Don’t Take Death Personally
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
Transcript = See Below
Condensed News = See below
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Notes by TK
The collective reality of man vs. the individual/local reality of a man’s life—men don’t distinguish between them. Starving Africans and terrorist attacks in the world at large are taken to be direct, personal threats, causing anxiety and an emotional pall on individuals completely apart from them. The impact of the collective reality is meaningless, irrelevant and useless to the Few. (50:06) #3124
Edited by SA
Some time ago, I mentioned something that I want to go back to. What it amounts to is this: there is a reality of man collectively and another reality of man individually. I’m talking about the reality in the mind, not something in which you are a participant.
Men do not usually make the distinction between collective reality and individual reality. It’s tempting to say that the difference between the two realities is very obvious and distinct, but it’s almost as tempting to say that the interlocking dynamics of the two are so subtle that men do not recognize it. It’s a reality that we are normally not wired up and programmed to realize.
The only people who might be exceptions to this are extreme recluses, people not only living away from other people, but also keeping themselves from being aware of other people. In other words, not a hermit with a satellite dish. I also exclude anyone whom ordinary people would adjudge to be neurotically entangled with negative events. Those people are not a part of what I’m talking about.
Nowadays it is almost impossible for a person’s mind to not be exposed to what’s going on in the world.
Most of the planet has constant access to world-wide news. There are even satellite dishes on top of grass huts on South Sea islands. Everyone in the world is able to know of a terrorist attack, an ongoing war, a conflict between two villages, two ethnic groups, two countries. You do not have to be a news aficionado. If you are civilized by any normal definition, you have some passing awareness of world events.
If a tidal wave hit the Philippines, or if there was a terrorist attack in India, you were not there. You did not suffer physically. Even so, when you are exposed to such news, without your natural-born mind giving any conscious thought to it, you take that reality to be your reality. Ordinary people stand around at work, at a bar, in their homes, discussing what goes on in the world. You could be sitting in a restaurant and the radio’s playing, or a TV’s playing, and suddenly you hear, “Today a bomb went off in Bombay, India. Seventy people were killed.” Perhaps someone with you says, “Oh, that’s horrible!” If you’re alone, your own mind might comment, “Is the world full of idiots? Have we all gone mad? Blah, blah, blah, blah.”
What has happened? When you hear that news, your ordinary mind takes it to be reality. The information from that collective reality enters your body through your senses. Your nervous system instantly translates the dots off the TV cathode tube, or the symbols printed in the newspaper, into what we normally call information. This second-order information has an impact on your nervous system for which there is really no word. It’s what makes people say, “That’s horrible!” If you’re an ordinary person and you’re paying sufficient attention to the news story, the sickening verbal descriptions of the carnage, all those bloody bodies in a horrible close-up, your gut will actually tighten. Your mind will make some comment like, “Oh no! What’s the world coming to?”
When you look at pictures of the dead bodies, the starving children, you’re not seeing your mind. You’re seeing a piece of man’s collective mind, a part of the collective reality to which you’re supposed to react like ordinary people do. Men are supposed to react, and you can react too, if you can do something. But if you know that you can’t do anything, what then? As a great mystic once said, “You forget about it.” (I had to, of course, translate the mystic’s comment from the Burmese.)
I chose the gruesome examples of the bomb going off and the tidal wave, but there are things going on continually that do not have to do with physical destruction, just with the threat of danger. You may only notice these things for a second. You could be walking past a newspaper kiosk and you glance at a headline that says, “Dow Jones down five hundred points.” You may own no stock. You may not even be sure what the Dow Jones is, but you’ve heard about it enough to know that if it’s up, that’s good news and if it’s down, that’s bad news. Nowadays almost everyone on the planet is hip enough to realize that financial affairs are so intertwined worldwide that if the stock market takes a deep turn into the red, into a bear market, that can have a negative impact on you, even if you’re a minimum-wage employee—so when you glance at that headline, it has an effect on your nervous system.
