The Tolerance in the Machine
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THE TOLERANCE IN THE MACHINE
Document: 46, October 28, 1982
Copyright(c) Jan M. Cox, 1982
All of your past dreams and notions of a spirit, soul or some great cosmic force, are but a sad (in the sense of being deficient) reflection of something possible.
There is a physical place, within the Few who can Hear This Thing, which is pristine and untouched. This place is literally at the absolute end of the nervous system, and it is the epitome of all that Life will produce in a person. You will begin to See for yourself that this untouched place can remove itself from what appears to be ordinary consciousness. You will begin to understand my description of the spine as an open tube or channel that is the conduit for all this noise in your head, and that your entire life has been spent with your ear pressed against the end of it. You are listening at this tube, but what you hear, you take as being “you”. Ordinary consciousness takes it personally: “My mind drives me crazy,” or “If my thoughts were known to humanity, I would either be arrested, ridiculed, put in stocks or tarred and feathered.”
People feel there is an “I”. They feel there is something inside — an individual consciousness, a brain, that has control, that chooses from the continuous flow of information, that which is proper, and worthy of attention. But when you attempt to stand aside from the noises and to See it, you find that the noise, which you took to be a “thing”, a “you”, is actually a process. If you take your ear away from the tube, you find — “Hey, the sound stopped. It’s incredible.” But if you listen again at the channel, not only does the noise continue, but you become the noise. You are the sound. You can temporarily separate yourself from it by attempting to observe yourself listening to the noise. But as soon as you do, the sound stops. The process has been halted. You will begin to feel that, internally, there is a place, apart from the mechanical running of the nervous system, where you can stand aside.
I remind you how strange is the way you are learning This: you are discovering This for yourself. In the Horizontal past, regardless of where the level of consciousness was in humanity at any given time, there has always been some form of This Thing. In the reflections of it, you will find descriptions of things that sound similar to This. At a different time or place, a would-be guru could have encapsulated This into some sort of rigid framework, based on an ancient truth, through which he encouraged his followers to look. The premise would have been, “I am here to interpret it correctly for you.”
If you had accidentally gotten a taste of being freed from the continuous pulsating charge of the nervous system, I ask you: to what would you have attributed this taste? The answer to that, from pseudo forms of This, is always, “The gods are responsible.” Without a certain kind of preparation, which is not available ordinarily, you can only attribute this temporary taste of freedom to that which is familiar or known: the past, your religion or your forefathers’ religion.
Let me stretch reality. This will sound like it could be true: verbally it sounds possible but is not. Suppose we had a Swami X who had learned a trick to keep someone temporarily conscious above Line level: Suppose he could give you a herb, wiggle his fingers and say “Zap!” and you experienced being freed from the sensation of “I”. What would you make of it? You would be in the same boat with all those authors of “Great Metaphysical Literature”: i.e., you would not know what to do with it, where to attribute it. You would have to attribute the experience to something you were familiar with: “The prophet spoke to me. Through the graces of Guru X, who has a pipeline to the gods, the spirits have touched me and given me an extraordinary experience.”
Without a certain kind of preparation, being freed from the absolute confines of the nervous system “I”, would do a person no good. Without the necessary preparation, and the almost indefinable Aim required, any glimpse above the general level of consciousness can only be interpreted in terms of what one already “knows” mechanically. That is not the way it would appear to you at the time, however. It would seem quite natural to think, — “There is no doubt I had a mystical experience! It was absolutely astounding. I would give anything in the world to repeat it. I will follow this teaching forever.” If you had a friend who was my Fictitious, Reasonably Insane Man and he said, “Well, I’m just all excited for you. You always wanted that. Tell me, what was it like?” What would you tell him? You would either tell him nothing, which is almost impossible for an ordinary person, or you would lie. You would lie, because you would begin to describe it in terms familiar to your ordinary wiring. You might say such things as, “Well, things are not as they appear to be. It is like I could see that everything is connected. It’s like…I fully understand the prophets saying, ‘We are our brother’s keeper.'” Then you might begin to wax eloquent, on the basis of whatever doctrine you were familiar with.
You have got to sense the value of really Seeing and how extraordinary it is to be free, even momentarily, from your “I”. That is why it is almost impossible to describe what This Thing is about, and to keep it alive. That’s why it is almost impossible for me to convey This in an apparently rational manner. You may think, when you attempt to grasp some of the things I tell you, “I’m not sure where he went with that. I’m not sure anyone can understand what he just said.”
This expansion I am pointing to, this prepared freedom, is a kind of break from the normal, mechanical flow of humanity, and is relatively free from old growth. It can’t be completely free, because there is no such thing; but it is relatively free from the slow, gradual growth continually occurring in Life.
