Jan Cox Talk 3146

One Way to Enlightenment—a Critical Investigation of Words


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

A possible method of enlightenment: the critical investigation of words. Take the word ‘subtle’: how does it mean what it means? What is it that goes on in the brain to endow such words with meaning? The sound of the word engenders a feeling of knowing, connection, and comprehension that is physically incommensurate: meaningless. It is the essence of being asleep. Contrast the word, ‘brick’—a label for a demonstrable, physical reality.

It is impossible to know the meaning of intangibles, of secondary-reality words. Yet they do exist, are known and have meaning! Consider the words: ‘consciousness’, ‘thinking’ and ‘speech’. They are operationally synonymous yet formally defined to be distinct, discretely different realities. This is at the core of slumber.

Consciousness/thinking/words constantly create a reality that is tantamount to dream-reality and yet, exists! Ponder the making up of a word such as ‘intrigue’; how the first man might have coined it, then had to explain its meaning to another man and the degree of his satisfaction therein. The study of words can lead to awakening. It is akin to having a ‘mental climax’ (ala, the sexual kind!). (44:52) #3146

Notes by DR

Jan Cox Talk 3146       Internal liberation may be on your investigation of words. How can it be described in words? There’s nothing more expositional about what consciousness is. Take a word: ‘subtle’. You know what it means when you hear it, what goes on in your head when you hear it. What makes it meaningful to you? Words, consciousness, thought, speech and they’re all the same thing. They are operationally synonymous. Through their own speech words create their own dream world. All systems look at it that there’s some flaw, but looked at this way that’s not the most precise description.

The words create. It’s easy to describe a rock but in the civilized condition of second reality, how do you know what a word means? Somebody made up what the word ‘subtle’ means and he told somebody, and then he told somebody. The creation of it is simply not possible. If there was not the word intrigue, there wouldn’t be intrigue.


05-12-2004  #3146 
Edited by S.A.

As a verbal coda to my last talk, I will use the example of the Old Testament. That book is just as fanciful and bizarre as any Greek mythology, yet if you spring from Jewish or Christian culture, then you no doubt view Moses’s effort to flee from slavery back to familiar territory as a factual event, and you consider Odysseus’s efforts to get back home to be pure fiction.

Another system that could eventually lead you to see what’s going on, to awakening, to enlightenment, to internal liberation, is based entirely on the investigation of words. We could call the method “How to Awaken through the Study of Words,” as opposed to “How to Awaken through the Continual Chanting of the Ten Thousand Names and Remembrance of Buddha,” or “How to Accomplish the Great Liberation by the Relentless, Lifelong Counting of One’s Breath or the Study of the Fourteen Billion Pages in Our Fine Tibetan Library.”

All that this method requires is that you study words. The method doesn’t have the charisma, the bells and whistles, the mystical attraction that would entice a beginner to try it, but the method would work. As always, all I can do is present some outlines to you, and you’ve got to take it from there, because how can I describe, for instance, something quite extraordinary about words that is normally never seen. How can that be described? In words. Think about that for a second, and your brain will no doubt register severe resistance to even trying the method.

There is nothing more right-in-your-face demonstrative of what consciousness is, and what the problem people like us have with it. This is right in front of you, figuratively speaking—right inside your head, and not hidden behind enigmatic terms like God, Sufism, Buddhism, mysticism. The example is right there in almost anything going on in your consciousness. This is far more specific than saying, “The desire to wake up is consciousness trying to conceive of itself.” I stand by that statement, but this example is a much clearer version of that.

I’ll examine a couple of words to show you what I mean. After that, you can pick out any word that appeals to you. My examples will probably give you some idea of the sort of word that would be most useful. Select an ordinary word, such as “subtle.” Everybody knows what “subtle” means. I’ll bet I use “subtle” in every two or three talks. Any sophisticated, literate person must use that word. If you’re trying to speak in a precise, psychologically-rich way about some apparently complex matter in the human drama, I can’t see how you wouldn’t eventually use the word, “subtle.”

