I want to share my transpersonal approach to design with you. It’s an approach that has crystallized out of my continued design practice and out of a common thread of thought and feeling that is present in all of my most sincere and self-initiated projects.
My dissertation: “Making and the Transpersonal Future” sets the scene. Within the field of developmental psychology, transpersonal psychology has emerged as a strain of thought that asserts three phases to psychological development.
The first phase is pre-egoic or pre-personal consciousness: where our needs and desires are so basic they are universal – impersonal. Then egoic and personal consciosuness: which has to do with the development of a functional ego within society: self-awareness and self-determination being the fullness of that consciousness. Finally a third level of psychological development which is trans-egoic or transpersonal consciousness: where personal consciousness is subsumed into larger frames of reference: the community, the environment, unity of life. The fullness of which is compassion and selfless service: where once the basic needs of ego are met, broader frames or reference become more important. Makes sense right?
The point here is that most people are stuck in the egoic phase of psychological development and never mature. “What we call ‘normal’ in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and widely spread that we don’t even recognize it ordinarily”. In my dissertation I go on to explore this immaturity as reflected in attitudes to making and consuming products, and then speculate what forms production, consumption – culture as a whole – would have if it was the product of a transpersonally developed society.
So normal design, lets call it personal design, is just that: an isolated ego commercializing its creativity to sell to other egos. Its based on identity: me, the special famous one: where ego is the brand and the style, and you: who you are and how you materialize your identity. Identity pervades the entire process: even to make a “product” as a definable and predictable outcome, and then try to market it to a certain set of people.
In transpersonal design, the people come first, then their collective rather than personal desire or will power. In fact one of the most important parts of this approach as a transpersonal designer is to not create any ‘thing’. We move beyond the idea of abstract “thing” and abstract “ego”. There are no products, no self-existing wholes, everything ‘thing’ is just a still-frame in a single ongoing process of interdependent existence.
Transpersonal Design for me is about working with and for the zeitgeist. The zeitgeist is all pervading: I know it as the collective will of humanity expressing through the collective sub-conscious. I need no more convincing. It is real. An impulse in the will of the collective subconscious will be expressed simultaneously through many individuals attuned to that impulse regardless of geography.
My Personal Experience of Zeitgiest:
Call it what you like: 100th Monkey theory, morphogenic field, collective subconscious, I have seen it a thousand times. In my own personal experience as an artist, I myself have searched deep within myself for what deeply personally resonating vision wanted expression, later only to find the very same image painted by another “individual”.
The work above is mine. (sorry bad photo – will update) The work below that is Alex Grey. We both obviously saw the same thing in the vision but we focused on different aspects. In my first draft I also saw the tree figure but got too caught up in the horror. So i made a conscious decision to put the Source: supreme being in the centre. (we recieve but we can also send powerful messages into the collective) The tree then became more a symbol of an evolving vibration that blossoms into the world. Notice the earth in petals in Alex grey as well. I got the grid but only on the right side as a grid or filter of mental perception. Notice obviously the golden age and kali yuga on both sides in both our works.
At the base of the tree in the Alex Grey work the woman and kundalini snake, in mine: the light-body cocoon of the perfect soul also with kundalini spiral. And that is my personal encounter with the Zeitgiest / collective mind. Now I no longer need to know how it works, I have my own theories, all I know is that this is real!
“Sub” is relative:
To be sensitive to these collective thoughts, moods, and feelings of humanity, one must be first: grounded in your individuality, and secondly: be centered in a transpersonal awareness that can perceive these collective, and there for impersonal, movements in the collective subconscious.
I have to make an important aside here. I say subconscious, but the “sub” here is misleading because “sub” is relative. To everyday personal consciousness, where the big conscious decisions and doings revolve around the individual body-mind, then, transpersonal consciousness and experience is “sub” because it is pushed to the bottom and periphery of that consciousness. However to transpersonal consciousness that same everyday personal consciousness of the individual is “sub”, just like the individual consciousness forgets about the food after the swallowing of it: the entire process of ego has the volume turned down.
Breath, excretion, digestion, staying balanced while walking, articulating the throat and mouth to speak, contracting the eyes to focus on conceptual “wholes” to see “objects”: just like all these activities once learned and mastered becomes automatic, and pass out of the main theater of consciousness into “sub” consciousness – so too the everyday personal consciousness of the individual becomes automatic and “sub” in transpersonal consciousness. (The experience of individual personal consciousness is still there, but automatic and less important to the wider frame or reference of transpersonal consciousness.)
In many ways humanity sits in the middle of an infinitely scaleable fractal spectrum of specific consciousness that is “sub”sumed into more holistic consciousness and vice versa. To me there is no evolution or devolution we are not any frame of reference. However having said that, on this planet, we are coming to a point where we have to choose to evolve our consciousness to a wider transpersonal frame of reference or perish.
The Transpersonal in Academia and Culture:
The transpersonal is yet only on the fringe of western psychology’s horizon of acceptability as a developmental theory: a speculative frame on which to hang certain common but unexplained experiences. It has not been embraced, explored, and made real to the main stream narrative of how things in humanity and the world work. And yet, even the transpersonal is only a limited spectrum of mystic experience.
