Jan Cox Talk 0239

The Prince, the Followers, the Surveyors of the Extremes, and the Episcopalian


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Tape 239, Dec 18, 1986, runtime 1:12
Notes by TK

The need for a ‘central figure’, an individual responsible for any movement or event to have historical validity or viability, i.e., be remembered as important. A ‘mob’ has no central figure and is frightening for that reason. Consider this application internally, personality-wise. The ordinary personality has a shadowy, vague central figure, not a stable, well defined all powerful prince.

Why doesn’t Life have absolute, powerful central figures? Wouldn’t it operate more efficiently with them? Lack of central figure can be seen as a continuing internal examination by Life thru humanity. There are special ’employees’ who are the surveyors, definers and defenders of the extremes: right and wrong. But for The Few this is always and everywhere dissatisfying and dangerous.

Fanatics -true extremes defenders- never have a longtime influence in history, and come to a relatively quick, violent end. The Partnership constantly surveys and describes the extremes thereby creating guilt, fear, shame, regret. But at least you are never alone –you always got a’friend’: the Partner. Life always provides a friend.

“Just because” is the unknown and discounted best answer to everything.

Talking will help…the ordinary. It is immediate, temporary help to stay sane and ordinary; it is a ‘friend’ .Temporary arrangement only however; the many need constant assistance to remain sane and ordinary.

Addressing the expressed fears etc. from Group. Follower-ism fears are ill founded. The ultimate need to ‘do This for yourself’ –don’t try to second guess that point, the time of weaning.

Questions from Group. The ubiquitousness of good-vs.-evil stories with attendant apparent overwhelming odds against good triumphing, but then triumphing…and the obvious reality that such is not the case in your everyday life. Note that even though the good does not always win, it is still expected by all to do so at the deepest level: in the blood. Complexity in any system evidencing more tendency to ‘unexpected quirks’ –consider E force.An excellent example of E force.


1:10 TASK: Reminder to refrain from speaking when your ordinary programming would be destined to.



Document:  239,  December 18, 1986
Copyright (c) Jan M. Cox, 1986

Tonight I’m going to discuss several topics which have been brought up recently in questions and observations from those of you involved in This.

Look back over your own knowledge of ordinary history, and you will see that for any movement — religious or social or political — to be viable, it must have a central figure.  If you talk about the downfall of a society, you must mention one of the royal families or whoever was ruler at the time; you can’t describe Christianity without Christ or Judaism without mentioning the religious leaders.  No matter how long or short-lived, you cannot talk about any movement — it just does not exist — it has no historical validity — without the central figure.

Is everyone familiar with the kind of energy going on when a mob takes over?  Maybe you’ve never experienced a riot, but you’ve read or heard comments from people who’ve been caught up in one.  They will give a recounting of what happened, and they’ll shiver:  “I’ve been in dangerous situations before, but there is nothing like standing there in the street when suddenly a group of people turns into a mob.”  “Mob violence is worse than one or two deranged people; it was like the mob took on an unconscious, violent, undirected, life of its own.”

I don’t know if any of you have ever been in such a situation, but I can tell you that is no exaggeration.  Let me point out something.  The widespread, across the board fear and loathing of a mob is this:  that a mob does not have a central figure.  That is what’s so frightening.  You can take this, on the first level, as being strictly physical:  a mob is a frightening organism.

What is really fearful, at the physical level, is that there is no central figure.  If you were going to try to stop this onslaught, what could you do?  Who would you turn to?  Now, if there was an Attila, or a Sir Lancelot, or a Prince Pepin the Fat leading the way, you could do something — shoot him, talk to him, somehow stop him.  But there is no central one, and that is the basis of the abject, physical fear people feel.  And beyond the physical level, there are other kinds of fear in which this lack of a central figure comes into play.

