Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Your Vision Meets the World

I've been rereading The Crossing of the Return Threshold, a chapter in Joseph Campbell's brilliant classic The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell describes the archetypal return from a transcendent, life transforming experience into the world of day-to-day concerns. The journey though the mystical realms left behind the values and distractions of the conventional mind. From the viewpoint of normal waking consciousness, the wisdom brought back from a mystical experience is baffling. The formless being encountered in visions has no apparent use among the usual pursuits of efficient action focused on money,time, power and fame.

If you are lucky enough to have had your life turned upside down by a direct encounter with the mystical unity of existence, you know the disorientation that can happen when you return to daily life. You see people living fragmented lives imagining themselves as whole. If you try to share the vision that dissolved the boundaries of your isolated self and connected you to the wholeness of creation, you know the blow of skeptical looks. You've passed through the confusion of dear friends not having clue as to what you're talking about. You find that what is essential and revolutionary to you is meaningless to the conventional mind. You face a daunting dilemma: how can the elusive wisdom of what is beyond words be expressed in common language?

You may wonder, why re-enter the ego-centered, dog-eat-dog world? What's the use of sharing the priceless jewel of radiant consciousness with those who would slice up the gem and sell off the pieces as stylish trinkets.

Yet, there's no turning back. The transcendent vision of the mountain top is lost in the commotion of the marketplace unless it is integrated into the day job of living in the world. To be truly whole, we must survive the impact of limited minds. The task of translating the unexplainable into the explainable cannot be avoided. Engaging this impossible task while knowing it will fail, is essential to the individual ego becoming transparent to the radiance of the universal soul.

Crossing the return threshold is the beginning of a whole new adventure. Discovering the elixir of cosmic understanding in the depths of consciousness was only preparation for discovering that healing power shimmering through every grain of creation. More on that in the next post...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In this Society, the Soul Wanders Shocked & Homeless

In this society, the soul wanders
homeless and shocked.
The constant elbowing
and pushing ego
knocks it senseless.

Even the simplest of soulful ways,
moving to Nature's rhythms
and following Her song-paths,
becomes a constant struggle.

Processed inspirations are sold
as medicine for the aching soul.
But instant soup can't fill a belly
longing for real food.

So the soul retreats to its native habitat—
forests, mountains, honest books, raw poetry,
spaces where two hearts whisper secrets...

There, the soul remembers it is
the source of every thing.
It recalls how society was born
from Nature's wild womb and
returns to the workaday world
seeing its radiance
sparkling in the eyes
of every mask.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trusting Spontaneous Gestures

I've Learned to Trust the Spontaneous Gesture.

For decades, I studied and experimented,
striving to get the work right.
All that work is paying off.
Beginning a design or writing project now
is not the same as it was in my twenties.

Every form my mind imagines,
every line my hand draws
has years of trial and error in it.
Is this wisdom? I don't know.
Is it repeating old patterns?
It doesn't feel that way.

All that experience actually frees me.
I've lost any desire to copy.
I live to experiment,
push the edge,
not give a damn what others think,
let the mysteries of life work through me.

This is what I've learned, friend,
the more I trust the spontaneous gesture,
the greater the miracle life becomes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Healing Space: New Architecture for an Emerging Culture

This is the first in a series of imagination design projects. It presents a new architecture for the new consciousness emerging in the 21st century. In this design approach, I draw upon ancient wisdom used to design sacred places for thousands of years. At the same time, it reflects innovative technologies that integrate mind, body, soul and nature. One of the core tasks of our time is mending the world broken by dualistic thinking in the scientific age. Splitting life into human and natural, science and art, money and soul has created an unworkable planet. Mending the rift involves reweaving the torn fabric of the earth. With this in mind, the first design of the new architecture is a place for personal renewal and revitalization.
In life, most of us are wounded by illness, the death of a loved one, heartbreak or other incident. If this happens, we often long for a safe place to let go and allow the organic processes of nature and consciousness to mend the shattered circle of our lives. Yet, few places receive mind and body simply. Usually, we are pressured toward a quick cure. Yet, ignoring the soul’s true needs leaves us with an empty image of wholeness. Hidden wounds go untended and genuine balance is never regained. HEALING SPACE explores a design that invites the innate wisdom of the psyche to discover its unique path to remembering wholeness.