Even to talk of mystic experiences is to open speculation on one’s sanity. When I opened up and shared about profoundly mystical experiences I had had as a child I was given a diagnosis: so alien is mystic experience to the authors of cultural acceptability and their engineered narrative within the gross and limited state of consciousness quotidian.
For now I won’t go into extensive personal detail about my experiences being expelled to society’s fringe as the unacceptable and the ill. Suffice to say mystic experience and states of consciousness are, to me, as natural as any other experience or state of consciousness: temporary forms I inhabit, enjoy, and migrate through. No big deal.
Transpersonal design: what does it mean? what does it look like?
Transpersonal design is where the designer becomes a shaman-curator. Everything you need to make the medicine-project is already somewhere out there: made or being extruded from the collective sub-conscious through different individuals. All you have to do is collect, connect, and curate those lost individuals, and by bringing them together allow them to manifest their mission: the expression of the One of which they are the vertexes. Simple.
A good example of this natural shaman-curator activity was an exhibition I initiated and project managed. A couple of friends with a cafe wanted to offer their cafe space as exhibition space during Dutch Design Week. Some first year students had all just finished making a ceramic teapot project. I brought them together, all the students chipped in money and time making exhibition furniture etc. And it all came together, effortlessly, to become the Teapot Expo.
In this example, different individuals have a common desire, though they don’t know it and don’t know each other, and by connecting people, and harnessing that will power, and creating an opening for it to express, it did so. The couple drew extra people to their cafe with the exhibition. The students got a platform to be seen and even sell some of their work. The public got to enjoy and buy some teapots. I got some exhibition design and project management experience.
So from this we get to see that actually there are a lot of people that want the same thing, and by bringing them together, and creating an opening, their will can express of its own accord. This is on a vastly different order to having an agenda or a particular project or product you, as an ego, want to sell, and trying to find or convince people to buy into it.
If we are to abandon the simple-minded notion of a ‘thing’ or ‘product’, and truly acknowledge the unity, interdependence, and perpetual transience of the continuing process of life, what becomes of making objects? Some of my early work into Transpersonal Design was exploring the possibility of making a collective or community object. The collective object is still just a still-frame of a collective process and has no existence or meaning outside of that matrix. The object is secondary to the process. The designer as shaman-curator doesn’t seek to make an object, he sees the raw desires of people and society around him as dry tinder, and collects them together to spark a creative process into ignition. That is all. No expectations, no assumptions.
The first example is a Mala for Guru Purnima made by individual members of a community offering a single bead towards the making of a necklace as a collective gift. Again the object is secondary to the process: a group of people individually wanted to express their gratitude, and this collective gift creating an opening for that collective gratitude to express. The second example is the same process, this time which each individual contributing a ball of wool.
The Transpersonal Future:
The transpersonal future is already here and now: present in the seeds of transpersonal initiatives, projects, and communities in different fields and sectors, across the globe. Remember this is how Zeitgiest operates. This is also where you can see the big battle between the Cultural Engineers and Zietgiest. So the Occupy movement, and its various and international incarnations are a perfect example of single impulse in the Zietgiest manifesting simultaneously through different individual vectors. The Cultural Engineers do all they can to stop such an impulse gaining critical mass, because it is not so much the content of the mass -movement as the very fact of the mass-movement that is important. The mass-movement is the burgeoning cultural stabilization of transpersonal consciousness in society.
Society at the egoic level of psychological development is a hierarchy of egos. Here we can see the cultural engineers as the natural expression of that state of consciousness. So like the conscious-ego trying to squash a psychedelic high, they are trying to stay in control: their agenda is the agenda of the functional yet paranoid ego manifesting collectively as the hierarchical and paranoid State. We can speculate how deep and how old the agenda of the Cultural engineers is, but again I think the content of the brainwashing and propaganda is not as important as the fact of brainwashing: the main point is divide and conquer: all propaganda is divisive, they want to divide people: balkanise humanity: keep us as emotionally dependent immature individuals: in the egoic phase of consciousness.
The main point for the Transpersonal Designer is that freedom is not for one but for one and all. That the work is to bring alienated individuals together; ignite them into a community by magnifying their common desires and goals and spinning their individual will as threads into a single yarn to produce a transpersonal project, object, or space.
In the end, the shaman-curator work of the Transpersonal Designer is basically just being kind. Kindness is not as it seems as superficial attitude towards others. In kindness there is connection, and being kind is not something that can be rationally understood. Kindness can take different faces, it can be a slap on the wrist or even a “No”. Kindness is helping others fulfil their highest potential, and so to be kind is to be sensitive to what others want to do. Most importantly kindness is an intervention. It is not passive. It is active compassion. Helping others and self-less service is the mark of a transpersonally matured individual. So by being a Transpersonal Designer you grow.
I feel in that in the future my transpersonal projects will focus on urban space and see what collective but yet untapped desires local communities have for their neighborhoods. As well as developing or engaging with a counter-propaganda, disclosure, and other mass-movements.
This entry was posted on Sunday, November 20th, 2016 at 11:52 pm
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