Remember, Nothing in Your Brain is Controling Consciousness
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
The classic metaphor of consciousness is as a dog; an unruly dog incessantly chasing cars zooming by on the road outside its yard. But what is the yard in this metaphor? The brain? If so, how does the dog ever get out of the yard? All the brain’s conscious operations are made from and of itself: within itself.
Nothing in the brain is controlling consciousness; it can’t wander uncontrolled, nor can it be reined in: it slips from one state to the other—entangled with its ‘objects’ or (rarely) acutely concentrated on its naked background-ness, according to some unknowable inherent phase-functioning. (41:24) #3169
Notes by DR
Jan Cox Talk 3169 The conscious operations of the brain is where everything exists, not only the answers but also the questions and that’s the answer. Everyone would agree their consciousness is like an unruly dog chasing after anything. What does the yard symbolize? Can consciousness get out of your brain? Consciousness at its most unruly doesn’t get out of your brain. Consciousness can picture things that it has never experienced. Your dog (it’s not your dog, it’s your thoughts) is out of your control. There is nothing in your brain controlling your consciousness. Your consciousness cannot ever leave your brain. The unruly dog never leaves the yard. It is not leaving a place. What is the ‘out of control’ if it doesn’t leave your brain?
Edited by S.A.
For the last several weeks, I have been referring to the conscious operations of the brain, which is where everything exists—not only the answers to everything, but also the questions. When you realize that, that is the answer. Until then, I consider that my metaphorical picture of consciousness—of attention—as a dog is really yummy. Downright succulent.
I prefer my descriptions to be as literal as possible, though I realize that my preference is not shared by everyone, and certainly not shared by the general audience for things mystical. The few communiques I still receive from people who consider themselves interested in the great mystical work continue to verge on nasty. Those people are not pleased by my literalness. They tell me that I’ve taken all the fun out of mysticism. I understand that. I’ve admitted in these talks that if someone had talked to me fifty years ago the way I’ve been talking here for the last several weeks, I would not have been interested. I would have thought that the man’s message missed the whole point.
I can’t resist returning to the metaphor of the dog. I could say to an ordinary person, “External stimuli, including things that you hear or read, are like cars passing the house of your head. Your consciousness is like an unruly dog, running out of your yard, chasing those stimuli.” The person might respond, “I understand your metaphor, your symbolism,” but they would be exaggerating their understanding, because ordinary consciousness doesn’t perceive what I mean by there being a yard. Suppose I asked, “If this unruly dog represents consciousness, represents your attention at any moment, then what does the yard symbolize? What does the metaphor of the yard represent?” What would be the ordinary person’s response? What would your own ordinary consciousness say?
The ordinary person’s response would probably be something like, “The yard represents my brain, because that’s where consciousness is.” Is that truly the best description of what’s going on? Can consciousness get outside your brain? Can consciousness leave your brain and go somewhere else?
Some deep-dyed, woolly-bully mystics have claimed to have out-of-body experiences during which their consciousness whirls away from their bodies. That’s the great thing about consciousness. It doesn’t cost any more for it to be a little nuts than ten or twenty gallons’ worth of crazy. “I like to imagine that people actually like me better than they treat me.” That’s a little bit nuts. That’s hardly a drop. Or, “When I choose to, I can sail above the planet and look down and observe anything I want to see.” That’s probably damn near a tankful of nuttiness. It’s all the same cost.
At any rate, even at its most unruly, consciousness does not leave your mind. Consciousness can not get out of your brain. If people try to consider this simple fact, they discover that it is a greasy, slippery eel. Most people probably would not put in the effort to ponder that eel, but the tricky part is that consciousness can certainly picture Earth from above, because it has seen photographs of Earth taken from space. People can dream or imagine that their consciousness is flying above the planet. Somebody could say, “Sometimes my mind flies over some part of the planet where there have been problems. I saw on TV that there was an earthquake in Buenos Aires, and last night while I was meditating, my consciousness sailed to South America and hovered over Buenos Aires, looking down at the destruction, the crushed buildings.”