This broad, mechanical expansion of humanity’s role is akin to the old, mystical ideas of a great Tree of Life spreading out and blossoming. The Tree spreads out, growing in a lateral fashion, just as humanity’s ordinary consciousness appears to expand in all areas. More and more information and experience is available to more and more people. Then the expansion moves up slightly and again continues laterally at a slightly higher level. But this expansion is too slow for an individual involved in This Thing. What you See, through expanding your own nervous system, is an abrupt break; it is abruptly different.
Much of what This Thing is — and I cannot ever describe it to you fully — is a certain preparation, so that when you get above Line-level consciousness, you are not lost — you are not limited to explaining the experience on the basis of what is below Line level.
You must remember how extraordinary it is, to say the least, to be able to hold on to something that seems to have no solid, identifiable base. There is a part within everyone, which would sigh with relief, if I were to say, “Alright, I’m going to tell you. I am a past student of so-and-so and this is a modern version of such-and-such religion.” You would say, “Oh!” But what if my Fictitious, Reasonably Insane Man suddenly grabbed your nervous system and demanded, “What do you mean — ‘Oh!’? What was good about that?” You could not explain. The nervous system, below the Line, requires a termination point, a place to stop. It wants the shoe to finally be dropped, the door to finally close and the light to be turned out, so it can say, “Oh! Well good, I feel much better. I don’t know why, but that’s just good to know.” But it is not good to know; and it’s not un-good either. It’s just immaterial. You have to keep juggling and avoid letting anything you Hear or See through This, fall back into the hands of ordinary consciousness.
Neuralize how extraordinarily unusual it is to activate the nervous system beyond what is necessary, and not have a foot nailed to the floor of ordinary consciousness, where everything must be explained and re-interpreted to fit the past. Everything below Line level wants to take pieces of This Thing and fit it into something previously experienced; and to whatever degree ordinary consciousness does make it fit, it kills it. A piece of this Unknown Beast is cut off, and made recognizable. Ordinary consciousness will make a tiger fit into a shoe box, whittling down something potentially invaluable, until it fits. And then, of course, there is nothing left.
In religions throughout the world, there has been the idea of an “unforgivable sin”. As with everything there is a reality to this, but it has nothing to do with the tenets of any religion.
One description of an “unforgivable sin” is: once you Understand something, (and by that I mean your nervous system is activated above the Line), to continue to act contrary to that understanding.
Suppose you had Seen, beyond the limits of your own mechanical system of seeing, that another person had no control over what he did or who he was. Suppose you had Seen, beyond any interpretation, justification or cocktail psychology, that the other person was not a person with problems, but that the problems were the person. You would be getting close to an unforgivable sin, to later find yourself ready to strangle that person for something he apparently did.
A variation of the “unforgivable sin” is: not using that which you know. If you begin to See something, but continue to live in the same old way and suffer over it, you approach what I am describing as an “unforgivable sin”. If you think, “That’s very strange — boy, that would have intrigued the guy I used to room with in college,” you have let it fall back into the mainstream of ordinary currency and it loses its value. You forget to do it.
You can lose what you understood. The idea of losing it makes no verbal sense, but you can lose it. You might attempt to reproduce the same kind of conditions but you cannot return and stand in the same place.
Using what you know and not going against your understanding becomes a duty. You must have an absolute commitment to what little you understand. You have to operate on the basis of having an absolute commitment, because if you do not you will become a follower. A follower has only a vague recollection of, “I got a taste of what he was talking about once. No doubt about it. And, he’s a great guy. He knows all kinds of weird things. I wonder what time we are going to eat?” Your understanding can lose its value.
But if you can use this understanding, a magical kind of connection occurs. One thing begins to trip off something else in ways you never imagined. You might be standing in a phone booth, months or years later, and somebody hollers — “Frozen figs!” — and suddenly you understand something far removed from figs. Again, there is a certain way you have to value it, to .paremember it, without continually pulling it out, playing with it and trying to figure it out.
Within you there is a place apart from the ordinary mechanics of the system, which understands that something is drastically misunderstood about the nature of hostility or even the nature of what appears to be friendliness. That place understands that when people say — “Hey, glad to see you,” and you react to it in a certain way, you receive hostility. You have always received the hostility; but you can catch a glimpse of what is transpiring in this casual, mechanical interchange. You can be standing in a group of people, everyone slapping each other on the back, exchanging witticisms and hip pleasantries; but what they’re really exchanging is stock certificates in the hostility market. You understand, “I am in an absolute, objective band of thieves.” You understand that something is wrong and what is transpiring is not connected with your Aim to ignite the higher nervous system; but there you stand; you cannot leave. You are almost helpless except for this one thing — “I know better.”
