Jan Cox Talk 3108

Battling Narratives


The following recordings are from Jan’s final years, when his voice was diminished and he spoke in a low whisper. Some listeners may find these tapes hard to listen to, or difficult to understand. Thus, as another option, read the transcript below.

Otherwise, turn up the volume and enjoy! Those who carefully listened to Jan during this period consider that he spoke plainly and directly to the matter at hand, “pulling out all the stops,” as he understood that these were to be his last messages to his groups, and to posterity.

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Edited Transcript = See Below
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Notes by TK

There is diversity among species per Life’s dictates for its evolution. Why is there diversity/conflict among narratives? Life pits narratives against one another to achieve a fittest one, one best for its growth. Narratives have a cohesive effect; people have no choice but to identify with their culture per the narrative.

Life seems to be in competition with itself, trying out any number of cultures as though it is unsure of what is right for it. Man too is in conflict with himself, in his brain: ‘of two minds’ in the same way in microcosm. (53:30) #3108

Notes by DR
Jan Cox Talk 3108       Life is trying out, trying to find the better narrative. What we call consciousness, that’s when life dug its claws into this planet. Humans offer an intangible diversity.


2-13-2004 #3108 Edited by SA

Consider the diversity of Life. When Life began to manifest itself in man as a distinct species, it diversified in a way that you don’t see in any other species, with different body types, different skin colors, different physiological functions. Life manifests itself such that people whose ancestors settled for long periods in colder climates are generally built more compactly so that they preserve heat, while those whose ancestors settled in the tropics tend to be taller and thinner. The differences are all minor, but because of them, we are not a species limited to just one geographic area, as most species are.

Man’s physiological diversification surely began after Life produced consciousness, because until then, we weren’t anything other than glorified chimpanzees. After Life became conscious in us, it began to diversify us and to send us everywhere on the planet, because we seemed to be Life’s best hope for staying alive—however it is that Life defines being alive.

What’s not taken into account is the diversity of man’s internal narratives. As far as we can tell, other creatures don’t have internal narratives, but if they do, then each member of a species has the same narrative. You can see that the narrative of all lions has to be the same. All you’ve got to do is look at their behavior. There’s nothing in a group of lions over here that makes them start behaving in a way that is any different from the behavior of lions that live a hundred miles away.

For humans, the main division of narratives has always been religious differences. The idea that nationality is a great diversifier is relatively new. A large part of national diversification has happened in the last hundred and fifty years. Before that, for at least five thousand years, Life set up groups that differed not physically, but internally, primarily with differing narratives of religion.

It makes sense in terms of survival that groups of people show different physiological characteristics to deal with differing local climates, local physical conditions. But of what use is a diversity of narratives? Why does a quarter of the world’s population call themselves Muslims, a quarter call themselves Christians, ten percent Jews, twenty percent Buddhists, and twenty percent Hindus? Why are we still having major religious conflicts? For hundreds of years, most major conflicts on this planet seem to be couched in religious, rather than nationalistic, terms.

In recent times there have been exceptions, wars such as World War I and World War II, which were between diverse nationalities, but the major conflicts now are again couched in religious terms. Some people prefer to blame the conflicts on cultural differences between the east and the west, but if you were to ask most of the world’s ordinary people, they would say the major conflict is between Christianity and Islam, echoing battles that happened several thousand years ago.

This diversity that has such an impact, that has never wavered, is the diversity that comes about from the narratives that people hear in their heads. A quarter of the world’s population hear the Islamic narrative, a quarter hear the Christian narrative, and so on. It will help wake you up to consider all of the lesser narratives as well, because, for example, there’s not just one Christian narrative. There’s a Catholic narrative and a Protestant narrative, and within the Protestant narrative, there are conservative narratives such as the Baptist narrative, and liberal narratives such as those of the Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians. Then there are all the sub-narratives that I mentioned a few talks back, when I discussed xenophobia. There are Christians who are conservative, Christians who are liberal, Christians who are Italian or Nigerian or Australian. There can be even smaller sub-narratives within those groups—narratives of cities, neighborhoods, families, whatever.

At any rate, Life has diversified us physically, so that we could live all over the world. Life has done that with no other creature. Whatever purposes hippopotamuses serve, Life gets all the hippo help it needs from Africa. Life gets all the elephant help it needs from India and Africa, all the wombat help it needs from Tasmania. Apparently, Life doesn’t need many wombats, so Life didn’t change the structure of wombats so that they could leave Tasmania and go to Europe or the Far East. But when Life came to us, and to consciousness, Life wanted us everywhere.

