Chunpis and Chakras

A common question people who are new to the Andean tradition have is whether the chunpis—the energetic belts of the poq’po (energy body)—are similar to the chakras. They are not. The misunderstanding arises for several reasons that I won’t go into here. But let’s take a look at the differences, acknowledging that both are complex subjects and I will provide only a cursory overview.

Tradition of Origin

 The concept of chakras is Eastern­—usually Hindu or Buddhist in origin.

The chunpis are Andean.

To call the chunpis “charkas” is to confuse two entirely different traditions, for as you will see below, there is little to no similarity between chunpis and chakras.

Energetic  Structure

Chakras are usually described as spinning or swirling vortices of light energy. The Silhouette of a monk meditating in a lotus positionword itself is Sanskrit for “wheel” or “disk.” Traditionally, there are seven of them, aligned along the spine from the root of the body  to the top of the head. They are centers where energy and matter meet, facilitating the flow of the life-force energy. The chakras are aligned with major nerve plexuses and organs of the body, and each is associated with a color and with various human emotional traits and states of consciousness, which we will discuss briefly later.

The chunpis are belts or bands of kawsay, the animating energy of the universe. This Quechua word literally means “belt,” and there are four belts, with a quasi fifth belt. The lower belt is at the trunk of the body, wrapping around the hips and between the legs. The three other chunpis are around the belly area, the chest area, and the throat area. The quasi fifth belt encompasses the two physical eyes and the seventh eye (called the third eye in other traditions) at the center of the forehead.

The chunpis are not wheels or disks. I remember once giving the karpay to weave the belts to a large group. A man who had been taught the karpay by another teacher and then coached by me was helping me. I overheard him say to the person he was working with something along the lines of: “Now see a brilliant red energy around your belly. See a brilliant spinning disk of red.” I had to stop him. The chunpis are not disks! They are bands that wrap around the body and interpenetrate it. They are not connected to or aligned with the spine, as chakras are, nor do they spin.

Each chunpi has an “eye,” called a ñawi. Except for one, the ñawis are opposite the spine. For the three upper belts, the ñawis are at the front of the body. For the lower belt, it is at the back of the body, near the base of the spine.

The chakras always exist. You come into human form with them. For optimal well-being, the chakras must be “opened” and balanced. If they are not balanced, then some chakras become overactive to compensate. Energy practices include opening the ckakras (there are various methods and practices) and restoring balance to any underactive ckakras.

The chunpis do not exist until you weave them into your poq’po, which is what you do during the karpay, called the Chunpi Away (pronounced “ah-why” and which means “to weave” in Quechua). In contrast, the ñawis exist from your birth. The work is to “awaken” or “open” these mystical eyes. This part of the karpay is called the Ñawi K’ichay.

Both the chakras and the chunpis are associated with colors and elements. The seven chakras from the lower chakra to the higher are associated with the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue/indigo, violet.

For the chunpis, the lower belt is black and is associated with water. The belt around the belly is red and is related to earth (and, by the way, this belt is not magical  loving heartassociated with the sacral and solar plexus areas; it is around the entire trunk of the body at the belly area and the eye is usually located below the navel). The belt around the chest/heart level is gold and associated with the sun. The belt at the throat is silver and linked with moon and wind. The quasi fifth belt for the two physical eyes and the seventh eye is violet. However, it is not really a violet band of energy. The color of the belt is that of your two physical eyes. It is sometimes, for ease of reference only, called the violet belt because at the end of the karpay you pull violet light into your poq’po through the seventh eye. But you move that violet light through your entire poq’po and body, not just through this eye area of your head.

Capacities of Consciousness

Both the ckakras and chunpis mediate flows of energy to and through the energy and physical bodies. The consequence of blocked or stalled energy is the same in both systems, loss of well-being. However, the similarities of the energy dynamics stop there.

For the chakras, the four upper chakras are said to relate to spirituality and our Energy of Sacred Geometryhigher cognitive and emotional capacities, such as insight, creativity, and love. The three lower chakras are associated with our more physical and instinctual selves, including survival, self-image, social bonds, power, family, and the like. The elements and senses of the belts are usually identified as follows: the root chakra with earth and sense of smell, the sacral with water and taste, solar plexus with fire and sight, heart with air and touch, throat with ether and hearing, third eye with light and perception, and crown with spirit and being.

The capacities of conscious for each chakra are too long a list to go into here, but generally the root chakra is the life-force and connection to earth and physicality, survival instinct and capacity to be a stable physical being in the physical world. The sacral chakra is about relations and relationships, sexuality, impulses, creativity, and confidence. The solar plexus is associated with emotions, identity and self-image, power, and strength.  The heart relates to feelings, love, trust, and safety. The throat capacities include communication, expression, and will. The third-eye chakra relates to ideas, mind, insights, inner expression, and intuition. The crown is associated with spirituality, wisdom, and awareness.

