Jan Cox Talk 3158

Your Consciousness Isn’t Full Of “You”–“You” Are Made Piecemeal


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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Edited Transcript = See Below
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Notes by TK
A Flash of Consciousness, then Emptiness… Over and Over…
Consciousness is a kind of low-intensity illusion. The cerebral cortex is a thin screen upon which all the words and images of consciousness appear. Consciousness is like the ‘flash heater’ for hot water in a bathroom vs. a 50 gal. water heater. It heats water only as you use it—there is no reservoir of hot water backing the hot water tap.

Likewise there is no history substrate of a ‘you’ filling consciousness; there is only the instant production of sense-of-self cum memory cache raised in reflex reaction to some foregoing triggering thought. It is a momentary affair but repeated constantly, giving the sense of continuity and integrity of selfhood—’I-ness’.

Another metaphor: the interior of a computer is circuit boards and data storage devices. You don’t see words and pictures therein. That is seen only on the monitor screen when a key is touched and that is its depth. The guts of the computer are not the depth and reality of what appears on the screen. The cache of memories acts like a database accessed by a central processing unit (CPU) which is then flashed upon the monitor, that flash being the sensation of ‘I’ along with the feeling of substance and complexity piggybacking on the physical presence of the body.

The CPU uses its many names for itself (e.g., ‘my mind’, ‘my memories’, ‘my soul’, etc.) to inflate its reality rather than say that it (a process and register) is what is actually doing the thinking/talking. Seeing this changes everything: suffering drops away. (37:36) #3158

Notes by DR

Jan Cox Talk 3158       Look at your consciousness in a certain way. The talking part of the brain i.e. the thin layer of cortex, made all the terms up. Only then do the words and pictures that constitute consciousness appear. The thing that is saying, is the thing in which it appears. This thing is just almost there like the way an instant flash water heater works, inactive except for point of use, or a computer tower with wires and boards sitting there with no information until it’s used. The conscious part of the brain is not supported, there’s nothing behind it. But we’re accustomed to feeling otherwise. It seems like there’s a library of consciousness behind that screen. Nothing happens until the next thought is triggered. The brain uses memories for the next upcoming thought. Electrical chemical impulses make Joe Schwartz. It’s only there for that momentary thought, and then there’s nothing there, no support system.

A flash on a thin veneer-a thought-and you didn’t produce it. Nobody plans what they’re going to think. And nobody can think about that. If you do, it stops thought.


06-09-2004   #3158
Edited by S.A.

Have you ever noticed that consciousness has named itself? Consciousness has made up a variety of names to call itself, so that it doesn’t have to state outright that what talks is the conscious part of the brain itself. Not only “consciousness”, but “spirit”, “soul”, “me”, “myself”, “my inner self”, and “my psyche” are among the names that consciousness made up.

If you can see what’s going on in your own brain, then you will realize that even though consciousness makes us what we are, to say that we are “conscious” is actually a fairly low-intensity illusion. I’ll try to explain what I mean by that, but you really have to see it for yourself. As it says right here on the label, if you can see the reality behind what I’m describing, which is pretty straightforward, that will change everything. You will never again be able to think about life, much less yourself, for more than four or five seconds, because once you see this, then at least every four or five seconds, you should come to your senses.

I well lapse back into metaphor, to try and give you some feel for what I’m pointing to. Picture the round ball of the brain, and recognize that everything needed to keep you alive is in that round ball, except consciousness. Then picture the thin layer of the cortex that wraps around the top part of the brain, and think of that as a screen, like the screen on a TV or a computer monitor. It is on that screen, and only there, that the words and the pictures that constitute consciousness appear.

Is that an exaggeration? Glance up at what just was going on in your “mind”, as consciousness likes to call it. The thing that is seeing this is the thing on which this appears. In other words, it is the conscious part of my brain that talks about “my mind”. What a laugh! But since we’re tired of laughing, and ready to get serious, then if you keep glancing up, you will see that all of the words that people call thoughts, and all of the pictures that people often include in their thoughts, appear only on the screen of the cerebral cortex, which is the conscious part of the brain.