Physical diversity is related to survival, but what is the purpose of man’s internal diversity? In terms of religion, the world’s population is divided into five large groups. Religion was the original basis, and it’s the continuing basis, of all conflict that is not survival-related. Survival-related conflict, such as conflict over land, is not part of this discussion, because it’s not of interest when trying to wake up.

The conflict that has never gone away is based on the different internal narratives that Life has put in man. Why? You don’t need to be a Jew to live in the subtropics. You don’t need to be a Muslim to live in frigid conditions. What purpose do these differing narratives serve? The only possible answer is that Life is experimenting, trying to find the best narrative, the best way to use man’s consciousness.

More accurately, Life is seeking the best way to use consciousness when consciousness is not being used directly to aid survival. Survival is always of primary importance to Life, just as it is with each of us. A person can say that their most important aim in life is to be a movie star, or be rich or famous, but that is not true. Everybody’s basic and overwhelming desire is to stay alive. Everything else can be blown away in an instant. I don’t mean to depress you, but your doctor could walk into the room and say, “Your tests show that you’re dying,” and that’s the end of trying to be a rock star. You’ll never again think about that.

Life itself is the same way, magnified at least six billion times, just counting humans. Life’s desire to stay alive is trillions of times stronger than your desire is. Just look at everything that’s alive on the planet, whatever that number would be, and that’s how strong Life’s desire is to stay alive.

For the most part, you don’t have to think about survival, because you’re living in reasonably civilized conditions. The rest of the time, your consciousness is taken up by the narrative running through your head, by daydreaming that seems to be personal to you because you daydream about yourself—about what you’ve done in the past, what you should have done, what you want to do in the future.

Keep jumping back and forth. First, look at Life as a personal thing that is part of you and people around you, and then look at Life itself as an entire entity. Anything you think about regarding yourself and other humans individually, you can think about regarding Life. You can think about Life in a parallel way to a human being, but larger. This way of thinking is useful, because eventually you will see what’s going on, and it will shock you.

We are not Life’s best work. What we are is Life’s best manifestation of itself. Life produced consciousness in us, and very quickly Life had to realize what a benefit consciousness was—that because of us, Life was no longer completely subject to the physical conditions of this planet. Life could cross rivers that would stymie an elephant. If all the food is on one side of a river and the elephants are on the other side, a river can be treacherous, swift and deep enough that the elephants are going to drown. But when Life took human form and became conscious, then humans could figure out how to build a bridge. They didn’t have to swim the river.

Life had to realize the power of this, which is why Life diversified us physically and had us cover the planet. The more places Life is, the more humans Life has, the more likely it is that Life will stay alive. Highly civilized people are the most successful manifestation of Life, because the more successful a civilization is, the less consciousness must be used for survival, and the more important the narrative, the daydreaming, becomes. The most important thing to an indigenous person living in the rain forest in Brazil is to get enough food to eat, but when you get up in the morning, especially on the weekend, the most important thing is, “What am I going to do all day?” When you watch movies or read books, you are temporarily adopting somebody else’s narrative. If you enjoy it, then that narrative was sufficiently unlike your narrative that it distracted you. You were entertained. You did not feel bored.

The more Life succeeded, the more consciousness had free time on its hands, and—all I can do is put it in human terms—it’s as though Life came up with an idea. Let’s say that Life’s first idea was the Egyptian narrative, or the Sumerian, the Persian. It doesn’t matter. Let’s say that Life first tried the narrative of all of the dynasties of the Egyptian sun gods, all of their forms of worship, all of their beliefs about man’s true purpose—in other words, a religion.

That particular religion obviously had some success in Life’s view, which means that the more free time people had, the more they could be urged to involve themselves with the religion, to go to whatever services were held, and to start adapting the religion’s narrative. Then Judaism came along, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism. Each religion had a body of beliefs, but back then, as a group, the practitioners of that religion were physically distinguishable from other groups, and were living in a particular geographic area.

When our recorded history started, and even before there was an area called Egypt, a group of people was identified as a religion because they considered the Pharaohs gods incarnate. They all were brought together not under a nationalistic banner, but under a religious banner, an inner narrative. Religion doesn’t exist out in the world. Temples and synagogues and churches are just buildings. Religion is the narrative inside the people. Religion exists only in consciousness.