(1) DEPARTURE THRESHOLD The threshold to HEALING SPACE is a jagged gap. It recalls the wounding incident that shatters lives. Pausing at this threshold gap, the power of the wounding force is fully met. Within the watery gash a circular steppingstone offers support for crossing. (2) DESCENT Stone steps lead into the earth, toward the womb of healing. Through downward movement, mind and body surrender to gravity’s pull toward a grounded core. (3) PASSAGE THROUGH CONFLICT At the bottom of the steps, two pillars frame a portal to the paradox of healing. The pillar on the right is carved with images of rebirth such as the sun, flowers and fruit. On the left, a waning crescent moon, withering plants and other images depict the decay, death and release, clearing the way for healing. (4) SURRENDER Passage between the Twin Pillars of Healing leads to an underground womb space. Floor paving depicts a giant serpent, an image of shedding what is worn and dead to reveal what is fresh and vital. Niches within the walls of the circular space provide pockets for surrendering what will clear the way for healing—broken beliefs, emotions, relationships to name a few. (5) PURIFICATION At the center of the space is a pool of warm water. Recessed below the surrounding floor, the pool creates a fluid place where rigid limitations can dissolve and flow into new patterns. (6) SLEEP & DREAMS To the east of the Purifying Pool is a place for resting and dreaming. A bed provides a safe, comfortable place to let go completely and settle in the depths of healing. (7) BURNING Fire is a primal force in cleansing what cannot be washed away or released through rest. A brazier provides a place for symbolically burning away obstacles healing and to transforming dense, dead matter into radiant energy. (8)VISION Release and deep rest clear the way for renewed visions of dwelling in wholeness. West of the central pool, a raised platform offers a place to meditate and cognize healing forms emerging from spacious silence. (9) EMERGENCE Rested and energized by visions of fresh possibilities, the Emergence Portal frames a return from the dark womb of healing. Similar to the Devouring Portal, twin pillars depict images of anticipation and trepidation. (10) ASCENDING From the Emergence Portal, a flight of steps ascends from the inward perspective of the underground space to the broader view at ground level.

The spectrum of healing includes assimilation and restorative play. This space provides varied opportunities for discovering patterns wanting to be expressed as well as integrating the knowledge of healing. (11) BODY/MIND An area for strengthening the body in connection to the mind through yoga and exercise. (12) CREATIVITY A work surface supports writing, drawing and other artistic exploration. (13) INTEGRATING STORIES A library books relating stories from world cultures about the human journey through healing transformation. A video monitor is provided for watching inspiring and funny stories that encourage healing. (14) NOURISHING A place to site and absorb beautiful melodies, forms, colors, tastes and fragrances of nature. 15) BETWEEN EARTH & SKY Openings in the floor and ceiling connect to the water and darkness below and the sunlight and rain from above.


Complete healing includes connecting to the totality of earth and the heavens. The roof of Healing Space offers a place to connect the healing of the body, mind and soul with the wholeness of cosmic spirit. (16) ASCENDING Steps lead from the earth’s boundaries and shadows to the sky’s expansion and light. (17) POLE STARAt the apex of the ascent, a stainless steel instrument, tilted at an angle parallel to the earth’s axis, points toward the pole star. Orientation to this point about which the entire universe appears to rotate enlivens stability within change. (18) SKY VIEWING TERRACE A flat roof offers a platform for unobstructed views of the revitalizing patterns of the sun, moon and stars. Floor paving patterns indicate the direction of sunrises and sunsets on the summer and winter solstices and the equinoxes, marking seasonal transitions. (19) RETURN Steps descend to ground level. (20) REBIRTH Crossing the threshold of wholeness marks the return to world where healing can integrated into daily life.

Architecture by Anthony Lawlor