It is the Attempt That Confounds
Summary = See Below
Condensed News Items = None
News Item Gallery = None
Transcript = None
Summary by Cfish
Audio of Jan Cox 18 October 1999
Copyright Jan Cox Jan’s Legacy 2014
Notes by Cfish September 2,2014
Suggested Title: These Days: The Work (Ongoing and Ever Shifting)
(What I point to is that the mind does not exist in any real physical sense, yet it is naturally attracted to things-tangible, and in thinking about such does it enjoy its greatest success. But — when it turns its attention on itself, (or more correctly put: When it TRIES to turn its attention on itself), it not only fails totally, but also — totally fails to realize its failure.
-(Jan’s Daily News 08/20/2000)
Begin: My view and understanding of “This Thing” and how to convey to you folks has changed over the years. When story telling, I find it most expedient to talk about me, being there, and living it. (not that I am impressed with me) Recently several cities wrote saying they enjoyed my different view of Greek Mythology.
When I look at the inward journey of a modern day Odysseus, my view and understanding is different, and I can’t tell you what it is. Its not that anything I have said in the past is wrong.
05:00 Early on, I discovered and read Greek Mythology. Then I came upon the Gurdjieff writings. It was then I became aware there was some known interest that paralleled mine. The Gurdjieff writings (The Work) seemed correct to me. And I soon became convinced of the need to Self Remember.
That people did not do it, and that Self Remembering was our natural state. (That it was unnatural not to self remember) I was also convinced by Gurdjieff’s writings we did not have a permanent “I.” That all we have is a continuing succession of different “I’s” and couldn’t remember who we were from second to second.
I also was convinced we were flawed and without a permanent “I” and that we were asleep. This was 1975/1980.
10:00 Back then I was convinced there was a distinct difference between being awake and being asleep. I was not wrong about this, my understanding was different. Just us talking now – there is only one thing I know literally now about the things just mentioned. I don’t know.
Ok, there are two things I know. Life is alive. (one of my most important realizations) I do not think in terms of me being awake or asleep anymore. I know I continue to use the terms but I do not look around like I did at one time and say “those poor sleeping people.”
I do know that I know something that other people don’t know. I can tell a few of you know it ( not trying to discount anyone.) and you may not realize you know it.
15:00 Looking back I have serious doubts that some of the great ones (Gurdjieff, Buddha, etc) know what I know. And it does not impress me that I know what I know. My view has just changed and it has been gradual. If you folks are still here you have traveled a similar path.
I liked the Gurdjieff term “the work.” I thought that is where religion was lacking. Self Remembering required effort, it was obvious it required effort, you could only do it for seconds, and it all made sense. You had to self remember to get a permanent “I.”
20:00 In 1975 I was convinced that “the work” was the way. And even though “the work” (self remembering) was an internal struggle I felt it was still something outside of me. So as my view changed I began to see that is how thought works.
Thought’s explanation of (this thing) was it must be outside of me or I would already possess it. So when thought says its inside of you and you say “I know that’, I say you do not really know that. I say your view/understanding needs to change and my view of it did change.
25:00 Anyway by 1975 as far as I could tell I knew more about “the work” than anybody I could find. I also saw around this time that almost all of humanity has no interest in “the work.” (it was not hidden.) But now I have wandered away from it. Maybe metaphorically to a ridge top and I have a better view of it.
It is not that anything I wrote or talked about in 1975 was wrong. But once you get to a certain point in “the great work” (even you and even me) there is only one thing you can do with consciousness/thought. You cannot change it but you can force it to entertain you.
30:00 When I keep using the same terms, talking the same way, you know habit, and even though I can point things out, there is nothing to point out. There is nothing in anyone especially in anyone who understands anything, that deserves a finger wagging.
I use to get pissed off about me being what is called “being asleep.” When I leave these meetings sometimes I think “Jesus, I might as well pitch a tent and be a Jack Leg preacher. Then thinking I don’t have anything in common with all you people. Then thinking maybe I am just entertainment.
Then thinking maybe we do have something in common because you folks have the right attitude. I think it is a good thing none of you took as serious what being called asleep is as I did. That maybe you just found it entertaining. And nothing is wrong with that. There is no alternative.
I was not deluded in 1975. I just have a different view of “the work” now. Anyway that was what I was thinking after some cities wrote and told me how much they enjoyed my interpretation of the challenges of Odysseus.
35:00 I thought about Shakespeare’s Macbeth. “Its not the attempt that confounds us but the deed itself.” (I know the context) But I turned it around and found a whole other view of awakening. Its the attempt that confounds us, not the deed itself.”