I can almost feel Life seven or ten thousand years ago, coming up with religion and almost squealing with delight when Life saw what a great job religion did of giving consciousness something to do. It seems that Life understood that once you start an imaginary game, once you’ve set up the Queen of Hearts Tea Party, then you can invite the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Alice. You can invite all six billion humans, and each of them can add his own story, his own contribution to the religious narrative. The possibilities were almost limitless.

People continually claim that humans are overcoming their anger, their hostility, their prejudice against other groups of people, against other narratives. Humans have been saying that for five thousand years, but nothing’s really changed. That doesn’t mean that nothing will ever change, or that something hasn’t already changed a little bit, but Life clearly is operating within a completely different time scale.

What if the individual cells in your body had some sort of consciousness, some awareness of time? You’re continually replacing your cells. I don’t know what the average cell lifespan is, but if I recall correctly some cells last less than a day. Consider how slow we humans would appear to them. To our cells, we would be Life, so a cell might ask us to straighten out some little problem it was having. We might try to do it, rushing as fast as we could. But that cell only has two days to live. If we can’t get the problem solved in those two days, then for that cell’s whole lifetime, nothing has changed. It appears to the cell that we have done nothing.

Back to diversity. When consciousness had nothing to do, and just kept running on, Life saw the need to produce a narrative so that consciousness felt like it was doing something. Consciousness knew it was doing something when it was trying to figure out how to build a bridge. Assuming that Life, that consciousness, had something like building a bridge to do, no problem. When consciousness had nothing to do, Life let it daydream endlessly, like you on a very bad day.

Think about it. One day you get up, and you’re not feeling all that well. It’s Saturday morning. You’re about half broke. Your girlfriend or your boyfriend is out of town. Last night your car quit running on the way home. You’ve got a cold. I’m sure you realize the kind of nightmarish daydreaming you would do under those conditions. If he didn’t make great effort, I assure you the Buddha would have been the same way.

Consider, would that be good for humans? Would it be good for large groups of humans to go around in that sort of negative mood all the time? It’s depressing to consider what the world would be like if people’s inner narratives, their daydreams, were always that bad. It would not be good if everybody was like that a lot of the time. You can’t imagine that it would be good for Life either.

Life must have realized that what made consciousness so great was that it could focus in and center its attention on a problem. Life had to come up with something for consciousness to focus on when it had no problem to solve. Religion was Life’s original solution and it’s still the best at absorbing consciousness’s attention.

Here is where internal diversity begins. Life tried a religion with one group, and when it saw the result, it decided to see if it could design a religion more suited to its own purposes. Religion took off like a virus. Life now has five major religious narratives in competition with one another on some much slower time scale than ours. Life has to be looking to see which one will win, which one will become the religion of everyone on the planet. What other way can you look at all of Life’s religions?

The major conflicts on this planet right now are over ideas, over philosophies, over religious beliefs. Life has given groups of people different narratives that have a certain cohesive effect. Each narrative makes a group all say, “Yes, I’m a Muslim,” or, “Yes, I’m a Jew,” or, “Yes, I’m a Buddhist.” They feel that they are a community, even if they never meet. It’s easy, if you’re not involved, to look at this way of thinking as idiocy, but ordinary people have no choice. They feel in their nervous systems that the narrative of their religion is of tremendous importance, that there is incredible significance to it, and that it binds them with all the other people who proclaim the same narrative. Even if it’s somebody in a foreign country speaking a different language, if the other person says that they are a Christian or a Muslim, then the Christian or Muslim here says, “They’re part of me. They’re part of my tribe.”

People believe that culture is taught. Ordinary consciousness says, “This person’s father and mother were Buddhists, everybody in his neighborhood was a Buddhist, and he went to a Buddhist temple, so of course he’s a Buddhist.” That appears to fit, which is always the danger with ordinary consciousness, because if you’re of ordinary consciousness, you’re asleep, and everything fits, and you just dream on.

Culture is not taught. Culture comes from inside of Life in the same way that in the garden, over here are turnip sprouts, and over there are onion sprouts. The same way, in the garden of religions, over here are Muslim sprouts, over there are Buddhist sprouts—but this is not a tangible garden, and the narratives are in competition.

