Jan Cox Talk 2590

One Man Found a Ladder


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Transcript by TD

Jan Cox Talk 2590 - October 11, 2000  TRT: 57 min
Transcribed by TD  2-6-08
Copyright Jan Cox, Jan's Legacy  2008

   One man found a ladder. He decided that a secret lay at its top and thereto he would climb.  The task proved to be easier decided upon than done. In fact he discovered that the only way to move up another rung, was to make up another rung. Thus when he finally made it to the top, he discovered that the ladder was entirely imaginary.

      Perhaps the most useful phrase for a man to remember, who is trying to cut through all the clutter, is “It ill behooves a man”, since, applied to a man as I just described, everything that a man can think of “ill behooves” him.

      Looking back from his present vantage point, one man says “all of the memories of the history of my life up to now, are nothing more than sound effects for a ‘so called’ life”.

      A certain idea has long circulated in metaphysical circles which says that “You can make other people do your will, if you will forget both them and yourself”. The unrecognized trick therein is in the fact that if your thought based awareness of you and them was forgotten, you would not then care what they did. Hence they would never not be doing what you willed them to do.

      One man says “Nobody is going to badmouth self absorption, not while I’m here they’re not!”

      There is not a hair’s breadth of difference between you and the world outside you. Or else no one would ever assume non-essential obligations.

      Did you not hear first about the dangers of chemicals (for instance, “of the dangers of having chemical Z in your diet”) from sources outside yourself, your thoughts would never have made you take on the obligation of deleting chemical Z from your diet. Non-thinking instinct fuels thought in man. But thought can also turn around and affect instinct, but to do so thought must first be effected by instinct’s environment. An environment that fuels a man’s instinct, which fuels a man’s thoughts and there you are right back where we started. There is not a hair’s breadth of difference between you and the world outside you. And to not realize this is to be unenlightened and grossly under informed.

      Perhaps the grandest of all the frauds thoughts has ever pulled on us, is its story that if we but studied it adequately, we would have the answer to everything.


      If I for some reason decided to put all of my general ideas about clearing out one’s head, down in a book, I would call it, Awakening is: “Thoughts comprehending themselves”. I can get my self to wake up and jump out of bed in such a good mood, almost laughing to myself, Over the fact that from one quite valid view, the idea of thought comprehending itself is the biggest fraud that I have ever been witness to. And of course I thought it up.


      That’s what the story about the ladder was. That there was a man who found a ladder and decided that at the top of the ladder was a secret and that he would therefore climb the ladder but he found that wherever he was on the ladder, to go up another rung, he had to invent one. By the way, this is not an allegorical story, he had to invent a new rung every time he wanted to move up. So not surprising at all, the secret he discovered when he arrived at the top was that the ladder was imaginary. But It’s indeed a surprise, though it shouldn’t be, because the only thing that brought me here was my imagination. I had to invent my way here. I made it up.


      You would surely understand, as apparently grating as I can be on would be mystics anyway, You can imagine people’s tolerance for that. Can you imagine a person’s tolerance for say, after buying one of my books, receiving a follow up letter saying “I’ve decided to send follow up letters to the people who buy my book, because I consider that they must be quite serious, in fact probably have the innate potential for very rapid and deep awakening so I simply wanted to point out to you that everything in that book I just made up”. I bet if I had a return guarantee, I’d get all of my books back. If I said “I made it all up” Everything I’m describing, the inner life of man, what being awake is, how to go about it… I made it all up. Every damn bit of it which is why I charge money for it. I didn’t steal it. This is not stuff I’m repeating from some obscure Zen writer, I made it up from top to bottom. They would not see that as any kind of desirable, positive thing. “You made it up!?!” There is the cut off line. This is where I would say “What do you mean? Did I make it up!?! As opposed to what?” and that’s where you lose everybody… But, that where you lose yourself.


      To encourage people over the last several weeks; one night, I’ll speak specifically, one night I’ll try going about it allegorically, and again I’ll try being more direct, trying to make it plainer…   about looking over thoughts’ shoulder. That there is nothing back there. There is nothing behind it, nothing supporting thought other than My model of conscious thoughts real purpose which is a survival technique. Instead of having retractable claws like a tiger, or the trunk of an elephant, we have conscious thought. We can learn from the past about things non-instinctive, we can then take on obligations. We have memories for our own benefit, even for our own pleasure.


       If thought is not dealing with something physical, then anything that it knows about anything else, it made up. That’s why its safe to say that there is nothing behind thought. Its not just a theory that there’s nothing behind god or life after death, basically anything you can’t touch. Its one thing to say you agree, but that’s not the half of it, its in a totally different direction when I say that from one view it’s the biggest fraud that life has ever played on anyone. You have to be a party to it, you have to believe you’re climbing a ladder. What if recognizing that there is nothing behind thought proves to be the trip line to waking up?


