The Yantra - Description

As many people know, a mantra is a sound repeated during meditation to help focus the mind. A yantra is an image similarly used in meditation. A yantra can be any design that brings peace to the mind. Various schools of yoga have created yantras through the ages. Integral Yoga created this one:

It symbolizes one of the school’s most prominent teachings:
The truth is one, paths are many

The dot in the middle is the light, the truth, enlightenment, the true self, love, everything we strive to know and be in our conscientious lives. As the light radiates out, it blends into symbols of the great religions of the world, just as the original truth diversified through the centuries into these religions.

In yogic thought, all religions are known as bhakti. Bhakti is one of the 8 paths of yoga that we can choose to lead us to enlightenment. Other paths include meditation, spiritual study, and asana (the physical practices commonly known as "yoga"). Religions are considered to be creations of man (see 6:00 and 12:00 below), but holy all the same.


I have always liked this philosophy and this design, and thus inspired I envision The Yantra. The same 12 symbols are placed in a circle 40 feet in diameter, suspended 18 1/2 feet off the ground. If you were to, at night, stand at the very center and look straight up, it would look like this:

The religions symbolized are, starting at the top, going clockwise:

  • all religions yet to be created
  • Hindu
  • Jainism
  • Judaism
  • Shinto
  • Taoism
  • Buddhism
  • all religions that have been forgotten
  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Sikhism
  • African religions
  • Wicca
  • Native-american religions

Set fairly far away from other light sources, The Yantra won’t be very bright. I imagine that people will notice just enough light to lure them over. Once inside, visitors will be surrounded by a cool glow of shifting colors. I imagine the sheer size and emptiness of the structure (see the elevation drawing) will have that cathedral-like way of aweing one into silence. There will be no humming generator. Folks will sit on a bench or lie on the ground looking up, appreciating the spiritual message or just enjoying the pretty colors.

In the daytime, The Yantra will lack it's glow, but should still provide some amusement. The symbols will cast shadows on the ground in sundial-like precession. Perhaps on wind-less days some cloth will be stretched across some of the cables, providing a shady spot to rest. There may be a set of giant (12 feet long) wind chimes hanging from the top of the structure, providing a quiescent audio element. A nearby solar panel will charge the batteries that power the lights at night. Circuitry attached to the panel will automatically turn on the lights at dusk.

Construction Details






Safety Concerns

Nothing in The Yantra will burn. (Perhaps some of the benches will be cast into the temple burn.) The main thing that I will be taking care about is that it is always visible. There are 24 cables coming to the ground at approximately 45 degrees. If they’re not seen, they will get hit. At night, glowing optical fiber will be attached along the entire length of every cable. Small flags will make the cables visible in the day.

There will be a block-and-tackle system hanging from the very top of the tower that will allow a person to be hoisted to the top for construction, maintenance, and a swell view. Rescue-equipment grade pulleys (including a locking "Haul Safe" pulley) and rope from Rescue Systems Inc will be used. When my crew and I are not around, this rig will be locked up and not available for the general public to use.

There is nothing in The Yantra that will catch the wind more than trivially. Even so, I’m using cable that is rated to hold 1750 lbs and carabiners rated to hold 3000 lbs.

Setup Procedure

  • Choose center point.
  • Measure locations of all 15 anchors and install them
  • Attach all cables to outer 12 anchors, symbol disks, and tower top plate with carabiners. Attach the cables to the anchors with a bit of play to allow the tower to go up smoothly
  • Attach optical fiber electrical wiring to cables
  • Test all wiring, EL-wire, fiber illuminators, fiber, top light
  • Attach top 6’ sections of the 3 tower legs to tower top-plate
  • Stand up the top 6’ of the tower at the center point, with all the cables and wires attached but lying on the ground
  • 3 people lift the tower up 6’
  • 3 other people slip the next 6’ sections of tower tube on each leg
  • bolt on each new leg section
  • repeat the previous 3 steps 5 more times
  • secure the bottom of each tower leg
  • tighten up each cable attached to the 12 outer anchors
  • at the middle of each tower leg, attach crossbars (using block-and-tackle)
  • set up battery enclosure and solar power panel
  • set up benches

  • Transportation

    Everything except the benches can be transported on/in Ping, my submarine art car. I’m thinking that I’ll pre-cut and paint all the bench parts in the Bay Area, then assemble them on the playa. I may be able to transport the bench parts in Ping as well, but maybe not. My camp may rent a truck that can carry them. Other transportation resources may become available. I haven’t budgeted anything for transportation, but I don’t anticipate that this will be much of an expense.

    Construction Locations, Expertise, Assistance

    The Yantra will be built in my studio in Berkeley. When I need a large area to test-build the towers and rigging, I’ll probably use The Shipyard. Unlike my previous projects, there’s a lot of work that doesn’t need a machinist or computer programmer to do. I look forward to working with a larger population of volunteer helpers. I imagine some people will feel strongly about various religions and symbols.

    For setting up The Yantra, I anticipate needing a crew of 6 people.

    EL-wire expertise will be found at Cool Neon. Optical fiber expertise and equipment will be obtained from Jeremy Lutes/Light Fantastic. I’ll probably talk to Bob Stahl about my rigging plans.

    I want to get everything but the benches built by the 4th of July, so I can take The Yantra up to the playa for a test run. Then until Burning Man I’ll fix and re-work whatever needs fixing and reworking and build the benches. Unlike previous projects, I feel that I’ll have plenty of time for everything.

    Schedule and Timeline








    Nothing in The Yantra will burn. The only effects on the playa will be 15 holes made by screw anchors which will be easily filled.

    More Information, Questions, Comments