The Mystery of Munay

In the Andean tradition, there are three aspects to being fully human: yachay, llank’ay and munay. Yachay is the mind, intellect, reasoning, logic. Llank’ay is the body, action, productive effort. Munay is love grounded in will.

While there are seldom hierarchies in the tradition, in this case there is one: yachay occupies the bottom of the triumvirate, llank’ay the mid position, and munay the top. Munay is valorized as the highest energetic expression of our humanness.

That said, these three expressions of our humanness also operate circularly, since one feeds the other and we need to master each aspect of the self to be whole human beings. It’s also true that we tend to be predisposed to excelling at one of these three, even while we seek to harmonize all three expressions of ourselves. For example, don Benito Qoriwaman was a tukuyyachaynioq, a master of yachay, and he was identified as a supreme paqo of the right-side paña work. Don Melchor Desa was a master of the llank’ay, a tukuyllank’aynioq. His expertise was the left-side work, the lloq’e. Q’ero don Andres Espinosa was master of munay, a tukuymunaynioq, and his mastery was in the chaupi work, the middle path. Don Benito also said that the Q’ero are “owners of the munay.”

It’s no surprise that munay—love—is the pinnacle of human expression. But what exactly is munay?

We know what munay is not.

It is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. It is not only love.

We also know something about what munay is.

It is the foundation of the Andean mystical tradition. It is often described as unconditional love, and the Andean paqos define it as love grounded in will.

We know its importance in our energy work. In the energetic body, munay is not found singularly in the heart (qori chunpi)  but is a fusion of the energy of our heart with our Inka Seed. When these two centers merge, something greater results, and that is munay.

Munay also is infused with the flow of energy from all the chunpis (energy belts) and with the kawsay from outside us, from the cosmos. Our Inka Seed can be thought of as the God/Cosmos Within; the kawsay pacha and world are the God/Cosmos Without. The union of “within” and “without” happens through munay. Only our munay integrates the two.

Because of this energetic back and forth, of the within and the without, it makes sense that munay must include will. Not as in willfulness or willpower, but as in directed intent—as in having the personal energetic power to carry out your intent.  Also, it is will as in direct personal experience.  You don’t develop any of your human qualities or capacities by reading about how others have acquired them or observing others using them. You must participate in life yourself, expressing your humanness.

So far, so good?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that this hasn’t been good enough for me. I feel that I have been able to talk the talk, but I have never really walked the walk of munay. Yes, I’m loving. Yes, I am open to receiving the love of others, including and especially God’s love. But really, really, really “getting” munay? Nope.

So I have always been on the lookout for a more meaningful explanation or definition. And I finally found one—in the most unlikely of places!

I was reading François Fénelon, a 17th-century Roman Catholic theologian, when I came across the following words. They could have been written by an Andean paqo!

This explains munay!

“Pure love is in the will alone. It is not sentimental love, for imagination has no part in it. It loves, if we may so express it, without feeling, as faith believes without seeing.” It “abandons the demands of the self. . .”

 Nothing more need be said. Sit with those words, and I hope that you, like me, will drop into a deeper understanding of munay.


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