There is the attempt to awaken – before you know what it is. In other words trying to wrestle down your thinking – it is either enjoyable or it gives you the blues. If Shakespeare was still around he would probably say “that is what I was getting at.”
Back to the mystical city (the work). I did not just wander up on the ridge. I worked and worked and worked (though that does not mean a thing) until figuratively speaking I almost drove myself crazy. I was chasing my tail while telling others “don’t bother chasing your tail.”
If you are not in an absolutely different state, all you can do is force thought to entertain you. You can never know the nature of the mind. So why does a person do it? Well- what else are you going to do? If you don’t see it by now, it is a form of entertainment.
40:00 If you force thought to entertain you, your view is not so flabby. If you have a job that brings the attention under some kind of control you are lucky. In my view the only other challenge is something that can be produced in my own head. And evidently I can make it entertaining to a certain number of people.
But remember, it is all a “puff of smoke.” Its thinking I use to refer to as secondary reality. It seems real until you try to grab it or change it. You can either let the “puff of smoke” drive you nuts or force it to entertain you. I am telling you all this for a reason you should find useful.
I don’t advise you to be like me. But if you have enough in common that you keep listening – you have got to turn around and look. Which is getting real close to the one thing I do know now.
45:00 The one thing I cannot tell you. (Its another view of all this.) If you can’t see what goes on in everybody’s head, including mine, maybe you fail to grasp what I am pointing to. Thought is either entertainment or figuring out a problem that benefitted you.
Being awake or self remembering is some other time place or I would be there now. But your thoughts do not analyze it in that fashion. And that is really not it. There is no it. There is no explanation for any of this.
My view of the mystical city (the work) is not what I talk about anymore. I am not saying I come here mechanically, but in some sense the terms awake and asleep are out of habit. The terms help me establish a way to talk. You may think I have refined all this and I think the same thing.
But it is an illusion. It is the nature of thinking. It is mist and all you can do is enjoy it. Take a lesson from DH. The more I talk the harder he laughs. I have got to give him credit. He has always been that way.
50:00 For a long time I thought I would just get DH up here to do the talking. Maybe make a few notes of a general subject I wanted him to talk about and then sit in the audience. (But if I got to write it down I might as well do it myself.)
As far back as 1960 I was convinced that ordinary thinking and wanting to awaken were two different things: But ordinary thinking and being awake are the same thing. I stole it from one of the Zen guys that said “Ordinary Mind and Buddha Mind are the same thing.”
Rationally, thoughts could support that because it has got to be in thought somewhere. Realizing your ordinary thinking is what you are looking for has got to be right at the end of everyone’s realization. (My brain cells have fits when I say that.)
55:00 I can put my mind to sleep and it will start asking “what kind of metaphor is that?” If I can’t wake up I am just wasting my time. I can still do all that. I can fall back asleep, get all carried away with something and it could be anything. Then I catch myself and what do I do.
I spank myself. And why do I spank myself (trying to make a point so follow me) I say damn there I was asleep again. And if that is true, I am saying being asleep is somewhere outside me. And that is where Gurdjieff’s teachings of having a permanent “I” and many “I’s” fits.
If I could self remember, I would have a real “I.” Looking back I would have said that its not that some people have it. It is that they do not have the knowledge to do it. Only thoughts believe there is a difference between buddha mind and ordinary mind.
60:00 Thought just appears in you. Once thought got going in humanity, a few of us were unusually impressed with it. I think that is applicable to anyone who ever got entangled with this. (mysticism, the work) Throughout history for folks like us thought captivates, entertains, and annoys.
65:00 And looking back, going from being entertained by the talk in my head – wanting to awaken was a minuscule step. As I have said before “I use to know a lot of things for certain.”
The only thing I know for certain now (besides “Life is Alive”) is that what I know, no one else is interested in knowing. Its not the people. Its the cellular activity on this planet. For example bees and ants live as a colony. I see cellular activity on this planet as almost a fungus.
The cellular activity between people communicates in a way people do not take into account. It is almost like the communication found in a beehive. Cliches for example are a type of cellular activity and communication amongst humanity. It is not magical and it is not only talking.
And in people like me some basic connections are lacking. I can see it in some of you. The kind of things that hold civilizations and families together, the kind of communications that hold secondary reality together, they are lacking. I do not see it as positive or negative. I will refer you back to what I cannot tell you about.
You have to believe me when I say, we do not have any idea what this shit is all about. (That’s got to be metaphor. No, its not a metaphor.)