A Deep Metaphysical Annoyance
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.
Summary = See below
Edited Transcript = See Below
Condensed News = See below
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Notes by TK
The bodhisattva vow is made by one who is not fully enlightened (or has merely thrown up his hands!). Another prime example (like religion and politics) of man’s ignorance of what is actually going on: popular music. About 98% of popular music is written/sung by men about ‘love’—lost or gained. Notice that the lyrics and sentiment are wholly unrelated to actual love relationships of ordinary humans.
Nobody acts/feels like what love songs describe! Popular music is rooted in unreality, patently fictional, yet men accept it as if it was otherwise. An in-voluntary suspension of disbelief! Bring this to the attention of an ordinary man and he discounts it; it is simply un-thinkable by him that it is important and meaningful insight. (43:07) #3142
Notes by DR
Jan Cox Talk 3142 Here is a reality accepted by part of human life. There’s a whole passion in popular music and it no more exists than Jesus painted in black velvet. Nobody notices popular music, they notice their passion.
Edited by S.A.
When I choose examples for my discussions—examples which exclude such survival-related matters as eating and sleeping—the topics that most readily come to mind are religion and politics, because they engender the most passion in people. I am, however, about to discuss an example other than religion or politics. I want to remind you, as I have in the past, that the examples I use are of no consequence, and that I am not attempting to ridicule the example, or to make critical or sarcastic comments about it.
If you consider the continuing history of so-called mystical schools, such as the Sufis, devoted to awakening of one sort or another, they all begin with the premise that men believe that they are in an awakened state, whereas they are actually asleep. Once you realize that, these schools say, your duty is to try and awaken, so that you can then help other people see that something happened to humanity that made them fall into a less-than-fully-conscious state.
To the Sufi view, add the classical Buddhist notion that by being alive and being human, men suffer, but that they do so unnecessarily. If you were to achieve enlightenment, the Buddhists say, you would cease the unnecessary suffering. It would then be your duty to assist the rest of humanity to achieve enlightenment, so that they too could escape the suffering.
The Hindus contribute the idea that everyone is living a life that is at least slightly flawed, but that if you are able to cleanse your senses, then each time you are reborn, you will be slightly less flawed. If you improve yourself little by little in these continuing reincarnations, then eventually you will reach a state of nirvana, and then you can help others to cleanse their lives.
All of this is based upon the original premise, which I am not attacking, because I don’t see any way around it, that there is a wide and absolutely distinct difference between humanity’s ordinary state of consciousness—which is flawed, incorrect, twisted, crippled—and the other state that all of the mystical schools, and religion to a more watered-down degree, claim that they teach people to reach. By means of their particular mystical system, they say, you will eventually awaken, achieve nirvana, become enlightened, experience the Great Liberation. Only then can you correct the flaws in your life.
If mystics of the past lived to be forty or fifty or sixty, and they were still teaching that premise, then you can rest assured that, no matter what they may have understood or achieved, they never achieved comprehensive enlightenment or awakening. There is one other possibility—that they did achieve enlightenment, but they gave up—threw up their hands—when they tried to describe to other people what they finally came to realize. Suffering, as I do, that strange form of arthritis that prohibits me throwing up my hands, I’m left with trying to explain this. I’m about to try again to offer you a description of that realization.
For sure, that was the world’s longest introduction, but remember that I am trying to broaden your attention so that you can view life in a way that is so far removed from everyone else’s view of life that it’s almost impossible to describe. Yet, at the same time, the view is so close to ordinary reality that it’s almost impossible to distinguish.
Now for the example. These days, popular music is neck-and-neck with movies as one of the top forms of entertainment, which means that popular music is one of the largest consumers of everyone’s time and attention. Popular music is everywhere. The words to popular music are, it appears, ninety-eight percent male-written, and the words to about ninety-eight percent of the popular songs concern love. A man sings to, or about, a woman, with regard to what westerners back around the tenth or eleventh century started labeling “romantic love.” In most of the songs, men sing something like, “You did me wrong,” or “You won’t return my love,” or, “You have left me, and yet I still love you.” Nowadays, more and more women are popular music stars, and they’re writing and singing songs about lost love too.
