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WEAKENING THE HOLD
Document: 25, June 3, 1982
Copyright(c) Jan M. Cox, 1982
Someone here has mentioned to me that they cannot imagine themselves living to a ripe old age. Whether the person understood it completely or not, it isn't just the feeling that many people believe in their ordinary self of "Boy, I'll never be old. Something terrible will happen or something great will happen," but this also refers to the possibility of whether you will live the rest of your life inside your own mechanical system, being victim and agent for the same certain transfers of energy. If that happens, then you're already at old age by the time you reach the age of majority. At the ordinary level, by the time you're grown up, you're old.
I have described to you in several ways something everyone has a taste of -- that kind of frustration, that kind of excitement, that kind of nonspecific anticipation you had as a teenager -- that "someday something great will happen; I'll be discovered by someone famous who'll recognize my talent; someone will give me a million dollars; a beautiful movie star will come and marry me, or at least we'll run off to a motel for the weekend." Then you reach an age somewhere around twenty-one and suddenly this ill-fitting, inside-out uniform that seems to be you hardens, and you give up. You realize that nothing great is going to happen, none of the dreams are going to come true. At this same time you become "I". At the same moment, you have also become old. From that moment on, the ordinary man's feeling, although he can't analyze it, is "I've got to keep running...I've got to keep up with the neighbors...I've got to map out my career...I've got to keep a wild duck in the attic... I've got to have some kind of plan...I've got to keep track of all the new car models so that I can trade in..." There has to be the sensation that things are moving along.
The one thing an ordinary man can't imagine is reaching an old age, living as an old person. If we asked him to consider the question, "Can you picture yourself being old? Look at that old man or woman who can hardly walk, having to use a walker just to get down the street. It takes them two hours just to get up in the morning. Can you imagine being like that?" they can only reply, "No, I can't imagine being like that." I'm suggesting to you that the basis of their feeling is actually: "I cannot bear to live another thirty or forty years of this boredom, of this frustration." But on the other hand, no one at Line-Level can picture the alternative. No one can face his life, and no one can face his death. They are caught in a double bind and, at the common level, there is no way out.
The great majority of people will tell you "I cannot imagine being _____," whatever the average old age is in that particular civilization. I am telling you that the ordinary mind does not want to operate on the basis of, "Here I am thirty years old and people around here live to be seventy. You mean that I have to live through forty more years of this boredom, this frustration? How many cars can I buy? How many hobbies can I take up? How many waitresses can I try to pick up when my wife's out of town?" And it gets harder and harder, the hair starts getting thin, and no one wants to deal with that.
All of you must eventually understand that you have no right to be sick. Of course, everyone does get physically ill at times. But if you're doing This Thing, you have no right to become engaged with sickness, to indulge in it, to enjoy it. And similarly; one attempting to push himself to the extremes of his nervous system has no right to become ordinarily old. To put it another way, whether you're twenty or seventy, you must be in the process of growth, not in process of stagnation and decay.
I am going to mention something about a continuing kind of fright that affects many of you here. If it were not for the Aim of This Thing, and if it were not for the justice involved, the attempt to do This Thing could parallel going crazy. Not in the ordinary sense of the word -- not in some mechanical way, as in extended years of alcoholism or drug addiction, or that genetically you've got a lump in the wrong place in the brain. But when you continually attempt to do that which you are not naturally wired to do; when you attempt to try and See that Life is not composed of separate things, that people are not a something that can be identified in time and space, you are simultaneously Seeing that you are not what you have always thought you were. You're Seeing that there is no one "out there," and there is no one in you. And this can parallel what people ordinarily call "going crazy." But can you also See that had it not been for the extraordinary attempt to unravel yourself in a place that you didn't even know existed, had you not driven yourself a little crazy, you would have seen nothing?
I am going to draw a crude parallel in response to some of your questions about this fright, this sensation of "Sometimes I almost begin to See that which you describe, and at first it is exciting, but then it becomes almost frightening," and I want to be sure that everyone understands what I mean by "lateral connections" and that what I have drawn is literally true.