You are continually affected by these little bitty chops, these sound bytes. Life is full of that sort of thing, and it’s not the sound bytes, the pictures themselves, that affect you. There is something more to this than there are words to describe what happens. We are naturally wired up so that this thing that I can only make up a term for, this collective reality, is taken by your nervous system to be something to you individually that it’s simply not. I’m not professing that all of these momentary impacts are making you mentally ill or psychologically unbalanced. There is no word to cover the way it affects you. Ordinary people do not notice it, but for people like us, that kind of news has an effect that is distracting and uselessly hypnotic. In the classical mystical terminology, it is sleep-inducing.
I can’t say that collective reality is not reality. There is no word for what it is. People are starving. The tidal wave did wipe out a village. It’s not an illusion—but you were not there. You were not harmed. No one you know was harmed. You are one order removed from the event. Even when you look at the newspaper, even when you look at the TV, you’re not looking at the event. You’re looking at your mind, but what your nervous system naturally takes it to be is not what it is, in the same way that once you wake up what you see, in the old metaphysical, metaphorical description, is that what most men take to be awakened reality is not much more than a dream.
Dream is a nice metaphor, and after all these thousands of years people still use it. I just used it. It is metaphorical because the collective reality is not a dream, not an illusion. Nevertheless, those mystics are correct. The collective reality is reality, but it’s not reality in the sense that your individual nervous system naturally takes it to be.
The point is, unless you are an absolute hermit, you share in a collective reality that is not personal to you, but which your nervous system takes to be something personal to you. From an awakened view, that people are killing each other on the other side of the world is meaningless. People are very likely killing each other two or three blocks from here. Even from the view of a person who is not yet awake, but trying to awaken, all of this is literally irrelevant.
What your nervous system does with collective reality has nothing to do with your upbringing, or whether your family was sympathetic to religious warfare in other parts of the world, or whether they were saddened by images of starving children, or whether they were heartless. None of that determines your nervous system’s reaction, which is that your individual mind takes collective reality—which is not even the word, but it’s the closest word there is—to be reality. You take it to be something to you that it’s simply not. Not if you’re trying to wake up. Not if you’re trying to see what’s going on in life. If you are awake enough to realize what’s going on, then you already understand that from an awakened view, man’s collective reality is meaningless.
Viewing collective reality as meaningless has nothing to do with being hard-nosed or hardhearted. It’s not about being unsympathetic to starving people. It’s not about whether or not you’re in favor of tidal waves. It’s not about whether you agree or disagree with religious or political ideas. It’s not pro or con anything. If somebody next door to you is starving, and you go over there and feed them, that’s individual reality. The idea that people are starving is collective reality. There are millions of people starving all over the world. What can you do about it? Nothing. Fretting and worrying about a situation you can’t do anything about serves no purpose and does nobody any good.
To try and explain that to ordinary people would be useless, because the world is wired up so that men care, or at least they’re supposed to say that they care that people are killing one another in large numbers over religious ideas, or that people are starving. But that does not mean such a situation has any bearing on your life, or that thinking about it is of any use to you or to anyone else.
Ordinary people would say, “I don’t merely think about it. I worry about it. I’m all the time telling my husband how horrible it is that all these little children are starving.” It’s as if they’re all saying, “I’m aware of it because I mention it.” They’ll say, “I worry about the injustices of the world. I ponder the negative economic effect the political party in power is having because of all their shady dealings. I worry about the worldwide conspiracy to keep the little man down and hungry.” People will say all of that but they still are doing nothing.
They might say that they pray about it. One reason men invented prayer is probably because they were helpless regarding things that have such a striking negative impact. Nobody can do anything about a tidal wave or a volcano, so if you’re an ordinary person and you hear, “People in a village in Borneo drowned in a flood last night,” and you pray, then you might feel as if you’re doing something.
Men made up the idea of God, and then they made up prayer so they could talk to this all-powerful being. They say “Dear all-powerful one, I hear that people are starving. I ask that you go feed them, and if possible maybe leave them a note saying you’re feeding them thanks to me, because I put in a word for them.” I’m being a bit ridiculous to make the point, but that is one of the purposes that prayer serves for people. “My heart is broken to hear that children are starving, so I pray for them every night.” Among civilized people, that’s fairly bullet-proof.
This does not mean that one news event ruins an ordinary person’s whole day. He may only think about it for the split second that he’s watching the news, until a distraction comes along. The man thinks, “Oh, this is horrible! Oh—coffee’s ready,” and he doesn’t think about it any more—but the effect on his nervous system continues.
