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THE ILLUSION OF CAUSE/EFFECT
CHOPPING UP THE SEAMLESS SPHERICAL FLOW
Document: 38, September 9, 1982
Copyright(c) Jan M. Cox, 1982
The physical structure and operation of the nervous system is what makes you an ordinary human being. You are not supposed to be able to see beyond that process; and it's not your original intent in pursuing This Thing. For a long time you cannot separate even your own struggle to rise above this system from the suffering built into it.
This Thing is not about making you a follower; it has nothing to do with turning you into a definable anything. Yet that's exactly what humanity wants: Everyone desires to be a corrected, stable something. That desire is one way of seeing peoples' hunger to become finished business instead of perpetually unfinished business. That desire to become stable drove humanity to invent religion. Each nervous system contains many other manifestations of this desire for completion. Within each nervous system is a longing for an ultimate father with a soft beard, robe, a twinkle in his eye, and the ability to speak in such paradoxical or loving ways that he must surely be spiritually exceptional. (In addition to the solace such a saint would surely provide, some people also hope that on the side they may even learn the great secret.)
Humanity's nervous system does not yet need to nourish its uppermost regions, and that is why religions and pseudo-forms of This Thing have not paid any attention to the intellectual capacity of the ordinary mind. Life does not yet demand its direct nourishment. The nourishing instead has been directed to the lower nervous system, such as those areas seeking solace from some great father. You should be able to see that if I were to play this ultimate great father, it would kill your potential for vertical growth. There would be nothing left of you to grow. To believe, for example, that after a certain "saintly relief" your evil, base "I" will suddenly be turned into something beautiful, is only another ordinary picture of conversion. Remember, it's all based on real urges: Built into the unfinished process called humanity, is the feeling, "somebody please hug me." Behind man's continuing itch and dissatisfaction (which can at best be only temporarily halted in ordinary life) is this desire for a great father figure. That is not what This Thing is about. Descriptions do not even begin to cover this uncharted terrain. Anyone who does tell you exactly what This Thing is about doesn't understand it.
Everyone thinks that they can describe any aspect of Life. People will readily vocalize their perceptions: "Well, sure I see. I see hunger and poverty; I see stupidity; I see people getting on my nerves; I see my own habits. What else is there to see?" The "what else?" is to learn how to see what cannot be described. And you can't proceed directly from the describable to the supra-describable. Your nervous system must first, in a particular way, be distracted before it can even potentially see anything above the Line; beyond verbal descriptions.
At times, a person involved with what I am doing may, in a sense, feel as though he's losing his mind. Another way to Consider it would be through what psychiatry refers to as "electro-shock" -- it is used ordinarily for the treatment of emotional and mental illness. Quite simply, it runs extra voltage through the nervous system causing a temporary physical disorganization. (I am not hinting that you should try putting a lamp cord to your temples -- those treatments do not amount to anything because their aim is not to ignite the higher ends of the nervous system.) When a person who has undergone electro-shock treatment regains consciousness, it is as though the identifiable personality he had before the procedure has been temporarily wiped off. His wiring has been temporarily disorganized and disarranged through the artificial entry of extra electricity. In a sense, the ultimate struggle for a person involved in This Thing is the continuing attempt to disorganize his natural internal wiring -- and to supply extra voltage to new areas. You could in this sense call it seeking to perform self-induced electro-shock.
You can see from the diagram that the nervous system is a sequential arrangement, culminating in the brain. And there, in the upper level of the nervous system, the wiring (which proceeded vertically) expands in a straight line outwardly, or horizontally. This Line is composed of lateral connections and associations: Everything fits. Indeed, everything must connect for you to be conscious of it. It must be reasonable and comprehensible even if you disagree with it. On this Line, the illusions of cause and effect are directly linked. When I say that cause-and-effect is an illusion, you must remember that it's not an illusion to the ordinary: It is accepted as reality. It must be. The ordinary mind is unable to escape from it. It is integral to each nervous system becoming an "I". Ordinary consciousness has no choice but to accept cause-and-effect as a direct, simple, observable process throughout all of life.
