What Your Brain Says It Thinks
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, transcripts are being made and will be posted.
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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Notes by TK
An equally effective possible method of awakening: only think about what your mind says about the present external circumstance animating it, not the event itself. What is there to think about that which has no survival significance to your life? Only the physical-based has relevance to your life. (38:13) #3121
Notes by DR
Method: it’s not to think about things, you think about what your mind has to say about the thing. You think about your brain thinking that thought.
Edited by SA
Last time, I mentioned a technique that I want to discuss in more detail. It seems as though everyone who ever gets interested in the idea of enlightenment or awakening, the method they first try, whether it’s some meditation technique, or trying to remember the thousand names of Buddha, or trying to chant some sound, some mantra—whatever that first method is, it seems to be natural that they follow up on that method, and that they believe that method is the only one that will work. And even when they read or hear of other methods, they’re taken as some sort of misdirected, minor effort, some poor reflection.
You can check this with your own natural-born mind, but you can also speak with other people, and whatever method they originally fell in love with, which seems always to be whatever method was given when they first read about the idea of awakening, is the one that they became addicted to.
My point is that there are at least two or three hundred—maybe a thousand—methods that, if you practiced any one of them, it would stop you from living in your normal state of consciousness. Any one of those techniques would keep you from sleeping, keep you from living in the dark, stop you from living within the absolute confines of your genetic temperament. In other words, if you stayed with any of those methods, it would certainly wake you up, enlighten you, liberate you.
I’m about to describe a technique that came to me one day. This technique by itself—no teacher, no changing your diet, nothing other than consistently practicing this technique—would drastically, radically alter your state of consciousness, your view of life, your understanding of man.
Just realizing that there is such a technique, and that I thought of it, just about wakes me up. I won’t say I discovered the technique, but I made it up. The way the mind ordinarily works, you’d think, “I just stumbled on it.” That’s the way that ordinary thinking would term something like this. A man would say, “I discovered this method. No one told me. I found it for myself.” That sounds all right, and I understand it, and it probably is the most accurate description for ordinary conversation, but it’s just as accurate to say, “I made it up.” Because to say I discovered it—where was it that I discovered it? Was it in a book? No, I told you I never read it. Was it out in the woods behind a tree? No. Where was it? At any rate, there’s something about discovering it for yourself—if that sounds more dramatic and more metaphysically feasible than making it up—because you don’t sit down and decide, “Well, I’ll make up a new technique today.”
This method for waking up would do just as well as, maybe even better than, any of the techniques that the mystics label as the great historical methods. Those famous techniques are touted in part because men have been using them for two or three thousand years. When someone says, “Here it is. Here’s the way that Master X, Yogi Y, or Buddha taught to achieve an awakened state of consciousness. This, my friends, is no Johnny-come-lately technique. Men have been using this method for thirty-seven hundred years,” that message does have an effect on the normal nervous system. You think, “Wow. It’s not something somebody just came up with last week.”
That sounds fine, except that I just came up with this method, and it works very well. It will take you out of your ordinary state of mind if you practice it all the time. I like this method better than the one that I read about that Buddha taught, because it’s my own. Here it is: It’s not to think about things. As always, we’re not talking about survival-pertinent things. But you do not think about things. You think about what your mind normally would say about the things.
For example, let’s say you had some sort of symptom, and it seemed bad enough that you decided to call a doctor, or maybe you just read an article, and as soon as this symptom happened once or twice, your brain, your automatic mind, the thoughts that just magically appear in your head, say that you might be dying. This is the sort of thing that there is nothing pertinent to think about. Let’s say that you’ve already made an appointment with your doctor. What else is there pertinent to think about?
At any rate, a thought enters your mind that is quite serious from any ordinary view—the thought that you may be dying, or that you could be gravely ill. Don’t think that thought. Think about your brain thinking that thought.
I want to suggest, because I find it to be so consistently true, that the stronger the emotional content of the thought your brain is thinking, the more likely it is to be chuckle-provoking. I don’t mean this sarcastically or ironically, or in some bitter-sweet sense, but your mind can suddenly make some comment like, “Well, I could be dying,” and you think about that comment, and it’s almost funny. I can’t explain why it’s funny. I will say that it’s not like laughing at the punchline of a joke. It’s a deep-down-in-your-bones kind of funny.