You are so used to this that I doubt that you pay attention to the meaning of the songs. The rest of the world doesn’t pay attention to the meaning either, but they buy the songs, and they become familiar enough with the words that they can sing along to the radio, or at concerts.
This is now an absolutely accepted part of western culture, but it is not brand new. At one time, the same sentiments were expressed in poetry, which was often put to music by traveling bards, so that poems were the popular music of the day. You probably learned that in a history class. Initially, poetry was oral, and then for a thousand years or more, before the printing press was invented, poetry was hand-written, so it had very limited exposure. All the way from Greek poetry to popular music, ninety-eight percent of the time, a man is singing to a woman, or singing to the world, “I loved her so much, she meant the world to me, but she left me. She broke my heart. I can’t stand it. My life will never be the same. I’m ruined. I can’t work, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep.”
Here is the point—these songs have seeped into our cultural bones. You hear popular songs in elevators, in restaurants, in stores. The musical message of love and heartbreak is everywhere, but those words have nothing to do with reality. Nothing. People do not have private thoughts to match the words of those songs. Those words are simply not true. In fact, those words are just silly. You listen to the words, and it’s the same as somebody describing what heaven is like. If you’re not religious, you listen to the man who just described heaven, and you think, “What is that man talking about?”
Let me remind you again that the reason I didn’t use an example from religion is because religious people will say that people who are not religious don’t respond to descriptions of heaven because they’re not religious and therefore God hasn’t shown them the light. In politics, there’s the same sort of justification. The reason I selected popular music, and the love theme in particular, is that even if you’re not a great music-lover, everyone in our society and in most of the world is surrounded by popular music, so this is a kind of reality.
Popular music is a representation of culture, and in our culture there is no introduction to popular music that tells you, “You’re supposed to take this song at face value. You’re supposed to continue to listen to men sing songs about their love of a woman being their whole life, or that their loss of a beloved woman has ruined their life, and she stays on their mind, either pro or con. You’re also supposed to accept at face value songs that say, ‘Since I found you, my life is now filled with happiness. I think about you all day at work. I can’t wait to get home just so I can look upon your beautiful face and hear your loving voice.’”
There is nothing in our culture that tells you, “We’re going to put out this great story, this facade, this oral trompe l’oil, this illusion, this deception, this grand fairy tale, but don’t you ever say anything about this not being true. You just keep listening, and after a reasonable length of time, you’ll forget about this being a hoax, about it being a fairy tale, and that will no longer bother you.” That is never said. All you’ve got to do is look at your own mind, your own ordinary taste. If you and everyone else were to turn on the radio, or sit at a concert, and hear a heartbreak song, you would not bat a mental eye.
I’m trying to explain air. I’m trying to explain being alive. This is impossible, but here it is, and remember, this specific example is of no consequence whatsoever. Nevertheless, the example does present an interesting possibility for investigation. Go and see for yourself that almost all popular songs are about a man and his love for a woman, a woman and her love for a man, or the loss of their love. You might want to think about why people don’t write about anything else. Out of all the things that people do that have nothing to do with the opposite sex, why is almost every song they write about the opposite sex, and why does nobody seem to notice? Have you ever heard anyone say, “I am sick of hearing men sing about love!” Have you ever thought, “No, not another dang song about a man and a woman,” and felt a deep metaphysical annoyance? If you pursue that far enough, that would have to wake you up a little.
Back to the main subject—here is a huge, omnipresent part of our daily existence that is sung about in a straightforward manner. “Since my woman left me, my life is ruined. She’s been gone a year, and I’m still sick. I can’t think about another woman. I’ve been fired from three jobs. My health is failing.” Have you ever seen that happen? No. That’s a hoax so deep that it’s almost immoral. I repeat, none of that is true. People know it’s not true. If a man knew another man who really felt that, he would instantly revise his opinion that his buddy was a grown man.
None of this is rooted in any reality. This is absolute fiction, but notice that it is never discussed. People do not stand around and discuss the words to songs, even though people do learn the words to the songs so that they can sing along. People are immersed in the reality depicted in popular songs, but that reality might as well be a song about life on another planet.