It is an accepted medical fact that the majority of the brain is inactive -- it does not seem to operate; it is just there. While this is true, what I am describing is the existence of a certain level, a cutoff point, which exists physically right at the base of the brain. What I want you to See is that everything which exists in the lower nervous system is repeated in the brain itself. This is the reality of your mechanical sense of "I". It is a repetition, a reflection of all that occurs in the lower system. The current of consciousness flows from bottom to top, but before it reaches the Line, it branches out. Picture the spine of an umbrella -- stripped of it's cloth. The current splinters just before it hits the Line, and forms lateral connections. And it is these lateral connections which are accepted by ordinary viewpoint as reason. This is the intellectual process; the land where two plus two equals four and cannot equal three or five, where this is not that and that can't be this. These connections are the normal, reasonable intellectual process, and they are formed, they fit together, based upon the Greater Reality of the time and place. What is normally accepted in the Horizontal world as being insanity (excluding that caused by physical deformity) is a breakdown in these connections; it is a departure from the norm, for that time and place. Because the lateral connections are the basis of the Greater Reality, that is, the intellectual reflection of reality for each time and place. Of course, from the ordinary viewpoint, that IS reality. Ordinary insanity is, in a sense, no more than someone not being wired up to see and believe that two plus two equals four: the necessary lateral connections that are ordinary reason were never formed, or they were broken. This may not sound like much, but if you expand it a little you will find the kind of person you wouldn't want to invite over for dinner. You ask them to pass the soup and they throw mashed potatoes in your lap. It is simply a matter that, in any particular time and place -- in a certain tribe or group of people or civilization -- everyone normally operates under certain commonly manifested lateral connections, and these connections are activated in a particular way. Thus, there is a silent agreement as to what reality is, what constitutes sanity, what is decent behavior and what isn't. When a person who is improperly plugged into these lateral connections begins to transfer and transform energy over a wider and wider radius outside the family, they send him in for treatment.
I said that I was going to draw a crude parallel: Until you are able to activate a certain part of the brain above Line-Level you are, in a sense, attempting to unplug yourself from the hold of some of these lateral connections. You are weakening your reliance upon the ordinary connections that constitute the reality of your time and place. I'm not telling you to try to directly lay waste to ordinary reality. When someone says "Two plus two equals four," don't disagree with them. That's not what we're doing here. What we are doing, what you are involved with, is trying to drive this formed part of you crazy -- the part that is product of and dependent on the laterally connected world. I would not have used the term, "going crazy," but it does parallel what we are doing in the sense that what we are doing is unnatural, and the system below the Line knows it. Not that the lower system understands what is going on, but it does recognize that the normal flow, the normal processing of energy and impressions, is being interrupted.
What you're involved with is the attempt to weaken your dependence upon your already established lateral connections. Before you encountered This, that which seemed to be you was never in any serious question. Until now, you knew who you were. This Thing pulls against all that used to be you, against the wires that have been activated and plugged in to the generally accepted form of reality. And in a sense, This is driving you crazy. But there is nothing to be fearful about. Let me describe it to you another way: If someone did attempt to weaken your ordinary connections and the process did not involve the higher and further Aim of This Thing, then it would drive you crazy. You would come unraveled. Without the accompanying Vertical growth, without the Aim of making you supra-sane, weakening these lateral connections would accomplish nothing but severe disorientation.
I have pointed out what is behind the stated aim of psychiatry, or religion for that matter. What they attempt to do, without their own understanding of it, is to go down into the system in some way and unravel the whole process. I have pointed out to you that there is no way to undo the past; there is no way to simply clear up what you take to be your personal problems. Psychiatry and religion cannot go back and unravel the past, because if they did they'd find no one home any longer. Without the Vertical Aim of This Thing, they would have unplugged all that exists below the Line, and, in the process, they would have erased a person. He'd simply evaporate like a five-pound hunk of butter in the noonday sun.
In the attempt to do This Thing, you are attempting to unravel -- to weaken -- the hold of these lateral connections, right at the edge -- right where they stop. And this is the simultaneous attempt to open a path for the substance that will feed your growth above the Line. What you're attempting is impossible on an ordinary level because it cannot be done in the lower parts of the nervous system. But you have to begin to See that what you call "problems" is nothing. The system below the Line is made up of "problems." That is man's consciousness. If you did not have problems, you would have no past. And if you had no past, you'd have no present; you'd be a melted hunk of butter.