How about an example: Two psychologists interview someone found drunk in the gutter. They're going to ascertain how he has arrived at this point in life. After he has told them his life story, we approach the psychologists separately to hear their conclusions.
The first psychologist could say, "It is clear that the factor which ultimately caused this man to be prone and drunk is the fact that his father was an alcoholic. It has statistically been proven beyond any doubt that 94% of all medically adjudicate alcoholics had an alcoholic within the central family core. And this case is further proof."
We then go to the second psychologist. "Well, his father was a travelling salesman who was away from home a lot; he drank and used to beat up his wife. There is statistical evidence to indicate that the weak father image he had, the lack of a stable role-model, drove him to drink. The patient expressed great concern about his mother -- in fact he started drinking when she died. This man ended up drunk in the gutter because of the death of his mother through what he perceived to be the neglect and misuse of her by his father, who was a weak male role model."
Now, you do know that we could take a group of well-known psychologists, let them listen to the first psychologist and they would agree. "Yes, if you want to talk cause-and-effect, that man put his finger on it." Then we could take another group, let them listen to the second one, and they would say the same thing about him.
I have not gone through this example to attack psychology. Nor was it a theoretical discussion of cause and effect. Attempt a self-induced electro-shock and see beyond whatever your nervous system immediately thinks. I am trying to get you to See that any situation, any problem or suffering is always perceived as a process of cause-and-effect.
Can you Hear that you are not in This to "make progress"? Remember that. It's not that you should simply ignore what you think of as your problems. Rather, a mighty trick is available for your use -- but in order to use it, at least one piece of you must be free from your welded wiring. At least one wire must be capable of brand-new, non-associative connections. And that one wire can utilize a trick: To become your own electrified psychiatrist. Attempt to take a truly objective viewpoint, and then Consider your problem: "All right, what is the cause and effect here?" (Remember, you are attempting to do this objectively.) Then let the problem tell you. It is already telling you, but you do not normally listen, because you are ordinarily it. At Line level, you and it are one, and you can Hear nothing. Try and Neuralize, which you can't do with your ordinary mind, there is no possible such thing as a direct cause and effect.
There is no simple cause that made you what you are. It was not one, two, three, four, five, six things that made anyone become a drunk. And it's nothing I can exactly tell you. Can you understand that if I were to fully explain any problem -- to get closer and closer to the truth -- I would have to continue talking until one of us died? The reasons that man became a drunk are not numerable. But as simple as that statement is, the ordinary nervous system cannot comprehend it.
Let us say that you are out driving and someone runs a red light. You have to swerve out of the way to avoid an accident and in the process, you hit a telephone pole. So here you sit, upset with your fender dented. What is the cause of your being upset? Obviously, the cause is the guy who ran the red light, right? This is the point where ordinary consciousness stops, as it has now identified cause and effect. Let us continue the questioning anyway. What then caused him to run the light? Did he just find out that his wife is in the hospital dying? Did he himself suffer a heart attack in his car?
What if he were just drunk? "Yeah, I'm drinking. You'd drink too if you were married to my wife. Do you know what she did? She laughed in my face, and told me that I had never even been close to satisfying her sexually. When I told her that I doubted if anyone could, she suggested I just pick up the phone book at random because anyone could. After that I started drinking. It's her fault that I was drinking like that." So we go to his wife who has a story about her childhood and how her father was a lecher. Notice that we're only following one line in one dimension; from you and your fender to the drunk, to his wife, and now to her childhood and father. Can you glimpse, even for a split-second, that since the cause-and-effect approach is accepted as true, on a horizontal level it is true. Yet there is no more real reason provided by cause and effect than to say that the accident happened because of rain falling, grass growing, and ants going about their own business.