Ordinary people are not aware that there is a reality of collective man that is not the same as the reality of a man individually. Their failure to see this nexus does them no harm whatsoever. If men were not like that, we would have no civilization, and people like us wouldn’t have the free time for this little hobby of ours. You’d be out there a-scratching, trying to get something to eat, the same as everyone else. You’re supposed to accept the collective reality as being just reality. You’re supposed to react to it, because the collective reality holds civilization together.
But for people who are awake or attempting to awaken, the reality that you have to deal with simply can not be that collective reality. No matter how much time you spend thinking about trying to be more awake, as long as you let your nervous system react to man’s collective reality in the way it does naturally, you will never fully see what’s going on. It is literally impossible. It’s like trying to wake up every other second. For the even-numbered seconds, you think, “I’ve got to be more awake. I’ve got to stay alert. I’ve got to strive for enlightenment.” For the odd-numbered seconds, you look back at man’s collective reality, and you take it to be of significance to you. For half of your life, you’re deliberately taking a nap. Every other second, you’re putting your hands over your eyes by looking at this nexus of collective and individual reality and not realizing what it is. When you’re immersed in man’s collective reality, bad news has a negative impact on your nervous system. If you do not ever see this, collective reality will continue to have an effect on you that, at the very least, is like a background hypnotic noise, like the hypnotic sense of life in general. If the dastardly hypnotist is not right in your face, saying “You are feeling sleepy,” then it’s behind your head, sending negative vibrations into the back of your skull, and you just barely hear it saying, “You’re getting sleepy.”
What is happening? You are wasting conscious energy which you could have used to try and wake up to what’s going on. What does thinking about something that you can do nothing about have to do with with enlightenment? What’s the enlightenment? That you’re helpless to stop people from killing each other? That you’re unable to stop starvation? You’re a little late to discover that. Everybody needs a hobby, and if ordinary concerns are yours, then I can guarantee you that your hobby is not to awaken.
To do this strange thing of seeing what’s going on, you have to realize that reality is something other than what it appears to be, and that its effect on you is something other than what your nervous system is programmed to take it as being. It took me a long, long, long time to understand the existence of the two realities. I never heard it described. There are no words, because our nervous system is not wired up to distinguish between them. We’re not supposed to distinguish between them. On the contrary, we’re supposed not to. We’re supposed to accept that there is only one reality which is an underpinning of life as we know it, of civilization, of human existence.
We are wired up to take collective reality personally, even though it’s not personal to us as individuals. People starving, people killing one another, people being killed through natural catastrophes, is not personal to you. It’s not even personal to them. You’ve got to be fast asleep to take death personally.
Here comes a tidal wave right at you. Nobody ever notices the humor of it, because that’s not programmed into man’s nervous system. You constantly hear people who just lost a little child in a car accident or to cancer, and they’re asked by a reporter, “How did you feel?” They commonly respond, “I thought, why me?” I guess you’ve got to be pretty far along to get a chuckle out of that. I don’t mean a chuckle because somebody died, but because people take it personally. I hope they never lock me in a room with such a person right after the doctor tells them they’re dying. I don’t want to hear, “Why me?”
I’m using death as the ultimate example of bad news. It’s bad news enough to hear that somebody else died, but to most people when the doctor says, “By the way, you’re dying,” we’re talking serious bad news, because they take that personally.
In a sense, that’s what’s gone wrong. There is a collective reality that your nervous system, by nature, will react to personally. Your nervous system is taking a collective reality as being a fully operational and effective reality to you—to your life, and especially to your understanding. If you’re trying to wake up, you have got to realize this, and not just theoretically. You must realize, “What happens in the collective reality has nothing to do with me trying to wake up. It has nothing to do with me personally. If my death has nothing to do with me personally, what does the rest of collective reality have to do with me personally?”
There is more to this than the examples I gave here, and it’s up to you to dig into it on your own. If you see this for yourself, it will make your brain tremble with joy.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
WHAT HAPPENS IN PRISON
STAYS IN PRISON — THERE IS NO CHOICE
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Stories From Places That Tell ALL Their Secrets
March 22, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX
There is perhaps an old sorehead somewhere attempting rehab of his views
based on a recent book title seen: “Giving Reality One More Chance.”