Think about “subtle.” Don’t try to remember a definition from the dictionary, but you understand what “subtle” means, don’t you? Now stop and think. Be clear in your own mind that you understand what the word “subtle” means. Now—what just went on in your head? What happened in your head that made the word, “subtle” meaningful to you, as opposed to “brick” or “foot”? You know what “subtle” means. You can use the word in a sentence. What made it possible for you to do that?

Imagine that you’re watching a TV special, and somebody is saying, “In King Henry’s court there were many intrigues throughout the lifetimes of his several wives. In fact, Anne was known for giving out subtle hints to certain people that in spite of her public persona, she still had Catholic leanings. She left subtle, but quite distinct, impressions to some at court that she was a Protestant in name only, but still a Catholic at heart.”

You hear “King Henry,” and you imagine the English court in the Middle Ages. No doubt you picture a scene from a movie you saw. You hear the word, “subtle,” and you understand what that means—but what went on in your head? There were pictures passing through your mind, but between the pictures and something else, what went on in your head that made the reality behind the word “subtle” mean something? What made it possible for you to understand the word?

You can understand a brick. The speaker of some exotic foreign language could hold up a brick and say “thukamon.” You would know what he was trying to communicate, and you could say, “brick.” He could answer, “Yes, thukamon.” You nod and repeat, “brick.” It doesn’t matter what you call that thing.  You both know that it’s a brick. But how about “subtle”? You know what the word means, but figuratively speaking, that is impossible. It is not possible to know what “subtle” means, but you do know. This is not just a funny word game, and I am not being sarcastic. You know what the word means, but that is not possible. You need to work on that, because just hearing me talk about it is not going to wake you up.

For my second example, I’ll use the word, “intrigues,” since I was discussing the constant intrigues going on in King Henry’s court. Everybody knows what intrigues are, and I bet that again, you have a picture in your mind of people dressed in Fourteenth Century attire. Maybe one man is half-hidden behind a door outside the throne room, peering around at some other men whispering in a corner. If I say, “There were many intrigues in King Henry’s court,” you understand what I mean, don’t you?

I repeat, it is not possible to know what “intrigues” are. You can open a dictionary, look up “intrigue,” and read the definition. An ordinary mind would say, “Yes, yes, that’s exactly right.” I would respond, “No, that is not right.”

You have to find your own way to do this. This is not difficult, not full of intrigues, but it is too subtle for me to describe. Think of the word, “intrigue.” You may use the word frequently. You wouldn’t hesitate to use it. But then, look at what goes on in your mind when you hear the word or say the word. You don’t happen to look back and remember the last time you used the word, “intrigue.” You’re simply aware in real time at that moment that your mind, your consciousness, can read or say “intrigue,” or “subtle,” and understand what the word means. At that moment, you may recall that I said understanding the word is impossible. That is not exactly what I mean. As close as I can come is that if you think about the word in a certain way, or look at it in a certain way, you will see that understanding the word just can not be.

Ask yourself, “How is it that I hear that word, and in my consciousness, I understand what it means?” That is all I can tell you. When you find your own way to do this, something special will happen.

Once you catch on to what I’m trying to get you to look at, the result is mind-blowing. Push it a little farther, and it will wake you up, believe it or not, because what is consciousness besides words?

Consider this, which I say is quite astounding: there are at least three quite distinct words that people use to represent consciousness, and if you look them up in the dictionary, they have three different definitions. The words are “consciousness,” “thought,” and “speech.” Another way of saying the same thing uses “consciousness,” “the mind,” and “words.” Those words all represent the same thing—unless you are looking at the words with ordinary thought. Look at those words. Everything reaching your mind will tell you, “No, the words are not synonymous. I can see some connection, but they’re not the same thing.” Think about that. I say that the words are synonymous, and I challenge you to look for yourself.

That is almost enlightening—the fact that there are three things that everyone would say are distinct, discrete entities that might be connected, but are certainly not verbal representations of the same thing, yet they are one and the same. To quote my own term, the words are operationally synonymous. I am aware that words do not seem to be the same thing as consciousness, but I am insisting that they are the same thing. If you investigate this enigma either to prove me wrong, or to try and grasp why I say that, something will happen. If you get to the bottom of this little verbal mystery, it will wake you up.