The chunpis, in contrast, each confer a specific range of capacities. They are not, as some say, belts of “protection.” The entire range of energy practices in the Andes (as passed down through the two lineages I was taught) is to master your energy so that you can perceive and relate to every nuance of kawsay. Since the entire cosmos and everything in nature is made of sami, there is nothing to protect yourself from.  The capacities of consciousness encoded within the belts can be both realized abilities we already use in the world and potentials that are as yet not developed. The specific capacities are as follows:

  • The three eyes (two physical eyes and seventh eye) confer a capacity for insight and mystical vision, called qaway.
  • At the throat, the capacity is rimay, which is to speak with integrity and power, and also to speak with magical power, such that the sounds or vocalizations you make can affect physical reality.
  • At the heart and Inka Seed level is kanay, the capacity to be who you really are, to express and live your mission here on earth.
  • At the belly, the qosqo, is personal power, especially in relation to the kinetic capacity to take action in the world and to live with khuyay, or engaged passion.
  • At the root, the capacities involve being able to time your actions for maximum effect and to measure your power at the current time.

As you can see, the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and energetic capacities of the chunpis are quite distinct from those associated traditionally with the chakras.

This has been only a brief overview, but I hope you now better understand how different these two systems of “energetic anatomy” are and why using terminology from one tradition when referring to the dynamics of an entirely different system is not only imprecise but can be downright confusing.

Evil and Andean Mysticism

When I teach the Andean mystical tradition, one of the most important concepts concerns the  nature of energy, and it seems to take a lot of “unlearning” for many people to grasp that kawsay is beyond moral overlay. There is no good energy or bad Atomenergy, negative or positive energy, angelic or demonic energy within the kawsay pacha itself. There is nothing contaminating about kawsay to extract from your own or another person’s energy body (poq’po). If you have enough personal power (ayni), there is no need to protect yourself from energy and, thus, the chunpis, or energetic belts, have nothing to do with protection, even though some still perpetuate that misunderstanding. In the kawsay pacha, energy is just energy, just like an electron is an electron and a photon is a photon. I want to extend this discussion now to talk about the nature of evil and how we can view it from the perspective of Andean mysticism.

Let’s start with a review of kawsay. Kawsay is the living, animating energy of the immaterial universe. From it, the material universe arose, including this human world. As I pointed out in the paragraph above, kawsay is beyond moral overly and is not dualistic. So there is no good or bad or positive or negative kawsay. Kawsay is always and only the First Cause life-force, the animating force of all beingness, and so from that perspective is nourishing and beneficial; it is the force from which all things are created and that drives evolution on the material realm and in the realm of human consciousness.

Kawsay has a core kinetic dynamic—its nature is to move unrestricted through the cosmos. We want to evolve consciously so that we can be perfect absorbers of kawsay and perfect radiators of it. It is interesting to note that a precursor to the word “Inka” was “Enqa,” which one anthropologist says means a person (an enlightened or nearly enlightened being) who perfectly absorbs and radiates energy on behalf of the community. All humans have the capacity to be Enqas/Inkas—perfect mediators of kawsay, allowing it to flow in to nourish us and to flow out again to continue to move through the universe. A metaphor is the rain cycle: water droplets flow through the atmosphere, fall to earth, are absorbed by the earth to fuel plant growth, and then the plants respire and the water condenses and rises again, and so the cycle goes. Nothing is trapped; it is absorbed, fuels life, and flows on.

Here’s the rub in this scenario: Humans have the dubious distinction of being the only creatures who can slow down kawsay. While we are meant to perfectly absorb and radiate kawsay, we don’t because we are not sufficiently evolved in our consciousness. Our life-negating emotions, thoughts, words, and actions cause kawsay to slow when it hits the skin of our energy body. It’s like our filter is clogged and so some energy flows through us, some gets slowed from its natural state, and some even gets blocked or stuck as it tries to move through us.

The ancient mystics of the Andes of Peru understood this energy dynamic and have words for it.  Llasaq kawsay is this slowed kawsay, which can feel heavy to us or, rather, makes us feel heavy emotionally, physically, spiritually. Llasaq kawsay literally means “heavy living energy.” Today, we call this heavy energy hucha. The ancients had a different word for the most refined, flowing  kawsay—llanthu kawsay, or, literally, “light living energy.” The more modern word for this is sami.