I don’t mean that only something potentially serious is funny. I thought I’d try to give you an example that might stand out, but if you look at your brain thinking about anything, it’s all funny. You could be talking to somebody and they respond in a certain tone of voice, and your brain realizes that even though they’re smiling at you, they’re being sarcastic. You see what’s going on, and your mind comments on it, but you don’t think the thought. You don’t think about what’s going on. You think about what your mind says that it’s thinking.
The more emotional the content is, the harder it is to describe the thought that goes with it. If you’re an ordinary person, and your doctor says, “Your symptoms show you have Groover’s Syndrome, which is always fatal,” your brain would immediately have a thought, would it not? If you ask someone what happened at that moment, he will answer, “Well, I thought,” and then he’ll say something that “I thought.” He might say, “As soon as I heard that, I suddenly thought, ‘I can’t be dying at my age.’ ” But he didn’t think. There was an external nourishment, an external stimulus that fed consciousness, and consciousness reacted. There was a car that went by. His dog chased it. It was a reflex.
Whatever somebody says after the fact is reconstruction, and is mostly inaccurate. An ordinary person might say, “As soon as I heard that, I thought, ‘what will my young children do without me, if I were to die?’” That reconstruction is unlikely. Their first thought was certainly something much more selfish and self-centered, but that is the sort of statement an ordinary person would always make if you asked them what goes on in their brain, or if you asked them to describe a certain event.
In a curious way, that kind of reflexive thinking is instinctive. I don’t normally use the term “instinctive” for mental activity. I usually reserve it for physical behavior. But the point is, that kind of thinking is automatic, which is why I say that if you want to try and wake up, you don’t think about what’s going on. You don’t think about what your mind says that it’s thinking.
If you weren’t making this effort, if you were what mystics call “asleep, living in a dream,” then whatever your brain said it was thinking, you would take as, “This is what I think about it.” That is being asleep. There is no better description. Any sane, normal person on this planet would say that that is them thinking. If you ask them, “What did you think when you heard that? When you saw that?” they’ll reply, “Well I thought . . .” It’s the way we’re wired and programmed. But if somebody wants to wake up badly enough, they will try all sorts of things, and the technique I just described is one of them. Whatever happens, you don’t think about it.
Remember, we’re not talking about something that, if you thought about it, your thinking would have an impact on. For example, if you were driving on the highway and a sign said, “Don’t turn left, or you’ll drive onto a collapsed bridge and kill yourself,” then you would think about that, of course.
What we are talking about is all of man’s cultural, spiritual, purely intellectual reality, which includes ninety-nine percent of everything. When you hear something about that reality, or you see something about it, you can’t change that reality, so thinking about it is irrelevant. Your senses have taken it in, your attention is on it, so your brain is going to have a comment. The trick is you don’t think about things. You think about what your mind says it thinks about those things, which happens in an instant. Faster than we can talk, your brain comments. All the time, day and night, under ordinary conditions your brain will comment before you know anything. That’s why it seems like it’s you doing it. It happens so effortlessly, so seamlessly, so automatically that you hear it, and you don’t have to stop and think, “What do I think about, knowing that I’m dying? Let’s see, what will I think about that?” It just happens. It is an instinctive, reflexive, automatic reaction.
But you can stop that automatic reaction from happening. I can’t tell you how I do it. As I said, every method that’s ever been devised—of remembering a name, chanting a word, trying to remember yourself—all of them are designed to stop your consciousness from being instantly and totally taken over by reflex thought. They are designed to get a finger down in there, and to muck with it. To cause a moment’s hesitation. In my view, the method I’m describing to you is much more direct than most other methods.
My brain’s thought and my thought about my brain’s thought are all but simultaneous. While my ordinary mind is saying, “You’re dying,” or, “They’re not serious, they’re being sarcastic,” simultaneously I look at my brain’s thought. My brain can’t get the first word out before I’m on it. That’s what I mean by thinking about my brain’s thought. As I look, my brain is saying something, and by not thinking about what my brain says, I am stopping my mind’s automatic reactions, which almost inevitably makes me chuckle. Then it’s over, and I’m sure that if I’m not a little more awake, I’m a little more strengthened.
