Turn the Pyramid Upside-Down

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Many years ago in my study of Yoga, I came across an analogy that spoke to me and stayed with me. I don’t remember where I first read it, and I have not been able to put it into words effectively myself, but I think about it often, and it often seems to be the solution to a problem I have, or one which I see in a friend. Let me try to explain.

Turn the pyramid upside-down.

We have brief moments where we feel steady.

In meditation, we try to bring the mind to a state which seems very unnatural. But it is, or so the wisdom goes, in fact the natural state of the mind. A steadiness that at first we can only imagine. Eventually we may have brief moments where we feel that steadiness, but it is as if we are trying to balance a pyramid on its pointy tip. Balancing a pyramid this way is hard, and seems unnatural. It does not last for long.

Hallway Aphorisms

I work in a large corporate environment. That means I bump into co-workers in the hallway many times during the day. Some of them I talk to, some of them I just greet, “Hey!”

Occasionally, I have interesting conversations. A co-worker might casually mention some ill-defined problem in their workplace, one which is causing them some low-grade stress. I have seen this problem before – it’s not worth solving again, the answer has been known for many, many years.

Turn the pyramid upside-down.

When I say it, most folks give me a confused stare or a nervous giggle. Some just think it is funny, some seem to sense that there is helpful advice in there.

Stable Base

You see, only the most talented balance-artists among us can balance a pyramid on its pointy tip. We all want the pyramid to be steady, but most of us just can’t get the focus or strength to keep it from falling down, so we might balance it for a while and then take a break, let it lie in the sand, or let someone else balance it for a while. To someone who has never seen a pyramid sitting stable on its broad base in its natural environment, it might seem reasonable to keep it on its pointy tip – kind of cool, or whatever, like you are able to accomplish some great feat by keeping it there. Others might be impressed.

… the pyramid really wants to sit on its stable broad base.

But when we finally notice that the pyramid really wants to sit on its stable broad base, everything changes. The problem goes away. The pyramid is there for others to enjoy, even after we leave. And on-lookers who know about things like pyramids stop chuckling at us as they watch us stumble through our days.

What pyramids do you have in your life? How can you turn them upside down?

Have you spent enough time in your desert to know where your pyramids are?

Can anyone help me to remember the book where I first read about this helpful analogy?

4 Replies to “Turn the Pyramid Upside-Down”

  1. I don't have the energy to maintain upside-down pyramids. Sometimes it seems like forces beyond my control (or at least forces that aren't me) try to topple them, and tell me they should stand on their pointy ends.

  2. I realized that my metaphor might be confusing.. maybe I should be saying to turn the pyramid right-side up? But the "upside-down" seemed to sound right to me at the start.In any event, I mean that pyramids are best realized to be wanting to sit on their big broad bases, and woe to the person who doesn't eventually see that this is their natural state.

  3. Havi;
    Here is a link to Ken Blanchard co’s that has the phrase”turn the pyramid upside down”.
    Maybe it will help find the originator…..

    1. Thanks for the link.. I have read some of Ken Blanchard’s books, so I guess it’s possible that’s where I got the metaphor from – or maybe both he and I got it from the same Yoga meditation book?

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