Don’t let the fact there are two words for human interaction with kawsay (sami and Yin Yang Celestialhucha) fool you into thinking this sets up a dichotomy for kawsay itself. It does not. Kawsay moves along a spectrum, from sami (unrestricted flow) to hucha (slow or stuck energy) in relation only to humans. Hucha is still kawsay, only slow moving. Learn to improve your ayni (energetic reciprocity, capacity to absorb and radiate kawsay) and you reduce your hucha and/or stop creating it. And, if you can’t yet turn hucha into sami, then give it to someone who can, like Mother Earth or a skilled paqo, both of whom “eat” hucha and return sami (or, in other words, get slow energy moving again).

I review all this information so you can understand that hucha is not bad, dirty, negative, or contaminating. Nor is it associated with evil. Because so many metaphysical traditions have a concept of evil, some people new to the Andean mystical system not only have a hard time understanding hucha simply as slow kawsay, but they resist the rejection of the concept of energetic evil.

I am no scholar of the Andean tradition, but I have looked into the question of evil in relation to Andean mysticism and would now like to share my musing on the topic as it connects to our understanding of kawsay as practitioners of Andean mysticism.

Did the Inkas have a concept of evil, of the devil or Satan? How would a paqo within the mystical system view these same concepts?

Among the Inkas, there was a god called Supay, who was seen primarily as the God of Death, although he was also known as the Ruler of the Underworld (ukhupacha).
Another association, based on his reign in the underworld, is as the God of Minerals. As such, he was especially associated with miners, who conducted rituals to keep Supay appeased and themselves safe in the dangerous environment of their work.

As the God of Death, Supay represented human mortality. As Ruler of the Underworld, he was said to command demons, which were the spirits beings who Shadow self close up compressed AdobeStock_34688107inhabited the underworld. But from what we know of the “underworld” according to the mystical system, these were probably not demons as we think of them in the Westernized, Christianized sense. The people of the lower world—the ukhupacharuna—don’t know ayni. They are unable to participate in the core energy dynamic of the cosmos—energetic reciprocity. Thus, as mystics, we can see them as devoid of knowledge rather than as demonic in nature.

This underworld also had more benign and even benevolent associations: for example, with Mother Earth and with the ancestors, both of which were sources of nourishment and even wisdom for the people.

It was through the Christianization that came with the Spanish Conquest that Supay morphed from the God of Death and ruler of the ukhupacha to the Devil or Satan. His underworld realm became associated with the land of the fallen and wicked—in other words, with Hell. But this Christainized concept of the ukhupacha is in direct conflict with everything the mystical system says about this lower world. The people there are not evil, just uneducated in the ways of ayni. They are not condemned in a hell, they actually are living in a place of regeneration. The ukhupacha is not a place people go to be imprisoned, but to be set free! They go to the ukhupacha to learn ayni. It is a place whose very nature is one of potentiality and rejuvenation.

If we trace the origins of certain words—such as Satan and the Devil—we will also see that those root meanings have been filtered through the lens of third-level On the crossroadsunderstanding. (There are seven levels of consciousness; most of the world currently is at the third level). The Hebrew Bible was first translated into Koine Greek, and the Koine Greek word for what came to be translated into “Satan” was kategoro, which means to “categorize” or to create a “division.” The Greek word for “Devil” was diabolos, which means “accuser” or “slanderer.” I think you can immediately see that the meanings of these words are a far cry from “evil.” It is interesting that when I asked several paqos about the devil or fear of evil, they said that the devil or evil is that which divides us or separates us—separates us from knowing ourselves and from knowing and being cooperative or empathetic with others. Their understanding is closer to the Koine Greek meanings than to the codified Christain meaning of Devil and Satan.

Their view reminds me of the two core relationships of energy and of the human interaction with kawsay: masintin and yanantin. Masintin is when we touch “similar” energies. Yanantin is when we touch “dissimilar” energies. Both dynamics are in relation to your own energy state, not to some universal, independent state of being. Touching energy that feels “like” or “unlike” your own is a far cry from
labeling an “unlike” energy evil or even harmful. Certainly we can understand a “devil” (as a slandered or accuser) as someone who does not (at least at that moment) know or act from ayni. That is a far cry from their being evil.

I understand that people do unspeakably horrible, even “evil” things. This moral evaluation is an ethical, spiritual, or social determination. It varies from culture to culture. But from an Andean perspective, such people are not in the clutches of a universal evil energy or entity. They are just deeply, deeply out of ayni. They are “divided” from their true nature as a divine, cosmic being and even perhaps from their true nature as human beings in social relations with others. They are heavy in ladder stairs heaven door freedom blue skythe heaviest way. . .

