Think About What You Are Thinking
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
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Notes by TK
There have been many attempts to trace the history of mystical endeavor. It is all made up. There is no history. There can be no history. Of all the historical investigations by man there has never been a real study of thought itself. There has never been recognition that the study of thought stops thought. Why this lack of recognition? Why is it never mentioned?
One reason: Of what use is it to anyone? Of what entertainment value is it to anyone? It is unnatural and counter-intuitive and only of use to the mutant Few. Enlightenment is not a cure for anything. It is not a completion or replacement: it is the space created within a cessation of your natural thinking. (43:42) #3123
Notes by DR
Jan Cox Talk 3123 There is no study of the field of thought. The first who noticed thought saw that studying thought stopped it. As soon as you start thinking about thought, it stops. If waking up is to rid yourself of your natural (automatic) thinking, if you can do that, then what you can see is something entirely different than the thinking that goes on naturally in your brain.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE THINKING
03/1/9/04 #3123 by SA
There have been many attempts to find or create a history of the struggle for enlightenment, the so-called “Great Mystical Work.” In one version of the Old Testament story, there was a revolt in Heaven because God was not going to allow man to be conscious of what life was about. Lucifer said that if God was going to give man the potential to be more conscious, then God should allow man to be more conscious. God and Lucifer had angry words, and God threw Lucifer out of Heaven.
All religions have similar stories. The ancient Chinese and Egyptians had stories that justified having a priestly class by saying that their gods had selected that class, spoken directly to them, and given the “Great Secret Work” only to them. Some stories not related to religion claim that the secret to awakening was given to us by beings from some other part of the universe, beings who had been around longer than we had, and who had figured out the secret and then in some way transmitted the knowledge to someone on this planet.
I was thinking how humorous it is for someone to try and trace such a history. If there were anything that would make an ordinary human brain wake up to what’s going on, it should be making the effort to track that history—because there is no history of the struggle to awaken.
You don’t need stories. You can find the history of the search for enlightenment in your own brain. I don’t mean that there is a story, a history, but you can find what had to be the potential histories, and they would all be equally valid. I view them all as being little pieces of one big occurrence.
The beginning of the struggle to awaken had to be that some man noticed the thoughts going on in his head, the daydreams that are constantly running, and became aware that he didn’t normally pay any attention to his thoughts. He surely had to think about his thoughts many, many times before the second piece of history hit him—or maybe it’s the real first piece—when it dawned on him that every time he looked at his thoughts, the thinking that he was looking at stopped.
Here is an obvious fact, but how many people in the world know it? If someone announced, “You can not think about thinking without thought stopping,” wouldn’t you find it interesting? Yet even after five thousand years of recorded history, there is virtually no writing reflecting an investigation of thought. The fact that out of all the things men study, there is no study of thought is, in a sense, the history of the “Great Secret Work.” Somebody with a PhD in philosophy or psychology might claim that their field does study thought. Neurology and psychology and psychiatry say that they study the brain and human behavior, and that they study how pathological thought affects behavior. But there is no in-depth study of thought per se, not one good book written by someone who spent his life studying his own thoughts and pondering what thought is.
There’s nothing more important in the life of man than thought. Thought is the most important thing in man, the most important thing to man. I don’t know how we can not assume that all kinds of people have noticed their thoughts stopping. You would think that surely hundreds, thousands, millions of people who have lived on this planet would have paid attention to their thoughts, just as we look at TV or turn on the radio. If there was nothing that they needed to think about, if their daydreams were just running on, shouldn’t they have noticed that if you look at thought in your head, it stops?
It’s almost impossible not to assume that everyone has noticed that if they willfully look at what’s going on with their thinking, the immediate thinking stops. I propose the possibility that throughout their lives, just for a split second at a time, people look at and become aware of their thoughts, especially if their thoughts have the potential to upset them. They become aware of their thoughts, the thoughts stop for a split second, and then thinking picks right back up, and the people stop being aware of what just happened. If they notice thought stopping, if they are aware of it, why does no one mention it? If it was ever a topic of discussion, then humans never found it interesting enough for even one man to ever pursue the matter and write it down. For what possible reasons have men not made note of this?
That’s a piece of history. Here’s another piece: if people long ago did notice their thought stopping, they may not have mentioned it because they may not have found it of any use. Of what use is this to an ordinary person? Why would anybody be interested in something that doesn’t accomplish anything and isn’t even entertaining? What’s entertaining about thinking about your thoughts and making them stop?
You can’t tell ordinary people what stopping thought accomplishes for you, because it serves no purpose to ordinary life. It would be like a man who took a sharp object and cut a deep gash in his finger, and it hurt like hell. A few months later, after the gash healed, the man cut another finger, and it too hurt like hell. What if he did that several times—would he ever have bothered to tell somebody else, “Hey, if you don’t cut your finger, it won’t hurt”? So why would an ordinary person tell someone else, “Hey, have you noticed that if you try to think about what you’re thinking, the thinking stops?”
