November 11, 2016

Unity through Design Reformation and Transmutation

We, as designers, have the potential to begin taking great strides towards bringing prosperity and improvement to the human, industrial and ecological condition through the appropriate use of digital technology. However, our efforts cannot be fragmented or focused just upon individual goals and objectives. The design process, properly implemented, has the potential to suggest a new type of “group awareness”, resulting in a harmony of the highest order. 
Design, in its broadest sense, describes and defines this expansive process of engagement as a path towards wholeness. This in essence, invokes the beginning of a “new” design paradigm. Unfortunately, the prevailing worldview clings to a misunderstood interpretation of design’s function in society, industry and the evolution of the species. Scientific mind maps, which create the backbone for most technological reasoning, heretofore summon and propagate methodologies that often conflict with impulses inherent to design thinking. This misconception stems from a lack of understanding behind the motivation supporting humanity’s earlier concept of design and it function. 
By experiencing the current symbolic fruits of design’s transmutation between digital technology and the human mind/body experience, we can begin to understand the need to begin initiating design’s own reformation. In conclusion, this paper investigates the conceptual origins of design in reference to its impact upon human consciousness and will in turn, brings to light the challenges inherent in redefining the design function as it relates to a digital world.
 Key words: Design, Reformation, Transmutation, Symbols, Digital Technology
1.0 Introduction
In the West the earliest known indications that humans were aware of the esoteric principles surrounding what we today consider to be design, appears to have originated within the ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations. The original concept in support of the word design is translated from the Greek “sumbola”, which means symbol, token or sign. It is also the origin of the word “sunthemata” which refers to something that is put together, organized, devised, or an agreement to respond in a particular fashion to a certain signal, password or sign. Generally, sunthema refers to a pledge, covenant or communion between two or more parties. [1]

“A sumbolon brings together two things”. [2] Parties who made an agreement often participated in the breaking of bones or pottery in order to demonstrate their relationship to each other. By retaining their pieces, individuals were able to recognize each other as these groups grew in influence and number. A sign of goodwill, each piece was meant to fit together at a future date so as to both identify the bearer and symbolize their unity and loyalty to the group. Eventually some of these sumbolons evolved into passwords, secret signs and esoteric metaphors for the unification with a Universal Soul or Universal Consciousness. “Symbolism reflects a reality of a superior order based upon a representation of an inferior order … Symbols do not express, but suggest. They transcend the diversity of the existential or outer world to reach the universality, the unity, of the essential or inner world.” [3]
In the East the concept of unity was drawn from what appeared to be a universal order that was actively demonstrated by patterns expressed in the natural world. Earlier concepts surrounding design became manifest as a great Mystery that revealed itself through Nature and expressed itself through the formless energies of Yin and Yang. It was believed that the Tao could not be realized by rational means alone, but by symbolic imaginings conveyed to the mind through methods sensitive to the forces of Nature, e.g. the I Ching. It was thought that by applying these revelations to an individual’s life, a person could discover harmony, balance, unity, transformation and a greater awareness of self. [4]

What appears consistent to both situations, and fundamentally in all cultures, was that the quest towards harmony, balance, unity, cooperation, identity and goodwill had symbolic connotations, i.e. designs, that were of the highest order and fundamentally Spiritual in content. “The idea of one reality stood center stage in the doctrines of the people around the world. The world was a seamless creation overseen by one creative intelligence and one creative design, yet today it is considered mystical because it deals with the invisible.” [5]
Apparently many of the ancient ideas surrounding the concept of design implied that it was an instrument of the mind used to communicate what appeared to be a particular “reality” to the observer, both at a subjective and objective level. Ancient civilizations seemed to know that our interpretations of the world were fundamentally symbolic in character. Everything had a purpose and everything had a meaning. Reality was made real by the mind and by design.
2.0 The Mind: The Common Denominator
The common instrument in the evolution of humanity’s perception of reality, design and therefore self, is the mind. The mind is an instrument. Imbalance and discontent is felt emotionally and is the result of the mind’s demand to be heard and in control. Our emotions are our body’s reaction to the mind. “The all is Mind; the Universe is Mental.” The Kybalion [6,9]
Our mind creates mind forms partly because of its ability to create images. These imaginings are symbolic in character and participate in a fictitious sense of self and reality. Mind forms can also disconnect us from simple “being” by identifying us with images of separateness. By fragmenting our awareness, i.e. consciousness, we create a mental screen that gives energy to thought structures and belief systems that result in a “mind made sense of self.” [7] This phenomenon actually materializes in the brain by creating millions of neuron networks that give physicality to these mental interpretations and images. Society and culture will naturally condition our perception of reality and over time and through repetition, we tend to conform to the belief systems our minds have created. Our creation of “self” is a symbolic one, a design that is used to experience an illusion we ourselves give focus and priority.

