Don’t Let Your Brain Snap Back!
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.
Summary = See below
Edited Transcript = See Below
Condensed News = See below
News Item Gallery = None
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Notes by TK
Everybody thinks their own mental life would be so fascinating for another person to experience. The brain could be said to be living on a street connected to every other street in the universe, yet the mind never even goes around the block! The ordinary mind daydreams in its front yard, let alone gets out on the street. It thinks the same small cache of thoughts over and over when a whole universe of other thoughts exists for the exploring. (48:20) #3122
3/17/04 # 3122
Editd by SA
The metaphor I’m about to present to you is not just symbolically accurate. It happens to be physiologically valid as well. What more can you ask? Picture your brain with its neural connections. In your ordinary state of consciousness, being in your brain is like living on a street that’s connected to every highway in the world, except that you never leave your neighborhood. This image literally bounced me out of bed one morning with a combination of disgust and fright—as well as the joy of seeing something in that original fashion. The metaphor is literally correct, and at least figuratively should be frightening to contemplate.
Even though your brain has three dimensions, picture a two-dimensional drawing of the neural connections in your brain as if it were a road map of the entire planet. The street where you live is ultimately connected to every road in the world. You may live on a cul-de-sac one block long, but if it is a regular street that is part of your municipality, county, or state, then taking into account that you’d have to cross oceans, that one street on which you live is connected to every other street on the planet. You could start walking or driving and traverse every street, because they’re all connected. Imagine all the connections in your brain, and consider that on that road map is represented every thought that’s ever been thought by every human who ever lived, because that thought is somewhere on one of those streets, one of those neurons or synapses.
Out of all of those streets, all of the thoughts, all of the ideas in the world, if each one were like a single millimeter on one street on this road map of your brain, how far do you travel from where you were born? Forget about where you live now. That’s more or less an illusion. All that matters is where you were born, because you haven’t moved at all, or at least not very far, from where you were born. Don’t think that you’ve moved to another street. No, no, no. You may have moved next door to where you were born, although even that is unlikely. I was trying to be magnanimous. But let’s suppose that you could look at that road map of your brain with all the streets shown in black, and the map superimposed a red line to indicate where you travel—that is, where your thoughts are—day in and day out.
You hear a certain key word like, let us say, taxes. Or you hear liberal or conservative, and if we were looking at the road map of your brain, a spot would light up in red as soon as you heard that word. You would see just a little bitty spurt. The red line would barely move from where you are, down that same street, or if you want to get fancy about it, it would move down your street and turn onto a side street and stop. That red line has moved half a block, and if you hear that same word three or four times and look at your brain’s road map each time, the red line always does the same thing. It goes no farther. Every subject that triggers a movement in your brain—what ordinary people would say is every thought they think—moves down the same street, takes the same left turn, goes half a block, and stops.
Initially it’s shocking, but it’s also invigorating, to suddenly realize that the whole time that you’re awake, in all sorts of conditions, but especially when your mind is not focused on anything in particular—in other words, when you’re daydreaming, which, you’ve got to admit, is a sizable segment of your conscious life—to realize that during that time, you could be thinking anything in the world, but you think almost nothing in the world.
I’m speaking quantitatively. You can ignore the quality of your thoughts. That’s another sad story. Well, the sad story is, there is no story there. So not qualitatively, but only quantitatively, it is really tingling and momentarily off-putting to realize that here I am, x number of years old, and for all these years, I could have been thinking anything in the world that can be thought. Probably years ago I could have finished thinking every thought that everybody else who’s ever lived had ever thought. And look at me. Here I am, thirty years old, forty years old, and what have I done? I’ve thought the same forty or fifty thoughts for thirty or forty years. I could have had something new every day. I forgot the commercial. What was it? Some brand? Oh, yes—I could have had a V-8. But no, I drank powdered water.
Think of the one or two main areas that interest you most in life. Politics, religion, sports. Not playing sports—talking about sports. If politics was your area of interest, realize what a limited number of thoughts you have about an area as large as politics . If you actually tried to count those thoughts, I’ve got a feeling it would give you the serious depressions. I think you would be sorely disturbed.
Try it. Sit down, lick a pencil, get fresh paper, and say, “All right, I’ve got plenty of paper here. I’ll make a list.” Your brain looks down at this ream of paper, or even just three or four sheets of paper, and you’re ready with your pencil poised, saying “All right, I’ll start the list, got plenty of paper.” And your brain suddenly realizes what’s going to happen. Looks at all this paper, all these pencils . . . and says, “Oh no. No, no, no. Let’s don’t do this.” Your brain will very quickly lose interest in dedicating itself to compiling a list, to conjuring up what thoughts you have when you hear the word, congress or the word, president. Because there are only a small number of thoughts that anyone has. A very small number.
