and women. It’s related to what everyone runs up against when they first become involved with This: “I’m supposed to become a new person. But just how am I supposed to go about it? I can’t just become new.” Sometimes an invisible comet will hit you internally after one of my talks, or through your own experience, and you feel: “Yes, this is where I belong, This is it!” You feel as though you’ll never suffer again. “Suffering? What’s that?” But you walk out the door and see that someone has dented your new car, and you’re right back in it. So you suffer over not being able to, willy-nilly, stop suffering.
I make jokes about it, but I’m not laughing at it. And neither is this an attack on anything. To point out that everyone suffers is a statement of the way things are at Line level. Humanity is not wrong; the world isn’t going to self-destruct, and the gods don’t have it in for us. Everything is balanced and just as it should be for the growth of man as a whole; including suffering.
Now let’s take a look at what’s commonly available to “address” this suffering. Everything, from religion to psychology, operates on the basis of demanding the impossible. Priests and psychiatrists alike tell you that man is no good, but of course you don’t have to be told that. They’re just restating the obvious to their worldwide audience: “You suffer; you sin; you’re deluded,” and everybody knows it. Religion says it’s because you don’t live right; psychology says it’s because you didn’t think right. In each case, it is assumed that the individual is to blame for this nervous system discomfort, when in fact this is just the way the system is constructed at Line level. It is the way ordinary consciousness is supposed to feel. It feels that way because it is incomplete.
I’m not just talking about the external world of religion or psychology. Take a look into your own system. Line-level consciousness is the distinct, unassailable sensation of being something solid and stable. Your sense of “I” is composed of irritation, nightmares and the gloom that comes over you for no apparent reason. This is the nature of the nervous system below Line level. This is your feeling of “I”. And, until you have had sufficient experience above the Line, you are left operating from this sense of “I”. It’s the only thing you have to work with now. This Thing does not involve changing you below Line level. I can’t strip away what seems to be “I”; I can’t miraculously do away with your fears, and I’m not here to make you feel better about yourself. There’s nothing to be done with the system below the Line: there’s no way to “deal with,” to “work on” your fears and warts and bad habits. That is all part and parcel of the system below the Line. And the only thing to be done is to See that you can leave it: it’s all irrelevant.
Can you smell any connection between this and the old stories of trial by temptation? Every religion has a version of the devil-tempting-the-saint. It’s the story of the demon who confronts the saint (read, in place of “saint,” one who had ignited the higher areas of his own nervous system). The devil offers the saint untold riches, he offers him the mastery of the world, if he would only give up his internal efforts. Our saint is one who is conscious above Line level; his attention would not be randomly held by Life; he would not think of his ordinary attention as “I”. He could focus the electrical energy and push it up into the area where the reality behind humanity’s dreams of mystical states exists. In this altered, enriched condition, the nervous system activity below the Line doesn’t stop. The .paactivity below the Line — which is usually called “I” — still runs. That, friends, is the devil.
When you ignite the higher areas of your nervous system, everything doesn’t suddenly move up above the Line. Energy still circulates through your system — you still have to eat and breathe. You still have to transfer a minimal amount of energy or you’d be dead. The devil-tempting-the-saint is still a valid story, if you understand that it’s not talking about devils; if you can see it all in your own nervous system. Suffering lives at Line level. “You” lives at Line level.
I have never told you that the Aim, the be-all and end-all of This, was a mystical state. There is something to be learned from it, because within seconds you can See, on your own, more than I could tell you in a lifetime. Because you are above your own lower circuitry, and you See all the way down your nervous system. You don’t have to go out and read a book or worry about going to Tibet. You simply look down within yourself and See all of Life. You can See your life, and you can also See all of humanity’s life. You See everything you’ve always wondered about.
To be in such an extraordinary condition is incapacitating, but not in a negative sense. In fact, it is a thoroughly enjoyable incapacitation. It’s as if you almost disappear from life. If I could zap you into such a state, given the choice, most of you would say, “Hey, do it and forget the rest.” And it can be done. But that is not what This is about. If I did it to you, you’d never learn to do it for you — you’d never learn to do it for yourself. And that is what This is about: doing it for, and to, yourself. The purpose of describing a journey above the Line is to point out what it is to be fully alive. And it takes total, unreserved effort to produce it. Every ounce of your energy should be dedicated to effort: anything less is just the normal state of living. Anything less than 100% of your effort will leave you with the sensation of being unfinished.
