Jan Cox Talk 3161

Big Stick to Carry–“This Is My Brain Thinking (Not, “It’s Me 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, 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

The primal effective perception/observation (in one seeking awakening) of something being wrong with ordinary consciousness is: “my mind is out of control!” And that that lack of control is the reason for one’s inability to engage consistently, willfully, in consciousness-raising activity (i.e., self-remembering, etc.) The focus then becomes to struggle with the mind, to bend it to the task of awakening.

But this is just the brain saying ‘my mind is out of control’—how can this be? The kitten chases its tail: it is impossible for your brain to be out of control! The CPU never identifies itself as the speaker when it speaks to ‘you’ (itself)! All Revolutionary awareness of the activity of thought should be prefaced with ‘this is brain speaking’…and not ‘this is me thinking’ or ‘this is my brain thinking’. There is an absolute difference between “my mind is out of control” and “this is brain speaking, and I’m totally out of control!” (53:52) #3161


06-16-2004   #3161
Edited by S.A.

What I’ve been describing for the last few talks leads to a two-stage process. You may have noticed that usually there are three stages to such a process, and I think that’s one of the things that wears out most would-be mystics. Two stages are better than three, but one stage would be even better.

At any rate, the tune goes like this: with whatever mystical system you have selected, you start off feeling that your consciousness—your mind—is out of control. You might be using the word, “spirit”, rather than “mind” or “consciousness”, but in all of the classic mystical systems—Buddhist, Sufi, Tibetan Tantric, Zen, or the yoga approach laid out in the Vedic literature—the feeling is that when you begin, your mind or your spirit is out of control, which is why you can’t remember the name of Buddha or count every breath or remember yourself.

You tell yourself, “I joined this mystical school. They say that from now on, with every breath I take I must remember the name of Buddha, and that when I become so dedicated that with every breath I indeed remember the name of Buddha, I will have achieved enlightenment.” You accept that teaching, which seems simple enough, but you soon realize that no matter how hard you try, you keep forgetting to remember the name of Buddha.

At first, you may keep running to your mystical teacher to ask for help. It probably takes a while for you to say to yourself, “I never realized it before, but the reason I can’t do this is that my mind is out of control. I seem to get by in everything else. I can balance my checkbook. I can do my job. But now that I’ve got a specific metaphysical task, to constantly remember the name of Buddha, I find I can’t do it because my mind, my very own mind, is out of control.”

That is Stage One. Very few people ever get beyond that. You could approach people who have been trying to achieve enlightenment for fifty years, and ask them, “Can you now ceaselessly remember the name of Buddha?” They will no doubt readily admit that they can’t. After fifty years of trying, they still must confess that their minds are out of control.

Stage Two of the approach I’m describing is to go from, “My mind, the conscious part of my brain, is out of control,” to “This is Brain speaking, and I am out of control.”

“Professor,” you ask, “Is there really much difference between the two?”

“Listen, you little nipper,” I respond, “The difference is so unfathomable that I don’t know what could be a bigger deal. I realize that this is almost impossible to grasp, and I’m trying to give you some indication of how to go about it.”

We may be born conscious, even though there is no particular hard evidence to prove that. By consciousness, remember, we mean the conscious part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, which is wrapped around the top of the brain. That cerebral cortex is the only place where consciousness exists. The job of the rest of the brain is to keep us alive physically—to monitor, to send out instructions, to reinforce. The rest of the brain does all that without consciousness, speech, or thought. We’re born with the cerebral cortex in place, and so it’s probably disingenuous not to believe that we’re born conscious. Certainly by the time a kid is two or three and speaking coherently, he is fully conscious in the operational sense.

When that kid begins speaking, what does the work of speaking is the conscious part of the brain, and by the time consciousness starts to speak, it has already become disingenuous, because it does something that no one pays attention to. Consciousness pretends that it is something else. Consciousness says to me, “I am asleep because my mind is out of my control. My consciousness, the conscious part of my brain, is out of my control.” Could there be a more glaring piece of fiction ever uttered by man? The brain will not admit, “This not my mind speaking. This is not my consciousness speaking. This is not my brain speaking. This is Brain speaking. This is Brain thinking and talking to me.”

