Elusion, Delusion and Illusion: Grasping for Timelessness in Art and Design

What do we mean when something – an object, a work of art, a house, a piece of furniture or clothing – is timeless? The timeless is a design that, as the saying goes, has passed the test of time, has avoided becoming dated and stodgy. When we see it we wonder how those in … Continue reading

Aesthetics and Values: Michael Pyatok

“There’s a political role to design, and that is the message it sends to the people living there and the generations afterward who live around it. If it’s done well, it’s like saying all those folks who collaborated to make the place—the community, the lenders, the developer, the insurance company, the architect—had a high degree … Continue reading

Place and Liberation

Buddhism is famous in the West for the tenet that “life is suffering.” That’s too simplistic, of course, and its simplicity is due in part to translating the word dukkha, which is more complex than just suffering. Nonetheless, the idea of suffering cannot be dismissed. The first of the Four Noble Truths is that suffering … Continue reading

Buddhist Aesthetics: E.F. Schumacher and Glenn Murcutt

What would a Buddhist aesthetic, or a Buddhist architecture, be? One framework could be E.F. Schumacher’s description of “Buddhist Economics” in his book Small Is Beautiful. Here he describes the efficiency of a Buddhist economics as that which uses “amazingly small means leading to extraordinary results,” and a “maximum of well-being with a minimum of … Continue reading

Toward a Buddhist Aesthetic

Lindesfarne Guest House, Green Gulch Farm

Lindisfarne Guest House, Green Gulch Farm (Photo: Travis Stansel) “In entering the eightfold path, self-centeredness is the first thing to fall away, which brings us into wisdom, which brings us into a greater empathetic relationship with others, and also, I think, opens up a new aesthetic…. the world ceases to be flat, opaque and not … Continue reading

Han, Green Gulch Farm

Han, Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center

The han is a wooden block struck to announce the beginning of seated meditation at a Zen center. This one is at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center in Muir Beach, CA. Green Gulch Farm is part of the San Francisco Zen Center.

Taking Care of Problems

Take care of the easiest first. Get them out of the way. Then when tackling the more difficult problems, the easier ones are no longer in the way. Not always easy, but always easier!

Balancing Act? Maybe Not

When I started writing this, and actually for a long time before, I was thinking from a point of view that there was an inherent conflict between aesthetics and values. I think now that this is wrong. I think aesthetics are essentially neutral. There is no problem with aesthetics as such, yet there can be … Continue reading

Peace and Leisure

Peace and leisure are not the same thing. Leisure can and should be productive, if only at the very least to cultivate peace of mind. A mind at peace is a powerful, powerful thing. It sees things clearly, acts as it should act, and creates a ripple effect around it for the rest of the … Continue reading

Design Karma

Design is tricky. It floats in a realm polluted by superficiality, greed, ego, insecurity, attachment and suffering. Design can be used to make the world a better place or be used to bolster weak self-esteem and set oneself up as better than others. Design can be a toy of the rich and seen as such … Continue reading