That’s why you should practice this technique. Why can’t you? What’s to stop you? If you did it all the time, you would not be in the state of mind that you were born with. Your view of yourself, your understanding of life, would not be confined, as it is now, to the limitations of your own genetic temperament.
Under all ordinary conditions, your emotions, your thoughts, are those of someone trapped in a prison cell. There’s no way for ordinary people to know that. You can tell people that, but there’s no way to know it unless you can get outside it, and there are only a few people in the world who can get outside it, even for a moment. Which, of course, is so astounding that they generally have to write a large book about it.
I’m not being sarcastic, but once you know what it is to be awake, you think, “How can I get it back, how can I stay there, what can I do to encourage it?” There is not a thing you can do, other than something related to physical reality. What is there to think about that truly has an impact on your life, unless it’s something physical?
Only people like us are able to get outside the prison, and I know everyone can’t do it all the time. But only people like us can even tolerate the thought that only physical reality has an impact on our lives. Ordinary people can’t tolerate that idea. Ordinary people would say, “Wait a minute. Are you including things like religion? Morality? Reputation? Are you saying if you can’t touch it, then it has no actual significance in your life? If that’s what you’re saying, that’s crazy!”
The point is, ordinary people will simply dismiss that message, because humanity is not wired up to hear it. As I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, the more civilized you are, the more the intangibles grow in importance. The more civilized you are, the more you think—or your brain, your mind, says that it thinks—that education, for example, is actually more important than eating, or that it’s at least as important to feed your mind as it is to feed your belly. Religious people would say it’s as important to feed your spirit, to feed your soul, as it is to feed your bank account. And there is no response to that. You can’t talk to ordinary people about these things. It’s not a matter of “I’m right and the world’s wrong.” They aren’t interested because they’re not wired up to see these things.
It’ll make you chuckle at first, when you realize that in a quite literal, unconditional manner, the only things that really affect your life are physical—that if you can’t touch it, it has no ultimate impact on your life. Everything changes once you understand that there is nothing that you can think or feel emotionally that if it were removed from your life, would have any effect on your survival.
The collective reality in which you and other people think about non-physical things just adds to the illusion that those things are significant. That’s part of what institutions are for. The non-physical, the intangible, can and does have an impact on everybody else’s life. Therefore it will indirectly have some effect on your life, unless you become a hermit. But the literal truth is, if it has no physical reality, it has no real effect on your life unless you think about it and accept it.
If you let what goes through your nervous system about intangibles be what you think and feel, then those intangibles do have an impact. But if you take up the method that I’m proposing, you don’t think about intangible things like insults, morality, mortality, political opinions. You think about what your mind says it thinks about those intangibles.
Every time a situation comes up, you personally are not going to think about it. Your brain is constantly thinking about all this stuff. There’s a new event, a new scene, popping up every second or so. The statement you just heard, the sentence you just read, your brain will automatically find interesting. Every time one of those catches your attention, you can turn it and look at it, and think about what your brain says it thinks about it. But you are not going to think about it. You’ve got something better to do, something much more informative, because this other stuff’s not informative at all.
Exploring what your brain says about things is not only informative, it’s also funny. It’s pleasurable. That, by itself, would absolutely mess up your state of consciousness, the view of life with which you were born, which is a natural reflection of your genetic make-up.
If you are listening to this, you’d like to at least partially free yourself from that ordinary view. That is what waking up is, what achieving enlightenment is: that to some degree you free yourself from the confines of who you, by temperament, are internally. That’s exactly what waking up is, and what I’ve just described is a pleasurable way of doing it.