The paqos I have asked all have said that when we come across something heavy, we either leave it alone or we use our personal power to decrease that heaviness (hucha) and increase lightness (sami). Every single one of the them has expressed the opinion that fear is a projection from ourselves outward onto a person or thing. We humans create heaviness, and we project our fear out into the world to divide, categorize, and label that which we do not yet have the personal power to understand or deal with. When we realize this, we save ourselves from wasting our energy. There is nothing, energetically speaking, to protect yourself from. Don’t be foolish—run from a person who is acting from extreme heaviness and threatening you. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that that person’s state of being and action is evidence for a fundamental, organized, independent evil energy of the kawsay pacha. Instead, understand it is the mindset and actions of someone lower down of the qanchispatañan, the stairway of the seven steps of consciousness in the human world.

The Nature of the Kawsay Pacha

In their conception of an immaterial energetic cosmos that has no beginning, is without end, and underlies All that Is, the Andeans join the great philosophers of history. Let’s look (in grossly simplified terms) at what a few of those philosophers have to say so that we can see how the Andeans sit alongside these giants of thought.

The word ylem, from the ancient Greek, refers to the primordial, foundational “substance” (although it is immaterial) of the cosmos, before the cosmos took actual form. Most philosophical traditions that concern themselves with the origin of the cosmos have concepts similar to that of ylem.

The Greek Anaximander posited that the universe arose from a “substance” he called Aperion, which was limitless, unknowable, and unobservable.  The Aperion, which can be translated to mean “the boundless” or “the indefinite,” is not itself material but from it all matter arose. Part of the Milesian school of philosophy, Anaximander and his cohorts surmised that the primary underlying energy of the cosmos was simply the “Source,” also called Arche. From this Source, all things come and all things return. As such, he has a notion of space and time that is subsumed within the immaterial infinite.

Another pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, saw the universe as “power” or “force,” a moving energy that he metaphorically associated with both fire and water. Evolving MicrocosmHe ascribed to this energy a “logos,” or a rational structuring principle that controlled, arranged, and ordered the cosmos. He was a major proponent of the ontological philosophy of “becoming,” believing that while the Whole is ordered, beneath it everything is always changing, moving, in flux and flow. In this sense, he, like Anaximander, saw “becoming” as arising in relation to space and time. He also articulated a law of transformation, which some misunderstand as a law of opposites, by which things flow from one state—for example, hot—to their counterpoint—cold. Unlike Anaximander, Heraclitus believed in a creator.

The Eleatics, a school of philosophy founded by Parmenides, based their purely ontological philosophy on the notion that Being is the only reality. According to this school of thought, the foundation of the universe is “the One,” which in its fullness is unchanging and immutable. All change is illusion. This philosophy shares similarities with some Eastern concepts, so let’s  switch from the Western view to briefly take a look at Eastern ones.

We start by going to the Hindu Rig Veda, which says that the nature of the cosmos is neither Being nor Non-being. The primordial substance is either unknowable (beyond even our ability to grasp) or is pure consciousness. Switching to the Vedic philosophy of the Upanisads, ultimate reality is beyond perception; it permeates all things but is not those things. This ultimate reality cannot be touched, seen, or otherwise grasped through physical perception, but can, nonetheless, be experienced.

In Daoism, a Chinese philosophy, the Wu is cosmic non-being, seen as the matrix from which everything arises while being beyond any conception of “thingness” Yin Yang Celestialitself. In one of its many senses, the Wu cannot be separated from nature, because it is not a metaphysical or transcendent “first principle” that can be separate from that which arises from it. This immanent creative force both underlies and infuses nature. It also is always changing, giving rise to the concept of yin-yang, Yin-yang is the polar aspect of nature and being, where things are inseparable but complementary in their relation to each other, such as the polarity of male-female and light-dark. Bringing balance to the two poles creates harmony.

There are many other philosophical traditions we could look at, but this brief glance at a few prominent ones allows us to see that the Andean cosmovision deserves to take a seat at the philosophical table. Here’s the Andean view in brief, which can see even from this broad overview holds its own alongside some of the most esteemed philosophies of the world.

In the Andean view, which aligns philosophically with some of the Greek views, the universe is immaterial, comprised of  animating energy, and called the kawsay don-francisco-offering-despacho-compressed-lisa-sims-img_4160pacha. It is the primordial “living” energy from which all matter arises. It is First Cause, the immaterial and infinite moving energy and the energizing principle that fuels creation and evolution. From it arose all matter—called the Pachamama, which is the entire material universe—which is subject to space and time. In fact, the word pacha means both space and time, as inseparable aspects of the one Pachamama. Like Heraclitus, Andeans believe that there is a creator, one of whose names is Wiraqocha, which means something like “foam of the sea,” the sea perhaps being the vast expanse of the flowing energy of the cosmos. But energy is beyond human moral overlay.