Why would Life be in competition with itself? We’ve always had wars. We’ve always had people killing one another. You can draw an analogy with your body, of cells killing one another. And yet, there is nothing in our physiology to match the conflict that humans feel over an intangible, a narrative, a story. People can’t help it. Life has built a Buddhist narrative into this group’s nervous systems and built a Christian narrative into that group’s nervous systems. Life has all those groups living on the same planet, often right next to one another. When they start killing each other, you can ask, “Did this person from the other religion attack you physically?”
“Did he attack your family?”
“Did he burn your fields?”
“Did he steal your cattle?”
“Did he break into your house?”

They kill each other because of the narratives in their heads, although they don’t use that term. If they did, they’d turn it the other way, and say, “The narrative in the head of the person who practiced that other religion was so foreign, so frightening, so threatening, that I had no choice. I had to kill him.”

You might ask, “What purpose do those killings serve? Why does Life turn on itself for no tangible, survival-related reason that I can see?” The answer is that Life has humans fighting each other because Life wants to determine which narrative is most effective in assisting it to entrench itself even further into this planet—although in our lifetime, with our various space programs, it’s clear that Life is also speculating about taking root off this planet.

To sum up, until Life developed consciousness, it had its hands full staying alive on this planet. With human consciousness, Life was able to dig its claws into this planet in a way that it never had done before. It appears that Life is now trying to determine the best use of human consciousness when that consciousness is not involved in survival problem-solving, and that Life expects to find answers by means of battles between our diverse narratives. The best narrative may not be one of the major religions that exist today, nor any of the existing philosophies, because all of them are continually works in progress. That is how religions and philosophies maintain their viability, and they will probably continue evolving until Life selects one. And so, Life has not yet decided.

You might think that Life is dumb. Life has had two thousand years in which all five of the major religions have been active, and several thousand years before that in which most of the major religions were present. You could ask, “Can’t Life make up its mind?” But two thousand years to Life could be the equivalent of a day to us.

Compare all of the above with what is happening in your own brain, and what’s going on in your own life. Forget the thousands of years that Life’s been working on the problem. Look into your own brain, and everything I’ve discussed in the last three talks is right there inside your head.

Why are you of such different views at different times? How is it that individuals always seem to be in conflict within themselves? There are six billion people on the planet, and you have at least six billion neurons in your brain. I think I’m right. I didn’t look it up, but I believe there are more neurons, more synapses, than people. If that’s correct, you’ve got a greater possibility of distributing diverse ideas, competing narratives, within your own brain than Life has of distributing competing narratives among all the humans on the planet.

The difference between people like us and everyone else is that no one else has any understanding of what’s going on. They are totally driven by the narrative, except when they are controlled by the instinct to survive—which drives us just as it does ordinary people. If you wake up, if you realize what’s going on, then except when your survival instinct kicks in, the narrative driving you is like nothing else on this planet.

There’s something else—it’s neither good nor bad but I feel inclined to mention it. I know that what people who listen to these talks hear is not exactly what I’m talking about. That’s the case even for the most awake of you. It’s not that I’m right and you’re wrong, because if you saw totally for yourself what’s going on, which would put you into a different condition, and you started talking to people like I talk to you, there would be the same disconnect. People write and tell me that thirty years ago, they heard me talk once in New York or Los Angeles or somewhere, and that every day they think about something I said, and they’ll quote it, and claim that it changed their life. But I’m telling you, those people didn’t even hear exactly what I was saying.

If what you hear in a narrative in your head is the same narrative that ordinary people are hearing, then you’re not awake. You may find my ideas interesting. You may enjoy hearing me talk. But the difference between being awake, being enlightened, knowing what’s going on, and being of ordinary consciousness, is vast. No matter how intelligent you are, or how educated, inside of you is a narrative that is common to some group of people, a narrative that Life sent out for mass distribution.

If you know what’s going on, you’re not thinking the same thing everybody else is thinking. What’s inside of you is not the narrative inside of anybody else. And I can’t tell you what it is. It’s got nothing to do with how intelligent you are. Our positions could be reversed, and it would still be true. It’s not possible for you to hear exactly what I’m talking about, because for you to get it, you’ve got to hear it from you. That is so because even though I’m not giving out a standard narrative from any source, it is still, from your view, a narrative. When one day that strikes you, you will suddenly tell yourself the story, and you will realize, “That’s what he’s been talking about, and I just didn’t hear it.”