Thought forms and images created by the mind, participate in the creation of an illusionary world. “Mind maps are created to explain and deal with reality. We create them through our interpretation of the underlying reason or meaning of experience.” [8] Computer technology has advanced at such an alarming rate that the human mind sometimes appears incapable of keeping up with its progress, making it difficult to change and break old patterns of perception. In response, the mind tends to revert to earlier networks, i.e. mind maps, in an attempt to make sense of the experience. This can create gaps that foster misunderstanding. A return to orthodoxy is the mind’s natural knee jerk response to not being able to comfortably exist in a rapidly changing “now”. The neural networks in our brain are biological constructs brought into existence by the mind with the purpose of bringing stability to our consciousness. “We create a mental model of the world and believe that everything is mapped out on our individual societal and/or cultural map is true.” [9]
Over time humanity has created a mental model of our world that currently supports a linear approach to thinking supported by a scientific paradigm. For the most part the scientific paradigm remains unchallenged as investigations into the quantum demonstrate that there are actually a multitude of models for reality all occurring at the same time. Basically the scientific paradigm is dependent upon the constraints of matter and the senses, limited in comparison to the design paradigm, which is essentially multi-dimensional in its capacity to network. [10]
3.0 Reformation and Transmutation
To reform is to make something better by removing or altering abuses so as to restore things to a better condition. To reform can also mean to improve our selves morally by means of persuasion and education; all in the quest for a better life. Transmutation describes an actual change in nature, in its form or quality. [11] Transmutation also means that there is a melding of two or more elements into a single unit or system that introduces, or brings forth, an even greater energy or quality.
Buckminster Fuller claimed that we live in a synergetic and unpredictable universe. Synergism is the creation of “whole new systems unpredicted by the behavior of any of the components or subassemblies of those same components taken separately from the whole, “ examples of which are common table salt and the water molecule. [12] For Bucky the process of transmutation is an unpredictable one, an act of creativity left unexposed until the bonding of elements is revealed in the creation of a form. Likened to the consequential dynamics resulting from the interaction between yin and yang, and its symbolic references to the mind, the design paradigm creates the symbolic field for the transmutation of imaginings whether they become synergetic or not.
However, first the definition of design’s purpose needs to experience its own reformation by removing many of the misconceptions surrounding it, especially concerning our understanding of transmutation in relation to the design function. Change is an integral part of Nature and the joining of elements into larger systems are considered a fundamental part of the design process. In essence, our mental imaginings aren’t just shuffled around within our consciousness, but undergo particular kinds of bonding based upon experience. If taken out of an experiential context these patterns could likewise become the precursors for taking quantum leaps towards the creation of unique, and sometime synergistic transformations. (This is a possibility conducive to the development of digital technology and only if interpreted through the design paradigm. It is, of course, entirely dependent upon the freedom and capacity of the observer to make the symbolic connection.)
Transformation via the imagination is the norm for design thinking. Our imagination invites our awareness to expand in preparation to encounter something not yet experienced. When an event occurs, the mind absorbs the experience and attempts to understand how it intimately relates to or affects it. Simultaneously, the universe is also presenting us with symbolic clues as to how to communicate and materialize these influences into their most appropriate forms. These forms trigger the yearning, i.e. desire, to take action in accordance with, and in response to, the awareness of the observer.
Design, because of its ability and capacity to resonate and make symbolic connections between both relative and non-relative forms and imaginings, is the thread that creates the fabric we know as the universe. These relationships exist in part to create, retain and perpetuate a sense of harmony and balance in what could only be described as a Universal consciousness. Design is alchemical in Nature: an evolutionary force that brings access to a greater intelligence, creativity and awareness due to its capacity to integrate that which appears to be fragmented, but is metaphysically whole and Universal in origin. [13]