This screen that we call “consciousness” is almost not there. Picture an old-fashioned water heater, with a tank that that holds fifty gallons of water that the heater keeps hot all the time. Now picture a flash water heater, which is a unit about the size of a liter of Coke, and which doesn’t heat any water until you turn on a hot water faucet—then the flash water heater almost instantly heats up the liter or two of water that it holds, and keeps heating water as you use it. When you turn off the faucet, the flash water heater stops operating. That is the conscious part of the brain.

You might also consider your computer. Open up your computer and look inside, and you will see boards covered with little transistors and such, and a bit of wiring. In the same way, you can open a skull and see the brain and blood vessels. But when you look inside your computer, you don’t see the words that appear on your screen. You don’t see the programs. You don’t see the screen-saver or the other pictures. Only when you turn on the computer do the words and pictures flash on the screen.

In your own head, consciousness simply appears at the second it’s triggered. Here’s the hard part to describe: consciousness is not supported. There is nothing behind consciousness. We are accustomed to feeling otherwise. If I say, “Close your eyes and feel the non-physical self inside of you,” that self feels like a substantial something, doesn’t it? We know that most of your insides are taken up by all those yucky guts and organs, but don’t you feel as if any available room is completely filled by your non-physical self? Is it an exaggeration to say that it feels as if that self is filling you up spiritually, so to speak? That is where the idea of the spirit, the soul, the psyche of man came from. When you’re daydreaming, when you’re thinking, when you’re analyzing something, doesn’t it seem as though all of the available space in you is filled by your lifetime of experience, of knowledge, of memories?

If you can see this, you will realize that in the split seconds between thoughts, there is no consciousness. There is no you. Nothing happens until the next thought is triggered either by a thought you thought before, or by something you just heard or read. Something has to trigger thought, because consciousness, under all ordinary conditions, is nothing but an automatic reaction operation. Note the two key words—automatic and reaction. Ordinarily, the conscious part of the brain is not the originator of anything. If you can see this, you will see that thought is like a momentary flash with nothing behind it or below it. Thought is just a momentary reality of words, usually with some vague picture and an equally vague sensation that you cause this—that you are having this thought. That is simply not true.

If the conscious part of the brain is a box, then the box is almost totally empty. Unless you’re someone quite out of the ordinary, the conscious part of your brain will not accept that statement at face value. If an ordinary person’s consciousness would accept that, it would produce in itself what people like us have always called enlightenment, or waking up.

The flash of consciousness that you’re having at this moment—the thought and the vague image that may accompany the thought—that is all there is. The nearest there is to an exception to that is what the conscious part of the brain has labeled “memories”, because those are what the brain grabs to use for its upcoming thought.

Your friend says to the conscious part of your brain, “I saw Joe Schwartz today. Do you remember him?” The conscious part of your brain, the cerebral cortex, plans to react to the question. If “Joe Schwartz” doesn’t trigger anything, the conscious part of the brain looks for memories. Memories appear to be electrochemical impulses that are spread throughout the brain. There seems to be no one spot that stores memories. Consciousness has to search for a memory. The name, Joe, may bring several faces to mind. If your friend notices that you’re having trouble, he may say, “You remember Joe? Red hair?” The conscious part of your brain will then look for male faces with red hair. You may suddenly see an image of Joe twenty years ago, drunk, falling out of his chair.

All of that is still just a momentary flash in the conscious part of your brain. There is nothing else. Again, it seems that an appropriate metaphor is opening up a computer and looking inside. An actual image and information about said Joe Schwartz, even conversations with Joe, may be stored in the computer, but you can’t see them or hear them. All is quiet. All is empty in there, except for some immovable boards and some wiring.

In the physical brain, you may have the memory of Joe Schwartz stored down in some neuron. The conscious part of your brain will have to make just the right synaptic connections for memories of Joe Schwartz to hit that screen of consciousness. The memories are only there for a moment on that screen that is the conscious part of your brain, and there is nothing else except for that momentary flash. There is no support system. There is no “you” in there to say, “I got on my hands and knees in those dusty records. I dug through all the files, and I finally found Joe Schwartz.” There is nothing there but a momentary thought. There is no “you” there except for that momentary thought.