Can you see in this description any useful application to what seems to be the ordinary structure of your so-called personality — the inner life of each person?  Does it strike you that I’m about to say what your partnership has already said, “Hey, that’s right!  Everybody internally is just an unruly mob.”  That’s not exactly true.  The internal life of ordinary people is not a total mob sans any apparent figure of authority, but you certainly could not say that there is an absolute, stable, all-powerful central figure, under ordinary conditions.  You do not ordinarily have within you a Pepin the Fat.  You’re not simply a mob, but neither do you have a prince in charge.

Consider whether it would not be more efficient for Life to have, in the central area of its nervous system which is humanity, an Attila in charge?  Taking humanity as being one part of Life’s own body, wouldn’t it be most efficient to have a prince in charge, even if it was more than one person?  But do you find that?  Or is there just the passing impression of, “Well, somebody’s sort of in charge.”

There always seems to be some sort of shadow government, the shadow of a central figure.  But the center never stays the same, it’s always shifting.  You could say that right now the life of humanity, by and large, is under the collective control of the United States and the Soviet Union.  You could say almost everything is subject to their sway, or their reaction to one another.  Then you could throw in western Europe, if you wanted to stretch it.  But then you’d need to include Japan and some other countries, and that gets too complicated.  So there seems to be a shadowy central figure or government, but the impression of who’s in charge is constantly changing.  And that is not far removed from the condition in which an ordinary person finds himself.

If you pass for sane — if you believe you are a Fred or a Mary — there seems to be some central figure in you.  Closer, unnecessary examination shows that this apparent prince is illusive; you can’t hold onto him any more than you can put a death grip on silly putty.

Back to our Consideration.  If Life’s so smart and knows all this, why would Life not have an absolute, powerful central figure (using “figure” in a wide-range definition)?  Why is there no stabilized point somewhere, no core of humanity?  Would that not make Life’s body operate more efficiently?  Would that not be more efficient than a mob scene or a shadowy elusive government?  Why fool around with this arrangement?  Of course, if Life did that to itself, you could ask, “How come I’m not a dyed in the wool, absolute Fred or Mary?”  And somebody over in the partnership corner might say, “No thank you, I’m bored enough already with things as they are.”

I have recently mentioned that, from one viewpoint, the apparent conflicts going on between people — the apparent lack of a common direction of humanity — could be seen as the continuing inner examination of Life of itself through humanity.  Could you further realize that there is always within Life a certain group of employees whose job it is to be the surveyors and defenders of the extremes.  They’re in charge of continually surveying, defining, and then defending the extremes that Life has found to be important at that particular time and place, whether the extremes are described in terms of good and evil, right and wrong, profitable and unprofitable, aggressive and calm, or whatever.  These employees sometimes seem to be working in the political arena, sometimes in the social; they can appear to be in the arts, and of course, in religion.  Wherever they surface, the surveyors and defenders of the extremes have as their main job the stabilization of ordinary growth and expansion.  They are absolutely necessary for Life’s routine expansion, but note that there are always some shortsighted and short-haired people who feel there’s something intrinsically wrong and dangerous, even fanatical, about the defenders of extremes.

Since I used the word fanatical — there is a point where extremes are so far to the extreme that they are no longer useful to Life.  And the true fanatics of the world, you notice, all come to unsavory ends.  True fanatics never obtain a position of long-term, ultimate power.  They sometimes scare large numbers of people and cause multitudes to get shot, cut and burnt.  But notice the Attilas do not take over and continue Attiling over a long period of time.  Because whenever fifty-one percent of the people say, “This guy’s nuts, this guy’s dangerous!”  Life has spoken and you don’t have to worry about him.  But such a fanatic must be to the extreme of the extremely extreme, because what is going on continually is that Life needs to have people surveying and describing the pertinent, contemporary extremes.

Don’t think of this just in terms of individuals.  In our day, this surveying and defending is ofttimes described as contemporary mores, community or national values.  But what’s being described are the extremes of this time and place.  And you do not have to have a particular, wired-up interest in the extremes to learn from them.

