The Living Pyramid embedding a 3D shape into the timeline of a movie to emanate a greater meaning

Features Issue 212 Jul, 2019

The unusual title of my book, The Living Pyramid was not chosen by accident. I could say that it all happened by chance, but as I’ve come to learn over the years, this is not possible, each component of a process coming as naturally as the wind precedes rain and sun follows it, even though it may not seem obvious at the time.
Dots can only be connected when looking back at a chain of events, and even though the foundation of this one started much earlier, I’ll pick it up at the point where I was in the editing stage of an artistic documentary film about the beautiful northern Trans-Himalayan valley of Muktinath, in the district of Mustang, in Nepal. So it was through simply deciding how to lay out the movie that I stumbled across the design of a 3D art piece that I came to call, ‘Circle of Immortality,’ which is itself an open pyramid shape and one which I would later place, as a bedrock of skillful means into my 45-minute film that has the same name.
The book The Living Pyramid is the very culmination of this process, as it describes how I made this film with the shape of this pyramidal structure embedded into it, detail by detail. Just the idea of a 3D shape living and breathing inside a film lends much dynamism to it. But that was not all I was intending. My real aim was to create a meditation rather than an intellectual obstacle course. I wanted to spare people a laborious wade through heavy philosophical and spiritual terminology that may not have the kind of effect I envisaged and create something organic and not too heavy for viewers, but deep and powerful enough to naturally move them to the core.
The way that I decided to approach this was by making the movie dance within a space encompassing the union of ‘Absolute’ and ‘Relative’ realities. Because according to the highest yogas of Tibetan Buddhism, the knowledge of these aspects encompasses the whole meaning of the nature of existence, to have these embedded in the film’s structure seemed to be efficient. I wanted to see if through molding the pattern of the movie into a shape using the various attributes of filmmaking like visuals (light), music (sound), narration (perception), and details like timing, overlays, etc., which are ordinary functions of this art, would I then be able to transmit the meaning without actually having to go into a conceptual spiel about the process, in black and white words? The final outcome of the movie should then theoretically become an automatic transmission, expressing its underlying message to anyone and everyone, even if they may not understand the narration running along the surface, nor see the precise timings or notice the musical and visual mirrors in place.

This accidental process happened in the sense that I did not set out to make a shape of any sort! I was just playing around with a circle to represent Absolute reality and a square to represent the Relative. By fitting one of these most ordinary of archetypal shapes within the other until there was no more space at the center of the combined images, I recognized that they would never actually merge in this way and therefore I was not going to achieve the result I wanted to. I needed to connect them and could achieve this by creating a spiral out of the pattern already on the page, cutting it out and then placing this upon a couple of equilateral triangles placed at right angles to each other to give the spiral support. By virtue of the triangles, the Absolute and Relative realities were then united as they were brought to an apex.
The process of making this art piece, ‘Circle of Immortality’ and it holistic meaning are described in great detail in my book, The Pyramid Spiral, Dance of the Five Elements and repeated in a short introductory section of The Living Pyramid. I cut up and laid a sequence of three sets of visuals encompassing three sacred locations of Nepal: Muktinath, Halesi and Lumbini that are complemented by particular musical tunes containing the specific mantras for each of these fields of reality that would reinforce the underlying pattern. In addition, these were timed to precision, and mirrored around a central axis right in the middle of the movie, so that what occurred on both sides of that central point would exactly reflect each other. To complete the embedding of the pyramid shape, I then divided both halves of the film again into two sections that straddle both sides of the axis, so that there are four main parts in total representing the four manifesting elements—wind, fire, earth and water—and a fifth of space at the apex of this pyramidal-like shape. To round it off, the very first short section and last one also comprise visuals representing the space element, so that if you were to join the beginning and end of the film together into a circular sequence, these two aspects of space become one and all five elements flow in a perfect circle.
The Living Pyramid describes how I had created this art piece within the structure and layout of the film, in minute detail, stage by stage and consequently how I became aware that when you are attempting to express deep wisdom teachings through any form of media so that they may become a transmission to other people, what appears on the surface is the essential space within which an inner pattern or shape, containing the teachings, may express its truth.
It also taught me that without keeping an open minded approach to any artistic expression, new shoots and branches of methods may not appear through coincidental accidents!

The Circle of Immortality film may be viewed at:
The Living Pyramid is available at Amazon books.