When you are fully, finally mechanically activated -- that is, when you are activated to Line-Level, to the level of development for your day and time -- growth stops. And that is the sensation of "I". That is the supreme ignorance. The total combined state of all ignorance, is "I". But understand that from the ordinary viewpoint, this is incorrect; it is insanity. Where would the world be if it were not for the sense of "I"? And the ordinary world is right again, of course. Because nothing at the ordinary level would function without everyone's collective sense of "I". What can't be seen at the ordinary level is that it is also the supreme limitation. That is where you are locked in the room forever, with problems. You are naturally activated to Line-Level, and without the extraordinary Aim of This, you'd never get out of the room, and you'd always have the same old problems. Because the problems are the room, and the room is you.
If I could take an ordinary man and conjure up one of his dead spiritual heroes, it would profit him nothing. He'd still want to talk, as long as his hero would put up with it, but his questions would all be based on: "Well I do have a bad temper, but at least I know it and I'm working on it...and I do still suffer so much over my inability to take control of my life..." His hero might respond with: "Hey I don't have as much time as I thought...gotta go." Problems are the sound of a man breathing: A man says, "I have terrible problems and as soon as we work them out, then I'll follow you to the ends of the universe -- just as soon as we straighten out these problems." That is nothing but a man with emphysema. That's the only thing the system can do below the Line; those are the only kind of questions, observations, and so-called private thoughts, that the system can have down there. And it is all based upon conflict and frustration. It is all based upon the fact that the system below the Line is suffering. Someone else may seem to express a different set of problems, but the difference is no more than one man breathing through a runny nose and another man breathing through his congested chest. It is simply the sound of someone alive.
About this fear, this fright of disintegrating, of going crazy: if This Thing is what you've been looking for, then this is where you belong. It is the Aim itself, it is the unknown factor that keeps you from losing your mind. It keeps you sane, until you learn to be supra-sane.
As long as your total sense of reality -- your day to day living, your problems, your so-called consciousness -- as long as your total feeling and perception of being alive here does not rise above the ordinary level, then all of this is insanity. And the kinds of things I say, the dangerous little jokes about the nature of man, which, of course, is the nature of everyone, are not funny. Below the Line it is real. I continue to tell you that what appears to be your problems is no more than the sound of your breathing. It is the noise of your digestive system and nothing can be done about it. If something could be done, it would kill you.
What I call an ordinary man is one who lives only in the system below the Line. And of course, he exists not only "out there" in the world; he exists in each of you. He can try with all his might to hear my descriptions and maps, and I can repeat them all until he almost intellectually absorbs the words. But it still won't enlighten him, because there is no magic in words. If I asked him (or you, below the Line), "Do you believe this? Does it sound true, does it sound reasonable?" he might try to be tactful and gentlemanly about the whole thing, but he'd have no choice -- he'd have to say something like, "I'm being as sincere as I can, but when you put it that way, it's just bewildering. I don't know what to do with this information."
I can't talk profitably to a below-the-Line system, whether it's in you or someone off the street, because no system can conceive of itself at its own level. There is no way to "enlighten" the system below the Line. There is no way to expand its compassion, or its wisdom. I'm not speaking of mere mechanical intelligence, such as learning some new field of mathematics. There is no way to expand its understanding. There is simply nothing to be done with this system below the Line. It cannot perceive of itself; there is nothing you can tell it about itself that will be of any assistance. The closer you get to actually pointing out, "Are you aware of the fact that you're not a person," the closer you come to losing another dinner companion. The system you're attempting to talk to will mark you down as a daffy duck. This has nothing to do with anyone's particular background or intelligence; it has to do with the fact that no system can look at itself.
What you're attempting here is to weaken the hold of the Line and the Life-activated connections that lead only to the Line. What you're attempting is to allow the certain substance I've been speaking of to slip through to places it normally wouldn't go. That is when you begin to See things no system below the Line can See. That's when you See that the connections, and the current running through them in the same patterns over and over -- is you below the Line.