The devil will always be alive on earth, that is, always alive in you below Line level. He can amount to nothing more than a change in the weather, or a stomach ache, or a case of the good old blues. And our saint still hears the complaints. He can, in fact, talk to the devil. The demon could say: “Boy, isn’t this a rotten day? I’ll make you king if you’ll just complain a little bit.” The saint might hesitate and say, “Well…” even though he knows he won’t give in. But he never answers. He may realize already that it’s going to be a rotten day. But so what? He never admits it, and he doesn’t become engaged with it, because he knows that down in the lower part of the nervous system it’s always a rotten day, to varying degrees.
There is a certain strength that comes of knowing that you can focus your energy and push it against the Line. You attempt to bring your attention into focus by remembering things I have said, though they may have initially sounded insane. In spite of all the noises going on below the Line, you remember to Neuralize the maps. The nervous system still calls out; people talk to you, and you try to observe what’s occurring. You may get distracted and think, “How dumb can I be?” But it’s not a matter .paof being dumb; it’s simply the Line level operation of the nervous system.
You can’t immediately stop the demons from screaming about what a wretched day it is. It’s not a matter of wondering, “How can I find a trick to get out of this situation?” The trick is realizing that there is a piece of your consciousness that knows there is a devil talking, and that this devil is not you. It’s the impersonal squeaks and groans of the nervous system below Line level. It’s the sound of a machine running. Your only possibility of surviving the hurricane of mechanical consciousness lies in developing a part of yourself that is distanced from the lower circuitry. And you can actually feel that potential.
I have to endow the initial presentation of This Thing with a certain aura of harshness, partly to discourage those seeking a system of comfort. This Thing never offers a mechanical place of comfort, and you see its level of popularity in Life. But I know that even those of you actively involved here still continue to suffer. You can give your sincere attention to everything I say, but you can’t stop the nervous system from running. You can feel that it’s a miracle you ended up here and yet, simultaneously be aware that you are walking around under your own personal black cloud. Half the time you can’t even identify what’s bothering you. Sometimes you think you must be making progress because you can laugh at areas that used to engage you. Yet Life still has its fearful areas, and it seems that something terrible is going to happen. You can remind yourself of the maps, or to not take things seriously or personally, but the suffering doesn’t stop completely. But the only thing to do, if you belong here, is continue. And, if you continue, you will eventually See that the demons are merely demons, and they have nothing to do with you.
All that’s ordinarily available in Life are systems of comfort. Religion tells you you’re forgiven, or that you will be forgiven after you die. Psychology has its own variation: if you talk long enough, you’ll uncover those subconscious motivations; you’ll be fixed. And it’s all quite proper. Comfort is, in fact, the only alternative at the ordinary level.
And notice what kind of comfort it is. It’s all an emotional comfort. It’s all a matter of “by and by, you’ll feel better.”
Within each nervous system on this planet, there is a certain place of transition. It is where man-the-beast becomes man-the-thinker, man-the-intellectual-“I”. It’s this transition area that must be comforted and soothed. You’re all familiar, to some degree, with the old tent meetings. If you haven’t seen it in person, you’ve seen a TV reflection of it: people whooping and hollering, people kneeling in the sawdust while the preacher cries out that life is unbearable because we’re all sinners. And he’s right: to the lower system Life is unbearable; that’s where the devil lives. The atmosphere is just right; people are hollering repentance; the music swells; people fall down, then they get up and dance. And when it’s time to go home, everyone smiles and says, “Praise be, I’m saved.” And they are saved, temporarily. The demons are quieted; they do feel better. There is a real effect, which is partly attributable to the total atmosphere — the suggestive magnetic pull of everyone there experiencing something similar. But don’t sell it short: something has happened. The problem, from our viewpoint, is that it doesn’t last, and no one knows what happened — so they attribute it to the gods. But those lower nervous system demons always do return.