I don’t have to point out the other benefits, do I? Like, you can’t worry. And I think there’s another one. But at any rate, that’s at least one benefit. If I think of the other one, I’ll let you know.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
THINGS ALWAYS LOOK SQUIRRELLY
TO THOSE UP TREES
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Helping The Hot Remove Their Chestnuts From The Fire
March 15, 2004 ©2004: JAN COX
If You Don’t Find Being Conscious Of The Fact That You Are Alive And Conscious The Most Interesting Thing In Life,
You Will Never Grasp What These Daily News Items Are About
Mind can objectively see what physical things do and determine how they work,
but not so itself;
this is what some, throughout the ages and a mite poetically have referred to
as a mental condition equivalent to a state of dreaming while one is out of bed,
and carrying on their everyday affairs;
as readily witnessed: the life of Homo sapiens nevertheless proceeds apace;
indeed: through the talent of thought, man continues to expand his life span
on this planet, and extend his reach into space;
via the mind and its invented technologies man can look into the depths of the oceans, and to the edge of the universe;
no man can definitively say that there is a limit to what the human mind can grasp —
— in the realm of physical stuff —
and ordinarily wired ones believe this also true regarding the non physical one
within man; they are programmed to so insist
in spite of there being not an iota of supporting evidence — nay! —
but rather four thousand years of clear history to the contrary;
and yet man is made to press on with what is (from an objective perspective)
a flagrant self duping.
While there may be no ultimate cut off point to what mind can understand
about the nature and operation of physical things,
there is not even the minutest starting point for its grasping of its own essence,
but of more significance to an uncommon man committed to the investigation of
this situation is the fact that even the sharpest, best educated of normal human minds cannot see this most conspicuous and constitutional characteristic of itself;
(taking poetic wing ourselves, could say):
It is one thing to be blind — but quite a bit more to not know it —
whilst being subject to the restrictions of such a condition (or pushed a bit higher):
Being ignorant is not the same as being unaware that you are;
believing that you know what is going on when you do not is not even in the same reality as realizing that such is mankind’s natural mental condition.
The way of egress for the rambunctious few is: wrap-around-consciousness:
a mental configuration so expanded from its normal size as to be able to
wrap around and encompass itself:
an eye dilated to such an irrational dimension that it can perceive itself.
(Exercising no lyrical license): The normal genetic programming of man
does not give to the brain’s consciousness the ability to see and comprehend itself,
(religion, psychology, sociology, history, all of what he calls culture being
unwitting witness to both this incapacity and mind’s inability to recognize same).
The few (born with some non standard wiring in a certain spot) have the potential to (best description possible) push out the sides in all directions of the intangible but
quite real box that is the consciousness with which men are normally born;
these anomalistic individuals can literally (though in-corporeally) from the inside out — — stretch their consciousness — their mental awareness of being alive —
so far beyond everyone else’s size and configuration as to be incomparable
(though it be un provable and of no interest to everyone else).
* * *
One man’s favorite non medical pastime is having small, short seizures.
How Mind Works.
Just to embarrass recipients, one man writes all of his letters in the nude.
Men who make predictions are commonly known as prognosticators
(also among the secret cognoscenti as: nitwits.)
One guy says he’s not as worried about the particulates in the air as he is about
those in the ideas that have infiltrated his consciousness.
“Those born muscular take strength for granted,
while a puny person who works to become powerful feels pride thereabout.”
“So what does this have to do with people born with no more potential
in their consciousness than is standard for man?”
“Is that all you ordinary people can think about — you,
and man’s mundane mental mode?!”
Moral: House cats believe that the world revolves around hair balls.
Fact: All who make not extraordinary efforts to go outside are house cats.
(“And: ‘go-outside’ I assume, refers to something other than a physical structure.”)
Certain things go better if you’re desperate;
the nervous-system-rebel is born desperate.
How Mind Works: A Conversation.
“There is no such thing as infinity.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because neither my mind nor anyone else’s can conceive of it.”
“So how was man able to come up with the concept?”
“Okay………maybe the headline to this should have been:
‘The Sort Of Thing That Happens If Mind Does Try To Think About Itself.’”
Not thinking more than you have to is like living on a street that is connected to
many others which go to an infinite number of new and perhaps interesting places
available for you to visit, but which you never do —
what kind of way is that to live?
(picture it): a man born with that certain anomalistic nervous system
has direct access to every mental locale ever conceived of by the human mind —
who passes up such an opportunity?