Unlike some of the philosophers mentioned above, Andeans would not say that change is an illusion, but they would agree with other Greek thinkers that the primordial nature of energy/kawsay is to move. It’s nature is to move unimpeded in the boundless expanse. Therefore, Andeans also share a notion of “becoming,” which they call ayni. Ayni is energetic reciprocity between everything in the material universe and the immutable living energy of the kawsay pacha. Ayni is a driving force for evolution, as evidenced through the ceaseless change and flux of the Pachamama (material universe). In the Andean concept of aynillan kawsaypas, which is related to ayni, “beingness” (life) is subject to a natural cycle: all things come from the kawsay pacha and all things will return to it. We did nothing to deserve our lives. They are gifts from the kawsay pacha. Part of our goal here in human form is to consciously evolve and return to the kawsay pacha with a greater fullness of being than when we arrived here on Earth.

Andeans would agree somewhat with the yin-yang aspect of Chinese philosophy or Heraclitus’s concept of transformational opposites. In the Andean conception of mesas-compressed-lisa-sims-photos-2016energy there are really only four core energy dynamics, and they are pairs of polarities: light/refined energy and heavy energy (although lightness and heaviness run along a spectrum) and compatible and incompatible energy (in relation to your own energy body, the poq’po). Awareness of these flows helps us to manage them and, thus, to avoid creating hucha (heavy energy) and to increase our sami (refined or “light” energy).

Like the philosophy preserved in the Upanishads, Andean would say that while ultimate reality cannot be perceived, it can be experienced. In a slight amendment of the Hindu view, they would say that the energy of the universe (kawsay), while immaterial in its origin, can be perceived in its flow through the Pachamama (material world). In fact, a paqo’s training is mostly about learning to perceive kawsay, and to move it and tune it.

As you can see from only this brief description, Andean cosmology is developed to a level equivalent to that held by of some of the greatest philosophers. When you learn the Andean cosmology through a deep dive, rather than this quick overview, you will feel as if you have received a PhD in energy! So, when you are practicing the Andean energy techniques and improving your capacities as a paqo, know that you are putting into living practice ideas that stand on their own merit alongside the ideas of some of history’s deepest thinkers.

Last two pictures are by Lisa McClendon Sims, copyright 2016.


Inside the Self-Revolution

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel and, in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
—Jim Morrison, The Doors

In my previous post I talked about how a paqo can approach the current political environment from the fourth-level. In this post, I want to talk about one of the ways that we can continue to evolve to reach the fourth level. Our voices might unite to Pretty woman with american flag painted on face

I recently gave a talk on the power of our stories, because getting to the bottom of your stories is one way to deepen your knowledge of “who you really are.” As Jim Morrison says, the revolution starts inside. It is individual before it is collective. The Andean mystical system says the same thing. One of our main goals is to know “who we really are” and to have the “personal power” to live as who we really are. So if we want to help foster positive change in our political situation—or in any other situation—we would do well to take a self-inventory of our own inner “stories” before, or at the same time, that we are marshalling energies to change our outer world. Doing so is a fourth-level way to shift the energy both inside and outside the self or our national story.

At tax time you take an inventory of your financial situation. For a job interview you take inventory of your career. But how often have you stopped and done a thorough self-inventory of your stories? If you haven’t, then there is a good chance you don’t know who you really are.

We all have stories, multiple stories. We are experts at telling our stories and at knowing which story slots into which area of our lives. For example, you have one Your story sign compressed AdobeStock_107436455story about who you are when you are at a job interview, another when you are stepping out to a nightclub, another when you are sitting with a group of other parents as you watch the kids play, and so on. You are quite literally a different person depending on the situation you find yourself in. That’s not to say that you don’t have a stable core personality, belief system, point of view, and so on. You do. But you parse the facts of that inner landscape and, just like a novelist, play up one aspect of the self at the expense of another depending on the needs of the present moment. Your career path highlights different facets of the self than does your dating style than does behavior at a family reunion. So one way to take a self-inventory is to examine the stories you tell about yourself, where and when you tell which story, and how stories shift according to your emotional state.

The reality is that you are not the sole author of your stories. Three aspects of the self start writing your story shortly after your birth, and your story is pretty much stabilized by the time you are ready for elementary school.