Ordinary people’s consciousness, the consciousness needed to live, is the consciousness that happens naturally and automatically in our brains. To lead an ordinary life, you don’t need any more. All that is required is the thoughts you naturally have.
When you stop thought, you do something that is not natural to man. If you don’t muck with it, does thought ever stop? No. You look at thought, try to think about thought, and it stops. If an ordinary person looks at his thoughts, and they stop for a second, then what happens? Unless he is making a quite unnatural effort, a mystical effort, a metaphysical effort, he can’t see what has happened, because within a split second he has forgotten what he just accomplished. He has stopped stopping thought. None of these words describe it properly, but he stopped doing it, and he doesn’t know what happened.
You can’t see that you’ve stopped thinking when you try to look at thought and it stops. What was going on stopped, but now the thinking is you looking at it, except now you’re looking at something that’s no longer there, but your thinking about it becomes the new “there,” and as soon as it does, you quit looking at it. Mystics say, “We know what happened. You went back to sleep. You went back into the dream.” That’s as good a description as any.
Our progenitor, the Adam of our tribe, the Adam for people like us, was a guy with some non-standard genetic wiring in his nervous system—specifically in his cortex, in the higher parts of his brain. Our Adam noticed that if you looked at thought, it stopped, and he found that interesting. He found it useful. He may have found it entertaining. It is both. But initially, it would be hard to say that our Adam found it entertaining, because it’s just a momentary sensation.
Consider all of the fancy methods that people believe will lead to enlightenment—counting your breath, being aware of each breath, remembering the face of Buddha. There have been thousands of books written on these methods, with millions of pages. There are records of ongoing discussions, questions and answers between so-called mystical teachers, Zen masters, going on for fifty years. Students say, “Well, I’m not sure what Zen is. Not the sitting part, but the mental part.” They ask question after question. Sufis and others practice trying to remember yourself. “Well, master, which self is it I’m trying to remember?”
They discuss these methods over and over and over. There are classes. There are whole schools with campuses, teaching people how to remember Buddha, how to remember a compassionate heart. How to keep their consciousness awake. Even serious students don’t understand it. Men confess, “After fifty years of doing Za Zen every day, after sixty years of chanting three hours every night and trying to remember the face of Buddha while I chant, I still do not know what the face of Buddha is.” They admit that they don’t know what they’re doing, and even if they believe they do know what they’re doing, the description is always extremely exotic, supernatural, metaphysical. They may say that when they meditate, the spirit of Buddha, of Jesus, of dead past Zen masters, hovers over them.
After all the hundreds of thousands of books and lectures over five thousand years about such as this, out of all the methods, all the complex disciplines and procedures, of sitting in special positions and chanting and praying, memorizing texts, trying to picture symbols in your mind, trying to wake up, trying to achieve enlightenment, trying to execute the Great Liberation—out of all of that, what all this amounts to is based on the fact that if you’re not as willfully conscious as you can be at every moment, then you’re not as conscious as you can be.
The idea that the key to waking up is something far away and exotic, and that it has terms like “remember the face of Buddha,” or “remember yourself,” seems very strange. There is an endless array of these descriptions and methods, but every method boils down to looking at thought. The one thing that does it all is to simply think about what you’re thinking. Something appears in your brain that wasn’t there a second ago, and that something is you looking at what thinking is. When you do that, you are more conscious.
Our Adam, whom I mentioned earlier, must have been motivated to do what later generations called “waking up,” which is not the cessation of thought, but the freeing of consciousness from the thinking that’s normal to your brain.
If you look at thought, and you continue looking, and you don’t let thought start back up, you can’t say that thought stopped. You can’t shut off the engine. You can put that engine in hover. You can hold it in neutral. That’s all you’re attempting.
Looking at thought gets easier to do, and it expands, and it is the answer to every complaint you have. It will stop everything that annoys you, everything that confuses you, everything that makes you angry. All you have to do is look at those angry thoughts, and as soon as you look, the angry thoughts stop. But you can’t then let them snap back and start back up. You must try to remember to keep looking at thought. You may know it’s true that if you’re afraid, you’re angry, you’re upset, then if you suddenly look at your thought, it stops. But you have to remind yourself beforehand, “I’m going to do this. My thought will stop. But if I don’t remember to keep on, it will start right back up.”
When thought starts back up, it’s not like it announces, “All right, you stopped me, but here I come back.” There is no announcement, no warning, and in a sense, thought plays chameleon, because it doesn’t start back in the same place. As soon as you looked at thought, and before it could actually shut off, you caught the tail end, a few words, enough that you knew what the thought was that was running when you looked. When thought starts back up, it may not pick up there, because the specific thought was not important. What was important was the fact that automatic thinking was taking up all of your mind, all of your consciousness. What you’re trying to do when you stop thought is clear out the automatic thinking. Not because of a particular thought, although that may be what spurred you to stop thought at that particular moment.
The point of waking up is not just to cure some quirk you have. To put it more broadly, waking up is not a cure for mental illness. It’s not a treatment for human ills. It’s not a piece of repair work, because if you’re damaged enough, there’s no chance you’re going to be interested in waking up anyway. You’ve got to be fairly normal to wake up, because waking up is not a cure for anything. Waking up is an add-on. It’s an addition.