If a New Age, hocus-pocus person really believes what they’re telling you, that just means that at some point, maybe years ago, they saw photographs taken from a plane flying over Buenos Aires. The photograph could have been of Rio de Janiero or Lima, and not Buenos Aires. That wouldn’t matter, because the so-called mystic’s brain has saved that memory and his mind can now conjure up a picture of a South American city. The picture is stored by chemical-electrical energy spread in various spots throughout the brain, and now that person can convince himself that last night his consciousness hovered above Buenos Aires.
That person is telling you about an out-of-body experience during which, in a split second, he sailed from here to Buenos Aires, and at that very moment, his brain pulls up that stored picture of a South American city. His brain might add a bit of smoke from the pictures of the World Trade Center disaster in Manhattan, and maybe some collapsed buildings that the brain recalls from some photographs of a city being bombed, and that person’s brain, their consciousness, looks you dead in the eye and says, “I hovered there and looked down and I could see the aftermath of that earthquake.” That man might believe to the bottom of his tippy-toes that his consciousness traveled like that, even though in reality, it is impossible for anybody’s consciousness to move outside his head.
A man goes to a public library and finds a geography book. He looks at an aerial photograph of any large city in South America. Then he goes home, goes to sleep, and dreams that his consciousness hovered over Buenos Aires. By the time he tells somebody about his out-of-the-brain experience, his consciousness has already laundered that photograph, as if it were South American drug money. In that man’s consciousness, the photograph has gone from being Ascension, Uruguay, to being Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he has gone from seeing the photograph in a book to believing that last night, his consciousness left his body and hovered over Buenos Aires.
That’s like somebody saying, “In a spiritual dream, I went to Cinderella’s ball.” Another person asks, “Are you sure that ball wasn’t thrown by Snow White?” The first man can’t go wrong. If he went to a ball thrown by some fairy tale princess, it’s whichever princess his consciousness says it was. Similarly, somebody could tell you, “God speaks to me when I go into one of my deep trances.” When you are in your ordinary state, and your consciousness says that something is true, no matter how outlandish, who is in there with consciousness to say, “That is not possible”? Nobody. Nobody.
Some years ago, I wrote some Kyroot stories about how the relationship between everyone and their brain, everyone and consciousness, was like a business arrangement. Initially, I used a metaphor of the relationship as a corporation, but I ended up describing it as a partnership, because to call it a corporation implies that there are a lot of stockholders. At any rate, I told a story about a man who, one day in his head, heard a voice say, “I’ve looked everywhere for my partner,” and then another voice in his head said, “Tell me about it.”
Be aware that I am still talking about the dog in the yard. I am talking about what goes on in ordinary consciousness when a man says, “Here’s what I think,” which is the same thing as someone saying that they experience out-of-body consciousness. It would be more accurate to say out-of-the-brain consciousness, but it is actually an experience that their brain can claim to have undergone only because somewhere, somehow, they’ve seen a photograph. That is the power and strength of consciousness—from the ridiculous to the essential. Consciousness can picture things that it’s never experienced. Don’t think that only those on the lunatic fringe do this. Your consciousness does this sort of thing all the time.
Back to the dog in the yard. I’d like for you to look at your dog, consciousness, as not being conscious consciousness. That is not your consciousness any more than it’s your dog, or your thoughts. The consciousness that people are used to is out of control. Under ordinary conditions, nothing in your brain is controlling that consciousness.
Think about that last statement, “Nothing in your brain is controlling consciousness.” That is one of those devastating short sentences. Just seven or eight words. If only a person could hear that sentence when they first become aware of the idea of enlightenment. If somebody had said, “All that you need to meditate on is your consciousness. Your consciousness exists in your brain, but there is nothing in your brain controlling consciousness. You don’t need to go to a mystical school. You don’t need a book. Start looking at your own consciousness, and remember that nothing in your brain is controlling your consciousness. Look at what’s going on in your head as often as you can. The more you look at it, the faster something will happen.” That alone should make a man realize everything.