When you are analyzing a problem, either out loud to someone, or privately to yourself, what do you feel about the you that’s doing this? Isn’t the feeling, the sensation, of something quite substantial? That is you we’re talking about! You are thirty, forty, fifty years old. As far as you can tell, you’ve been conscious, thinking, having memories, for all but about five of the years you’ve lived. There is a decades-long history of a conscious you inside you. Decades of experiences. Perhaps you’ve traveled the world. Surely you’ve read hundreds or thousands of books. You’ve attended college and grad school for four, six, eight years. You think constantly. And yet it is clear and obvious that there is no you inside you.

That you, that consciousness that makes us what we are as humans, is nothing but a moment-by-moment flash on a thin veneer of shellac painted across a tiny area at the top part of your brain that lights up like the phosphorus on your computer screen. If you look, the reality of this is there. There’s a thought—flash!—and you did not produce it. The conscious part of the brain absolutely ignores and forgets this, but you do not decide what to think next. You can’t even think about that question without disabling consciousness.

Ask an ordinary, sane, intelligent person if they have thoughts. They will, of course, say that they do. Then ask,  “Are they your thoughts?” They will reply, “Certainly.” Ask, “Do you produce those thoughts?” When they answer yes, say, “Tell me, what are you going to think next?” They won’t be able to answer. You can then say, “In other words, before every thought you have, do you plan what that thought will be?” All that a sane person can do is to get away from you as quickly as possible.

That question literally disables consciousness for a moment. That alone should tell a man everything he needs to know to go stark raving crazy. Nobody plans what they’re going to think, but nobody can think about that, because if they do, that stops thought—and if they look at that, the automatic-reaction aspect makes them want to spit in their own hand.

Thoughts just appear. They appear not because you planned them, not because you had any input. Thoughts appear because of something you just heard or saw or read. Some imbecile could walk up to you and say, “Are you Napoleon?” That person might have an IQ of sixty, and you might have an IQ of a hundred and eighty. None of that matters. The conscious part of your brain may have tested in the absolute genius category, but you can’t stop your consciousness from reacting to an imbecile’s patently imbecilic question.

If that doesn’t either wake you up or make you want to shoot something—if not yourself, then the conscious part of your brain—then what’s wrong with you? You’re a literal genius, and when an obvious idiot walks up to you and makes an idiotic remark, you can’t stop the conscious part of your genius brain from reacting to what the idiot says.

It would be different, of course, if you were awake at the moment, but I’m talking about under ordinary conditions. Obviously, this is tricky to see. There seems to be a depth, a complexity to what’s going on in consciousness, because consciousness is what makes us human. But consciousness is not anything exotic—not a spirit, not a soul, not a divine spark. If consciousness is a divine spark, that spark is in a specific, known part of your brain, and that is what makes you human. You can lose all of your limbs and remain human. You can be completely paralyzed and remain human, even teach at Cambridge, like Stephen Hawking. But if you lose the conscious part of your brain, your body can still live, but you are no longer human. When it comes to being human, consciousness is everything.

Our feeling about the conscious part of the brain is that it is very intricate. We go to psychiatrists who treat the conscious part of the brain as if it were complex and not, as I suggest, a near-empty box with a cobweb over the top of it. Therapists treat consciousness as a huge storehouse chock-full of the accumulated decades of a man’s joys, heartbreaks, memories, suppressed memories, and bad memories.

That’s the way psychology, psychiatry, even the conscious part of the brain itself sees consciousness. But you can see your own consciousness, and recognize that it is nothing but a momentary reality. There is no backup system. There are no years and years of accumulated memory. There are just electrical impulses stored down in the brain that must be activated at a specific moment. The impulses only show up at that moment, and then they’re gone again. Everything is gone again. The only thing consciousness is, which means the only thing you are, other than your body, is that momentary flash, and that flash is only there when an externalstimulus triggers it. That, my friend, is your consciousness.

This is not bad news. You may trust me completely when I say that. When you see this for yourself, it will make your heart sing. It will astound you. But I warn you that you may not want to pursue this, because if you are successful, it will take away all of your heartbreak. You will never again be able to worry for more than the apparently standard four or five seconds. You will not be able to be upset any more. As always, we are not talking about physical pain. If your foot gets caught in the lawnmower, you’ll be upset whether you’re enlightened or not. That’s my experience, at least. But all other forms of distress won’t work on you.