      There is something behind thought though. Thought is a book keeper, it doesn’t run your life, it doesn’t direct your life, thought is a memory bank, a commentator, it can review past behavior and attempt to learn therefrom, particularly in areas where the instincts can not learn. Certainly there’s something behind thought. Its certainly whats going on in our full nervous system below the level at which conscious thought occurs. The realization is that what thought does in non-essential, non-survival matters is complete BS. It may be pleasurable, but it means nothing and to wake up is to understand that.


      From one view that’s a fraud. Why even bother to study thought, whats there to study anyway? Thought is struggling to understand itself, the cells in the brain that are responsible for producing conscious thought are struggling to understand themselves. From one view that’s ridiculous, there is nothing for them to understand about themselves. If they were going to find something they ought to know to look behind themselves. Not to understand their nature, but what produces their nature.


      Let me change the context / format.  Have you ever considered that in spite of, what I consider a valid model, that behind our consciousness, behind everything, are the instincts of our own genetic makeup. So, instinct is fueling thought, thought (exempting any thoughts related to survival, or other physical necessity)  means nothing. Its just noise. Like children who have adult responsibilities from time to time with the remainder of time taken up by playing. It could be serious play, it might be rehearsal, but its still play.


      But there is something that is very interesting about thought that I have never spoken of specifically. That even though instinct is the inventor of thought, the ventriloquist behind it, thought can turn back around and manipulate instinct. In general, people understand this feature of thought to being what makes us civilized.


   Ideas embraced by a collective group, for instance, we all agree to live by the ten commandments. The ten commandments however, conflict with instinct. The payoff is the reduction of friction between people living in close proximity to each other. But still, thought is utterly beholden to instinct. If you draw a line on the skull between where conscious thought begins and where it doesn’t exist, everything below that line is what produces conscious thought.  


      If you wake up in the morning from a bad dream about you killing some one, and you feel awful, there is a physical reason for it. Maybe too many anchovies on the pizza last night… Suppose the radio woke you up with some story about “The president said to day… “ and the first conscious thought is whining back at the radio announcer, “the president’s an idiot”. And you think, “If I could ever come to grips with my thoughts, if I could only understand their nature and cut through all of this, I’d change all of it…” Its not your thoughts doing that, your thoughts don’t have a life. It was something below the level of thought that’s doing it. That’s why I was saying before, the idea of achieving anything through studying thought is almost a blatant fraud.


      From one quite real “head on” view, thought is nothing but a hand puppet, smoke and noise, a reflection of physical activity peculiar to your DNA. If your thoughts are of a hostile shitty irritable nature, there is a physical reason for it. To look anywhere else, to, for instance, what somebody said about you yesterday, is idiocy.


      If you were cursing the stupidity of the president, or the stupidity of one religion attacking another religion, or in your mind… “I’ve got to do something about this manifestation of my sleeping consciousness. Those thoughts about the president and those religions is just me asleep. They’re not idiots, my thoughts are idiots. No, you’re an idiot for thinking your thoughts are idiots. It’s the anchovies, your gastrointestinal tract, whose the idiots.


      Except for this, your thoughts can turn right around when you read, for instance, that anchovies are loaded with chemical Z (which is potentially deadly) and you think “I’m going to stop eating those damn things today”. That is not instinctive. Then you decide to take on the obligation “I’m not going to eat those anymore”, even though everything instinctively within you loves anchovies.


      How can that happen? If thought is the shadow, the puppet, smoke and noise, a side effect of instinct, If that be true, how can the dummy turn around and tell the ventriloquist,  “go get me a glass of water”. It can’t be right? And yet it can be. It happens all the time. All moral obligations in the world, going to work, providing some service to someone for which you will receive nothing in return. But you say to yourself, “I gave my word, so I’ll do it”.  Why, How can you make your instincts do something that they have no interest in?


      If thought is beholden to instinct, then how did thought come up with anything that conflicts in the slightest, with instinct? A man’s gastrointestinal system would have never come up with “Lets cut out anchovies, or ice cream”. All across the world, its documented that in all cultures, people are instinctively drawn to fat in their diets. Your instinct is to eat fat and now you will go to great efforts not to eat fat. You will remember not to eat it, you will pass it up at the family get-together,

You will pay extra for low fat foods… How is this possible?


      If thought is instinct’s hand puppet, how can thought control instinct? How did thought come up with the idea of being in conflict with instinct in the first place? If instinct wrote the script for thoughts, and it did,  how could thought…


      You want the fast answer? “there is no “out there”. Here’s the way it would appear to be… For thought to come up with anything that conflicts with instinct, the source of the information must come from without the person. The concept that chemical Z must be eliminated, had to come from a source outside of your instinctual organism.


      That’s a pretty simple one, it just takes a long time to describe. It had to come from outside of you. Some team of researchers, some dietician determined through years of research etc., etc. that chemical Z is detrimental to your health. You heard about it and then your thoughts made your instincts take on the obligation, which they never would have on their own. Your thoughts needed to have the information presented to them from outside of your instinctual domain.  

What I was going to leave with you was, how did this happen with the dietician, or the team of researchers? Like I said, its pretty simple, its just hard to see, it moves real fast. You’re back to trying to nail a shadow to the wall.


