Jan Cox Talk 2544

Self Criticism is Ultimately Useless


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Transcript by DC

Jan Cox Talk # 2544 : June 28, 2000
Copyright Jan cox, Jan's Legacy,  2008
These notes prepared by DC on 2/5/2008 from audio file.

Suggested title:  Self Criticism is Ultimately Useless

Begin:  I have written something tonight, some things in my attempt...to try and turn your attention toward the something...I can't literally say...there is something that I am going to recommend that I have used in the past...

00:49  Pick out something that you consider to be a serious blunder you've made...the kind of thing...that would be typical of your being asleep, like you're working on your motorcycle...can of open gasoline...blow the garage apart...something that personally strikes you as mortifying...you're almost glad that you found out or heard about The Great Struggle To Awaken if for no other reason than just to take that one instance and to say to yourself, "Well, I was asleep."

02:10  Do you remember when I used to -- the term I made up, "to neuralize, to remember something without thinking about it"?...you're standing on this stage and there's a dance troupe, an elephant act -- they're waiting right in the wings...out of my peripheral mental vision, I know what it is, sort of, that I'm thinking about.  I know it's an elephant act...you don't actually say to yourself, "It's an elephant act" but you know what it is...

03:08  Pick out one like that, but don't let it come into your actual mind.

03:34  Even if you don't understand what I mean when I say that there is one thing that I won't even say to myself...all of you should have one thing that you won't say to yourself...consider it...

05:30  It's always good, I think, to start off clarifying in advance...that was a joke.

05:45  (reads):  One man finally asked himself:  "What have I actually learned from a lifetime of replaying over and over again in my mind the blunders I have made, other than I am inclined to make blunders?"  Ask yourself exactly how has your thinking about your actions past, about which after the fact you were critical, proved to be of benefit to you?  What such replaying does accomplish is to reinforce the notion that by mentally dwelling on past mistakes you will avoid them in the future, an idea that will not withstand clear-eyed scrutiny.

06:36  In the heart of all attempts to awaken and achieve enlightenment is found a continual criticism of oneself which itself is a state of sleep and delusion.

06:52  Looking out at busy highway traffic, a man mused,  "Are we robotic?"  Looking at spectators at a sports game he mused, "Are we robotic?"  Looking at the many people working in his office he mused, "Are we robotic?"  Looking at the rituals in a place of worship he mused, "Are we robotic?"  Looking at the activities in the chambers of Congress he mused, "Are we robotic?"  He then stopped this thinking and tried as best he could to look at his own thinking and was just about to ask the same question BUT!  immediately thought better of it.

07:44  If where you feel you are at this moment is boring, welcome to the world of sleep.

07:53  Question:  Is it actually possible for Life to be boring?  Answer:  Is it possible that at any particular moment in your life nothing of note is occurring?  Question:  How can these moments be handled?  Answer:  Non-thinking creatures would handle it by taking a nap.  Humans will also, but by way of mentally drifting away from the moment.

08:22  Fact:  If you're bored, you're asleep.  And with the few, if you're asleep, you're bored -- distressingly so.

08:34  Headline:  A Little Theology For A Summer Day.  First guy asked the second guy, "Do you believe in demons?"  And the second guy replies, "Yes."  And the first guy says, "I didn't know you believed in stuff like that.  Do you believe in evil forces?"  The second guy says, "Yes."  And the first guy says, "Wow!  I really am surprised.  I would have never suspected that you would entertain such ideas."  And the second guy says, "Yeah, well, I call them by a different name.  I lump them all under the term "imaginary conversations in my head".   And after momentary reflection on the matter the first guy said to himself, "Yeah, that'll send your mind to hell alright."

09:19  A man will not try to change unless he thinks that he needs to change, and that it is possible to change.  Note:  Even if it is not possible to change, if a man tries to anyway this is a form of change.

10:01  You won't go off riding unless you believe that the road goes somewhere.  And even if it doesn't and you don't go off riding anyway, you'll be stuck forever where you are now.  This is something that the knights never discussed around the table but that each carried silently with him in his own saddlebag.

10:32  While there is no one, final and permanent way to go about achieving our certain goal, a temporary expedient approach is to not even try to empty the mind of all thoughts but rather to just exclude from your mind all thoughts about the past.  For now, let slide thoughts about the present and future.  Just disallow any that concern the past.  So-called paths to enlightenment don't get much better than this.

11:07  Being able to think makes...man feel unique in life.  Being able to think makes man feel supreme in life.  Being able to think makes man feel apart from life.  The headline to this item could have been "You'se take the bitter with the sweet lessin' you'se past distinguishin' 'tween the two."

