Creativity and Nonduality: The Self and the Built Environment


Here is another abstract that my co-host of the Conscious Design Build talks, Hristiyan Atanasov, and I submitted to the 2012 Science and Nonduality Conference:

It has been estimated that the construction and operation of buildings consumes over a third of the world’s energy consumption and 40% of all the mined resources. Furthermore, the built environment has a profound impact on the way we view and live our lives.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of new technologies, methodologies, and legislation with the honorable intent to move us towards a greener, more sustainable way of designing and building in the world. The rise of renewable energies, the LEED’s certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), as well as the attempts of permaculturists and urban designers in creating more enjoyable and sustainable environments is impressive. However, so long as our approach is primarily dualistic, so long as we inherently view ourselves and the world around us as separate, so long as the driving force behind our solutions are primarily objective in nature, the results of our efforts will be limited.

Using the time-tested organizing principles of Vajrayana Buddhism, and the experience of the ongoing connectedness of our own bodies, minds, and spirits with the world around us, this talk will frame the current challenges of designing and building within the framework of a sacred mandala. We will begin by exploring the five elements of the dualistic model of designing and building, including ignorance, aggression, craving, pride, and jealousy, and demonstrating experientially the limitations of such a system. Then, by taking those same elements, but with a non-dual approach–with a felt sense of dynamism, interdependence, connection, and mystery–we will show how they transform into awareness, vision, empathy, equanimity, and flow. Finally we will show how various aspects of the design-build process, such as client relationships, designer-contractor relationship, finances, and sustainability are empowered and become truly beneficial by employing the non-dual model.

This talk will be co-presented by Hristiyan Atanasov and Austin Hill Shaw.

Hristiyan Atanasov’s Bio

Hristiyan Atanasov skillfully navigates the two worlds of construction on the one hand and divine archetype seduction and relationship coaching on the other, recognizing his own uncanny ability to teach other men about cultivating positive and enriching relationships with the opposite sex. Hristiyan has a warmth and openness about him that shows up in his craftsmanship, his love of materials, and the transformative impact his presence has on his clients. He co-hosts Conscious Design Build, a monthly meeting exploring the nondual aspects of everyday living with designer, Austin Hill Shaw. Links to his work can be found at with

Austin Hill Shaw’s Bio

Austin Hill Shaw is a Vajrayana Buddhist, architectural designer, and a mapmaker of creativity. With his reverence for the natural world, his love of sacred geometry, and his practice of creativity as a transformative process, Austin has been enabling his clients to identify what’s most important in their lives and translating those values into inspiring, highly-functional designs. He resides in Berkeley, California, where he co-hosts Conscious Design Build, a monthly meeting exploring the nondual aspects of everyday living with contractor, Hristiyan Atanasov.

Go here for more information on Conscious Design Build:  A Holistic Path to Better Living

Go here for the 2012 Science and Non Duality Conference

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