You could really give yourself the heebie-jeebies and instead of counting the number of thoughts you have about a particular subject, take it from the other direction. Start considering how many different thoughts you have in total on an average day. I originally did it that way. I asked myself how many different thoughts it took to fill up my day. You can forget about a ream of paper, by the way. Or more than one pencil. It doesn’t even have to be real sharp. I mean, you’re not going to be using it that much.
Now twist the knife in a little bit more, and ask yourself, “What small number is it that can fill up my brain, take up its time, for sixteen hours a day on an average day? How many thoughts is it?” You might already have the grave suspicion that it is a small number of thoughts. I don’t mean to start counting from zero up. Pick out a number and start counting down. Pick, say, fifty—and then try and think of that many different thoughts that you would have on an average day. And once you get over that, pick another number. All right, forty. And then if that doesn’t work—you see where this is leading.
I hate to put out figures, even if I knew what they were, because your mind is going to latch on to that figure and go, “Oh, so I only have forty thoughts.” No, I’m just making that figure up. I don’t want either to upset you or give you delusions of grandeur, so if you want to know, you need to count your own thoughts.
I repeat—in your brain is every possible thought that’s ever been thought. This is in your brain in the same way that every thought that’s ever been thought is in the dictionary. It’s just a matter of selecting the right words and putting them in the right order, and there it is, there’s the thought. That may sound silly, but it’s true. That’s all you have to do, and you will have access to all of the grand theological, psychological, sociological thoughts, all the historic views, every thought that all of the world’s great thinkers have ever thought. You don’t need encyclopedias. Those thoughts are all in that dictionary.
Ordinary people would say that the six billion people living right now, assuming they’re all thinking, are having six billion different thoughts. For every political statement that’s made, for every religious idea, for every notion of morality that one man expresses, theoretically there could be six billion different thoughts about that subject. The potential for you to think all of those thoughts is in your brain. It doesn’t require education. It’s not like, “If I went to school and studied for a certain number of years, maybe I could do that.” There’s no effort, no training, involved. You don’t have to strain a muscle. You can think every thought. Every thought that’s ever been thought used the same kind of synapses, the same kind of wiring that’s in your brain. Therefore, you can think it. Plus you can think thoughts that nobody has ever thought, assuming that’s possible.
We’re leaving out technical knowledge about the physical world. That’s always a different subject, because if it’s an actual physical object like an atom, and you’re going to think an important fact about the size of the average atom, then you’ve got to know what’s been determined to be the actual size of the space between electrons and neutrons. You need some prior knowledge, so we’re excluding that, which is not most people’s primary area of interest in the world anyway. Most people are primarily interested in the intangibles. We’re talking about every thought regarding all of man’s cultural, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, intangible realm. Every philosophical thought, every religious thought, every political thought, every cultural thought, every social thought that anybody has ever thought is right there on your brain map. You just have never gone down all of those streets.
This is not an attack and there’s no need to feel guilty about it, but if you look at where you travel, which is highlighted in red on that map of your brain, what would it amount to? That’s what should be almost frightening. Again, not in an accusatory sense. It doesn’t do you any good to feel guilty. But it is good to realize that, if you exclude technical, scientific knowledge about the physical world, then you could think every thought that any other human has ever thought. All you’ve got to do is keep traveling along those streets, and you’ll think every thought. All of those thoughts are on that map.
All you’ve got to do is start with whatever you’re thinking now, and realize that regarding the subject you’re thinking about, the one thought you’re having is the only thought you ever have about that subject. Notice that when you hear the word government, you only have one thought in response. If you look carefully, you may actually have three thoughts, but they’re all variations of the same tune.
It could be that the one thought you have when you hear government is “abolish government.” You may have another thought and tell yourself, “My other thought is not the same as ‘abolish government.’ It has two additional words. And I have a third thought that has five additional words.” So it’s like a Bach variation. You can believe that you have three different thoughts, or any other number, but take any of those thoughts, it doesn’t matter which one, like “abolish government.” Back to my symbolism of the road map—you hear government, you get in your car, drive past three houses on your block, and park. That’s “abolish government.” Realize that this is where you always stop, but this time, don’t stop. Instead, start to examine the variations of “abolish government.” Consider what other possibilities that thought brings up, possibilities that you never think. Take whatever pops into your mind, and whatever that thought is, then notice what thought it brings up.