You should see why This Thing doesn’t offer that sort of comfort. Simply said, such comfort has nothing to do with igniting the higher areas of the nervous system. Everything in Life is unfinished. Man’s nervous system is unfinished, so it is never satisfied. It cannot be satisfied. The only satisfaction available to the nervous system would be its completion, and its completion would kill growth. This Thing cannot give the appearance of satisfaction, of ordinary comfort, or you wouldn’t make any effort. You wouldn’t grow. In a nutshell, that’s the difference between This and everything available at Line level. This is growth and continuation. Everything else is comfort, temporary comfort.
This Thing is discovering the reality of this unfinished nervous system. It is understanding for yourself that suffering is not caused by your past sins; it’s not caused by anything. Suffering is built into the nervous system below the Line. It’s not a matter of you doing everything I’ve told you, and then somehow the nervous system will be turned upside down and you’ll be filled with cosmic consciousness and thus will no longer suffer. That’s not the way it works. But notice that that is how humanity believes people become ignited. Of all the people on this planet, only you suspect otherwise. There is no such thing as immediate “conversion,” not if you want to grow. If you’re looking for conversion, you’re looking for comfort, and church is the place for you.
There appears to be no ready means of comfort for someone involved in the attempt to grow, to ignite the higher areas of the nervous system. In a sense, you have a continuing sensation of becoming more isolated. It is simply that through your efforts here, you interfere with the energy you are supposed to be transferring. This Thing takes away some of the ordinary energy; it changes the way you move and react in Life. And it creates the feeling of a disturbing distance; you feel that you’re not as caring as you used to be. I understand that feeling, but it’s not real. What we are doing here is starving the part of you that isn’t real. We’re putting the demons on a starvation diet. And it takes away some of the energy that supports your ordinary nervous system activity. You’re rechanneling that energy, stealing it and using it to try something new.
Some of you continue to feel that you’re not sure what you’re doing here. You continue to periodically wonder whether or not you really belong here. All those feelings are below Line level. The only real answers are above the Line. To activate yourself above the Line, just the slightest amount, answers all questions about whether or not you should continue. I know how to ignite the nervous system, and I can teach you how to do it. Once you expand your own nervous system — once you taste the reality of what I’ve told you — then everything else becomes irrelevant.
You must sincerely Consider the maps I present, rather than accepting them on faith. It’s not a question of succeeding or failing. You must attack the pursuit of this nervous system growth just as I have described it. In a way, it’s all a trick, because you can’t attack the nervous system directly. But unless you actively use the ideas, your participation here becomes a religion, you’re trying to turn This into a comfort station. For such a person This is no more than somebody playing priest or psychologist with them. I use the word “play” in the real sense. The priest, the pope, the psychologist understand nothing. They suffer just as you do. The only difference is that they’re on a different side of the dance floor. There is no one in This Thing to assume your burden, no one to forgive you for anything. Rather, This Thing is finding out for yourself that there is nothing to be forgiven.
People periodically ask me about patience. Objectively speaking, nobody is patient: the nervous system below the Line can never be stilled. When you observe someone who is more patient than you are in a particular situation, all you’re seeing is someone who is not as engaged as you are with that situation. That other person may appear to be unaffected by that particular situation, but they are impatient about something else. The reality of being patient is that it is absolutely unnatural.
I have mentioned that alcohol has an effect on the nervous system, but let me be more specific. Alcohol dulls, it decreases, the voltage getting up to certain parts of the nervous system. This is why people become relaxed after a couple of drinks. They come home after a hard day’s work at the office and have a couple of martinis or beers. Note, however, that there is a difference between a hard day’s work at the office and a hard day’s work digging ditches. And, in each case, alcohol will produce a slightly different sensation. The hard day’s work at the office is higher nervous system labor, and that is the first part of the system affected by alcohol.
Another way of considering the effect of alcohol is that it helps unplug some of your mechanical connections. There are major lateral pathways in your brain, and these connections are your particular personality. Alcohol creates, uncovers, sub-connections which are not ordinarily used. This is why someone almost seems to become a different person: Dr. Jekyll, with a drink or two in him, becomes Mr. Hyde. Old mild George wrecks the furniture and fights anything that moves. But that’s why George drinks. It’s almost like a dream state: the brain connects laterally in ways it normally wouldn’t, and a person’s personality takes on a slightly different shade. The energy in the circuitry strays from it’s normal pathways, and can even run into areas that are not ordinarily activated. It’s as if the network of nerve endings that creates the sensation of “I” is made up of four-lane highways, and within each person there are also little paths that go off through the woods. These small paths are barely big enough to get one foot behind the other, but a chemical alteration can enlarge them.
