I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.
― Alice Walker, The Color Purple
In this post I want to talk once again about how to be in the world as a paqo. Our path is different from many other spiritual, mystical, shamanic, or energetic paths in that we seek not to leap beyond this human world but to be the grandest self we can be in this human world. This is a path of conscious evolution. We are seeking, ultimately, to be active participants in the Andean prophecy of the rise of the Runakay Mosoq—the New Humans. So, our work is about shining our human light out through a human body right here in the material plane of Earth and being active contributors to the evolution of our species.
In the Alice Walker quotation above, the point is not to walk with your eyes to the stars, but with your eyes on the ground. By extrapolation, we are seeking not the supernatural but the natural. We are seeking to develop the qaway—the vision—to see God in a field of flowers and, of course, in ourselves. The Walker quotation brings to mind the Andean story about the hummingbird, who flies to the farthest reaches of the upper world, the hanaqpacha, and there meets Wiraqocha, the metaphysical God. Wiraqocha is at work in his garden, tending the flowers. The metaphor that grows out of this story is that paqos are the flowers in the garden of the world, and we want to cultivate ourselves so that we are rich in nectar. (Sami, which is the light living energy.) When we are rich in nectar, we attract the hummingbird, who comes to feed off of us, connecting us more deeply with Wiraqocha.
My judgment is that too many of us are distracted by the fleeting glitter of a mysterious, supernatural otherworld rather than focusing on the stable bedrock and the sweeping beauty of this world. Paqos are deeply connected with the earth, and they treasure the natural. The Andean spiritual law of ayni (reciprocity) applies to both the spiritual and social worlds, to both the celestial and terrestrial worlds. The despacho, the offering bundle, is full of flowers. And its outward beauty mirrors the inward ayni that infuses it. The despacho draws together the three worlds: the hanaqpacha, or upper world of perfected ayni and of the spirit beings to which we may be offering the despacho; the kaypacha, or this world in which we are the human agents of both the highest and lowest flows of energy, and of everything in between; and the ukhupacha, the lower or interior world where potentiality lives. The ukhupacha is a place sadly lacking in ayni, but it is a place not of condemnation but of rejuvenation.
My point is that a paqo is more a creature of the earth than of the stars. He or she is grounded! Andean practice is about refining the self and so increasing the sami right here, right now on Earth. So, if you could do one thing as a paqo or spiritual practitioner to further your own evolution and that of our species, you might mull over your answer to one primary question:
Who am I in the world?
The Vedic texts tell us that we are not in the world, the world is in us. That thought parallels the Andean view that we are each the center of the universe. Each of us is “in” a different world, because we can only know the world as filtered through our ourselves—and our “self” has been shaped by personal experience and emotions. This is not a selfish view as much as a self-centric view. We cannot really know anyone except ourselves, and most us barely know ourselves. So when we ask “Who am I in the world?,” we have to start with the “I” before we can say much about the world. The Andean concept of kanay, which is a capacity held at the qori chunpi (the energetic band or belt at the heart), involves coming to know who you truly are. Once you know (using the human power of yachay, or intellect), then you can more effortlessly and accurately be who you truly are (using the human power of llank’ay, or action in the world).
In the Andes, according to the tradition as I was taught it, our work is to become masters of our energy environment. All energy dynamics are perceived as being in relation only to the self. For example, rather than say someone else has hucha, or heavy energy, we say that we feel hucha between ourselves and another person. Then we take responsibility for lessening that flow. We work on our own energy body first and foremost. There really are only two primary energy dynamics, and both are determined in relation to the self: compatible and incompatible energy, and similar (masintin) or dissimilar energies (yanantin). When we can discern the type of energy flow we are feeling, then we can act to make that flow as clean, efficient, and beneficial as possible, not only for ourselves but for others with whom we are in dynamic energy relationship.
So when we ask, “Who am I in the world?,” we shift our perception from seeing problems and difficulties “out there” to examining what is going on “in here.” In a word, we take responsibility—for ourselves and, by extension, for the world of which we are a part. When you take responsibility for “who” you are, then “how” you walk in the world takes better care of itself.
Criss Jami says, “Faith . . .never removes responsibility; it removes fear of responsibility.” I think that just about sums up the Andean tradition as I have come to know it and the energy practices as I have been taught them—take personal responsibility for your energy, mind, actions, and heart. That doesn’t mean later, when you have mastered energy techniques or learned a new ceremony or made contact with a spirit being, or fully healed your wounds, or dealt with all your shadow stuff. It means right here, right now, on this Earth, in this world, just as it is and just as you are. This is our only starting place. But, oh, there are no limits to where we can go!