Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Symbol and Form
A New Vision of Design Education
(This is based on a week-long course I taught at the Danish Design School in the 90s.)
It is valuable, if not essential, to explore psychological, meditative and interactive feedback techniques of working. These are likely to be quite new to designers and students, but are common to psychotherapeutic work. These ways of seeing and experiencing our world bridge the gap between what happens within and what we create outside in our design work. We can correlate the way our body works with the way our designs evolve. Too often what we design has nothing to do with what is going on with us inside — yet when there is a link, and then later an intimate connection, the designed objects cease to be disposable, but rather carries meaning that encourages us and the owners or stewards of such objects to nurture them, to care for them and to pass them on as containers of our own personal being.

Symbolism is the language by which our collective cultural unconscious communicates deep experience to our conscious mind through dreams, active imagination, fantasy or guided imagery. When we discover this language, we realize that it is always with us and can be understood, whether outwardly or inwardly, by everyone around us. In the new design education we may explore a deeper and more profound world into which we invest our work and life.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

When we think about the relationship between astrology and Buddhism, we tend to start by comparing western tropical astrology with eastern sidereal astrology. However, I believe that our present conceptions of psychological astrology resonate very clearly and intimately with key Buddhist concepts in ways that provide us with valuable insight to the motives and goals of astrology itself.
I have been interested and having received Buddhist teachings for decades, starting with the Black Hat initiation that my three-year-old daughter Ptolemy and I received from the XVIth Gwalya Karmapa in London in 1975. Although I had lived in India and met many gurus in those days, this was a genuinely powerful experience. When the Karmapa opened the box in which the hat was transported to begin the ceremony, the entire huge church in Chelsea was illuminated with what I can only describe as the pure light. Since then I have read and followed Buddhism and tried to live in a Buddhist way, all the while attempting to reconcile these concepts with my practice of astrology. Recently I have been working with my daughter’s mother Maxine Harris who is a founder and runs Mystic Fire Video, who create and distribute the H. H. Dalai Lama’s profound teachings. Ironically, my system of Life Time astrology is a way of doing astrology that I have realized conforms to many of the Buddhist teachings and can yield insight into all psychological astrology.
A fundamental concept in Buddhism is that of samsara, defined as “cyclic existence where sentient creatures are compelled to wander from one life form to another without respite until they meet the spiritual path.” The wheel of samsara is the stages of life from birth to old age and death proceeding in sequence around a circular mandala. It is believed that we live through out life and are inexorably reborn into another life of birth, old age and death, on and on, ad infinitum. The wheel is usually broken down into eight stages of life. In the center of the wheel are three creatures chasing each others’ tails: the cock, symbolizes ignorance, the pig symbolizes greed, and the snake symbolizes desire. Indeed in Buddhism the eightfold path was created by the Buddha to lead us from the condition of samsara to the attainment of nirvana, which is enlightenment. I feel that the horoscope carries a roadmap of this journey from samsara to nirvana.