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. . .