Picture humanity as being one of Life’s organs — maybe the liver.  Life has stated that the liver has a particular function and parameters of operation.  And my liver can only travel so far; I don’t mind it moving around a little when I sit down or lie down; it can shift out of position a little bit, and the tolerance of my liver operating properly is plus or minus six percent.  But that’s it.  That is a very crude paradigm of how people seem to live.  The partnership within each ordinary person has surveyed and declared what the extremes are — past that point, an ordinary person cannot venture.

From that comes the great equation:  the partnership plus surveying and declaring extremes equals guilt, fear, shame, and regret.  Without the partnership having apparently established the acceptable extremes, no person could ever feel guilty about deeds done or thoughts thought.  There would be no way to regret your actions or fear something bad’s going to happen because of all the terrible things you’ve done.

We should all be thankful that the gods thought so highly of humanity as to give each and every person — just in case you can’t find a good sex mate in life or a dog that won’t bite you — a secret friend.  You’ve got a friend.  You’ve got a partner.  You’re never alone.  And as long as you have a friend, you never have to worry about, “One day I’ll get up and for some strange reason I won’t feel fearful or guilty.”  Your partner’s there to remind you.

Recently someone asked me a question and I tried to point out that there is no simple answer to something.  For instance, suppose we discussed the recovery of Japan after World War Two.  You could start putting together your own theories and observations.  The country, as small as it was, was completely broken, almost destroyed.  But here it is forty years later, and Japan’s become one of the major economic forces in the world.  What happened?  Somebody might say, “Well, obviously it had to do with their close-knit society, the behavior modes ingrained in their culture.”  Somebody else could point out that their conquerors assisted them in recovering economically, and that now they’re doing better than some of those conquerors.  Someone else might speak with authority and say that surely the psychological makeup of these fine people carried the day, that we’re not simply talking about economic recovery, but about a kind of spiritual recovery of a people.  Then someone else could apparently be even more complex in their thinking and say that all of these observations have validity, that we must try to weave this intellectual nexus of possibilities — socially, psychologically, culturally, spiritually, economically, historically — that led to such a miraculous recovery.  Getting down to the bottom line, what are we going to say caused the Japanese people to rise up from the ashes like some twentieth century phoenix and overtake the very countries who conquered and destroyed them?  How could this happen?

That’s all the preamble.  There is a childish kind of answer that everybody has heard, surely.  The answer is right at the cutting edge of the process of reality, not the static, ordinary descriptions.  How can we get an answer — even a theoretical answer — taking in account all of these possible factors?  How could this have happened?  To get an answer, all you have to do is talk to a kid for a few minutes.  Talk to a good three year old kid and he’ll tell you, “Just cause.”  Of course, that kind of answer drives adults up the wall.

But may we assume that some of you realize now that that’s not such a bad answer, to say the very least.  Do you understand that it’s better than any stable answer the Yellow Circuit could give?  To go back to the example, “How could the Japanese people have accomplished this, why did this happen?”  “Just because,” is a much more exemplary reply than any which would come from a disciplined line of rational thought.  Any logical explanation is sorely lacking, compared to “just because.”

When Life gave you a friend, it did not give you the kind of little imaginary friend kids are wont to make up.  Life gave you an educated, sophisticated, know-it-all friend.  And that friend would never be stuck with such a crude answer as “just because.”  I trust you see the beauty of this.

Recently I heard a psychologist on the radio state, “Talking will always help.”  They were making reference to anything from professional help to just having a friend or family member you’re close to. Does everyone understand, in spite of the fact that I’ve correctly encouraged you to look upon excessive talk with a certain amount of disfavor, that talking will help?  In the ordinary world, talking will help, if what the person needs is immediate, temporary assistance to stay sane and ordinary.  On that basis, talking will help.  Psychiatry, psychology is just an institutionalized, or franchised, or commercialized version of having a friend.  Can you picture people sitting around at the turn of the century, waiting for a world war or something to happen.  They didn’t know what was going on, and most of their family was leaving for America.  Many parts of the culture seemed to be crumbling, and there just weren’t enough people to talk to.  Analysis was a wonderful thing to invent; you pay somebody to listen to you talk about your problems. And it had other benefits.  Probably in just a matter of weeks, after psychiatry got off the ground, the practitioners figured out that you don’t laugh when people talk about their problems.  So analysis was a wonderful thing because, as far as the patient was concerned, you could now go and talk to somebody and not be afraid.  “If I tell my father about this, he’ll kick me out of the house.  My friends would never speak to me again and I’d be a laughing stock.”  But there’s this guy — he’s dressed up and sitting in a nice office — you can go down there, pay him some money, and tell that sucker anything — not a word, except, he’ll finally say, “Well, time’s up.  Come back next week.”  He never laughs, he doesn’t disapprove. He treats you just like an ordinary person, no matter what you say.