Psychology outlines a fairly universal path of human development, and it starts just after birth with the development of the id, the first author of your story. The id is a largely unconscious aspect of our mind that is concerned with life and death. It’s the way an infant gets its needs for food, warmth, safety, nurturing, and love. So the id is about me, me, me, and now, now, now, and pleasure, pleasure, pleasure. The id tends to be illogical, unreasonable, self-indulgent, fantasy-prone, and even chaotic and irrational. Still, the id is crucial to your survival when you are an infant, and you don’t grow out of your id—you just learn to, more or less, control it. It is a core part of your unconscious mind, and in later life turns its survival focus to sex, aggression/protection against threats, and such, even as the infantile imprints remain.

The id is what says to you, “You have been dieting for three weeks. Go ahead, treat yourself to that chocolate cake. It won’t hurt to have one piece.” The id is what says, Group of young adults hanging around in a disco club“Gosh, I have been working so hard. I am going to tie one on tonight!” The id is what says, “I love those shoes, and they’re on sale! Another $50 of my credit card is not going to break the bank. Those shoes are mine!” The id inserts itself in your life in all kinds of ways, and it pays to look for its voice in your stories. The id tends to surprise you, even ambush you. It’s what we tend to call “losing self-control.” The id is a great companion when you really do need to cut loose and lighten up, stop being so serious or overloaded, and need to take a break. Pleasure is fine. Self-indulgence within limits is healthy. But if your id has taken over the writing of any portion of your story, it’s worth a look at why, how, where, and when so that you can bring yourself back into balance.

As you grow past infancy, you start to learn autonomy, and one of the first challenges is how to negotiate the often wide divide between self and others. Your story begins to be modified by your environment—your physical environment and your relational one with parents, caregivers, siblings, playmates, and others. As the outer world presses in, you begin to develop an ego. Your ego helps you make sense of the world and others, helps you negotiate the world and relationships, and helps you learn the rules, mores, and norms of that world. The ego helps to keep your id in check, so that you learn some measure of balance, the value and even necessity of delayed gratification, the consequences of selfishness, and so on.

The ego is both conscious in that it is designed to help you learn to think things through, understand cause and effect, and develop plans and strategies; but it also has an unconscious part to it. When you run into trouble with the world and relationships, Shadow Self 2 compressed AdobeStock_100724347there are going to be parts of yourself that you reject, deny, and even repress. These aspects of the self—that you learn or believe are not acceptable to the world or others—get stuffed down into the “shadow self.” They are alive and well there, below the threshold of consciousness. Part of the path of self-actualization is to return these denied aspects of the self to the light of awareness, acceptance, or understanding. The methods of doing that are too complex and numerous to discuss here, but they include identifying your emotional triggers, taking back your projections, probing for the emotions and wounds fueling the story, and gaining access to as yet unexpressed gifts and talents. The ego and the shadow are the main author of our stories, so it’s almost impossible to write the story of “who you really are” without doing shadow work.

Between the ages of three and five, you are also developing a superego, which has two parts to it: the conscience and the ideal self. Your conscience is what keeps you in line with your own expectations and those of others, your culture, your religion, and other influences. It expects you to be the good boy or girl. The good student. The gifted athlete. The kind daughter or son. The loyal friend. When you fall short of those expectations, you feel “less than.” You may feel that you are a failure, stupid, lazy, Bad behavior punishmentguilty, shameful, and so on depending on the situation and expectation. Bottom line is that you feel you have let yourself or others down. Your conscience also stirs you toward living up to the concept of your ideal self: toward expressing compassion, empathy, good deeds, etc. Your ideal self is just what it says it is: the “perfect” you. Your belief about what constitutes perfection is heavily influenced by your families, friends, culture, mass media, religion, and so on.

Even though realistically you can never live up to your ideal of perfection, you waste a lot of psychic energy trying to. And as you fall short, your superego can judge you harshly: you’re not pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, thoughtful enough, talented enough, etc. Or, to put it more harshly, your superego tells you that you are ugly, fat, poor, self-centered, stupid, a loser.

You can see why it is important to probe into our stories to discover how our ego and superego are helping our id to write those narratives. It’s only when we learn to integrate all aspects of our psychology (move toward greater self-actualization) that we can be more of “who we truly are.” Until we get there, we are a hodgepodge of fictions with a little non-fiction thrown in for good measure.

One of the primary fictions is that your stories are all your own. They are not! For Happy familyinstance, many of your core beliefs about yourself and the world are projected onto you, and you accept those projections. Who you are as a child may be the figment of others’ imaginations! As a child, your parents projecting their own beliefs, judgments, and stories onto you, and you take all of that on as if it were really who you are. Maybe you were labeled the quiet one, or rebellious one, or smart one, or athletic one, or stupid one, or mouthy one, or kind one. Chances are that the way your parents saw you is the way you see yourself at the unconscious shadow level, and those beliefs rear their unruly heads in your adult stories, no matter who much you try to edit them out or revise them.

