A Paqo’s Response to Covid-19

What’s been your response to the turmoil and anxiety—if that is indeed how you feel or how you discern others are feeling—in the world, in your country, in your community in response to Covid-19? What’s been the response of those closest to you? Of your leaders?

It’s important to examine our responses because our outer behavior reflects our covid 19 imageinner state. I suspect that you, like me, are seeing or experiencing three general varieties of response. One view is, “What’s the big deal? Not my problem. I’m not changing how I live my life.” Another is, “Stay six feet away, because you are a threat to my well-being. What if I get sick and I can’t get a test or a hospital bed or a ventilator if I need one?” A third is, “Take care of yourself and I will take care of myself. Let me know how I can help, and I will call on you if I need help. We are all in this together.”

Those of you who know the seven levels of consciousness, as passed on from don Benito Qoriwaman through don Juan Nuñez del Prado, will recognize the characteristics of the second, third and fourth levels in the responses above. Of course, there are a host of other responses, but it is probable that the majority of the responses you are witnessing fall into these three common levels of awareness. (For a brief overview of the levels, see my “Birds of Consciousness” post of May 11, 2016.)

By discerning how people we know and others we hear about on the news are reacting—and how we ourselves are feeling—we can tease out opportunities for growth to the fourth level in the midst of this pandemic. Here are some perspectives from which we can view Covid-19 based on the Andean path, and offered not as a teaching but as food for thought.

We recognize that we are yanantin beings: we are both physical and energetic beings. We are not either-or, but both-and. In the physical world we are subject to the vagaries of germs and viruses, of our own immune system, of our habits for or against health, of the near impossibility of controlling our environment. We cede the need for control while respecting our ability to influence our own and others’ health. We don’t succumb to fear but use commonsense to do what we can to slow or stop the spread of the virus and keep ourselves and others healthy.

As energetic beings we use our tools. We continue our daily saminchakuy, and we add in occasional saiwachakuy to empower ourselves and strengthen our energetic IMG_4436 compressedand physical immune systems. We can use hucha miqhuy to reduce the fear or anxiety we experience or that is being experienced by those we love or care about. We can send sami to our leaders, from our town mayor to our president to other decision makers. We can send sami to the first responders, from EMTs and pharmacists to nurses, doctors, and the other health professionals on the front lines of our health care systems. We can send sami to those who support our sustenance and well-being while we are under “stay at home” orders, from the grocery store clerks to the restaurateurs who are making food for pick up or delivery to the people still picking up our trash and the employees still processing our health insurance and other claims. We can send sami to the volunteers who are making masks on their home sewing machines, the companies retooling their plants to provide protective gear, and the artists of all stripes who are posting songs, comedy routines and the like online to boost our spirits.

As paqos, we are not idle during our “down time,” but participators.

We can use this down time to lift ourselves and others up. The one thing the hustle and bustle of normal daily life squelches in many of us is the energy for creativity. This is a time for qaway and khuyay: being present in the moment and seeing reality as it really is, and for engaging with munay and passion. You can go online to see funny mask covidvideos of the many ways people are marshaling their compassion and creativity to say, “We are all in this together. I see you. You see me.” Italians singing from their balconies. American nurses in non-Covid wards waving and making funny faces and fashioning their hands into heart symbols through the closed glass doors to their colleagues in the sealed-off Covid-19 wards. The children writing letters and drawing pictures of appreciation to their teachers, local health professionals, first responders, and others. A son talking by phone on one side of a window to his grandmother on the other side. The neighbors of a cul de sac standing at the end of their driveways with their kids, each family group separate by together saying the Pledge of Allegiance before they start their home-schooling day.

We can do a gratitude inventory, giving thanks that we have homes to go to, water and food to sustain us, family and friends to support us, books and movies to amuse and educate us. That most of us have freedom of speech to speak out and stand up, that we are not subject to government censoring of our tweets and online posts, that while we are being asked to curtail our movement and act responsibly to “flatten the curve” of contagion, we are not giving up our human rights, and on and on. We can reflect on how we might have come to take our comforts for granted. How we might have become complacent, or even lazy, in our mindfulness of our bounty and well-being. Years ago I saw a sign in the front yard of a church in rural North Carolina that brought my own complacency, lack of gratitude, and even sense of entitlement to the forefront of my awareness, and caused me to change both my thinking and my behavior: “There are millions of people praying for what you take for granted.” When you really stop and take that truth to heart, you may feel prompted to make the most gratitude-filled despacho of your life!

There are all kinds of ways we can make this time of outward slowing down and even self-isolation a useful period of active flowering and expansion, both within ourselves and among our communities. For most of us, in this age of smart phones, tablets, and other electronics, there is no such thing as isolation. And for paqos, there is no such thing as not knowing what to do!

Paqos and Coronavirus

corona virus spread mapThe COVID-19 coronavirus is at pandemic proportions, and while I hope we are all dealing with it calmly and sensibly at a human level, we as paqos have a role to play at an energetic level as well. As the paqos of old have told us, we have a responsibility to use our tools to increase the well-being of ourselves and others. And so it is with this responsibility in mind that I post now about what we as paqos can do.

My primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, has posted information about how to work the energy of the virus. I am pasting that posting in here. However, I have received emails from several students and others about efforts they are undertaking to help reduce the power of the virus. Hats off to them for being proactive. However, I have a few things to say about those efforts that may be instructive, at least in relation to how I learned and teach the tradition. I will comment at the end of this post.

Our tools are, of course, saminchakuy, saiwachakuy, and hucha miqhuy. Don Juan explains how we can use these (using his personal spelling of terms and only slightly editing):

“To my paqos colleagues:

“On the occasion of the ongoing epidemic, chains of prayer and meditation are beingcorona virus image 1 organized to help control it. Of course we can join their intentions and practices. According to tradition, at the end of the 19th century, don Garibilu Quispe, one of the founders of our spiritual lineage, used the practices of the Andean spiritual arts to counteract an epidemic of smallpox, which occurred in Peru at that time. In the current circumstances, we can use the basic practices of our art for similar purposes, as follows:

“Saminchakuy: Using your intention, make the living energy—kausay—flow from top to bottom and through the generated flow offer Pachamama—the cosmic mother—as food the energy of the virus and the heavy energy of the epidemic.

“Saywachakuy: Using your intention, make flow the living energy of the earth, from the bottom up, with the intention of strengthening your immune system [or the immune systems of others].

“Juchamijuy: Using your intention, attract to your qosqo—energy center of the navel—the heavy energy of the people of your family or intimate group to support and strengthen them, and with the power of this center digest it [their hucha]. Extract from it fine energy [sami] and incorporate that into your energy field and discard the heaviest energy, offering it as food to the earth.”

Of course, you can follow don Juan’s advice working as a group as well as individually. For those of you who have shared your group work with me, I would like to respectfully offer the following comment: keep it simple! I mention this because some of the practices people have proposed in the emails are quite elaborate indeed! Remember, as paqos we never want to waste our energy. So, we always use the simplest, most efficient practice first. And we repeat that practice and give it time to work. Only then, if there is not a good effect, do we increase the complexity of our practice. But that increase is incremental, adding in only what is absolutely necessary to try to produce the effect we are seeking.

Individually and together, we can do our part as paqos to “work” our energies to reduce the impact of or even stop the spread and effects of the coronavirus. Please join us.