The reason this is so hard to grasp, I suggest, is that it is too simple. That’s not exactly what I mean, but I don’t have a more accurate description. We don’t know why Brain starts out with misdirection. The misdirection goes right past ordinary people, but for anyone actively trying to awaken, to achieve enlightenment, if they are thinking several times a day about whatever system or teaching they have adopted, then they are thinking in some way about their consciousness. They’re thinking, “My mind was busy reviling people, criticizing people. I’ve got to rein in my thoughts and bring my consciousness under control or I’ll never be able to continually remember the name of Buddha, to continually count my breaths.”

What could be more obvious? In order to wake up, to achieve enlightenment, think that you must first bring your mind, your thoughts, under control. You can’t pursue any metaphysical system—trying to remember yourself, trying to observe yourself, trying to count your breaths, trying to be conscious of every inhalation and exhalation you make—you can’t do any of that, as you quickly learn, in your ordinary state of sleep. Trying to wake up forces people like us into confrontation with the very thing that is closest to us, that is at the heart of us—our mind.

Trying to wake up forces us to realize, “My mind is out of my control. Through habit, I can do my normal mental activities, but to wake up, I need to control my mind. My mystical teacher told me that I must count every breath I take from now on, and every time I lose count, I have to start over. He told me I’ve got to remember the name of Buddha constantly, no matter what else I’m doing, and that will lead me to enlightenment. I believe that, and I thought it sounded simple, but I am shocked to discover that I can’t do that one simple thing.

“I finally have a task that will pay off in the mystical realm, and this teacher says that the basic discipline that I must follow is to constantly remember a two-syllable word, Buddha, a two-letter word, Om. And I can’t do that task for two seconds! I start out fine, but an hour later, I’m shocked to remember what I was supposed to be doing for the last hour. This simple-seeming task has made me aware, for the first time in my life, that my mind is not under my control.”

It is frightening when you realize this. “For the last hour and two minutes, I drove to work on the freeway. I wedged my car into a parking space, walked to my office building, took the elevator to my floor, and went to to my desk. I did all that while I was literally out of my mind. I don’t know where my mind was, but I know it wasn’t with me. I guess it was still in my head, but it was totally out of my control, because for all that time, I did not remember to repeat the name of Buddha.”

That sounds right, doesn’t it, but that is not the truth. That explanation is a baby-truth, a misguided truth. Wouldn’t you agree if I say that for a sizable portion of our lives our minds are not under our conscious, willful control? I’ll speak for all of us and say that is true. Your mind is not under your control every waking second. It is your brain but not your brain.

What is saying these words right now is Brain, not my brain. Let me tell you about a man who only uses the word, “my”, in reference to material possessions. I’ve been secretly trying to imitate him for a long time, ever since I made him up. Is there any other proper time to use the word, “my”? My feelings, perhaps? I’m insulted. My feelings are hurt. But not, my mind is rambling or my mind is out of my control. Does anything about that last sentence feel funny or weird? Probably not, but I’m telling you, it doesn’t get much weirder than that.

This is lunacy, and that’s not even the point. I started to say that this keeps you an arm’s length from the truth. But actually, this keeps you one person away from the truth, because the conscious part of the brain has made up an entirely fictitious something and put that something between you—between all of us—and the truth. Consciousness put that fictitious mind there, and it’s invisible, because when you say, “My brain, my mind, is out of my control,” it appears that you’ve stated what seems to be a fact. Nevertheless, you’ve put a whole other reality between you and this fact. Your mind is not out of control. Here is what you should be saying: “This is the conscious part of Brain speaking, and quite often I am out of control.”

Now that is a fact, and a superior telling of what is going on. Compared to that statement, the first statement is essentially a lie. Perhaps I should call the first statement ridiculous or ludicrous, because it doesn’t seem to be a lie. Nevertheless, the first statement reveals the terrible condition we’re in—that the brain in your head talks constantly and shows pictures on a screen, and lies to you. The brain does represent fairly truthfully the nature of the physical world. But regarding everything non-tangible, to label what the brain tells you “a fiction” doesn’t begin to be accurate. This is not me talking. This is the conscious part of the brain in my head talking, but that part never admits, “This is Brain talking, and I am out of control.”

You don’t start out in the morning and in your head, hear, “This is Brain. I am now going to constantly remember the name of Buddha.” When you’re sitting at your desk an hour later, inside your head you don’t hear, “This is Brain speaking. I don’t know what happened for the last hour, but I completely forgot to remember the name of Buddha. For all that time, I have been out of control.”