“Humanity is the symbol (design) of a nobler purpose, the evidence of a higher destiny. The mortality of the intellect, if touched by the radian finger of true enlightenment, is transformed. By the alchemy of realization humanity achieves immortality.”
Manly P. Hall 
As designers we are all co-creators with the universe and bring into relative expression forces to which we independently resonate. It is through this individualized transmutation that we likewise learn about ourselves. Our mind creates our reality from a single point of view; individual expressions that possess the potential and ability to transform and transmute our sense of being. By means of design our mind presents our imaginings to our consciousness in a symbolic fashion primarily for the purpose of guiding us along our life’s journey.
4.0 The Digital Factor
“There is already created a material barrier which has emerged within the constraints of science and technology where the limitations of atomic and subatomic particles has driven human consciousness to take a leap into the realm of the Spirit. Human evolutionary progress is dependent upon a state of illumination beyond that of “self awareness” and into one of knowing rather than believing, a state that goes far beyond the sense of reason alone.” [14] Opinions that support past and/or current interpretations of the role of design will not necessarily bring abundance or progress to the world. The current interpretation of the design function remains illusionary, reinforcing a point of view that at first glance may appear reliable, but lacks the capacity to identifiably grow in a parallel and progressive gait with a universal consciousness. [15]

It is imperative that our interpretation of design becomes reformed and changes within our own mind so that future achievements can be appropriately perceived, interpreted and realized. A misinterpreted use of digital technology that covertly restricts the dynamics inherent to design thinking, could easily overlook a creative solution or potentially synergistic event. These kinds of omissions only confine and inhibit any realization of what would be considered true progress. Design can bring a new prosperity and improvement to the human condition through the appropriate use of a digital technology sensibly influenced by design’s own reformation. In order to attain such a creative enterprise teamwork and cooperation becomes mandatory, a circumstance where design is free to bring forth harmony and balance through the pro-active realization of a “group mind.” [16]
5.0 Conclusion
Old mental imaginings, along with our personal perceptions of reality, are rapidly changing, and in some cases becoming obsolete, due in part to the rapid growth of digital technology. Virtual images, which are the products of a digital world, in affect are not real, rather they are used to explain phenomenon not directly observable. Virtual images are simulations that have the ability to generate the creation of even more neural networks in our brain. This can be accomplished by supporting the illusion that the virtual world has capabilities greater than it actually does by generating situations that can’t be actively experienced in matter or by the senses. [17] Virtual networking can either support the status quo by adding and reinforcing our mind’s current condition, or expand our awareness by realizing the symbolic importance of the design archetype. “Unabridged Spiritual Wisdom enables the proper use of technology and is the catalyst for its’ increasingly rapid advancement. It may be difficult, at the moment, to conceive that Spirituality and technology go hand in hand, but the lack of Spiritual Wisdom will dampen the infinite possibilities because of a limited, diminutive belief system” [18]

Greater unity and harmony can be achieved with a greater understanding of design’s role in relation to the human condition. At the time of the arrival of this understanding, a true transmutation in consciousness will naturally take place. Fundamentally, the design paradigm has the capacity to eliminate the illusion of separatism by advancing the realization that all things contribute to the knowledge, i.e. mind, of a Universal whole. Authentic power, through the use and application of the design paradigm, will emerge only if we align our minds to purposes and meanings that are instrumental to the survival of humanity, the environment and most importantly the Universal order.
[1] Opsapaus, John, 2004, “The Basic Principles of Theurgy”, page 9.
[2] Ibid., page 10.

[4] Garant, Carl, 2003. “Kansei, Design and the Tao”, 6th Asian Design International Conference, Integration of Knowledge, Kansei and Industrial Power, Tsukuba International Congress Center, Tsukuba, Japan.
[5] Chopra, Deepak M.D., 2004.The Book of Secrets, Harmony Books, New York, New York, Page 22.
[6] The Kybalion Resource Page 
[7] Tolle, Eckhart, 2002. Sounds True in cooperation with Namaste Publishing, Inc., Boulder, Colorado, Tape #1.
[8] Hanks, Kurt, 1994. The Change Navigator: Preparing a New Kind of Leader for an Unchartered Tomorrow, Crisp Publications, Menlo Park, California, page 47.
[9] Ibid., page 41
[10] Zukav, Gary, 1999. The Seat of the Soul, Audio Renaissance, an imprint of Renaissance Media, Inc., Los Angeles, California, Chapter 1.
[11] Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictioinary, i963. Funk & Wagnalls Co., Inc., New York, N.Y.
[12] Fearnley, Christopher J., 2002. The R. Buckminster Fuller FAQ.

[13] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 12.28.04

[14] Chopra., The Book of Secrets, page 19.
[15] Sams & David Carson, 1988. Medicine Cards, The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals, Bear & Company, Sante Fe, New Mexico, USA, page 62.
[16] Ibid., page 125.
[17] Microsoft Word: Mac, Encarta Waorld English Dictionary, 1999 Microsoft Corp., Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publications PLC.
[18] Seydel, J.R. “infinite Living Divine Mind”, 1996. J.R. Seydel and Scarab Publishing. 12.21.01

Edited: 11.16.2016

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