A few years ago I had the opportunity to do some very basic graphic design work and was able spend some time learning a few things about this skill set.
I still consider myself an amateur, and bow humbly to those educated as graphic design professionals. Still, I enjoy keeping my fledgling design skills in play and maintain an Adobe subscription to support my habit.
I was viewing some training on color theory and the basics of this theory struck a chord with me about life and nature; our spiritual selves and spiritual communities.
Most of us learn the basic color wheel in grade school. The primary colors: red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors: orange, green and purple.
One of the first things we notice, aside from the colors, is that there is an ORDER to them. The primary colors are positioned equidistant in a triad. The secondary colors are also comprised of equal portions of 2 primary colors and the triad that is their placement lies in an exactly opposite triangle.
I’ll save the Dan Brown symbology references for another blog but the simplicity and the order are impossible to miss.
This pattern of patterns continues as we expand beyond the primary and secondary colors to the tertiary colors.
The genius of the patterns that we see in the color wheel are the foundation of what is known in art and graphic design circles as “Color Theory” and it is these principles that determine whether something is pleasing and balanced to the typical eye, or harsh and unpleasant.
My exploration of the intersection of color theory and spiritual learning took an interesting turn when I discovered that Sir Isaac Newton is credited with the development of the first circular diagram of colors in 1666. Long-time readers of this blog may recall that I often compare Newton’s Laws of Motion to spiritual laws so this discovery about Sir Isaac and the color wheel was exciting!
My research on color theory for beginners led me to a terrific website, where I found this explanation:
Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, color, or even an ice cream sundae.
In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it’s either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it cannot organize, what it cannot understand. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.
Basic Color Theory
In summary, extreme unity leads to under-stimulation, extreme complexity leads to over-stimulation. Harmony is a dynamic equilibrium.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
- harmony as a pleasing arrangement of parts
- inner sense of order, balance in the experience
- non-harmony means boring or chaotic
- extreme unity = under-stimulation (yawn)
- extreme complexity = over-stimulation (Eeeeek!)
If we use this basic framework to think about our spiritual communities, what can we learn?
BALANCE and ORDER
A balance of perspectives, opinions, talents and skills is needed for any community to not not only survive, but to thrive. A balance of focus and programming is critical as is a sense of order about the ways things are done. Reactionary programming and last-minute deployment result in as much chaos as poorly balanced programming.
I travel regularly and visit different New Thought centers and churches, and it is obvious to me, often upon entrance into the building, where this principle is understood and where it is not. A narrow perspective and tight control over everything that happens in the organization results in a boring, and monochromatic place. A frenzied “we must (financially) survive” orientation where anything goes, from psychic fairs one weekend to spiritual healing, book clubs, classes and rummage sales in between Sunday services creates chaos.
A blending of complementary knowledge, skills and ability with careful attention to the balance of power among these results in a pleasing arrangement of parts; in harmony. And the energy of harmony (or disharmony) can be perceived almost immediately by those who visit a business, community group or church/center.
Successful spiritual organizations don’t emerge from nothingness. They are born out of a holy intention that is followed by careful and focused attention to the important aspects of organizational growth and maintenance. Strategic planning efforts that include careful consideration of the wisdom inherent to the color wheel are better positioned to reap sustainable harvests and not because *I* say so, but because this lesson is hard-coded throughout nature.
Whether we study scientific principles, such as the Complementarity Principle which posits that we “cannot exhibit both wave-like behavior and particle-like behavior at the same time”; or Newton’s 1st Law of Motion (every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force); the principles of Color Theory or the wisdom texts from across the ages – the foundations are clear. There is a method and order to Life. If we can observe, learn and incorporate the guidelines of this method and order into our thinking and perspective, we are much better positioned to achieve our goals and will likely begin to see our dreams unfold in front of us like palm fronds laid down on our path.
As with most of the things I have learned along my own spiritual journey, these are very simple concepts however; they are not easy to implement. This is mostly due to the complications laid on top of them by us – the people involved. And so we study, we experiment, we keep moving forward and we (hopefully!) continue to learn and grow and perhaps someday, will indeed achieve that pleasing arrangement of parts – that order and balance that create a true harmony in whatever it is that we have built.
And so it is.
(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path