No matter what the partnership classifies as a problem, the problem is helped if you talk about it, assuming your need is to have temporary assistance in staying ordinary and sane.  If that’s your overwhelming desire, talking is the cheapest and the best prescription because it provides immediate assistance.  (Notice, the fact that it’s temporary is not important in Life because we’re talking about prescriptions, not cures.  Prescriptions are temporary because for you to stay sane and ordinary is a temporary arrangement.)  If you want to escape from being ordinary, you’ve got to take a different approach.  But telling people not to talk about their problems isn’t some sort of widely applicable prescription I would attempt to give out to humanity at large.

I received a letter from someone expressing concern and distaste for the idea of being a follower of anyone, even of me.  First let me point out the obvious, that I have never referred to anyone as a follower. Unless you are completely under the sway of a partnership arrangement that is louder than I am, I don’t see how any of you could fear that This is a followership arrangement.  Now the expressed fear and distaste for that, I wholeheartedly agree with.  If I had been limited to that sort of arrangement, I’d be driving stock cars or something instead of doing This.  The fear is ill-founded; but having the fear is fine.  I don’t want to be a follower — I couldn’t be.  And I’ll state very directly that I have no use for anybody who would actually be a follower.  If you indeed fit the real definition of a follower and you’ve been around here for any length of time, that’s only because so far you’ve escaped my notice.  Normally, the machinery of justice takes care of this and such people feel mistreated or overlooked and soon go their merry way.  This Activity has never been a place for what truly constitutes a follower.  This has to finally be the kind of activity that one does for oneself.

If you’ve been around me for any amount of time, or read the papers I’ve made available, you know I’ve stated quite clearly that ultimately you do This for yourself.  Without going into any of verbal mumbly-peg of, “How can I do anything for myself?”  “If I could do anything for myself, I wouldn’t be here,” and so on. All of you to varying degrees feel that you are not inbred followers, and that someday, somewhere, you will and must do This for yourself.  I’m not here giving out secret words in the historical, horizontal sense.  But if you’re going to learn something — how to program computers, repair cars, or do needlepoint — as long as you’re learning how to do it, you’d be a fool to worry, “How long is this person going to keep teaching me needlepoint?  How come I can’t just make up my own designs?  When he says sew it a certain way, I just sew it that way.  What if I never reach the point of being a needlepoint master myself?”

Are you going to waste time worrying about how long this course is going to last?  I do not know.  I don’t know how long I’m going to last, and I sure don’t know how long you are.  But to worry, “Maybe I’m stuck here…,” is pointless.  Remember, it takes two to stick.  You may figure I’m the stick-er and you’re the stick-ee, but remember there’s another viewpoint.  This is not any sort of routine follower situation; there’s nothing hidden from you, no surprise coming down the road someday.  You’ve got worse problems than that.  If you feel, “One day, I’m going to have to take that big step, I’m going to have to jump and he’s not going to be there to make me do it or threaten me.  One day I’m going to have to Do something!”  You are right.  You are absolutely right, and without that — without the ability, the preparation, the strength, and the need to do that eventually — you are a follower; not a follower of me.  You’re a follower of Life, of routine situations, routine fears — and you’re in the wrong place.