Someone else asked, "Do our feelings of having mental boundaries have any basis in reality?" Like everything that can lead you to Seeing something, and like everything that is real, the answer to this is yes and no. Those feelings are real on the basis that every system does have mental boundaries, but when you can activate yourself on the other side of this Line, you See that it is a continuing piece of unfinished business. Every ordinary human carries an unanalyzed awareness that "I am not completely stopped," although they are. It is this feeling of incompletion, or dissatisfaction, that is the basis for humanity's belief that change is possible. That is why humanity tries to change. That is why it talks about change, and that is what makes it eventually change. But it doesn't happen in one lifetime. That is what no one but those involved in This Thing can understand.
Everything men see as change -- the former drunk who is now a professional non-drunk, the former wife-beater who now drives his wife crazy hugging and kissing on her all the time -- is no change. It isn't change because they understand no more than they did before; they are, in truth, no better off. The original hunger has not been satisfied, merely diverted. It's a new hobby for a week or two. They go to meetings where former alcoholics get together and discuss how long it's been since they had a drink. It's nothing more than a hobby.
Of course, it would take my fictitious reasonably insane man to See any of this. But if you ask the system, if you ask the mind, "Is there any limit to what you can imagine?" it will inevitably answer "No," because it can imagine things it has never seen. You can hear a description, or see a computer enhanced photograph of Saturn, and the intellect will tell you, "I can just imagine myself floating out in space all alone going in circles around the rings of Saturn." Though of course you've never seen it.
The mind says, "How can you say I have limits? If the human mind has limits, how has anything been accomplished? How did anyone ever invent anything?" But when you are dealing with it at the level of its own limit, it is the same as asking the system whether it can see and conceive of itself in a certain way. And it cannot. It tries to be as sincere as possible at the Line, at the far ends of the great stairway of the human intellect. But the mind is incapable of seeing its own limits. In fact, it will offer as further proof the fact that it can think about the question.
There are absolute limits to the mind as it is now. That is no theory. Some of what I am doing here with you, pulling and loosening some of these connections in you, is not to drive you crazy, but to get you to See: you cannot think anything you want to. If you had been my fictitious reasonably insane man, had it been possible, somewhere along the way you would have discovered this. You would have said, "Forget all these books; forget the priests and the philosophers." You would have realized that there's only one place to look -- in your own nervous system. And you would have seen that all the great mystical writings, all that has filtered down from previous attempts, were all pointing to the same thing: that everything there is to discover sits right within your own system.
The final answer to the belief that you are a something -- that you are a person responsible for your actions, for your thoughts and feelings -- is just one glimpse into your own system. But you must have a Real Aim. There must be proper conditions, and this has to happen in a certain way so that you begin to See it for yourself. Then simultaneously you See that you could never have seen it and you See that nobody else can see it. And there's nothing to say. If you can get above this system, outside the limits of the particular process which is your intellectual activity (which is literally just the upper end of this mechanical development), you can look in upon the wiring. And you'll See that no one is in there, no matter where you look. There is no "you" down in there.
Someone mentioned that they have been having little flashes that they are totally ignorant about both themselves and the world. They commented that it was "kind of unsettling." It is unsettling. And that's a part of what I've been talking about. I'll tell you again: an ordinary person -- one without the Vertical Aim, could not survive such glimpses. It would be tantamount to watching himself disappear, to see that he is nothing but the guts and spine of an umbrella. It would be absolutely disruptive. But for those who end up in some form of This Thing, the unsettling part is not just the flashes, the glimpses; it is the question "How have I lived all these years without even suspecting that I was not what I thought I was, that something else entirely was going on?" That is the second stage of unsettlement.
Even without such specific flashes, all your efforts here are to unsettle you. And your encompassing rhetorical question to suit any occasion now should be: "How?" The answer is up above the Line, of course. And the part of you that is capable of answering doesn't deal in how or why. It simply sees. It operates on those great unknown principles of supra-atomic physics, like "Wow!" and "Oh!"
To see that you are nothing but an electrical charge running through a stripped umbrella: it is not that isn't unsettling, but even more unsettling is the question: "How did I get this far without having suspected any of this?"