We’re familiar with the types of characters presented in the songs. When the song writer says, “The woman I loved,” we know what that means. “I loved her so, and then we began to drift apart,” which means one of them got tired of the other one. “Two weeks ago, I came home and she had packed up and gone. My heart was broken. I began to drink. I fell down and cried.”
None of that is true. No ordinary man or woman has ever done that. Take an instant, look at your own life, and consider whether the reality depicted in popular music bears any resemblance to anything that you’ve ever experienced. It is patently a made-up reality that happens to involve actual characters. It is a fairy tale. Think about fairy tales. You can describe a realistic little girl, Goldilocks, who stops at a realistic little house, but then it loses all realism. The house is lived in by a bear family who have dishes, a stove on which they cook porridge, and beds with blankets and pillows. The fairy tale quickly becomes absolute fiction, as does the so-called “reality” depicted in popular music.
Life has us accepting this fictional reality, but I can’t tell you that there’s some reason for that. After man has used the mind and consciousness for all necessary survival purposes in physical reality, it’s as if Life doesn’t care what we do with consciousness in our free time.
That doesn’t seem like a satisfying answer, does it? I suggest that you work on this. Tell me, why is the popular music fairy tale accepted? Have you ever heard anyone stand up in a bar, at a concert, or listening to the radio, and say, “Wait a minute! What is going on? We’re sitting here at this concert, and many of us were singing along to a song about a guy with a broken heart. What is this? None of this is true. It bears no resemblance to reality.”
That has never happened, and not only does no one notice that they are discussing a fictional reality, but it even veers off in the opposite direction. Some of our esteemed western universities now offer graduate degrees in popular culture. For at least the last twenty years, there have been scholars writing academic papers that analyze various social or psychological aspects of popular songs. Some psychologist, psychiatrist, sociologist, or political commentator will write a serious article showing some correlation between popular music and a world-shaking event such as the assassination of a president or a horrifying terrorist act.
Popular music, and specifically the heartbreak song, is a more difficult example, but a better example than some religious or political matter, because men publicly debate those. This is an area that no one debates. It’s not even offered for debate. No one separates it from reality. It goes by without any question whatsoever, when it couldn’t be more open to question. It is patently, blatantly, a fiction. And yet it is sung with passion. There is no greater example of a faux passion, a false emotion. The whole tale is without any substance—and no one notices.
Because this is so much a part of everyday reality, I know that it can be hard for you to get your mental fingernails beneath its lid so that you can try to pry it open. Looking back at what I went through, I feel that it is almost impossible for you to readily see even why I’m pointing to this. That’s why I’ve spent so long talking about it. But here it is, something that’s an absolutely unquestioned aspect of our lives. If you seriously consider how far-reaching this example is, you will see that it is something you and every other civilized person is completely immersed in, yet it is completely out of touch with reality—and no one notices.
It is almost impossible for ordinary consciousness to differentiate between what mystics think they mean by a more awakened, enlightened consciousness of life and the ordinary consciousness of life. There are two views of this, as I said. From one view, the two types of consciousness are so stuck together that it’s almost impossible to get them apart. From the other view, the two types of consciousness are so far removed from one another that it’s almost impossible to see them as related.
A man sings, “My baby left me, and it has ruined my life.” I have never felt anything resembling that. Nobody ever has. The reality and the singing about it are so far apart that it’s almost impossible to look at them both at the same time and put them in any perspective to see what’s going on. But the outcome is the same—the scenes of passion depicted in popular music present a reality, an accepted part of human life, that no more exists than Cinderella’s ball exists, or than Goldilocks’s run-in with the bears exists.
Everybody knows that Goldilocks is a fairy tale, but nobody notices the fairy tale in popular music. What good would it do you to notice that? Everybody else does quite well by not noticing what’s going on, even when what’s going on is actually a dream. If you look at life as you and everyone else experience it, and then look at the representations that songs and talk offer of life experience, you realize that the two rarely bear any resemblance to one another. In the example I used in this talk, the two never resemble one another.