11:37  One man opines, "In order to preserve your honor in some affairs it is often necessary to lie about your involvement therein."  To which I add, "It is better to have never deceived yourself at all than to have ever tried to accurately describe anything that ever happened."

12:32  The condition called by the few 'being asleep' is easily defined:  thinking about your past.  Thinking about what you've already done is a special form of insanity for the few.  As a matter of fact, consciousness itself is a latent form of of insanity.

13:00  Finding fault with yourself supports the impression that you can do something about your life, that you can change, that you  indeed do have some control over your life.  For a man wanting to see clearly the continual finding fault with yourself is like opening your eyes but staying in a room with no light.

13:23  When while perusing a medical report a man ran across this statement:  "The problem with some ills is that their first symptom is sudden death."  A man mused to himself, "A shame that encroaching mental distraction doesn't have a similar wake-up warning."

13:53  Later that same day, as he was driving along the North Beach Highway, the man further mused, "If it came to it, would I rather be dead than to have to stay in my ordinary mental condition?"  He continued driving and continued musin'.

14:14  Fact:  Some people take this thing about 'waking up and getting untangled' more seriously than others, but you know that North Beach route is awfully scenic.

14:29  In the faux asylum just outside the city of man some patients cry out, cursing their parents.  Some cry out, cursing God.  Some cry out cursing the government;  some cry out cursing their luck.  Some cry out cursing subconscious tendencies.   And one guy, this one guy can be heard cursing imaginary converations.

15:02  Fact:  The damage of imaginary conversations is minimized if they are limited to scenes set only in the here and now, with neither of the speakers making reference to any past or potential future events.

15:22  For those that still don't put all this together, I say...that it's OK to be asleep...as long as you confine it to this instant...

18:13  In regard to his constant criticism of himself, one man finally declared, "I'm sick of hearing about it!" only to instantly realize that his being sick of hearing about it was him hearing about it again.  Yikes!  Bring on the Greek chorus, the one who's had their tongues removed.

18:46  One man joined a school for enlightenment whose method was to only mentally live in the present moment and who said that in fact, to only mentally live in the present moment is to be enlightened.  After twenty years there the man decided a change was in order and he joined up with another school whose sole approach was to be mentally present only where you are at the moment and who claimed that indeed, being mentally present only where you are at the moment is to be enlightened.   His mother asked him when he was going to settle down, give up show business and get a real job.

19:34  As regards the unseemly cost of being too clever, how can you tell that you're being so?  Simple:  You're being too clever for your own benefit if you are reliving in your mind a  past event in which you acted in a way you afterwards regretted but now in which you picture yourself acting otherwise...[blowing up garage example]...Things you've already done that you later felt were stupid, shameful and inexplicable are truly only so if you think about them.  And I remind you, thinking about them is being asleep.

20:48  The head of a monastery one day said to the monks during his daily address, "After all of us being here together for the last thirty years, I have come to the conclusion that I am more asleep than any of you."  After several days of discussion amongst themselves the monks went to the master and asked him to explain the metaphorical intent of his words.  And he said to them, "There was no metaphorical intent involved.  I meant it literally."

21:14  If you're not host to normal human thinking, you are always here, but if you are so involved you are mostly somewhere else.  Not being here is all that the so-called state of being asleep is about.  Not realizing this is what staying asleep is all about.

21:58  There are two ways to be dazed and deluded.  One is to believe that you can exercise some control when you can't, and the other is to not try to exercise some control when you should.   The thing is, you've got to already be damn-near awake to understand this.

22:17  The common belief among men is that you must take into account the past so as to make intelligent decisions in the present.  But, they ponder not whether they did so in the past when they made their decision as to how to act then.  And upon hearing this, a boy turned to his father and said, "That brings up the question --"  "Don't ask," the old man cut him off.

22:45  As he heard the subject of shame being discussed, to himself one man mused:  "Looking back now my greatest embarrassment is in the fact that I once enjoyed the study of history."  Note:  You can only find fault with yourself by thinking of your actions past.

23:15  After a lad had engaged in a ranting dismissal of psychic soothsayers and their related lot, his father said, "No, no.  A professional prognosticator's guess about the future is as good as anyone else's."

23:35  The headline to this item could have read, "How Things Really Are If You Could Get Free of How You Think They Are."  But then again, such could be the headline for anything noted regarding the life of man.

23:50  One man has concluded:  "The only distinction of significance between the truth and fiction is that you don't have to pay royalties when you repeat the truth."

24:08  To clear one area you must litter another.  To make one place lighter, you must make another heavier.  Thus is all change but a rearrangement.  Fit this inescapable reality into your notion of changing your condition of consciousness, altering your state of mind.  Not a very pretty picture;  huh?  Oh, I don't know.  How about this?  Only a properly empty man is properly full of himself.