The obvious first street to turn on to would be, “No, not ‘abolish government,’ that’s not the right attitude.” The obvious is always the opposite. The opposite is the easy one, so after you think it, think of the other streets, the other possibilities that those two words, “abolish government,” are connected to, streets that you’ve never been on. Turn onto any one of them, then drive a little farther, then even farther, until you get away from your block. Whatever street you travel on, you would eventually touch every neuron, crossing at every synapse in the human brain until you have finally, if you live long enough, thought every thought that it’s possible for the human brain to think. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
Let’s say I told a group of ordinary people, “I have discovered a method that you can use to think for yourself every great thought that’s ever been thought by anybody who ever lived. You can use this method to think every thought that it’s possible to think about any subject you want to. Would you not like to know how to think all the great thoughts on your own? And if there are thoughts that haven’t been thought in that area, to know how to think those thoughts too, starting immediately? I can explain it to you in just a minute or so. You don’t have to do any studying. You don’t have to buy a book. You can do it tonight, at home, with no new equipment. Are you interested?” Wouldn’t everyone say, “Yes, yes! I’m interested!”
Then I describe the road map, and I say, “Every thought that already has been thought is right there in your brain. They are in everybody’s brain, assuming that you are wired up in a standard way—that there’s no physical anomaly and no brain trauma. It’s as if the world’s streets are all connected, if it weren’t for the separation of the continents. Take the whole Western hemisphere from the North Pole to the tip of Chile. All up and down the North and South American continents, whatever street you live on, you can drive to every other street in North or South America from Chile to Canada to Alaska. Every thought that has ever been thought is connected that same way in your brain.
When I tell the people in the audience what the method is, would they find it amazing for me to point it out? Would they lift me onto their shoulders and carry me out of the lecture hall, cheering? I don’t think so. Would they be impressed at all? I don’t think so. Would they feel that they’d been cheated? Probably. Would they say, “What kind of garbage is that?”
Well, it’s accurate garbage. It’s valid garbage. In fact, it’s useful garbage. If you can see what I’m pointing at, it will blow you out of bed.
What’s wrong with what I said? Nothing. What’s lacking in it? Nothing—except the will and the interest to do it, because ordinary people don’t have the will or the interest.
Doesn’t it sound right that if, instead of letting your mind run on automatic, instead of going down the same street where you live every time you hear certain words, instead of these thirty or forty trips that you do over and over, and that’s all you’ve done for twenty years and you’ve never been a block away from home—instead of that, you could have spent the previous twenty years thinking every thought that Socrates, Confucius, Lao, Buddha, everybody ever had. You could have thought it yourself, not read it in a book. You could have thought every political, every religious view that anybody’s ever had. You could have had every possible thought about every possible subject. And what did you do? What did we all do?
It’s pitiful. You realize, “I could have driven to every spot on this planet by now. And after that, no telling what I could have accomplished!” You say that, and you look at that map of your brain, and you see that you never got more than a block away from home. You see that the few trips you did take are the same ones, over and over. You just go down the street, take a left, and stop. You don’t think about going any farther. As soon as you stop, boom! You’re snapped back home again, like being pulled by an elastic string.
That’s what ordinary people call thinking. That’s what they accept as their state of consciousness. People who are intelligent. People who are experts. People who say that they are deep thinkers. They could have driven to every place on this planet, metaphorically speaking. They could have been everywhere, and they’ve been almost nowhere. You’ve been almost nowhere. You could practice this for the rest of your life. Why don’t you? Why don’t people normally do it? It’s disturbing, it’s sort of frightening, to realize that as imprisoned as we are, physically and otherwise, the “otherwise” part is not nearly as confining as we live it to be.
For you to be interested in this, you’ve got to enjoy what goes on in your head. So just imagine—instead of thinking the same forty thoughts for the last twenty years, you could literally have lived the entire intellectual history of humanity. You could have done that, I’m guessing, within twenty years, or possibly within twenty days—and you don’t do it. Why don’t you? Why would you live like that? Why would you walk out the door, take a few steps up the street, and then let your mind snap back home?
It’s as if you have a large rubber band attached to your back. You hear a word and go out your door, walk up to where you normally stop, and then you black out momentarily. When you wake up, you’re back home. Then you hear another word and you walk up the street to another house, and you get there, you black out, and you get snapped back home again. Why do you do that? That’s the kind of question you want to ask yourself. “It’s as though I go, ‘Ooh, ooh, that’s enough!’ and I run back home as fast as I can. Back at home I pretend I’m somebody who just had a great thought. I’ve just been somewhere. I heard some dumb old politician say government and my thought, “abolish government,” had already taken care of that subject. Hah!” And there you stand, back at your house, pleased as some phony poseur. “Ain’t I something. I just had a thought that completely explained and covered the subject ofgovernment.”