Everything in the world is connected to everything else, yet ordinary consciousness sees only one direct line of cause and effect -- and a narrowly limited line at that. You are chopping up reality to stand there with your fender dented and your entire awareness fixed on the drunk who ran a red light. Ordinary consciousness continuously feels as though suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, something has happened. It is like a continual dying and rebirth, only you can't remember that you just died one minute ago. Somebody asks you what happened: "What happened? I'll tell you what happened. I was driving along minding my own business. And then he ran me off the road." Then suppose that somebody asks further: "Who are you? Where did you come from? How old are you? Why do you have a car like this? What kind of cars have you had in the past? Was your father a drinker?" Your nervous system at Line level is not constructed to integrate information in a spherical fashion. You'd immediately demand to know, "What in the hell does all that have to do with my dented fender?" The ordinary mind can only deal with each so-called incident as a separate new life and answer, "Wait a minute, you asked me why my car is off the road and why I'm upset. I'll tell you why if you will just shut up! I was driving along minding my own business. And here's what happened."
It's as though you are always opening a novel to page 1. It says page 1, chapter 1, "I was driving along minding my own business." Your ordinary system operates by artificially chopping up reality into chapter 1, first paragraph, capital "I": "I was driving along minding my own business." When no conscious effort is made, energy flows through the nervous system like a clock spending seconds. And each tick of the clock is your brand new chapter 1. For humanity as a whole, this constant chopping of the seamless, spherical flow is absolutely necessary and correct. But you must see the basis of it as it operates in your ordinary wiring. Look at my example again: Suddenly there is an isolated incident: "My fender got dented," (my whole life has just started); "I don't need any of those foolish questions" (what does anything have to do with anything else?); "I'll tell you what happened" (this caused that). That ordinary, necessary limitation-by-severance lends form to events. It "helps things happen". But for you here, it's simply another limitation to outgrow.
Energy runs through the nervous system up to Line level and spouts out into "thoughts" -- into what seems to be oneself. All that can exist at that level is what can be traced from one point to another, within the limits of the system. Do not accept my example of the fender as some kind of abstraction. And don't imagine that you must search for your own examples. There is nothing in you but examples. Nobody runs a red light out of the clear blue sky, nor does anybody ever have an isolated thought sequence. Anything you can say about any "event" is a partial lie -- because to approach "the truth" you'd have to tell your life story, and simultaneously tell the life stories of everyone else alive. You understand, of course, that is literally impossible. It is almost impossible for you to even hear any of this: It just sounds like some kind of theoretical flim-flam.
Neuralize that all of this is literally true, and simultaneously be aware of the fact that you have never thought about it before. Beyond a possible quick glimpse, you still can't really think about it. As soon as that quick glimpse fades, it's as if all this radical information is a fairy tale you heard 4,000 years ago and can barely remember. This inability to deal with what I have said about cause and effect has nothing to do with a person's intelligence. Neither is it a belief you can simply adopt. The awareness that there is no such thing as "this caused that", and that everything caused everything else and continues to do so, is not even in the same league with a strange theory. If I said that god is fried bananas, you could at least file it away and remember it so that you could think about it later. But the kinetic web of connections wherein everything causes everything -- to even be able to repeat the words requires effort.
"Everything caused everything else and will continue to do so." The words, in a certain way, make a reasonable amount of verbal sense, but there is nowhere in your system to file it. There is something of astounding magnitude contained in what I am saying, but it's beyond any literal and lateral sense. There is nothing in your routine capable of accepting this information; there is nothing in your system capable of directly accepting the reality of This Thing. This Thing is insane to any ordinary "I". It has to be insane. It has to be beyond the grasp of that system, or it would simply be whatever you've already thought: That which you already know.
If you could see that everything causes everything, what or who would you think about? You could no longer think about people, because thinking about a person is always based upon cause and effect. At Line level, any interaction between people is always construed as some sort of psychological fencing match. "Why are you talking to me like this; what do you want?" Thoughts about people arise from a perceived connection; apparently, what one says causes some response. What if you could see that the connection does not exist as everyone accepts it. What if you do not need to stay on guard, and that "you" needn't react to whatever someone says or does? What would you do then?
The preoccupation with what the other guy does -- and how you respond -- is an unnamed, unrecognized, worldwide hobby. Hobbies, you see, are nothing serious. If a hobby gets serious, it becomes a business. The real hobby is the hobby that everything is just a hobby. What if there is only one proper way to deal with Life? What if Life could be a hobby? (Oh -- I forgot. Life is serious business.)