To whatever degree you thought this talk was obscure, or a waste of time, you might consider that if the other six billion people in the world had been willing to listen to the talk, not one of them would have had any idea what I was trying to communicate. They’d ask, “Why did he say that? What’s the point? I don’t see any purpose in what he said.” That’s your natural state of consciousness, and I just knew you’d be pleased as punch to have me point that out as directly as possible.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
RUMORS CONTINUE TO PASS AS NEWS,
OR ELSE ORDINARY MINDS WOULD
HAVE NO NEWS
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Stories From So Far Inside City Affairs That They May Be Obscene
MAY 3, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX
There Are Two Extraordinary Areas Neighboring Man:
One Inevitable — The Other Unlikely
In an effort to put himself in proper photographic perspective
one man began referring to himself as: “The guy on the left.”
There are three things you can do for people: help them get out of trouble;
help them get into trouble, and amuse them.
(“And that’s also about all you can do for yourself, no?!”)
Not Only How Mind Is –But Also How Things Are.
It’s not your fault you’re overweight unless it is.
(Alternate headline: More Regarding: Reality vs.The Truth.)
From course outline: “Advanced Jazz Appreciation:
Once you have faithfully read the score of, then faithfully described, a bare wall,
what is left to do but take up the sax?!”
This is why graduation is not possible from any religion or philosophy;
all such ordinary based ideas about life are a self sustaining narrative sans conclusion.
The cliche’s true: the city does never sleep — for to do so would mean its demise;
only the man with unencumbered eyes/I’s sees where trails end:
where narratives cease and reality takes over.
From his singular perspective of the city, the certain man’s mute motto might be:
“It’s been nice enough being here — even though your here is illusory.”
Full time citizens of the city never mention living there — for good reason:
they’re not aware that they do.
Coda: If you truthfully don’t know where you are —
that tells you exactly where you are.
Men’s minds are born to be confused about all the things they can think about —
but not touch.
Into this life — some variants are born.
How Mind Must Work.
Not only do doctors think of a hospital differently than do those seeking
treatment there, but also must the patients not think about this fact.
Ultimately in how the mind pictures intangible situations:
there is no right and wrong — only what must be.
Ordinary minds must be — and will be — satisfied with ordinary ideas;
for the man determined to get to the bottom of things,
this is not in the realm of options.
Food & Culture Prep In Prison.
The half-baked always praise one another’s culinary efforts.
As long as you are alive: life is a perpetual event.
A mind that can think apart from man’s collective one is like a wind tunnel
put in a swarm of bees.
As regards life in prison: one guy has concluded that the aim should be to:
eat as cheaply as possible.
Press & Literary Update.
Even though stories useful to the few have no moral — they are the moral.
The best of one man’s work was always unsigned;
that which is attributable is useless.
Any land already discovered is meaningless to a true adventurer:
once Leif found America — he forgot about it.
In the uncommon areas of the rebel’s mind: only narrative routes
ever come to an end — right where reality begins,
and this is where the real-deal-explorer really gets going.
Everyone’s principal neural patterns look just like their facial profile,
and while there is no conclusive proof of this, pottery fragments recently unearthed
at Site Two Forty Seven do offer some supportive evidence.
Fact: Facts are a terrible thing to waste: hence — none are wasted.
One view of why man’s mind is so pliable, and his vocabulary ever expanding
is that Archaeologists and Zoologists will not merge themselves into the beckoning, befitting oblivion of obviousness.
Facts not only can never be wasted — they cannot even be stunted.
There is but one true harbinger of life: thinking, not on-the-cheap, but fulfillingly.
Man’s thoughts ride a wondrous steed — the likes of which even they cannot imagine.
If you don’t know what is carrying you — that tells you precisely what is.
The corner the special seeker must ultimately turn
does not lie on the narrative boulevard.
The Big Bang Amplified For The Few.
In the beginning was everything that came right before now — and so on —
until you can see better.
The History Of Everything is known — it’s just that there’s no one to know it.
Paths don’t know from whence they come or they wouldn’t be paths.
One man expected so much of his thoughts that they finally delivered.
Every morning one man required that his parrot swear allegiance to him,
(well, on those days the man forgot he was a rhino.)
A good prisoner spends a life time in his cell yet never examines it.
Even those who proclaim that their head is screwed on right,
fail to realize that someone screwed it on for them,
(and not their parents, priests or peers.)
“MY GAWD! — but is it not totally scrumptious to live in a place where you not only have no idea of what is going on, but concurrently think that you do!
My gawd man! — what a thorough delight!”