Many are those with complaints with life —
but who never mention the many good reasons life could voice about them.
A favorite sport of kids is wrangling over: “Who started it.”
“Yeah, and gods too.”
Advised a father a son: “Stay young — for it is then that you truly live —
— when you have not yet started to think about it.”
The Way Things Work: Part Six Hundred and Ninety Four (At Least).
The more important are taken to be the concoctions of man’s mind,
the more important they become.
Fact: This simple fact is not seen by men.
Fact-Fact: It can’t be allowed! —
not if things are going to continue working as they do now.
Then suddenly! — from the great faceless crowd in the prison yard
came the exhilarating and inspiring rallying cry:
“On the count of three — let’s all be BITTER!”
Fairly Tale. Upon a time was a magical land where no fault with lions was found
for their roars, nor with eagles for their droppings;
then the Big Doofus Giant came along and stomped all over the place. The End.
Fact: The end of any narrative signals the beginning of a new one.
Fact-Fact: All narratives are the same to the real-deal-reader;
only dirt changes from place to place and time to time.
“Pa pa: is that why the-man-who-knows is sometimes called:
‘He Taking A Ground Vacation?’”
One guy’s tentative conclusion: “Every day is the same old crap —
when you are full of the same old crap.”
His twin then inquired how you rid your insides of the crap you seem to have been born with — and the guy became even more tentative.
For all of the problems and questions men find inherent to human existence —
there are no solutions or answers — until you say that there are.
(Publisher’s Come-Cleanery: This is a trick sentence.)
First: “My advice is: Carry not an umbrella — it invites rain.”
Second: “But rain needs no invitation from man.”
Third: “Neither apparently does advice.”
One man holds as his living epitaph:
“A certain-thing I hoped to be — and not yet am —
is the only thing left that bedevils me.”
To catch-on to what is going-on requires that in a quite real sense you take a vacation from yourself – an idea which, on its face is impossible (or worse) — nevertheless: something fitting that description is necessary to ever see
what is actually taking place behind the scenes that men’s native-born,
collectively-based consciousness presents to them as accurate representations
of the human experience.
Since the whole idea of a holiday being a time to get away from yourself
is clearly impossible, it certainly cannot be taught —
hell! — it can just barely be ferreted out on one’s own.
(“One’s own what?”
“Why, thank you.”)
Fact: Everyone enjoys a pleasant conversation with their self —
the real-deal-man however insists it be of maximum pleasantry.
Fact-Fact: Only the pleasing is informative.
(“Man! — that sounds like something I should solidly disagree with!”
Always remember, boys and girls: humans’ most favorite prison game. “Yea-a-a-a-!”
Everyone departs the same bus on which they began;
everyone departs the bus at the same place where they began —
but from the other side of the bus.
Just as even the fairest of women is neither beautiful nor not,
without the appreciation of a man,
so too the so-called, imagined Truth,
without the specially prepared mind to perceive it.
In different words: There is no Enlightenment: only some one to achieve it:
that is the secret Big Truth that none can see until the moment after they see it.
The only reason anyone but farmers and miners talk is to be popular.
(“At least thank god, you didn’t say; ‘Is in a pathetic attempt to be…’”)
The one talent that counts with the certain man is one which can never be seen.
Everything ordinary eyes/I’s hold as beautiful, is for the few,
but a prelude to what is always over the horizon:
beyond the present scope of present sized consciousness.
In one city a law was passed that permitted: “Only thinkers to drink” —
it proved to be the shortest lived legislation in the history of the universe.
One thing that everyone understands is that any story involving them is interesting.
Do note: life’s sacrifice OF us — THROUGH us — in the name of some higher-cause
is actually for the purpose of continuity and has nothing to do with you individually.
(“Is this why death is the one event that no one takes personally?!”)
Beauty is as smelt as seen.
While he would never respond to questions concerning motivation:
the real-deal-man does things only because he wants to;
the difference between him and everyone else is that he knows and
acknowledges this privately within himself.
That CertainThing sought by the few is as felt as seen.
One man laughs at despair — but he says despair laughed at him first.