Back to what I was specifically referring to. Consciousness/thinking/words are endlessly creating a reality. I know that my saying this doesn’t make you see it, but I’m going to say it again. Consciousness/thinking/words create a reality that if you look inside your head, which is the only place you can look, then one day, you’ll suddenly see this in a certain way. You will realize that consciousness/thinking/words constantly creates a reality that it can not create, yet somehow that is happening. That is what being asleep is.

Life has men, through their speech, continually create their own dream world. That is not a flaw of reality, nor is it a flaw in our consciousness, in our thinking, although exactly that is at the root of all mystical systems, and certainly all religions and all philosophies. All of those systems are based upon the premise that there is some inherent flaw in man’s thinking. Looked at in this way, however, that is not a precise description. A more useful starting point is to see that through man’s speech, through the words that appear in ordinary men’s brains, the words they create, men create their reality.

By the way, if you enjoyed the taste of my primary point, there’s a side dish of which you may avail yourself at no additional charge. Just consider, how did some man’s mind ever create the word, “subtle”? If you ask a lexicographer, “How are words created?” wouldn’t he say, “Somebody kept having a certain experience that they couldn’t describe, and realized that it was a common experience but there was no word anyone could use to describe it. Some fairly intelligent person just created a whole new word to describe an experience, and told his friends what it meant, and they all began using the word.” Think about this. Try and feel it. Picture what would go on in somebody’s consciousness for them to be aware of some experience, and then be aware that no word adequately described the experience. Just that is astounding.

You may have noticed that all of the examples I used in this talk have been from man’s second reality, as distinguished from the first reality of bricks and feet. It’s easy to describe a rock, or the rain, or lava. You don’t have to say anything. You point to an item in the first reality, and another person can look at it, feel it, hear it, smell it, taste it. You don’t really need words in the first reality, but once you’re civilized, once you’re born into civilization, there is another reality that is separate from the world of lava and lakes and loons, a reality that would be incomprehensible without words.

Try and put yourself in the mind of the man who created the word, “subtle.” The man who said it, understood what he meant by it, and just like the God of the Old Testament, was greatly pleased. Try and feel that. You’re not actually looking for how or why he did it. I can’t tell you exactly what you’re trying to grasp. All I can do is encourage you with all my heart to look into this. Try and feel it. Try and put yourself there. Try and re-live the experience of the first man who created a particular word. Some man made up the word, “subtle,” and had to tell somebody what it meant. That’s impossible, and yet it happened.

Surely that gives you some entree to investigating this. We know that somebody invented “subtle,” because we have the word. You understand the word. You use the word. And yet I say that the creation of that word, or any other word describing an intangible, is simply not possible.

Your vocabulary is full of those words. The juiciest part, the defining part of human existence would vanish, would cease to operate, did we not have those words. Water would still be there if we had no word for it, but love wouldn’t, compassion wouldn’t, intrigues wouldn’t.

Think of the part that intrigue plays in people’s lives, all the way from back-stage machinations in King Henry’s court to current-day machinations in Congress. Now think that if there were no such word as “machination” or “intrigue” those things couldn’t exist. You’ll be tempted to think, “Phhht! That’s ridiculous,” and you’ll be right, but you’ll also be wrong. If you keep looking, it might suddenly hit you that if there was no word for “intrigue,” then you couldn’t have intrigue. I hate to put it that way, because it’s more subtle than that, but I don’t have other words to use.

You might see men standing behind Henry’s throne smirking or whispering, and if Henry turns around, you see the men stop. You might see this, but if there’s no word, “intrigue,” then are you observing an intrigue? How can you be? You can observe hot lava flowing towards your foot, and even if you’ve got no word for “lava,” you’ve got a pretty good idea of what is going on. You no doubt understand that you should leave. But if you’re watching some other humans standing behind King Henry and whispering, you see them cover their mouths and lean in close, and you see their lips move, how do you know what it is you’re seeing unless you know the word, “intrigue.” If you learn that word later, you might flash back to the time when those two chamberlains were standing behind King Henry mumbling, and understand that what you were seeing was intrigue. What just happened is being asleep. What just happened is at the very heart of what all of this has always been about.