All of humanity is unsatisfied and has the ultimately non-profitable sensation that — “I am not a closed book. I am not a dog or tree.” Individuals feel that they can, and are, expanding and growing. I remind you — there is a reality to this feeling, but it is growth on the larger level of humanity and Life itself, and that growth is irrelevant in one person’s lifetime.
This general mechanical dissatisfaction resulting from simply being alive exists in every human; but those attempting ignition of the higher nervous system should be seeking the methods to produce on their own, a continual, nonmechanical dissatisfaction. A special kind of thinking is required, not limited to a specific framework; and so This Thing has no specific framework, no permanent map. And with the proper preparation through This, those who can experience freedom from their ordinary wiring find they are not tied to me, or any of these maps I use.
A person attempting to stay dissatisfied should attempt to turn on his own consciousness and observe “the thinking”. “The thinking” is a something, just like the heartbeat or the digestion. When you are “the thinking”, you are not remembering This Thing. You are back in “the thinking”, back with your ear at the end of the tube, listening. There is a lateral pulsation of energy culminating at Line level, and if you turn on it, it stops, but you can catch fleeting glimpses of what was occurring.
There is an ordinary awareness extant in humanity that a person can be different at different times. You may say something and years, months, days or even minutes later, I could grab you and say — “Hey, I just heard you say the opposite of what you said before.” Of course, if you were ordinary you would deny it; but if you were my Fictitious, Reasonably Insane Man, you would recognize, “Well, I do have opposite feelings and say opposing things.”
Within each person there is a regular pulsation of energy, which moves up the spinal channel. The termination of this energy at Line level, results in a satisfactory conclusion. The energy terminates in the feeling of “I”, whether you say “I” or not; because “I” is at the center of the satisfactory conclusion, the termination of the energy.
Suppose you are sitting on a bus on the way to a job interview and your “I” is thinking, “I wonder if they are going to laugh at this purple tie?” That one little thought culminated in a feeling of “I”. The culmination of energy at Line level was satisfying, even though it as not a satisfying daydream you had, about losing your job due to a purple tie. It was satisfying, on a certain level, because the thought came to a conclusion. You imagined yourself leaving the interview, and someone saying, “Can you believe it? A purple tie!” If you turned on the pulsation and caught the very last segment, “…a purple tie!”, just as you pulled you ear away from the channel, that one little thought would be the termination, the satisfying culmination, into “I”. Remember, it is a pulsation: Every little thought hits the Line of consciousness, culminating in the sensation of “I”. “I” is at the center of this nervous system, and that is what is so difficult to See. “I” cannot be seen when you are “I”. You do not “have opinions”, you are opinions. You do not have feelings, you are feelings. “I” is at the center of everything at that level; but when you attempt to See it, it disappears.
Your opinions, feelings and daydreams seem unsatisfying to you, but I’m telling you — they are satisfying. They all are small segments of a great scenario, each with a beginning and an end; and the end is what you must See. As fast as I can snap my fingers, the thoughts continually end, or culminate, into “I”.
One description of a special kind of thinking, would be to continually look at what you are doing. It would be the attempt to wrestle with the world’s most dangerous question: “What am I going to say next?” This special kind of thinking, this struggle, can also be described in this way: engage in nothing but unsatisfying thought. Never let the energy run its course as it wants to. The normal course of energy is — “I was leaving the interview. I knew I lost the job. And somebody said — ‘What a pity. A purple tie.'” You must then, nonverbally, continue with “Yeah, but…” Nonmechanical, unsatisfying thought is not limited to trying to catch the tail end of a sequence and then saying — “yeah, but…” You can begin at the beginning. The energy is pulsating all the time. What you can do is juggle it. Rather than a continual struggle to See the energy just before it ceases, you can get away and look at it, without the energy knowing you are doing so. The pulsation continues, but you attempt to juggle it.
If you have a particular daydream A, and right behind it, daydream B is coming up the chute, do not think “the thinking”. Don’t let it come to a satisfying conclusion: Stop it in mid-think, in mid-dream.
You can hear the thought coming just as you can hear ghost sounds on a phonograph record, immediately before the music actually starts; and you know that the thought, the energy, is going to culminate into “I”. With a speed so extreme that it is beyond anything in the ordinary world, you can stop it, just before it would normally end. You can keep the energy in the air, and not let it come down, not handle it.
Your system is always eating, and just before the food gets to its mouth, you can hit its elbow. The energy is there and you can be aware of it, but just before it reaches a satisfying conclusion, blow the whistle.