24:45  "Aha!" cried a man, "I must be awake;  I don't see anything!"  Translation for you out-of-towners:  When the sun comes up, the sun appears.  When it rains, wetness occurs.   When you fall, you lay there.  Unless you immediately dream about how you were tripped.

25:15  Only a man who through personal experience understands what all of this 'waking up' stuff is really all about really understands what all what all this 'waking up'  is really all about.  And only he knows at any given moment whether or not he is awake.  And if he mostly is awake he's mostly beyond the place where knowing is of any significance anyway.

25:38  Fact:  Some people are more interesting when they are not present than they are in person.

25:48  Fact:  Some peoples' idea of an enlightened self is more interesting in theory than it is in reality.  Does this mean you should cease searching for it?  Hell no.

25:58  Fact:  When you wipe off one area the dust just settles someplace else.  Should this cause you to stop dusting?  Don't even ask.  Just be alert to the dirt.

26:18  Success is fleeting but failure's even briefer.  Thus concludes my tortured written comments.

26:39  The general theme of this...to be ordinary and to be sane...a person must believe that they have some control over their life.  I say to believe you have some control over your life is to be asleep...that is still what I'm talking about tonight...there is one thing I've never said to myself...I am trying now to talk about it in a different way...

28:36  It's obvious to anybody that a man will not try to change unless he believes two things:  that he needs to change and that he can change...

29:26  To try and do this sort of thing you're subject to the same conditions when you start;  everybody is...thus, ordinary people and us are involved in a form of self criticism.

30:27  I always found self criticism to be an unquestioned necessity...you have to stay on your own case...world-wide famous mystic;  got my own web page;  got books in print, by God...[forgetting to take letter to mail]  Boy.  Talk about Mr. Enlightenment...

33:47  The reality of what we are renders all of that meaningless...it's worse than meaningless;  it's a hindrance...

35:31  There's no way that anyone can attempt to make any change without...self criticism being a continual part of it...

36:06  As limited as the amount of interest in doing This Thing, and as far removed as it is from any normal concept of something useful...the kind of self criticism that's necessary...had to be more intense, had to be more consistent than it was for people who are trying to quit smoking...if you are trying to quit drinking....you are surrounded by outside support...but with This, the self criticism is a totally private matter...

38:59  That's one of the roles that people like me play...I get up and talk about what it is to be asleep and what a waste of time it is if you're going to criticize other people...that there is no greater example of being asleep than to criticize other people...I just say it.  So to whatever degree it seems to fit your case...I am the outside affirmation of what you're doing.  And if you feel critical of yourself then it's like I'm affirming it...

40:15  If you're actually doing the work yourself, then all of your self criticism is limited to yourself...of what you do that is anything but being conscious, that is anything but being super alert....it is the state that you don't like...you can take everything any [sage] ever said...and that's it:  my mind drifts...it's no more complicated than that.

42:17  Here's what I can't tell you...there's a point past which having any self criticism, giving it any mind is serving no purpose...how can that be?..."if I don't criticize myself for not being awake, what in hell am I going to do?"  Exactly!  I didn't think you'd get it that quickly.

43:39  What we're talking about is the heart, the nature of what all this is.  We're talking about the nature of Life.  But to people like us, we consider it's our personal and quite private purview of trying to look into the nature of mind...

45:57  Ultimately, self criticism is useless...how can that be?

49:11  If you see it, you've got the answer to everything because -- do I have to point out the obvious? -- it just can't be.

50:00  Try remembering, without thinking about it, a blunder...if you're my kind of mystic, there's no shortage of them...

52:14  You can be aware of that thing and not actually replay it...and simultaneously...try and remember what I'm saying, that self criticsm is ultimately useless...as soon as you see that...the game has changed...as soon as you realize that, then it's a hindrance...this is the nature of Life...if there's more to being awake than knowing, than seeing what I'm talking about then I don't know what it is...

53:46  How can self criticism not be proper if you're trying to change?...

54:36  One of the News Items, Number Twenty:..."Looking back now my greatest embarrassment is the fact that I once enjoyed history."...

55:45  It's not possible to have no complaints with yourself...how could you be trying to awaken and have no complaints whatsoever with yourself?

57:16  What if the method is in having no complaints with yourself?...It's got to be total:  no complaint.

57:50  The Great Method:  To instantly stop it.

58:35  Make the decision, "No more complaints."...if you never have another complaint about yourself, you'll be awake before the weekend....your mind says that that is not possible...

01:00:35  Nothing wrong with forgetting your keys...but something's wrong with condemning that...my mind says, "Stop it."  And then my mind, my same mind -- I've only got one mind! -- says,  "It's not possible."  And that's the kind of thing that makes me go, "Aha!...