If you started by analyzing “intrigue,” or any other word from the second reality, that system would be just as efficient as any other system in waking you up. If you are comfortable with other systems—trying to meditate, trying to stop the mind, trying to remember yourself, trying to chant a secret word—if any of that is useful for you, then use it. But if you want something else, look into words. Not in an academic manner. Investigate the words in your head, words representing intangible activities, intangible matters, things that no one’s ever seen or touched but that people are constantly using. You know, and everyone else knows, what the words mean—but that is not possible.

I don’t know how to tell you how much fun this is, and how subtle. Just keep looking at your mind, at your consciousness. You say, “subtle,” and consciousness knows what “subtle” is. But then you look off in another direction, and you see that you can’t possibly know what “subtle” is. You look, and you think, “It can’t be! Right here, in real time, I know what that word means, and I’m simultaneously aware that it’s not possible to know what that word means. Yet nothing at this moment could be more real in my mind than the fact I know what that word means.”

What just happened to you? Could you explain that? Would you even try? That’s what happens when you realize what I’m talking about. When I say, “Just study words,” it can certainly sound too far removed from men starving themselves for years and meditating in caves. I can appreciate the fascination of those techniques. Studying words sounds very un-mystical. Nevertheless, when done right, studying words gets to the absolute heart of waking up, because “waking up” is just two words. You can hold your breath and stamp your feet, and say you refuse to believe this. I would reply, “Believe! What does that mean?” and get you going again.

It would be even worse if you tried to outsmart me by saying, “Never mind. I know what that all means.” No, you don’t. You know what “hot lava” means, but you don’t know what “know” means—and yet, you do. This is a monster fly trap whose stickiness would do a Decon Strip proud. This would not only catch flies, this would trap dinosaurs. In fact, in your neurons, this has resulted in what you call “My mind. Me. The real inner me, which I know just as fully and soundly as I do the word, ‘subtle.’”

In fact, what words do mystics, and everyone else, use to refer to a man’s inner self, other than a series of quite subtle energies, subtle qualities.

Wait a minute! “Quality!” Ooh! “Subtle quality.” Ooh, ooh! There’s no end to it!

Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Fingering For The Few: The True Force
MAY 12, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX

A speaker in city park said to the crowd which had momentary gathered:
“If my family had a motto,” then interrupted himself to note that in truth he should say: “If I had a family then its motto might be,” and someone shouted out that
it is precisely this sort of meaningless mental wandering that so debases the value of public discourse, which the speaker ignored and pressed on:
“If I had a family and it had a motto it would be:
‘Those Attempting To Save The Whole World Are Wrecking Mind,’”
and after some seconds of really phat silence as the crowd pondered the previously unnoticed similarity and possible connection between the possessive pronoun, mine and the word the speaker had surprisingly used where it had been expected,
someone in the crowd muttered that the entire episode had: “Hardly been worth it,”
to which the speaker return-muttered: “What is?!” —
a comment which seemed to mark the end of this urban interlude.
Notice: It is only in the civilized and relatively safe areas,
not the feral, blood drenched jungles that creatures are concerned with the idea that their world, associates and foes need managed protection to survive.
Hormones, the most physically dangerous of entities
express ne’er a concern for anyone while physically impotent neurons
prattle on endlessly about their distress over the human condition.

A see saw in which the saw can’t see.

The lead investigator,
while admitting he has no solid theory to explain how the event occurred,
does say he has a theory as to what sort of theory would be required to do so.

After almost every thought, one man slaps himself on the forehead and privately exclaims: “Why didn’t I think of this before!?”

Another description of what this kind of activity is:
The relentless painting-yourself-into-a-corner until the corner ceases to exist.