Anything that goes on naturally in your head is to be avoided. It’s useless. And in our case, it’s more than useless. It’s time-consuming. It’s time-wasting. It’s blinding. It’s sleep-inducing. It’s distraction-causing. Plus, it’s boring. That’s why you have to be asleep to stand it.

Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Genuinely Off-Trail Inner Trekker’s Guide
February 13, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX

While listening to reporters deliver the news on television,
or watching an actor’s dramatic performance, one man thought:
“Anyone can sound intelligent if they’re reading a script somebody else
wrote for them” — then suddenly thought about his own mind in this regard,
and for an instant had the willie-shivers.

Although not a professional comedy writer,
one man could make up jokes as fast as he could think —
just by thinking of some ordinary statement he’d heard someone express.
After you’ve seen Shangri La head-on — everything looks like Shangri La.
(Okay: aka: Once you realize what’s going on — everything’s funny,
[well at least mildly amusing.])

In recognition of how mind works:
on his web page, one man has put a link to his web page.

One man thought: “The worse thing about dying when you’re elderly
rather than when you’re a new born is that you’re aware that you are,”
he mulled that over for a moment, then thought: “No, it’s the other way around,”
(though for the life of him, he couldn’t fathom why he thought so).
Moral. Sometimes it doesn’t matter why.
(Okay: Never.)

One man finally decided that it’s not really all that bad: living with one foot on fire.

Says one man:
“Except for your mama: everyone who’s nice to you wants something from you,”
and after having said it, thought to himself:
“This has got to also have its reflection in the operations of my own mind.”

Often, whenever he’d gone an hour or so without mentally beating up on himself,
one man’s consciousness would coo to him: “Why you silver tongued devil you!”

What’s not said in the certain man — is what is of greatest value.

When the city part of one man’s mind heard the challenge regarding a particular
matter or product: “Examine the evidence and judge for yourself,” its reaction was: “Why should I do all the work!”

One man nicknamed all his innards (with which he was in conscious contact):
“We’re In A Running Battle.”

One man says: “My opinion is that there is only one type of actual congratulations,
and that is: self congratulations,”
and thereupon saying, slapped himself on the back, muttering:
“Well done old chap — well done indeed.”
(In one city, irony can’t go above 42nd Street.)

One man would do almost anything to keep from hearing advertisements
or solicitations of any kind
(although he didn’t let anyone know it……..including his self.)

One man prefaces certain things he is about to say to his overall self with the words: “You probably wonder why I’m telling you this…..” —
which indeed, one particular part of his mind certainly did.

Look in men’s eyes as they relate episodes from their lives; the reason they so enjoy telling stories from their past is because often in hearing them, they feel more there in the related event than they were at the time that it actually occurred.

The less you understand — the more you want to be remembered.

At every city conclusion, one man would announce:
“I want to leave you with this thought: Who the hell do you think you are!”

Some News In Tabloidian Terms.
There is only one scandal possible in the life of a man working to awaken.

Though it is never mentioned in their civic boosterism literature: everything in the city is conducive to both death & density.

Ordinary people are excited by events — the certain man by understanding.

Follow-Up Story.
Everything that exists in the city (that is: man’s mental-only, cultural world)
can be seen as: a challenge!
(Pitiful what civilians must take as such.)

One man thinks of the mental meals his and everyone else’s city mind serves up as: Tackyburgers.

The less civilized a people, the closer will be the cultural phenomena of
religion and politics — and the physical ones of hormones and neurons.

In his policing of his mental city, one man keeps the message alive on the streets: “More arrests are promised.”

Pseudo Fact.
You would learn more about man studying bacteriology than you will psychology.
(“God — I hope it’s pseudo!” Oh, you old silly.)

Okay: Serious Fact.
The less stressed you are the healthier you will be,
and the less dense you are the less stressed you will be.
“Pa pa: is there anything to truly dread in life?”
“That all depends on how normally you are wired.”
“So — there is nothing you can do about your attitude toward life?”
“Call an electrician maybe.”

There is placed in a secret pocket in everyone’s brain,
the unlisted phone number of a re-modeler.

You can tell that a war is lost when one party begins making relentless references to their alleged, glorious past.
“So that’s why men are driven to tell stories from their lives.”

“Pa pa: what’s the most insightful thing you’ve ever heard from ordinary humans?”
“The notion (concerning a variety of subjects) that:
‘If you have to have it explained — you’ll never understand it.’”