Back to my main point. It sounds correct to say that your dog will not stay in the yard and continually chases after sounds and sights. People would think, “If my dog is in my yard, he’s penned up, and more or less under my control. He’s not running wild. As long as he’s in my yard, he’s under my control, right?”
That symbolism is basically faulty, because your consciousness, your thoughts, never leave your brain. Your brain, in its conscious operations, can picture places it’s never been. Your brain can conjure up conversations that never occurred between people who are long dead. Your brain can remember a photograph of a large South American city and believe that the photograph is of Buenos Aires even if it’s not. Despite all that, your thoughts, your consciousness, never left your brain and never left a yard of any kind. Therefore, the symbolism that seems correct even to an ordinary person, of the brain’s consciousness as an unruly dog that continually gets out of your yard, is not correct.
Ordinary people say, “My mind wandered,” but they speak of their wandering mind as an anomaly. They use the expression to mark an exceptional experience. Ordinary people can look into another person’s eyes and know when the other person’s dog is gone. Perhaps someone is describing something to you and you start off listening, but you become bored. They see your eyes change, and they ask, “Were you listening to me?” You respond, “Oh! I’m so sorry! My mind wandered,” as though that almost never happens to you.
People love to say, “My mind wandered for a moment.” An awakened man couldn’t say that. He would choke with laughter. “My mind, my consciousness, wandered for a moment! Ha ha!” That’s backward. The awakened man would say, “I’ve had moments in my life when I stopped my mind from wandering. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them.”
Ordinary people would agree that their consciousness, their mind, wanders. They would agree to my symbolism of a dog wandering from the yard. But the dog doesn’t actually wander from your brain. That description is flawed from the outset, because your consciousness can not leave your brain any more than your heartbeat can leave your heart. The beat of your heart can’t step outside you, wander over to a conga drum, and start playing a rumba beat—and consciousness can’t leave your brain. Consciousness, symbolically represented as a dog, can’t leave the yard representing the brain.
I say again, in man’s normal state, his consciousness is not under control. Ordinary people will only admit that sometimes their mind wanders momentarily, like a dog out of control. But what does “out of control” mean? Even though I say the dog runs out of your yard and chases cars driving by, or books strolling by on their little literary feet, I must point out to you that the dog doesn’t get out of control spatially. The dog doesn’t leave your brain. What is going on? What does “out of control” represent? There you stand, needing to have a thought, and first you have to think, “Oh, no! My consciousness just ran out of my yard! Here consciousness! Here boy, here!”
You really can do that. If you suddenly have a need for consciousness, then consciousness is suddenly there. Doesn’t the description seem right when you hear it? Consciousness is out of control, like a dog that runs out of your yard. We leave a gate open, or the dog has dug a hole, and it runs out and leaves the yard.
What does my description of a dog wandering from a yard really represent? I won’t answer that now. I just wanted to put the question to you. What I said about the dog not leaving the yard should be obvious to you. If not, then you’ll be lucky if your own dog gets hit by a car between now and next time, so that you’re in a more malleable condition to hear what I will say. As always, I hope that you come up with the answer for yourself, but if you don’t, you know me. I can’t keep a secret. Well, there is one secret that I can always keep, but I can’t keep any others, so I’ll tell you the answer next time.
I will leave you with this: consciousness does something, but it doesn’t leave in any spatial sense. Why, then, does the description, “Consciousness leaves your yard like an unruly dog,” feel right? I sure hope I can come up with the answer between now and next time. If I can’t, then boy, will I be embarrassed.
Jan’s Daily Fresh Real News (to accompany this talk)
IMPRISONED THOUGHT NEVER EATS A LAST MEAL
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Serving The Few Their Special Mental Menu
JULY 5, 2004 © 2004: JAN COX
One man wished he was a bird –
then wished he was a worm – then a bird again –
then he wished he was a cat – then a cloud – then a worm, and finally
wished he could stop wishing he was something other than he was.