Another topic I would like to touch on is creative genius. People who are ordinarily identified as creative geniuses simply have a worse case of dissatisfaction than other people around them. They are, in a sense, more frantic, more dissatisfied at being unfinished, than usual. From one viewpoint they almost verge on being crazy. A creative pursuit is an attempt to finish the open end of the nervous system. It’s as if Beethoven were trying to stick the Fifth Symphony on the end of his nervous system. And it may work for a while.
We don’t have to use Beethoven as an example. Think of yourself sitting around the house noodling on the piano, or writing a poem, or painting. Sometimes, when it all comes out just right, there’s a feeling that comes very close to absolute satisfaction. The world is full of talented people you never hear of. They can, perhaps, write a symphony that would put Beethoven to shame. But they never do anything with it. They never try to get published, and it’s just because they’re not upset enough. You could tell that person that he has as much talent as anyone else in the world, and he’d say, “Yeah, I know.” Then he’d talk about being too busy to bother with finding an agent. But the truth is, he just isn’t crazy enough.
I strongly encourage you to write whenever you have the slightest urge. Don’t become engaged with writing, but it serves a very useful purpose in This to write poems, or ideas — whatever strikes you. It has nothing to do with literary talent; don’t fall into the trap of believing you could be the Ernest Hemingway of cosmic causes. Maybe yes and maybe no. In other words, don’t take it seriously. Don’t go back and read what you wrote two months ago and think how great you are. If you do that, you’re in trouble.
People often ask if physical activities help to ignite the higher areas of the nervous system. The answer is “yes,” but you’ve got to remember where it comes from. You can’t ignite the higher areas of the nervous system through physical activity by itself. There is no chant, meditation, dance or food that will develop the upper areas. The benefit of physical activities is in maintaining a certain balance, to keep you at the necessary minimum standard of health. You must maintain a certain level of physical sanity to benefit from your efforts here. You’ve got to keep the body from breaking down. And that’s about it. Beyond that, there’s not much else to be done. It doesn’t matter whether you learn to run twice as fast as you run now. That’s a fine hobby, and you do need to be running, because everyone needs exercise. But even if you reach the point where you can run at the speed of light, you won’t be any further along in This Thing than you are now. You can’t ignite the body. Remember that I’m making an artificial distinction between the body and the other two areas, but you must let the body go its way and not waste energy by worrying over it. The body’s got more sense about its business than you do, which is the greatest understatement in the world. You should not have to devote a great amount of attention to your body.
There is a place between sleeping and waking where you can observe a randomness of attention. Dreams are almost an extended state of randomness: in a dream you see someone turned into a chair, and it doesn’t seem that unusual. But Consider specifically that middle ground between sleep and waking. It’s as if your attention tries to coalesce into one unit. It’s like a fog trying to attach itself somewhere. Suddenly the fog pulls itself together, and you’re awake, you’re “I”.
You could take this phenomenon and apply it on another level. Compared to the willful level of extraordinary effort, you can look upon your normally functioning, everyday states as being tantamount to sleep. You can begin to See that what passes for you is a random thing. It’s not just that your attention is pulled here and there; the thing you call “I” is random.
“I” seems to be strongest when it is engaged. It’s as if “I” takes its strength from an external focus: “What’s that noise?” “Who said that about me?” “Boy, if I could only have that new Corvette!” Your random sense of “me” is brought into focus by engagement.
It’s as if, to use my picture of the fountain, the random is a symmetrical design; but when you’re engaged, the fountain shifts; more energy falls in one area than another.
But Neuralize what’s involved with trying to intentionally focus this fountain. You must focus the energy right in the center of the fountain, and then push it upward. Don’t let that central piece of attention be held by Life. Focus the energy like a beam of light. Take one small naked wire and try to push it upward into that place above the Line. That’s where true creativity is possible. And what you create is unbelievable.