Most ordinarily sophisticated, literate people will admit that everyone plays out certain roles. They play a different role at the office than at home, and a still different role when playing poker with their buddies. These so-called roles of which the ordinary speak are simply the routine transfers of energy that occur between people. They just happen.
I now ask you, as someone who is attempting to ignite the higher ends of his nervous system, what might be the benefit in attempting to consciously play a role? For example, you could pick a role which would be the perfect husband or wife. Think of the ideal television role model and how that person speaks to his or her mate. Or you could select the paragon for your job. I don't mean that you should necessarily become the perfect carpenter or brain surgeon. Rather, Consider the appearance of the role; how the ideal someone with your job would walk, talk, and dress. Then attempt to consciously play that role. Can you see that, in a sense, you would be consciously lying? (Can you also see that there is no such thing as a conscious lie, because if it is conscious it is not a lie?) To immerse yourself in a conscious drama is to let all of your actions be an absolutely intentional, functional, believable sham.
To do this correctly is to find freedom amid captivity. If you become good at it, you may see why I say that in pursuing This properly you lift yourself above the ordinary human drama. What if then you are left with (and I'm not limiting it to this) the possibility of doing almost nothing, or, simultaneously, throwing yourself with abandon into conscious theatrics? Everything you did would be a sham. You would be the living epitome of complete insincerity, but in absolute insincerity is the epitome of sincerity. The ability to refrain from thinking about someone also contains the ability to completely comprehend someone. To be able to be absolutely emotionless (in the ordinary sense) is the ability to have real feeling for someone.
To put words on the indescribable: When you have a few microseconds Above the ordinary flow of mechanical energy, it is as though you can recognize a home that you have never seen. It is not a return to paradise -- in a sense you discover a place no one has ever been. That is how you know you are in the right place. You have no idea now what it is, but you recognize it when you find it.
I am going to shift gears, and respond to some issues raised by your questions. One of them concerned immortality and death. Let me pose this to you. Would you be satisfied if you could live as long as you consciously wanted to? As long, that is, as you damn well pleased? I don't expect that reply to satisfy any ordinary nervous systems. But what else is new? It's a good answer if you can hear it.
Another question concerns the friction between sexual partners. A great, normally unrecognized, possibility awaits a couple involved in This Thing. This potential can only be recognized by learning to play a continuing conscious role. You treat your mate as if he or she were your only one opportunity to rise above Line-level consciousness. You have to quickly get past not only the refusal to say a discouraging word, but find that when a discouraging word even runs through the system, you cannot touch it -- you cannot think it. Otherwise, you are just standing there choking yourself; you are standing there bleeding. What they do does not cause your reaction, you just think it does. If you are living with someone who is attempting This as you are, you have to absolutely treat them as though they are god him-or-herself. You have to treat them as though they are Mr. or Mrs. Perfection; they can do no wrong, they have no opinions that you can disagree with, and they cannot be corrected.
Another question related to having a "bad taste" from saying "I". Sometimes that word can sound like you heard a fingernail scraping a blackboard. It is not that there is something wrong with the word "I", but rather you experience for yourself the reality that speaking from "I" is saying nothing. You begin to hear it as absolute babble. You begin to feel that when the ordinary "I" speaks it is not your Aim speaking. (This has nothing to do with morality, in the sense of forced humility. Religions had the right idea in words, but for the wrong reason, and it did not raise anyone above Line-level consciousness because that was never their aim.) The reason for this sour taste is the "I" talking is not who you want to be; it's the very thing you are trying to escape. It has nothing to say of value to your vertical growth.
I have also been asked questions about how one can conserve energy. At this point I will simply tell you that the original charge of energy in a person is, within certain mechanical limits, predetermined. I could say that you have been given just enough energy to live until you die. But so what? Literally, a certain finite amount of energy is available to each person; it is then a matter of what you do with it. What you normally do with it under ordinary conditions is to be "you"; to be personality in all respects. It matters not that you think, "I should change." Even if you go to a self-improvement course every week, you are still doing only exactly what you should. You have the energy to do that which you do, and you do that which you do because you have the energy to do that which you do.