The grand prize was the right to have the front porch of your house removed,
the place from which your consciousness normally watches the endlessly
passing traffic and is captured thereby.
A man wrote the city’s Transportation Director:
“Dear Sir: Should I be more concerned about the type of traffic going by my house,
or my porch’s particular position in relationship thereto?” and the Director wrote back to say that his biggest concern should be that traffic doesn’t run through his house,
(but in line with the bureaucratic attraction to clichés he went on to say that
this information was probably, “too little and way too late.”
[“Isn’t everything!” mused the man’s dog as it lunged once again, blindly into traffic.])
The attraction of alcohol and drugs – in spite of common claims to the contrary –
is that they reinforce the confines of consciousness and encourage
the distracting rambling of congenital thought.
(Would-be consumers might note that such drugs need not be purchased
inasmuch as lower areas of the nervous system can provide them quite nicely.)
After you have awakened to what life is really about,
whenever you lapse back into taking it personally you then dream within a dream.
Man’s ordinary consciousness can act like an open cut that will infect itself.
(In one sense it is shabby to describe consciousness in words such as these,
but without it being limned in striking terms it is extremely difficult to gain even
a brief glimpse of this most elusive, and self camouflaging creature.
(Plus there’s the fact that it doesn’t take it personally anyway. [“Yeah! — not much it don’t!”])
Silence is to certainty as speech is to stupidity.
(“Who said that?”
To help support the desired appearance of wisdom, its author declines to be identified.
[“Sad to say but we can all understand that.”])
Talk (as practiced by ordinary men and their minds)
is like a fabulous train that is going nowhere.
Life In Prison.
When things aren’t going well in their cell,
men are wont to label god the warden.
Ordinary men cannot live an ordinary life without having a premise,
or believing there is some special purpose to theirs.
Send For The Tailor.
No thought – no guilt;
no thought – no moral outrage — such situations would however,
be unacceptable tears in the fabric of man’s collective civil reality.
One Man’s Interim Attempt At Being Enlightened.
“I have never stumbled or screwed up but my consciousness was responsible –
not ME mind you – but my consciousness.”
(“Where do you get this ‘my’ crap?!” said something in the skull.)
Told In Toto: The Fruits Of Man’s Ordinary Mental Life:
More & more about more & more.
(“Pa pa: is there such a thing as low fat snoozing?”)
One day one man’s consciousness said to him:
“Why have you singled me out for all of your intellectual criticism?” –
the answer to which is self evident
(unless you let your self get in the way of its evidentness).
“Why I would never do that.” Who said that?
There was once a people who had, throughout their history, been haunted by something unknown, but felt and assumed to be of great magnitude and complexity;
then one day, one man saw it – and it was actually quite simple,
but when he described it – no one believed him –
so he had to make it sound more complicated than it really was.
Silence is to certainty as talk is to standard confusion.
Irrational (But True) Health News.
When treated by a Bodhi tree or the like,
some people get better – even if they weren’t sick.
Silence is to the thrill of freedom as talk is to the comforting safety of confinement.
A man full of complaints, criticisms, personal problems and pressing questions
went to consult a sage who, after hearing him out, told him he was worrying about
the wrong things, and the man asked him to identify which ones he was specifically talking about, and the wise one could only shake his head in disbelief.
Overheard at a party:
“What will we do when the drugs run out?”
“What will we do when our fears run out?”
“What will we do when our dreams run out?”
(Late into the party.)
“What will we do when our thoughts run out?”
(And someone mumbled something about it couldn’t come too soon.)
Only consciousness can throw a shindig with an endless open bar and enough police
all over the premises to make sure no one has too much fun — or leaves.
To shut up requires that you have no interest in collective man’s incorporeal reality, or you will bark and snap forever at the passing invisible traffic.
Now Leaving On Track Nine!
The man who knows what is going on is like the last guy in line to board
The Yammer Express.
Consciousness that is actually conscious is a front porch of still & quiet.