That is the complete truth. Can I pare that sentence down any more? People do use other terms, and I use them sometimes when I’m talking to you. Somebody might say to themselves with great sincerity—because there is nothing more serious than trying to wake up—somebody might look at their watch, and in their head, what they hear, is, “Oh, no! For the last hour, I have been fast asleep! My consciousness, my mind, was absolutely out of control. I lost control. I went to sleep.”

Nothing sounds more correct, and you can describe it that way from now until you die, but if you want to wake up, you need to be more precise. Then you will say to yourself, “This is Brain speaking. Why am I describing what happened so untruthfully? My mind has not been asleep, in the dark, AWOL, out of my control. That is total misspeak, ridiculous, and simply not true. The truth is that I, Brain, the conscious part of the brain, have been out of control.”

You should say, “This is Brain speaking,” but watch how often, when you start trying to say that, you end up saying, “This is my brain speaking.” You tell yourself that you won’t say “my thoughts”, or “my consciousness”. That is a super form of sleep, of nuttiness. You’ve got to make Brain tell the truth. Here’s what should be going on: “Brain speaking. What on earth am I doing? I’ve been trying to wake up and keep myself focused, but I failed again. Since early this morning, when I got tied up with a problem at work, I’ve been like a runaway train. I’ve been like a tornado. I, Brain, have been out of control. I, Brain, am generally out of control.”

Why, I ask you, do we not naturally grow up doing that? Why, as soon as consciousness  becomes operational, doesn’t the conscious part of the brain start off thinking, “How neat! I, Brain, think. I have pictures. I can talk.” For all we know, consciousness may actually do that for its first few minutes or hours. But I know that stops as soon as you and the adults you grew up around start to engage in meaningful dialogue, because then somebody asks you, “What did you mean by that? What did you mean when you said such-and-such?”

I don’t mean that those adults cause this to happen. I’m asking if you can remember a time in your life when the thoughts in your head weren’t on the basis of “My thoughts. My mind”? A time when you thought, “This is Brain speaking. I am aware of the fact that for the last few hours I, Brain, have been totally out of control”?

I hesitate to plant a suggestion in your head, but once you begin to get a feel for this, you will see that it is difficult to say to yourself, “This is Brain speaking.” It feels more comfortable saying in your head, “For the last hour, my mind identified with some problem, and my consciousness has been back in that dream world.” That is comfortable because you appear to be speaking of some possession of yours, although we know that your mind is not a possession. That is like, “My heartbeat has been a little irregular lately. My stomach has been aching. My mind has been out of my control.” You’re telling yourself, “My mind can be under my control. I can solve the problem of my mind wandering.”

There is something comforting about thinking you can solve that problem, so comforting that you want to forget to say, “Brain speaking. I’m out of control. I’ve been totally out of control all day.” It is not easy to say those words. But once this begins to sink in, you will gradually begin to feel that there is a quite distinct difference in saying, “This is Brain speaking. I am constantly, totally out of control,” and, “My mind has just been out of my control.”

Do you see the resemblance to the dog I often describe? “I was busy observing myself, busy remembering the name of Buddha, until I heard somebody say something. That is, the dog of my focused attention heard a car go by, and boom! That dog charged out of the yard, and it will stay gone for hours. I can not let my mind keep getting out of my control like this.” That is not the same as the conscious part of your brain saying, “I am totally out of control.” They are hardly in the same universe.

I suggest that if you keep working on this, it will begin to slip up on you. Try it. You’ll hate it.

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Words For The Few With The Capacity To Do
JUNE 16, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX

Mere deeds are too simplistic for a fully civilized, snoozing existence:
this is where words come in.
Acts alone are okay for orangutans, but men! –
men require facts to fulfill their destiny (and since there be none naturally),
one of their premier intangible acts is to produce them.
What an arrangement —
what a curious position play these creatures on the team of things alive;
his fellow players can only move as their non verbal instinct directs them,
but Homo sapiens can call plays and run patterns unimaginable to all the other
living creatures.
(“Almost makes you proud to be a human,” said a gorilla in a tux,
attempting to pass for a Nobel nominee,
“A ploy that did not fool me for a moment,” later claimed the well known,
always-on-the-run teutonic physicist: Dr. Baulder Dash.)

