Only One Thing You Can Be Conscious of—Consciousness Itself
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
There is only one thing you can be conscious of: consciousness itself. But there are two states of it: the ordinary state of distracted, clouded, awareness of a personal ‘you’ having personal thoughts and interacting with its objects, or, unadorned consciousness of consciousness.
Ordinary consciousness is full of collective concerns—e.g., global warming; starvation in Africa, etc.—that are of no real direct consequence to the individual, and at that level, impossible to cure. That is the basis of man’s ordinary cultural activity, amounting to the endless attempt to ‘fix stuff’—to come up with answers for what only it is aware of. Immediate, local, tangible problems are the only real purview of consciousness; everything else is an illusion for an individual man.
All entertainment is the seeking to avoid, to relieve the mind from the burden of its impotence in illusory collective concerns—those known only to consciousness. The mind spends virtually all its time not knowing what to do, and it will do anything to escape that reality. (40:41) #3168
Notes by DR
Jan Cox Talk 3168 The overwhelming distraction is that there is something else in conscious to contend with like an evil spirit, etc. But there’s only one thing in consciousness that you are aware of and that is consciousness. There is being conscious and there is being non-conscious consciousness. There is ‘you’ and there is your consciousness/mind/thought-ultimately all the same. Your consciousness is full of threats, worries such as ozone depletion or wars, something to be concerned about and it can do absolutely nothing. How does consciousness handle it? It looks outside of itself to other people’s ideas. Consciousness shares the same instincts as the rest of the body but the rest knows what to do when faced with threats. Consciousness finds what other consciousnesses think. There is the origin of all cultures, all writing, songs, and movies. Religions are attempted explanations for those who don’t like scientific ones. Problems that it only is aware. Consciousness found out some substances render it unconscious, x-rays, ether and its related field of surgery, and x-rays were invented. Threats are only in consciousness and it doesn’t know what to do with it.
Find 1 problem that consciousness accepts as an intangible problem for which consciousness has a cure. There is none. Does it make it stop? No, it looks to others, to philosophy, literature, movies. Your consciousness knows what to do with any of the intangible problems it is crammed full of and will use most of its time, and do anything than have to face it. There’s always something: you can go get a can of soup and read the label. It’s in its face. It’s to give consciousness something to do. You know why? Sure you do.
Edited by S.A.
If you find your way to do what I’ve been describing, you free yourself from what is surely the grand distraction, which is the feeling that consciousness has produced in everybody that we have an internal opposition. Throughout history, the belief has existed that men are possessed by demons or by evil spirits. Religious people say that the opposition is the spirit of Satan or Lucifer. Psychologists say that we have subconscious traumas. You may not have any affinity for those descriptions, but if you’re not watching, consciousness produces in you a feeling that there’s something else in with you—a feeling that there’s you, and then there’s something else. At the very least, that there is you and also there’s your consciousness, your mind, your thoughts.
You may agree with what I just said, but that agreement is meaningless until you have the feeling for yourself. It’s only then that you realize what a grand illusion and overwhelming distraction this is for everybody. Once you realize this in yourself, you literally can look into people’s eyes, or just listen to them. You can both hear and see that at the same time that people speak, they’re having to translate their thoughts into words—which is the supreme distraction. That keeps a person from ever realizing that there’s only one thing going on inside himself consciously—that only one thing that he is mentally aware of is going on.
The only thing that you are conscious of is consciousness, but there are two states of consciousness. There’s the ordinary, supremely distracted state. That is truly a state of non-conscious consciousness, because in that state, you’re not aware of what’s going on. That state matches the idea expressed by many mystics that we are asleep and living in a dream, living in a darkened cave wherein we’re dealing only with shadows, and not reality.
The other state of consciousness is the state of actually being conscious. Those are the two states: being conscious, and being non-conscious conscious. Non-conscious consciousness is man’s ordinary state, in which consciousness is totally submerged in, and overwhelmed by, thoughts. In the non-conscious state of consciousness, people say things such as, “Here’s what my thoughts tell me. Here’s what I think.” In that state, you can understand nothing, because the illusion is created that there are two things inside you—you and your consciousness, or you and your mind, or you and your thoughts.
Last time, my main sermon topic was that most of consciousness’s time is spent not knowing what to do. People are full of things that they think they know, but that are known only in consciousness. For example, there are serious claims that humans are destroying the ozone layer, which will eventually spell the doom of mankind. Without the ozone layer, we would be directly subject to the sun’s radiation, which would kill all life on this planet. If we go outside, we can’t feel that the ozone layer is now thinner than it was twenty years ago, but consciousness now knows about that danger.