Feel free to contact me and tell me if you try this and you have a very bad psychological experience. Just see if that stops me. Hell, that might encourage me.

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The One Eyed’s Inequitable Escape Route
JUNE 9, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX

Looking up from the books spread on the table before him a man mused:
“The many tales of mystical adventures and spiritual quests are not only fascinating,
but enlightening — when you finally understand the origins of them all,”
and the librarian said: “Shhh — don’t think so loud.”
Who else is as fortunate as the real-deal man:
everything he wants to know and everywhere he wants to go is in him.
(And while we’re on such subjects: a special private notice to
nervous system explorers: The Road To Ruin is closed.
Also, as long as we’re here, this medical update pertinent to those
who have moved into rebel territory:
Men who constantly speak of their health are sick —
and with a malady that can and must be cured [the method being too obvious to note.])

The leader of one expeditionary band had tattooed on his upper arm the words:
“An Ordinarily Serious Man Is A Damned Pathetic Man,”
(and next to it he had surgically implanted a small mirror………….facing his way).

People are satisfied to live in prison for the same reason they live in
each other’s thoughts:
the ostensible solemnity of the herd helps stabilize the lives of individuals,
as publicly shared ideas do their consciousness.

The Somatic Goes Incorporeal.
Just like gonads: neurons are born followers.

In himself, one day a man posed:
“Isn’t all the mystical-tradition stuff little more than taking everyday existence,
(which is already unnecessarily too complicated) and just making it more so?!”
Fact For The Real-Deal Knight.
Consciousness active in a certain unconventional manner can raise questions
which on their literal surface could seem dismissive (even scornful),
but which in the man trying to get to the bottom of things,
can point him to singular and astounding realizations.
“Pa pa: is this why in private: nothing is off limits in the nervous system rebel’s
in-house investigation?”
“Another Sherlock Holmes run for you, me lad.”

Magazines have Letters To The Editor sections for the same reason that
people begin sentences with: “You know” —
reporters report on the activity of reporting because of the monotony of the news;
men believe that collectively: “They know The Truth”
so they won’t have to face up to them not, individually (and lastly):
due to all of the above: real-deal knights insist on being knights
regardless of what ever comes of it.

In an effort to encourage his own march onward:
one man decided to feel sorry for himself only every other Thursday.

From one view the whole notion of there being a mystical-tradition
could be pictured as coming from would-be knights of the past
who feared there might not actually be such a tradition.
The chariots of Caterpillonious (the god of transportation) must continually
lay down a highway in front of themselves on which to proceed.
“Pa pa: is this why any place the mind imagines it wants to go
turns out to always be there?”
“How can the Hatter’s mad tea party not go exactly as he wishes.”
“Is this why man’s consciousness can clearly operate in a particular manner,
yet not realize it?”
“How can you phone yourself and ever get the wrong number.”

Whilst strolling amidst prison’s many and endlessly busy activities a man mused: “Once you recognize the glue that holds all of this together —
you understand that there is no such glue.”
(More precisely put for the true explorer):
In the man’s picture of things, the: “glue,” and: “all-of-this” are the same thing.
There was once a Prince who aspired to a special science
for which he developed a secret mechanism for studying the skies:
his day of his ultimate success came unexpectedly —
when he finally realized that the mechanism was producing the picture of the sky.
In a certain rebel camp this is known as:
The Certain Corner A Real-Deal-Man Must Finally Turn —
after which his consciousness can never permanently return to its previous size.
The active investigator does not have particular days to celebrate
(in that all of his days are celebratory) — but this is one — in fact: the supreme one.

From a quite valid perspective: the great mystical undertaking could be pictured as
a struggle between the necessary, stabilizing force of the collective,
and an uncommon individual’s desire to be internally a true individual.

The one essential for the real-deal-knight is
a castle that is impenetrable from the outside — entirely open within.


Also: The outlier investigator derives no morals from what he discovers.
“Is that why it is so quiet in rebel territory?”