In actuality, you explained nothing. You went nowhere. You did nothing. Not compared to what could be done.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
WHAT GOES UP OR DOWN IN THE MANY
GOES NOWHERE USEFUL TO THE FEW
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dispatches From The Oblique Sector
March 17, 2004 ©2004: JAN COX
There Is A Difference Between Drowning-In-Words,
And Doing So In Non Swimming Ones
The featured speaker at the convention opened his address thus:
“Although unannounced: immediately after everyone is born,
another person is sewn inside them,”
at which point a man in the audience stood and rejoined:
“You are using outdated data; my more recent research shows that
everyone has sewn inside them the belief that another person is sewn inside them.”
Referee’s Decision Upon Watching The Replay.
“Belief always takes precedence. Ball was in bounds — first down.”
Man’s spiritual realm truly began to blossom when for instance, almost miraculously,
all of the inspired, enlightened men who turned up in Hinduism started to be Hindus, and those in Shintoism, Shintos.
(Even if you’re not religiously inclined you must admit that this is extraordinary enough to make you reconsider the question of supernatural forces and events, no?!)
The Way Of Prison Life.
What could be more enthusing, edifying and thoroughly entertaining
than hearing someone repeat the words of another.
“No thank you, no food needed for me (for you see):
I got to meet a man who once watched someone eat (so of course I’m fine in that area.)”
The Head of The Order said to a neophyte:
“Leave the Crown and the Crowds to debate the existence of free will;
the true knight knows that he has none — save to do that which he must.”
Only those not bothered by rain get enjoyment from discussing meteorology.
Another Unrecognized Plain Fact.
If you don’t care what people think about you — they won’t much think about you.
Not infrequently in his ongoing verbal intercourse with himself
one man would feel the propriety of saying: “No need to be insulting.”
How The Real Justice Of Things Works (As Per Man’s Mind).
None of the truly important people in the world live in places
with hard to pronounce names.
“There is only one pay off to trying to help other people — do you know what it is?”
“Hell! — everybody knows that!”
For a while: whenever making a first person reference, instead of saying: “I” —
one man substituted the phrase:
“That which I am (quote): ‘pleased to call myself ‘ (end quote)”
an act he says with visible benefits as questionable as any other alteration
a man attempts in his personal life awash in the omnipotence of humanity’s
One man couldn’t find a way to stop the traffic that constantly roared through his yard, but did finally discover that it was meaningless —
which eventually brought him to the realization that it was not his —
a perhaps, childishly-simple-seeming recognition,
yet one unacknowledged by all but the point zero, zero, zero, zero percenters.
All of life is a big imitation — and man with the addition of insisting it’s not.
Latest Model Update.
Everyone is a fine example of what they are.
Written on a hidden spot in his front pocket, one man has these words:
“Anything I think once is brilliant;
anything I think twice is shit.”
One man limited his brain’s (meant to say: his son’s) conversations to two areas: farming and flat-out jokes.
(And: yes, he did grow up to be just the sort of man you were imagining he would.)
There is a certain part of the city in which everyone sincerely believes that
everything is coming-apart.
Question: How can a mechanical engine have awareness of
the working of its individual parts?
Answer: It can’t.
Note: Yet it does!
Son Of Note: Yet it seems to.
The Kind Of Question That, Pursued Far Enough By The Few,
Will Make One’s Current State Of Consciousness Uninhabitable.
What gives with life making man, through the use of a specific area of his brain, conceive of and construct eye glasses to correct common defects in his vision
rather than just physically improving it?
(Investigating such matters is much more efficient and less popular than
any course of metaphysical or spiritual study dedicated to acquiring
an uncommon understanding of things.)
Fact: You can stare at reality, the trick is: getting it to stare back at you.
(“Which I’m assuming, you are implying changes the functional nomenclature of
the word: stare.”)
The real-deal-knight has but one weapon: his mind;
the true knight has but one armor: his mind;
he has but one steed: his mind;
he has no operational manual save his own mind —
— and that pretty well covers it.
Portents Native To The Navel Of The City.
At street-level: everyone is their own omen.
(Don’t forget, boys & girls: Every person is a prime example of what they are.)
“Pa pa: is this connected to the fact that in the mythic knight’s Round Table room
are hung two portraits of each one off on The Great Quest,
and only one of those who completed it?”
“How much longer in your speech are you going to capitalize terms like:
‘the great quest?’”
“Knowing you, the answer to that probably is: As long as I still think about
this uncommon activity of ours in such a metaphysical manner.”
“Sometimes you make me proud to be thoughts in some man’s head.”
“Me too, Pop — me too.”
One apparently quite charitable chap notes: “I can certainly agree with much of what life has to say.”