Let’s say that you have read fifteen scientific articles about the thinning of the ozone layer, and your consciousness accepts that this is a growing, immanent danger. Your body does not know this. Nothing in you knows of the danger but your consciousness—and what can your consciousness do to fix the problem? Nothing. There’s not a thing you can do that will make much difference. I could have named a handful of other problems, like terrorism, or wars going on in other parts of the world, or infestations of plant diseases that if not stopped, will eventually cause the widespread destruction of our basic food crops, so that we’ll all starve to death. Your consciousness is full of such worries, concerns, and threats, about which it can do nothing.
I suggest you try and see this for yourself in the simple way I’m describing it, because this is what I first saw, which seemed to introduce other things. Keep noticing your consciousness, and see if I’m not correct. When you’re not figuring out the solution to some actual physical problem, then your consciousness is busy thinking of potential problems about which it does not know what to do.
That’s a real eye-opener, is it not? How does consciousness handle that? Consciousness looks outside of itself to other people’s ideas. Perhaps you’ve had a greenish rash in your armpit for a few days, and you just happened to read in the newspaper today about a new illness they’ve discovered in Thailand that’s killing people within days of the symptoms showing up, and the primary symptom is a green rash. Do you get the idea? Your consciousness reads about global warming, or reads about this rash. No other part of you now knows about those things. Your body does not feel global warming. Nothing in you feels a depletion of the ozone layer, or pays attention to the rash under your arm, but your consciousness now knows about this, accepts it as a danger, and wants to do something about it.
Consciousness shares the same instincts as the rest of the body. If your body is under a physical threat—if you suddenly find a dog in your back yard baring his fangs, looking like he’s about to attack—consciousness is not really needed. Your body knows that’s a danger and that it must take action. You don’t really need consciousness to deal with physical dangers. To artificially separate consciousness from your body—your body knows what to do if you see a flood coming down the ravine, if lightning is striking close to you, if somebody lunges at you with a knife.
On the other hand, your consciousness is replete with non-physical threats and dangers of which only it is aware, but it doesn’t know what to do. Think about that for a second. If you just happened to read about a symptom you have, and the article says your symptom is deadly, your consciousness doesn’t know what to do. What’s consciousness going to do about a green rash? “I’ve had this rash for a week. I rubbed it with alcohol every day, but it’s still there. Now I found out it’s deadly.” Your consciousness doesn’t know what to do. Oh, your consciousness may call a doctor to take care of your green rash, but that’s about the extent of what consciousness can do.
Regarding depletion of the ozone layer, most people nowadays would rush to their computer, open a search engine, and type in “ozone”, just to see what somebody else’s consciousness thinks. There, my friends, is the basis of human culture. Not only the basis of culture but the origin of all writing. That’s right—I said all writing. That may sound harsh, but if it does, your ears are too tender. If you see what consciousness is doing, how consciousness works, then you can realize that all the parts of man’s culture—art, literature, religion, and all the rest—are attempted explanations for intangible problems. Everything that comes out of religion, out of fiction, out of art, out of drama, is consciousness attempting to come up with answers for problems of which only consciousness is aware.
Consciousness can do one other thing about problems. A while back, I started splitting technology and science from culture, because when consciousness sees an external problem, a physical problem that technology or science could figure out, consciousness can often find a permanent, or at least temporary, solution. Consciousness often finds a treatment or even a cure for physical illness, through the same type of circuitous route that consciousness used to discover radiation and then conceive of and oversee the fabrication of x-ray machines.
In that same way, consciousness developed modern surgical techniques. Consciousness first had to discover that some substances will render it unconscious. Consciousness had to find that out because the rest of the body never would have, except perhaps accidentally. The body might have fallen into a pool of ether—if there were such a thing—and been rendered unconscious, but if man didn’t have consciousness, the only thing the body would have learned from that experience was to strenuously avoid places that smelled like ether. To the body without consciousness, ether would have been like a dog with his fangs bared. Instead, a man who had consciousness somehow figured out that a bit of ether would put him to sleep. His consciousness must have thought, “Cutting me open would normally kill me, but not if I’m unconscious. If I render myself unconscious, somebody else can cut me open and fix things that are wrong inside my body.”
At any rate, through some long process, consciousness invented surgery. Ether and chloroform were developed in the 1840s, and put into widespread use during our Civil War. Before that, if somebody needed to be cut open, all they could do was give him a stick to bite on, or a swig of whiskey if they had it, tie him down, and cut him open. The shock of being cut open without anesthesia must frequently have killed people.
At any rate, consciousness, through a long process, figured out how to use anesthesia to keep a person from feeling the pain of surgery. That happened through the use of science and technology. All technical and scientific problems have the possibility of being solved, cured, eradicated, because consciousness can figure out how to alter the physical environment. If we are physically depleting the ozone layer, consciousness can develop things like cleaner burning gasoline.