If your Aim is to ignite the higher ends of the system, every time you struggle to expand the ordinary limits, more energy will be available. It is not simply a matter of conjuring up energy out of the clear blue sky. (You can steal energy, but once you learn how you are going to live as long as you care to live anyway.) It is a matter of diverting energy from being spent in the support of "you". You cannot think about the same things over and over. You cannot let the reactionary process of "you" reach Line level and describe "cause and effect". That routine process spends energy at the proper rate to kill you at the time when you are supposed to die, knowing no more about Life than you did at twenty. Now I pose the question, is physical death the problem? Do you ever suspect that were it not for This Thing, you are dead already? Your system at Line level is going nowhere -- it is waiting for the settlement of the grave digger's strike. It is already dead; it's just propped up. It is already rotting, but you can't smell it because everyone else smells the same way. Your nose is just accustomed to the odor.
I want to close with something connected to that. There is a predictability to Life, as there is a predictability to each system -- everybody is a stable, recognizable self. Have you never noticed the great fear of that which is not predictable? When you stop at a gas station, when you walk into a church, when you turn on the TV, you know what to expect. Nobody's system, not the structure of all the combined systems, is prepared for the unexpected. Let us say that you are sitting in an all-night restaurant waiting for some coffee and suddenly next to you at the counter someone jumps up and bellows, "Has the train left yet?" It is frightening, and your system would explain it away by thinking that the person was dangerous. It is much more and much less than that: Everything is set up to be predictable. I used the word fear, but the unpredictable shakes the very foundations of the ordinary system. It is a fear of a different sort than that experienced parachuting out of an airplane or roller skating down a big hill. It is a fear that your system can't even analyze.
The unexpected is not supposed to happen, and generally it doesn't. Life operates at a certain tempo, governed in part by the boredom and an unrecognized predictability. Each person supports this by preventing the unexpected. If something unexpected does happen, people react accordingly: You run from it, try to step on it, or scream and call other people. You get very frightened, which is just what you are supposed to do. The energy needed to rise above Line level is consumed by those ordinary reactions to the unexpected.
Notice that although I said Life operates within the limits of a certain kind of boredom, each individual nervous system has complained about how boring it is! That is a reflection of each system's incompletion -- knowing it should be otherwise, yet it can't be otherwise, and so it is always undernourished. It is all just as it should be, and one part of the arrangement is the complaint, "Boy, I wish something new would happen." Everything from vacations to TV are low level illusions of "something new," but notice that even if you travel, it is still going to be a place that you can associate with, some place you know about. It can't be real, real new. In other words, you are not going to get on an airplane blindfolded, not know where you are going, and then get off at an airport full of people with green hair and six orange eyes hollering, "What time does the train leave?"
Anything "new" has to make some kind of sense. You continually hear the internal voices saying, "I want something new," -- and in fact you do not. The system will not tolerate it. Of course, it is childish for me to say "something new" because where is something new going to come from? The Life of Life does not get behind a bush, put on the world's most terrible mask, and wait for itself to come around the corner so it can jump out and frighten itself into a heart attack and die.
Everything is as it should be; everything is predictable and nothing surprising happens. The machinery of Life does not roll along and suddenly fall off some unknown edge. It does not sneak up behind itself and trip itself. There is the continual feeling among ordinary people that they must have something new, and life is boring them to death, but it is not true. It is true that you feel that irritation, but at the ordinary level this predictability is necessary, and has nothing to do with social organization or economics. It has nothing to do with anything that humanity "plans". Once you begin to See this for yourself, you have some insight into what you have been fighting all of these years. You did not know the enemy. You thought you had identified the problems and their causes, and you had not.
The cause of the problems could be defined as predictability. I could define habit as the ultimate "Satan." The total description of humanity's ordinary condition is predictability. So then you say, "Alright, if that is true, then the secret of This Thing would be to be unpredictable?" Yeah -- right. Go forth and unpredict.