Acts & Facts.
Once upon a time there were only acts:
naught but the actions of atoms, stars and slugs filling the universe;
then came man – then his consciousness – and after that: facts.
The facts he developed enabled man to engage in acts never before seen,
or conceived of which made him king of survival;
but one thing the species as a whole has never pursued via facts
is the facts about the nature of facts.
(Not to be concerned: a mutant sub group appeared who took on this challenge.)

Shopper’s Tip.
The luxury of the excessive is always a limited time offer;
not only must you strike while the iron is hot regarding acts — but facts as well:
when a particular one appears in your head, if you do not over do it —
think more about the matter than is naturally necessary in the case of your mind –
the opportunity can be lost forever.
A tardy schoolboy who does not awaken in the morning in time to ride the bus
will first have his toes cut off — and next time, his feet.
Feet are a luxury when it comes to facts, so keep in mind the above tip.

One man (even though commonly complimented for his insightful thinking)
says he must stop listening to himself least he become even more like himself
than he is already.
(“Gad zooks!” exclaimed the Collector Of Excise Taxes.)

The Explanation.
Imported intelligence always costs more.
“Does that mean it is worth it?”
Men just enjoy having an exotic seeming reason for jacked up prices.
(Aka: If you were born in France for instance, it will cost you more
[one way or the other] to seek enlightenment in India.)
“Is it worth the extra cost?”
Men gladly pay for their distractions.
“Is that why there are always competing facts about the same subject?”
Imported intelligence always costs more –
even if it only came as far as from another person to you.
The person untouchably committed to achieving enlightenment
(even before he understands what it actually is)
will ultimately narrow down his search to just one location – (okay: one person.
“Almost makes me proud to be me,” said a man no longer dressed like anyone.)

Among the herd of the prison population: all attempts to explain man fail:
a fact in fact employed by some as an explanation.
(Let’s all stand and give cheer for: The Ordinary Minded!
Just think what they would know if they actually knew what they were talking about.)
Out of the mouths of mechanical cows come (well, you know the rest.)

The old timer told the kid:
“If you don’t know, it’s nice to know that someone does.”

One chap wore a T-shirt with a photograph of himself on it;
he says it makes everything “easier.”

The ole timer picked the matter back up:
“If you don’t know, it’s important to know that someone knows –
and to know that the someone is not in a far away place.”

The chap with the T-shirt has progressed now to wearing one with a photograph
of himself from the back on it;
he says this shot has really: “cleared up a lot of things.”

In the ordinary realm: almost any explanation is at least as good as cyanide.

Civilization and the world of facts was the original Promised Land to everybody –
but why stop there;
if there was one – there must be another.

In the routine prison world of facts: any excuse to stop – even for a moment –
is almost as good as having your feet permanently nailed to the floor.
What else after all IS living in a dream mind
but confusing the ephemeral and the eternal: mistaking a cough and a coffin.
Acts are always – facts, just for the moment –
so don’t let ‘em trip you up and cause you to unnecessarily hang around in the hall.

On one man’s mental computer screen the ad for: “Lose Weight While You Sleep”
has been superseded by one in which the word: Weight has been replaced by: Confusion (in other words): Lose Sleep While You Sleep, and if you find that insane, you just haven’t been exposed to enough of the jail house methods to awaken,
and get out of the place.
The way wardens get to BE wardens is by their ability to make prisoners believe
they are on their side –
what else are they going to do – what else can they do –
they’re locked up in there same as everyone else.
(“I continue to be utterly smitten by the subtle, yet brutal chicanery
by which men are kept in line.”
As well you should be sir.)

“Dear Dr. Exacto:
Does having your body shipped somewhere for burial count as travel?
Sincerely,” etc.

The Inescapable Math Of It.
The less you understand, the more serious you are.

Prisoners who don’t actually want to be free will commonly seem the most excited when escape plans are discussed;
captives who are able to convince themselves that they are smarter than their master are far too mentally torpid to present any security risk.
As every good guard and warden knows: “Keep ‘em entangled in facts,
and acts that might actually lead to freedom will never cross their mind.”
(P.S. The consciousness you came with is your warden and guards.)


Psst! — what prisoners take as thinking is actually mail call.