However, consciousness can only solve tangible problems. When a problem is intangible, and only exists in the knowledge of consciousness, consciousness doesn’t know what to do. I suspect that your consciousness imagines that I’m exaggerating. Consciousness normally assumes that there’s always an exception. I challenge you to look for yourself, and describe to me any non-physical, non-tangible problem for which consciousness has a cure. Can you think of one?
Just because there is no cure for any intangible problem of which consciousness is aware, does that make consciousness give up? No. Consciousness looks to others. There may be no cures, but others might have treatments to offer. Religion is such a treatment, as is philosophy. All of culture is such a treatment. Some movies, for example, can be looked at metaphorically. Most science fiction movies and many dramas can be seen as metaphors. It’s the same with literature. You can look at all of Shakespeare as being metaphorical. Not knowing what else to do about death, or about all sorts of intangible problems, consciousness looks outside itself to see if anybody else has answers. Consciousness will watch movies, read literature, even read trashy fiction that you’d be hard pressed to call metaphorical at the level of a Balzac or a Shakespeare, all in search of answers.
When you see this for yourself, you will have no doubt. Consciousness watches television and movies, and reads anything it can get its metaphorical hands on, for one reason—because consciousness doesn’t know what to do about the problems, threats, and dangers it’s faced with. Consciousness turns to others for the answers. “Do you know what to do?” Of course, nobody knows what to do. Some people will say they have answers to that question. That’s what psychiatrists, rabbis, priests and the like are for.
Your friends, too, will give you advice. You tell Joe, “I’ve been worried a lot lately. Sometimes I don’t think my wife, my lover, my husband really loves me any more. They’re not cheating on me or anything, but I worry. What do you think?” Joe will tell you what he thinks you should do. A psychiatrist, for money, will tell you what you should do. A priest will. But they don’t know. And whatever they tell you is, shall we say, extremely unlikely to cure your problem.
Here’s the point, but you’ve got to see this for yourself to get the benefit. No one’s ordinary consciousness knows what to do about any of the intangible problems with which it is crammed full, and consciousness will do anything other than face that. Anything! This is so obvious that it’s almost impossible to see. You’re so busy keeping from seeing this for yourself that it’s almost impossible to ever discover what I’m telling you. I look at it now, and I’m amazed that I ever saw it. Because it’s incredibly simple and obvious. Your ordinary consciousness, the thing that entirely constitutes what you call you, spends almost every instant of its time not knowing what to do.
Consciousness does everything it can to keep from having to face the reality that it doesn’t know what to do. Try to make your consciousness look at what it’s doing. You will see that your consciousness is doing anything other than simply being conscious, because if your consciousness were just conscious, it would be aware of what I’ve been describing for the last twenty years, and very specifically for the last two weeks. Consciousness will read anything it can get its hands on, turn on television, talk to people, or spend hours playing video games and web-surfing on the computer. In desperation, consciousness will grab a can of soup and read the label. Every book, every movie, every conversation that ordinary people have is to give consciousness something to do. What I’m telling you is why consciousness wants something to do.
You can see this for yourself. You don’t have to take my word for it. Consciousness is filled with problems, dangers, threats, that only it knows about, yet consciousness can not call upon any resource in your body to cure any intangible problem. Consciousness can’t look down at your bicep and say, “Do something about my worry that my wife is falling out of love with me.” Consciousness can’t look at a muscle in your leg and say, “Do something about people making fun of me. I’m going crazy worrying that strangers always look at me and laugh. Fix that for me!”
Consciousness does not know what to do—but consciousness will do anything to keep from facing that. Do you know why? Sure you do.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
THINKING YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING IN PRISON IS PROOF YOU DON’T
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The Inside Skinny For Those Stripped For Escape
JULY 2, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX
How Mind Fails To Notice Relationships Between Activities Of The Mind:
(Via Literary Definitions).
Novels: Long pieces of fiction.
Reviews Of Novels: Short pieces of fiction.
To ever escape the distorting confinement of the natural born intellect you must recognize the mirror relationship between critical thought about matters in man’s intangible reality and the matter being thought of critically;
without this understanding your mental efforts will remain as a man trying to square up a doorway with a plumb line that is out of whack.
Corollary to this is that ordinary men believe some matters are more deserving of criticism than others (that is): the more serious be the matter, the greater is the need for solemn critique thereof;
but one who has cleared his head and inhales life directly no longer has interest in meaningless graduations of aromas:
shit stinks – and there’s nothing more to be noted.
By words is consciousness imprisoned,
and dunces that they be,
by them men expect to get free.