I have barely scratched the surface of what it means to examine our stories in an effort to take a self-inventory. But doing so is a giant step in managing a successful “self-revolution” that can help each of us climb the stairway of consciousness evolution and make a more positive impact in the world. We certainly can work toward change in the world, but we have to concurrently  delve deep into ourselves. As Vedic wisdom tells us, “You are not in the world. The world is in you.” And part of that world inside of yourself are the stories you tell to yourself and about yourself. It is liberating to stop, breathe into them, and see if they are really true for you now, as an adult and as a paqo.

A Paqo’s Take on Donald Trump

As I travel around the country teaching, I hear over and over how angry, worried, upset, even sick to their stomachs people are with President Trump and his Female student with USA flag at highwayadministration and how much fear they feel imagining what the next four years holds for our country.

I say, take a deep breath. Calm down. Let’s look at the situation from the perspective of a paqo.

Let me say upfront that I did not vote for Trump, and I don’t support most of his platform or approve of many of the people he has surrounded himself with in his staff or Cabinet. But from a perspective larger than that of his personality and his administration’s policy, I am rather upbeat about what his election means for our country.

It’s out with the old and in with the new. A renewed activism on the part of the people—and let’s admit it, for the past few decades most of us have been missing in action on the political front. A renewed time of caring what happens in politics—at the local, state and national levels—instead of apathy or the “let someone else take care it” or end-of-comfort-zone-compressed-dollarphotoclub_93918389“there’s nothing I can do” attitude many of us have shared. A renewed time of self-reflection to determine personal opinions, beliefs, and boundaries. A renewed sense of civic duty and purpose. A renewed demand that our elected officials have to give up partisan power plays for a return to good old-fashioned statesmanship.

The times, they are a’changing. . . And Trump is the alarm clock that has rudely awakened many of us from our peaceful and rather oblivious slumber—perhaps just in time!

If collectively we are individually and collectively awakening to a renewed sense of civic duty, we had better pay attention to how we wield our power. I propose that it’s never been so important to integrate our political beliefs, words, thoughts, actions and emotions with our Andean work as paqos. Here’s why:

The Tariypay Pacha

According to Andean prophecy, we are living in the midst of a cosmic transmutation, a period during which we can individually—and collectively—consciously evolve. But a chick isn’t born without cracking its eggshell; a snake doesn’t grow without shedding its skin, and a butterfly doesn’t exist unless a caterpillar first unmakes itself. In other Yellow chicken hatching from eggwords, change isn’t easy. And during change, there can be a messy transition as the old morphs into the new.

So, if as paqos we strive to “see reality as it really is,” we have to start by perceiving that we are in the midst of potentially messy change. We need not resist this change, but see it for what it is—an opportunity to remake ourselves. We are at the cusp of—or, rather, in the midst of—an opportunity for significant conscious evolution, with a stress on the word conscious.

The Quechua noun and adjective hamutaq applies here. It means to be a thinker, one who can reason and reflect. For me it means we would be smart to apply our reason to what’s happening around us, but not to forget to reflect on ourselves.

I remember something author and change agent Marianne Williamson said: You can’t march for peace if you have war in your heart. When I see people at all these town hall meetings with their elected officials roiling over with anger, shouting, and fist-waving, I think of her words. I also think of something Wayne Dyer said: “When you Hand squeezing orange isolated on whitesqueeze an orange, what do you get?” Orange juice, of course. Exactly what you would expect. In other words, the quality of your “beingness” is commensurate with the effect you can have in the world.

So a potentially insightful question to ask yourself is, “What do you get when Trump squeezes you?” Anger so rampant that reason can’t gain a toehold? Worry so deep that hope or optimism is flagging? Hatred or rejection of Trump and others that exactly mirrors (when stripped of your self-righteousness) what you perceive to be their problem? Activism so strident that it becomes an excuse for acting out rather than reaching out?

You certainly can have an opinion. But you have to take responsibility for how you express it. Are your actions and words adding hucha to the situation? How can you redirect your passion so that you increase sami? The answers to those questions really start with your state of mind and energy. So practice hamutaq to shift your inner world and more positively help change the outer world.

The Individual and Collective Shadows

It is no surprise that anger, and even hatred, are rearing their potentially ugly heads. If you step back and look at this from a larger perspective, what you see happening is a collective evolution, and as Carl Jung said, the “gold is in the dark.” To heal emotionally, one way—a very powerful way—is to descend into your shadow self. It’s the place within where you stuff everything you reject, dismiss, ignore, dislike. To be whole you have to own not just your light but your shadow. We usually don’t dive into our shadows unless forced to. Donald Trump can be the impetous for many of us to dive into—and begin to own up to and heal—our shadows. He can be seen as the perfect foil to force us to inquire about and explore our individual and collective shadow.