      At any rate, the information on which the obligation is based has to come from outside of you. Once you can see it, you’ll realize that there is nothing outside of you. If you realize that, then you also realize that I didn’t really change the context when I said that; for thought, getting people involved with it, like, “if you study me you can raise your level of consciousness… You can awaken to a complete other state of mental awareness…. ” 


Note that its very seldom presented in that manner, the description is always something like “You must observe yourself”, “You must be mindful”,  et al. Any good con man, e.g. ‘thought’ knows that its better to speak in euphemisms when you’re dealing with turkeys… Rubes… and so, its; “you should be eternally mindful”, “try to observe yourself”,  “continually remember the sacred name of buddha”… anything, other than thoughts seen directly. If you can get a bead on us thoughts, then you know everything.


      Of course the thing is, that everybody already knows everything. Everybody knows there’s nothing behind thought… except thought. You didn’t get confused, did you?


      There is nothing I personally find to be more fun than trying to get a feel for what is making me do what I’m doing right this second… And you’ve simply got to turn your back on whatever you were thinking at that moment. If you don’t do this, even if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ll’ve been suckered. You’ve got to ignore whatever you’re thinking. And your thoughts at that moment may seem to be right on whatever you’re doing.


      You could be driving your car and I could say “Alright! Who’s driving this car?” and you’d say “well, me of course”. But if you notice, its not your thoughts. Without analyzing it, people usually think that “my thoughts are me and they direct my life. They make my decisions, like I will not eat chemical Z, I’m going to cut back on my drinking, what’s the most efficient route to get to where I’m going…”


      But, right when I ask you who’s driving, your thoughts aren’t on driving. And here is where the fraud happens… because you’ll say, “Yeah, they were.”


      Your thoughts may have been thinking about hog races. If I could jump into your head and say, there! Right now! What were your thoughts thinking!?, they were not thinking about driving!  You would think back and being as sincere as you could be, ask, were they? And they’d say “yes, they were.”


      I can’t even describe the trick, there’s nothing to describe. You’ve got to see it for yourself. And all you can do is laugh. Its like finding out that your in a prison cell about the dimensions of your physical body, chained to the floor, doomed to be shot at sunrise, with the firing squad in the cell with you, there’s no door… You know, That’s when it really gets funny… You see that there’s no way out, but here’s the funny part, there’s no way out.


      This’ll wake you up…


      I’ve thought at times, that this is where the whole theory of quantum mechanics came from. No matter what it might have been doing, if you accuse thought of not doing whatever it is ostensibly supposed to be doing, as soon as it reflects on the matter, it says, well yeah, but I was… And of course by now, whether it was or wasn’t, is completely irrelevant. Once you see it,  that’s what I call, substantial, dependable knowledge.  


      Its just the opposite of what other people believe, that no matter what you ask, the answer is invalid. Now that’s dependable. What your thoughts know is always shaky, you know that. Its why people are so defensive about what they know.  If you know that you don’t know anything, then you’re safe. You can’t be offended, whatever your thoughts say, doesn’t matter.


      In so far as what makes the human machine work, scientists are practically finished mapping the human genome. Most people on the street have some knowledge of it, what ever life is content to let us know, who knows what they (scientists working on it in the labratories) know that the rest of us haven’t heard about. Medicine is getting to the cellular level now, it will soon be all cellular medicine. We humans are almost an open book, a near completely known entity physically speaking.


      It seems that these scientists have been driven like rats to the pier. And they are saying that the last frontier for them is human consciousness itself. They know virtually everything about the cellular level in the brain. Sight, olfactory, senses, hearing, they’ve figured out where and how it all goes on. In spite of this, no one has any idea where conscious thought comes from. Any more than they did 2000 or even 5000 years ago.


      Theres one simple way to look at it, and that is, you already know where it comes from. Except that thought itself can not look at itself. But it has already told you what it is based on the statement “I don’t know what I am”. Of course that’s not how the folks working on “cognitive research” think about it. They’re response is “I” can’t tell you, or “we scientists” can’t tell you where conscious thought comes from... It just did… You didn’t, doctor X, but conscious thought did.


      What is there to study? What is there to know? I’m not exaggerating when I say this one thing really gets me, certain mornings and again this morning, so I decided I’d go ahead and tell you about it. It makes me wake up and laugh. I could be the world’s leading expert on thoughts trying to understand themselves and you know what it amounts to? How much is a free sample of nothing? That’s what its worth.


      There’s nothing to know, there’s nothing back there, except we know whats back there, there is something back there and we know exactly what it is, but its not satisfying , not to thought. Because whatever’s back there is whats making me have these thoughts. Its not vague, its everything that’s going on in me right now. Its not my personal history, its not the will of god, its not the alignment of the stars, its whats going on in my body right this second.


      Thoughts are taking measurements, reviewing your life, they’re taking account of everything, but its taking place in another language, so to speak, than what its measuring and taking account of. Its not simply that there’s nothing behind thought, its better than that! I say “There’s nothing to understand”. And you say, “Ok, I believe you, but I just don’t understand yet”.