As far as worrying, if you just need a hobby I suggest you take up the ukulele or start repairing watches.  I won’t begrudge anybody their hobby, just don’t drag me into it.  Worry about something else: worry that you’re never going to find a sexual partner who’ll stick with you for more than six months and you’ll wind up at the age of seventy, all alone.  Or let the partnership worry that the world’s going to fall apart and all this effort will be wasted anyway.  Worry about something like that, but don’t worry that you’ve got to make effort on your own, and if you get too dependent on me that will halt your progress.  This just doesn’t happen that way; it can’t.  If you’re a follower, you belong somewhere else, pursuing a more reasonable hobby.  The only people who worry too much about being a follower are people who need to be followers; the clamor begins to interfere with them making any real effort and benefiting from This.  If you’re not benefiting from This — if you have a serious question about whether you are gaining anything — you should stop.  You can sail out of here anytime you want, and I promise no one will call you up.  That’s a better deal than you get from your finance corporation.

Here’s another question:  “In all the ordinary scenarios of life, in TV shows, books and cartoons, it’s always good versus evil; but the odds always seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of evil.  We seem to be wired-up to expect the odds to be uneven and grossly unfair, but we also expect good to triumph in the end.  What is going on here?”

There are several interesting aspects to this question.  First, notice that the more classic a story is — the more it’s considered to be a real work of art — the more uneven the odds are.  Remember Popeye in the cartoons?  The story would not be that interesting if Popeye could just beat up the whole world.  There had to be this miraculous epiphany, wherein Popeye would eat spinach and be physically transformed into a character with superhuman strength.  Then he could beat up guys four times his size.  Notice there has to be the appearance of inequitable odds.  If it’s a fair fight, who cares.  Think about the movies.  You immediately identify this man or this woman as the star — the hero.  But what are they going to go up against?  Whew!  It’s going to be tricky, very tricky for them to win, and you look forward to 90 more minutes during which they’ll overcome all kinds of adversaries, beat seemingly unbeatable odds.

You know how the story will end up; good will win out over evil.  Everything vibrates just right when this happens; good wins out against unbelievable odds and people expect that.  Yet, that is not a reflection of everyday life, because in everyday life you do not win.  At the end of the day, you usually don’t feel, “I won!”  Most of the time you go to bed feeling like Life has stepped on your you-know-what or punched you in a sensitive place.”  You feel, “I did not win.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a new attorney or that other person’s house will burn down.”  But in art, in history, it’s accepted that good ultimately wins.  That’s the way people are wired-up; we applaud the hero, we feel good, and nobody notices this is not the way everyday Life is.

You might say, “Well we all know Life is not like a book.”  But the people who live lives write books. There is no such thing as fiction.  We’re all wired-up and seem to demand that good will win in every book, every TV show, every movie.  If some neighbor tells you a story third-hand about something terrible that happened to his mother-in-law, you just know that eventually good is going to triumph and everything will be all right.  Yet, in your own life, that is not what happens.  What is going on here?

Here’s another one:  “It would seem that the more complicated a system becomes, the more likely it is to exhibit unexpected quirks.  These quirks are always invisible until they are activated.  Is this an interesting light on the matter of the irrelevant?”  Is it?  Is it ever.  Consider unexpected quirks, glitches, and E Force.  Such glitches are always invisible and unexpected, to say the least, until they are truly activated within the workings of the system.  And, if they are “glitches,” they are considered undesirable. And the person who asked the question had the nerve to say, “Is this an interesting light on the irrelevant?”  Bravo!

You know, if I ever decided to whip up a really good band of followers — not you people, of course, since I’ve already badmouthed followers — we’d need a good label.  How about calling ourselves “The Church of the Irrelevant.”  Of course, I don’t believe such a church would ever have the number of followers that a good old Appalachian snake-handling church with a bass drum would have, or even a Presbyterian or Episcopalian.  It just struck me, wouldn’t you like to see an Episcopalian priest fall into the midst of an Appalachian congregation playing drums, stamping their feet, and he begins to handle snakes?  That would probably be the most fun an Episcopalian ever had.  Well, now that I’ve set up all sorts of prefaces and scenarios, I’m suddenly going to stop.