When you are trying to wake up, to achieve enlightenment, you’re not trying to stop certain thoughts. You’re trying to rid your mind of your natural thinking. That’s when you can see what’s going on. If you can be conscious without consciousness being taken up completely by the thinking that is natural to you, then what you can understand about life is something entirely different than what you think you understand via the thinking that goes on naturally in your brain.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
THE STOCK OF THE CITY
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The Private Trading Floor For Outliers
MARCH 19, 2004 ©2004: JAN COX
A mother told a child on the day he was to finally move to the city:
“Double check that you are taking all of the tools you will need for
a minimal existence there:
be sure you have a clock;
something to make notes on;
something to make notes on;
a list of relatives to call on for help;
something to make notes on;
a list of strangers to blame for any screw ups,
and something to make notes on,”
and the off spring interrupted her:
“Why do you keep mentioning something to make notes on, after all, I have my mind,” and his mother shook her head sadly and thought: “But will you later?”
There is but one thing with the potential for endless pliability,
and in most people it is pretty well brittled to death by adulthood.
The King’s Minister Of Residential Placement & Nervous System Resolution
presented his most recent findings:
“Dangerous people always come from another land,
while the merely stupid can come from just around the corner.”
His Grace thanked him for the report, then, sensing the onset of a migraine,
retired for a solo stroll in the garden.
Those in real estate love to say that the three most important things about a property are: “Location, location, location” — an idea whose roots lie in the significance of
where precisely in his mind sits a man’s seat of individual consciousness.
A father tried to make this even clearer to a son by this challenge:
“Think of any word you want to — any word, no matter how complicated, foreign,
or unknown to you — and you can look it up in the dictionary.
Is not this life — as lived in part: privately and intangibly inside of a man’s head —
one whale of a thing to be involved in!”
The mute, but more manifold message behind the repetition of such
cynical non sequiturs as: “Only when pigs learn to fly,” or: “Not ‘til hell freezes over,”
concerns not the perceived limitations of porkers and purgatory, but rather an unwitting noting of the restricted time for the observation of things available to ordinary minds.
(Which is why city consciousness needs to keep notes.)
Found in a discarded anti-fortune cookie.
“When you are trying to wake-up: you have no time for anyone but you;
after you do wake-up: you have no interest in anyone but you.”
One citizen refused absolutely — in any manner whatsoever —
to be placated regarding the: injustices-rampant-in-the-land —
but the King let him slide on this one — (since he never even noticed it anyway).
News Regarding True Determination.
One man holds the view that a person is not serious about suicide
if they only shoot their self once.
The Literary Life (So To Speak).
In men’s three dimensional biographies you are either: warding off fatigue;
anxious for bed time, or else laying therein, restlessly awaiting sunrise.
(Those demanding anything more soon leave the fiction section.)
In a city crowd a man raised a placard that proclaimed:
“The Extroverts, Busybodies and Materialists Will Rule The World,” and strangely: no one present countered the claim.
Solid City Motto.
If you don’t brag on you — no one will.
How Mind Works.
A guy who wrote a daily newspaper column would sometimes (let us say on March 10) replace the one he had originally written for that day with one he would write for
March 11, and publish it under that day’s dateline —
and not one of his readers ever suspected what he had done.
Now quickly — before you forget — examine the thoughts that passed through your brain when you read this — then re-read the headline to the story.
There is only one irony: that things are as they are and men don’t see it.
Often, first thing in the morning while at the sink cleaning up,
one man will glance at himself in the mirror and say (with a hint of threat in his voice): “So! — how do you like your job?”
Said a city big shot: “What’s the good in being rich and powerful
if you don’t crush those who oppose you,” an attitude invented by
the real-deal part of the certain man’s consciousness toward the remainder.
There was once a man who lurked and darted about amidst the city’s many intellectual, artistic and spiritual doings, who would periodically come to a sudden stop;
strike a dramatic pose (whilst touching his nose) and whisper: “Ah! — I smell a wall!”
For the real-deal-man there is but one category of city explanations for things:
In a far away land the people have abandoned the triadic
conception of time (that it exists as: past, present and future) and have condensed
their view into a division of two: “The present — and all that other shit.”
(Rumor tells of a man there who did something similar related to his own liver….that is surely a misprint….it must have meant to read: his golf score….no, not that….perhaps his thinking….no, that makes no sense either….hummm….)
Another Silent City Dictum.
In times of stress,
stress is best.
Salient (Though Unworthy Of Mention) Scientific Fact.
Not only is everything in the ocean wet — but also the ocean itself.
“You know: I know that’s true but….but (oh, I don’t know) —
it’s just that I can’t (you know) hardly grasp what it actually means (you know?!)”
Another all-revealing, freely-given, unacquainted comment by the city.
Regarding Words And Their Consumers.
The real-deal-reader always has but one question.
Mistaking entertainment for attempted information,
and thought for understanding:
that is the anti way of the certain man.