In a certain never-never (well: almost never) land
everyone’s final words are always both brilliant and incomprehensible.

No one but the certain man himself has the slightest idea of the fun he has
privately in his own head.

In one land, the king (in regard to things which he should hear about)
constantly insisted: “I don’t want to hear about it!”
The balancing act of the most ordinary of minds will put to shame
even the most remarkable of tight rope walkers.

Yet additional words limning the nervous system rebellion:
It is to help a few take in fully the nature of their captive individuality so that they can finally move on to something both more interesting and profitable.

Q: What is perhaps mankind’s most intelligent creation? — Superstition.

Every kingdom comes into existence with two regents —
a fact seldom realized by the people —
an ignorance commonly shared by the two in power.
Question: What harm can unawareness equally spread around do?
(“Matters of politics, and control do not interest me: I am an artist! —
an intellectual! — a man of the spirit!”
Ride on Josephine, ride on.)

One man used to continually try to translate everything he heard into a language.

One fine day (actually somewhere between Fine and Coarse #3)
a man sat his long time apprentice down and somberly said:
“My boy, I have finally come to realize that some of what I have told you
throughout the years is not correct, in the sense of it being objectively operational,” and pensive silence hung between them as the younger began to methodically
unfurl a brightly painted banner that said: “Welcome To The Club.”
As a group: cows can all eventually see-the-light —
except for those who see a second light —
then you have the appearance of two clubs: the Orthodox-Conservative
and the Progressive-Liberal.
The human mind can only be confused and distracted when supported by
two healthy legs.
“Yes dear colleagues: every day is a fine day when you’re in the herd.”

Seeing The Special Disappeared.
In a multifarious and omni-related reality such as ours it is inevitable (maybe)
that at some time some thing may get out to the edge and fall into another actuality;
when this happens — and it is seen (as in witnessed) by
someone in the original location — it is not seen — see?!
(“Where did I go?” asks a man who went.)

A note found under a short tree in city park says:
“The kind of person who will not change their mind
is the same sort who used to court my sister —
when she lived above my frontal lobes.”
A prime attraction of religion and all institutions is their persistence;
hormones, even under the direst of circumstances, will eventually give in,
but not neurons — not when they have a good grip on the Cheshire Cat’s tail.
(“I prefer: ‘Snow White by the tit’ — but that’s just a personal preference.”)

Note: If you’re late for tea, you’ll never overthrow the crown.

One man continually tries to translate everything he says & thinks into a language.

How The Real Deal Man Holds To Awakening.
The way to swat Tsetse flies is to not hold them in your mind.
(“I am always annoyed when I hear simple solutions offered to problems which
I have found formidably complex,”
after making this statement the speaker seemed to ponder it for a bit — then asked:
“I wonder if this has caused me to miss things that could have been helpful?”
Being irritated has facilitated more men’s escape from prison than has
a thousand cakes with notes baked inside.
(Remember: A tip to the wise is the same as a tip to nitwits.
“That’s what I love about living where I do: Everything costs the same! —
whether it’s shoddy and useless — or extremely shoddy and useless —
doesn’t matter: it all costs the same. [You gotta love it here!]”
One man’s private name for DoingTheThing is: “Compared To What?!”)

In the hallway outside the city’s International Pastimes Convention
one delegate was overheard saying to another:
“The biggest pleasure in laughing at someone else’s interest is that
it’s not really funny.”

Public Weather (As In Temperament) Prognostications.
Dull forecasts apply only to dull people.

One chap insists that he would not be: “As we see him now”
had he not let one part of his brain: “Get the better of him.”
On one world they do not allow children — even in harmless sport —
to interchange the words: “river,” and: “flow.”
The king of verbs is always being subtly threatened by the chamberlain of nouns.
You can only be bedazzled by dreams by being a sleeper —
the mere act of sleeping won’t do it.
(Put another way): Being a dropped rock doesn’t make you dense — being a rock does.
(“I personally find it aggravating to have something I didn’t understand — restated,
but that’s just me.”)

Only the man-who-knows —
understands what he’s actually talking about.