Jan Cox (1937-2005) was a Teacher, in the secular-mystical sense of the word, as well as an author, artist and musician whose intriguing maps of consciousness contribute to the current understanding of the mind and the mind’s unrecognized automatic influences upon everyday behavior. His insight into how the mind functions will be apparent to those who read and consider his thought-provoking essays. Jan’s works are a demonstration of what is possible in the applied science of awareness and are not just intellectual exercises.
Jan taught worldwide for 37 years and during that time wrote six books, hundreds of essays, and tens of thousands of “News Items” (short, pithy observations on the habitual mind). He recorded 3,300 hours of talks on both audio and video (some of which were broadcast during the longest running public access show in 47 cities in the U.S.), and he created thousands of contour drawings where, unlike most artists who look through their respective windows onto life, Jan would step back and see the window as well–showing simultaneous awareness of self and subject.
He pointed out that “Life is alive” and is smarter than any of us. In fact, Life is doing just fine and is, itself, evolving – just not quite fast enough for those with a certain hunger to evolve consciously within their own lifetime. He understood that the “structure of Life is the structure of consciousness,” and that the “critic can never see the entirety of his subject”–“one will never ‘realize what’s going on’ as long as consciousness is entangled in thinking over how you feel about–what’s going on.”
Jan observed the then-current mystical scene (circa 1976), and while the Beatniks had adored Zen in the Fifties, it seemed that Gurdjieff had managed to bring to the West a flavor of “The Work” that resonated with the seventies. Thus, in Dialogues of Gurdjieff: An Allegorical Work Adventure, Jan used the character of an American expatriate in Paris and Jan’s ‘version’ of Gurdjieff–who spoke Jan’s words–in an allegory that focused on Jan’s Work ideas and how they might be applied to contemporary life.
He instructed his students to produce two compilations of his early core teachings, The Gates of Man and Storming the Gates, in order to help new listeners get started and to enhance their ability to follow his later talks. Together, these two handbooks provide an introduction to Jan’s Work methods, as well as insights into lessons learned in a contemporary Work environment from the point of view of the participants. (All of his publications are available as Amazon eBooks.)
Jan never sought converts or allowed mere followers, nor specifically encouraged anyone’s interest; yet he and his students created a fluid environment that fostered (and required) intense creativity and focus on reaching through one’s illusive mind with an equally chimerical mental hand. Creative activities and collaboration continue, for those so interested.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported on his passing – here