We have to do our shadow work—for our individual and collective evolution and for that of our planet. After all, with technological connectivity and economic and humanitarian globalization, we are a bunch of caterpillar nations that are morphing into a collective butterfly. So let’s thank Donald Trump! If we understand how he can serve our conscious evolution, we will celebrate the dark night of the soul we are being forced to traverse, individually and together. Hopefully, with self-reflection, civility, and creativity, we can eventually emerge into the light all the better for our difficult journey.  All mythic journeys involve a hero/heroine and his/her nemesis. Both are equally necessary. Don’t lose sight of that. . .

The Seven Levels of Consciousness

According to the Andean tradition, there are seven levels  of human consciousness. Most of the world is at the third level, and we as paqos hope to operate most of the time at the fourth level. But if I had to place Donald Trump on the stairway of seven steps, I would say he is at the second level. (If you don’t know the levels, see my post of May 11, 2016, “Birds of Consciousness.”)

As a paqo, you know that when you are interacting with someone, or devising a strategy to communicate with someone, it pays to know or discern as best you canladder stairs heaven door freedom blue sky what level of consciousness they are at. You cannot reason at the fourth level with someone on the second level. It’s like talking French to a Hindi speaker. So don’t waste your energy. You would be better off trying to deeply understand where that person is—and where you are—and acting from the level you are on rather than descending to the other person’s level (as so many protestors are). Better yet, find a fourth-level way to communicate at the second level so that person will hear and understand.

Same goes for tactics. In our activism, if we are fourth level, our activism should display that. There is no place for attack rhetoric, insults, outbursts fueled by frustration, or violence in word, thought or deed at the fourth level. Resistance can be non-violent, communication powerful but respectful, emotion tempered by virtue and compassion, and action for change motivated by community-building rather than enemy-bashing. Civic vigilance doesn’t have to descend to second-level political us-versus-them judgments. The best defense is a great offense—at the ballot box. Resolve to work to encourage fourth-level people to run for office, and then get out the vote for them.

Hucha and Sami

Don’t hate the hucha you feel while creating more of it. Generate sami.

In terms of Andean prophecy, the condor was the totem of the old times, when there was an extravagance of hucha. The condor, after all, is the eater of hucha. It has plenty of work to do.

hummingbird and three dianthusFor the new times, the totem has changed to the hummingbird, which is a producer of sami. While there is still plenty of hucha around, the focus has shifted from eating hucha to making sami—and that’s a seismic shift.

If you are having trouble dealing emotionally with Trump, understand that you are in touch with an incompatible energy. Incompatible energy is not bad, but it can increase the probability of creating hucha. But that hucha creation is not a given. Start by divesting your own energy body of hucha. Then return your focus to sami—focus on creating sami, not increasing the hucha, as you express your political views.

What does not creating hucha look like? Well, for starters, it means being a hamutaq: a thinker as well as a doer. In the mystical system, a hamutaq is one who uses discernment in determining not only what’s “out there” but also what’s “in here.” A hamutaq considers both what is happening out there in the world that is affecting the self and others, but also owns how his or her own actions (and words, emotions) affect the self and others. It’s vision coupled with personal responsibility. It is not knee-jerk reactive. It is “feel what you feel, then act from a higher place.”

This stance doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye or mute your voice. Absolutely not.  But a hamutaq values virtue over vitriol. Compassion and consensus over conquering. Bridge-building rather bridge-burning. It’s about being a chakruna—one of a group who, rather than tearing down bridges, seeks to build them between traditions or groups. You don’t only engage  with those with whom you have a common cause, but you simultaneously work to find common ground with the people you can hardly stand being around and who can hardly stand being around you.

Group of Diverse Multiethnic People TeamworkWorking to increase the sami in an already hucha-filled field doesn’t mean you won’t be distressed by the words and deeds of Trump and Bannon and others when they espouse discriminatory and even hateful views or try to pitch lies and half-truths as policy. But it does mean that you don’t do similar things—such as shout vile slogans or get emotionally overheated by your own rhetoric. The stance of the paqo is that we do a personal mast’ay—we organize ourselves. And once we do, then we can contribute to the collective mast’ay. A mob cannot create a state. But a group of individuals who are doing their own inner work—and doing it as a paqo within the field of the Taripay Pacha—can come together and fuel an incredible transformation in the public body.

We can be paqo protesters! God knows we need our voices to be heard. We just have to remember that our emotions can fire us up, but a fire can just as easily burn a house down as heat and light it. . .