The Ñawis as Perceptual Organs

If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness!
–Pablo Picasso

We have twelve mystical eyes—the ñawis in Quechua: the primary seven are the two physical eyes and the seventh eye (called the third eye in some other cultures), the kunka ñawi (throat), sonqo ñawi (heart), qoswo ñawi (belly) and siki ñawi (root). The five secondary eyes are the two makis (palm of each hand), the two chakis (sole of each foot) and the uma (top of the head).

The primary capacity of the ñawis is qaway—mystical vision. As paqos we are qawaqs in training: we are learning to engage the world with mystical vision and knowing. We want to develop the capacity to see reality as it really is, which is about perceiving both the physical attributes of the material world (Pachamama) and the energetic attributes of the immaterial world (kawsya pacha). Although the metaphor is one of mystical vision, being qawaqs and engaging the world through our ñawis involves all of our sensory capacities. So it is inaccurate to think of this capacity only as vision or sight. In reality, the ñawis are complex perceptual organs that involve all the senses.

For example, there is another metaphor commonly used when discussing the ñawis as perceptual organs: “tasting.” It is similar to “seeing” in that we are gathering information about something using our mystical senses.

We mostly engage the world through the qoqso—our primary power center at the belly—and, thus, through the qosqo ñawi. We reach out (mostly unconsciously) through cords of energy called seqes and connect with the energy bubbles of  objects. If we are qawaqs, however, we bring consciousness to our energy dynamics. We use intention to engage our mystical perceptual abilities to “see” and “taste” the world around us. And we use more than only our qosqo ñawi. We can choose to use young businessman in glass jarany of our twelve ñawis.

By developing the “eyes” that are our ñawis, we break out of the confines of our limited physical sensory experiences that reduce the world only to information about the qualia of the world—the characteristics of materiality, such as texture, density, size, and so on, and we use our mystical senses to expand our experience of reality. Engaging our mystical sensory capacities takes us beyond materiality to the essence of the thing. According to the Andean mystical tradition, everything is a being, so “seeing” and “tasting” an object relates information about its energy dynamics in relation to the self. It may be yanantin/dissimilar or masintin/similar energy, and it may be a compatible or an incompatible energy. Knowledge is power! Once we understand the energy dynamics, we can intentionally work to shift them if necessary.

An alternate way to think of this engagement is as touch. As we engage the world, we are constantly energetically touching other people and things—their poq’pos, or energy bubbles—and if we are conscious we can both discern information about those particular people or things and determine our energetic dynamics with them.Illustration of woman and man with aura, chakras and healing energy Knowing the state of that dynamic interplay can help us reduce hucha and foster sami.

Tasting energy is also a practice of opening ourselves to the wild and wonderful kawsay pacha without fear. The more kinds of energy we taste, the less unfamiliar energy we will come into contact with, and thus the less isolated we will feel from the living cosmos. So explore!

Once I was in New York City with my teacher, Juan Nuñez del Prado, and we went to Central Park to taste/touch the obelisk called the Needle of Cleopatra, which is the twin of an obelisk in Egypt. We then went into the Museum of Natural History to taste/touch the Temple of Dendra, which was displayed there. We were connecting with their essence—and they with us—through seqes. You could say we were both introducing ourselves to them as beings (and vice versa), and we were learning about them as energy configurations (and vice versa). As energy beings they might have even communicated with us, through our ñawis as auditory perceptual organs. I didn’t “hear” any “conversation,” but I did experience these beings as energy fields with their own unique energy signatures and realities.

Juan has always counseled me that the world is a smorgasbord of energy, and I should never pass up the opportunity to taste the different kinds of energy. As I pointed out above, the more kinds of energy we are familiar with, the more we know the Pachamama (material world) and the kawsay pacha (immaterial world). We never have to be afraid of energy because it can’t hurt us. It is only compatible door openor incompatible with the state of our own energy body. But by tasting or touching as many kinds of energy as possible, we open ourselves without fear or hesitation and so can engage the world more easily with khuyay (passion).

The main point here is that our mystical eyes are more than organs of sight. They are full perceptual organs with a rich sensory capacity. If you are not using them, start now! Play with them to get to know the extent of your qawaq abilities at the current time and to practice so that you can increase your abilities. Practice engaging both the physical world and the energetic world that informs it. See, touch, listen, taste! As Juan says, the world is your smorgasbord!

Here are a few exercises that can help you work your ñawis:

  • Select an item in the room you are in (a table, chair, book, etc.) and focus your attention on it. Then using intention, connect with that object through a ñawi. Start with your qosqo ñawi. Just be receptive. Can you discern the energy of that object (its poq’po)?
  • Disengage from the object. Then reconnect, using your intention to connect through a different ñawi, perhaps your seventh eye, or a maki (eye in the palm of a hand), or the sonqo ñawi (eye of the heart center). Do you feel the same energy signature of that object, but perhaps are accessing different aspects (qualia) of it? By trying out different ñawis, you will be able to discern, over time, which ones you are most adept at sensing through and which ones are less developed.
  • Practice sensing through different ñawis alternating between an organic/living thing and an inorganic/non-living thing, such as a dog and a lamp. Try different combinations of things. Over time, can you discern a different material and energetic qualia in living things than in non-living things?
  • Have someone put a an object in a paper or plastic bag, so you can’t see it. Better yet, have them prepare several bags. Over time, practice “tasting”/”touching” the object through a ñawi and see if you can discern the qualities of that thing even though you can’t see it and don’t know what it is. If you don’t get a sense of the object through one ñawi, try using others. This practice is not about intuition (an inner knowing). It is about the mystical perception (feeling, sensing in an almost visceral way) of the qualities of the object and of it as a being in its own right.
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