(“That’s a bit harsh isn’t it?”
“But it’s also true, isn’t it.”)
One benefit of realizing in what a deep daze your mind normally exists
is that you cannot thereafter intentionally make it any worse – intentionally.
Question: How is that?
The Anxiety Of Those Residing In City Structures.
There is always something to be concerned about, both downstairs and upstairs,
(but note that the upstairs stuff is all imaginary).
One man says that although he has not become mentally deranged,
he has managed to make his duodenum neurotic.
A peripatetic drummer would periodically drop in at a monastery and make possible
for those there to temporarily trade their hair shirts and shoes with pebbles
for an unusual beat which would momentarily release them from their self induced, inner doldrums.
One way to combat sleepiness is to knock yourself unconscious.
(“The sad thing is though that you cannot up the stakes to suicide…..
but come to think of it: I guess it’s good to have at least one thing
that is the final word in its field.”)
To himself a man spoke:
“Well dammit! – even if I can’t be more conscious,
why can’t I at least remember that it is possible! – is that too much to ask!?
Damn, damn, damn, damn, dammit!”
Sad in a way that only those struggling to awaken can appreciate how it is
to want a particular thing more than anything else in life –
and forget about the problems of how to achieve it –
most of the time you can’t even remember that you want it.
Ordinary men – no matter how disappointed they may be in their ordinary pursuits – simply have nothing in their lives equal to this experience.
And yet those with the uncommon intellect native to those hungry for enlightenment,
seem in a certain manner to themselves, to be the dumbest of the dumb.
(“Ain’t it a hoot!”)
Easily (after the fact) can ordinary minds accept, even sing the benefits of hardship;
easily being the unwitting nom de guerre for: lack of alternative.
With no goal – there are no set backs –
and even when there are – they can be re named something else.
Failed novels have no father — but criticism, endless mothers.
(“Yes – I did declare my desire to go to Shangri-La,
and true: I have not yet gone there – but! – I pointed it out first!”)
The inerrant test of whether a person is enlightened or not
is if, when they are asked what was going through their mind during some
episode or the other, they give any response other than: “I have no idea.”
Mirrors And Knowledge Of The Secret.
A man-who-knows – casts no reflection (and even if he does – it’s not really him).
When an enlightened man is among cave dwellers —
he seems as shadowy as the next guy.
Smiling insincerity – that is the key to social life in jail (in a herd, in the city, and like that.)
Today’s Genesis Myth.
Immediately after every human being is born,
life tells them what thought is really all about –
then almost immediately – they forget about it, and get on with the business of
being an ordinary human being.
That is why, in routine creation tales, god, as he appears in the original garden of
non conscious paradise, never says to Adam-the-first-man: “Why are you still here!?”
The Singularity Of it All – Ya’ll.
Becoming differently conscious is the only undertaking which, when successful,
is recognized by no one.
A man threw a rock with a note tied round it into the yard of a sage which asked
if his many comments concerning the notion of enlightenment were meant to be encouraging to its pursuit – or as dissuasion from attempting it.
(You know: you can put someone’s eye out, throwing rocks.
“I’d give anything if someone would put MY ‘I’ out!”)
One chap initially thought he had rickets –
then eventually realized he was just becoming aware of his normal neural connections.
Attempting to be more conscious than is normal for your brain is the one area of
human activity in which over doing it is impossible:
the very idea of somehow over doing it is in fact, quite funny.
The less a man understands what is really going on with life,
the more will he try to make a big deal out of being a human.
There is a reason — and it’s not stupidity — for animals’ laissez faire attitude.
A man wrote a sage:
“Can you be a serious sort and still achieve enlightenment?” and the latter replied:
“That would depend on what matters specifically you might feel serious about –
and if I were to ask you to tell me which matters these might be – and you did –
then you’d have your instant proof that you are already way too serious.”
One way to assure your normalcy and routine shaky health
is to determine yourself sick in selective areas.
In the city: if you want to put forth much of a personality,
you’re expected to have personality problems.
Once you get a workable glimpse of what is really going on with life
and thus recognize the challenge before you, there is then only one problem –
one simple little problem,
(and of course the teensy little matter of being able to remember it……………[hardly worth mentioning.])
In the course of living in the city, one man developed a brain tumor –
which grew to be the same size as his mind –
which presented a certain difficulty in having it surgically removed.
Definition: Humility: Ignorance with the air let out.
To be differently conscious (in that special way so adored by the certain few)
is to be calm & quiet amidst much noise & confusion.
“And this is true both externally and internally!?”
Quite so – quite so.
Seeking the counsel of something in you other than the normal consciousness
of your brain is like tossing a penny in a canyon,
and getting back a thousand dollar bill.