This continual juggling produces, from a mechanical viewpoint, a continuous, unsatisfying, intellectual atmosphere; but you can find the proper use of this description, you find that it is a trick; because properly used, it will reveal a bundle of fun. You’ve got to make this nervous system believe that there are three balls in the air and at the exact time it should be catching a ball, you interfere: you catch the ball too soon, or you wait a second longer than it would have. Or suppose you have a little creature living in your head. Everything that comes up from the system, he usually puts in a file drawer; but before he does, you slam the drawer. He pulls it open again, and you say, “Hey!” and he says “What?”, and then another thought comes in and he is suddenly behind. There is a non-ending conveyor belt and he has to take the energy/information and answer, “Yes, yes. No. Yes.” The thoughts ordinarily have to have a satisfying conclusion, but if you interfere with the process, it is absolutely unsatisfying to say the very least.
If I could make an ordinary person do this and he said, “Hey! This is driving me crazy,” he would be close to telling the truth. He would not actually go crazy, because he would simply leave first. If I were to tell him — “This will create a kind of unsatisfying, unstable intellectual condition,” he would say, “Well, you certainly succeeded. You are right on the money; but you should be arrested. I’m leaving!”
Someone asked a question about my description of Life as a living machine. They were attempting to look into what I have described as a degree of tolerance. I have described Life as a living machine, wherein each operating part is ultimately affected by every other part. That is physically true. But, what I want you to specifically look at, is that within this machine, as in all functioning machines, there is a degree of tolerance, a minute area in which the parts can move.
Just speaking on the ordinary level, machinery, no matter how simple or complex, cannot operate if its gears are fitted perfectly. Within Life there must be an apparent, but insignificant amount of freedom. Each little gear must be able to move a little: a person’s own ideas, or his connections with others cannot fit perfectly. There must be tolerance or there is no movement. One may say, “I can still see an area where there is a wiggle. The machine would operate better if you cut this, and extended that. Then energy would be directed into a wider area.” But that is wrong, because if you go too far, the machine will not move. If you have a perfectly fitted machine, it is frozen.
This degree of tolerance can be seen within one person. Not only may his ideas be in conflict from moment to moment, but there seems to be a kind of built in uncertainty to them. You can observe this tolerance in the ability to express one view with absolute conviction today, and what seems to be the opposing view tomorrow.
Let’s say we had a man who was an acclaimed expert on pre-school education who was famous throughout the world and had written many popular books based on — “The earlier you begin to teach a child, the better. You should play classical music while the child is still in the crib. You should be speaking Greek to him from day one.” Etc., etc. He has proof that this is true. It has become accepted theory and he is held in great esteem. Suppose he is on a radio talk show that you are listening to. The interviewer gets the man to rehash his theories and statistics and almost any sophisticated listener would say — “That makes a lot of sense. I’ll buy that.” Then the interviewer, who has very little interest in the subject of the interview, and is preparing to do a laxative commercial in thirty seconds, tosses out to the good doctor, “Uh, that all sounds well and good, but it seems to me that by teaching a child that, there would be a great deal of pressure on the child. The teaching may have a negative effect, if he wasn’t learning as fast as his crib mates.” And the doctor replies, “Well, yeah. There is some truth to that.” The doctor spent 50 years of his life researching what he had just stated as his proven point, and an ex-rock and roll disc jockey threw out a detracting comment; but the doctor says, “Yeah. You’re right. That makes a lot of sense. I’m glad you brought that up.” Can you see that there is a tolerance between that and his original statement of, “Here is why I am here. Here is my reason for living. Here is my gift to mankind.” There is a tolerance that the doctor is not even aware of. There is a tolerance wherein movement takes place, so that Life can expand in a lateral fashion.
Between the extremes of your perception of accepted reality and those things which are so drastic to your ordinary system that they seem irrelevant, there is a degree of tolerance. Within the machine of Life, things can move in certain directions, a small amount. You can see this in other people, or you can hear it on the radio, or read it in the newspaper. It is a continual process of Life expanding. The presently accepted facts are not wrong and some new variations of them are right. Expansion is taking place, over a period of time. Things do not fit perfectly; because when they do, they are frozen. By the time an idea has become perfectly, verbally fitted — by the time it is an accepted fact in Life — it is dead. Once a majority of humanity believes something, once everyone says, “That’s got to be it! That’s right!”, that idea is dead and Life has moved on to something else.
If ideas are too drastic, in the ordinary world, they won’t be true, even if, 50 years later, they become scientific facts. If a scientist came on the scene with an idea related to sub-atomic physics and said, “Such-and-such is true in the physical world,” and it were too far removed from prevailing opinion, nobody would pay any attention. People would think he had taken leave of his senses; because the idea was simply too drastic, because it cannot be true today. It will not be true today. It might, however, be the sound of tomorrow.