Consciousness, Intention, and Ayni

In our tradition of Andean mysticism, the bedrock energy dynamic is ayni, reciprocity. Energetically, this is the core reciprocal exchange: of taking in sami—the Energy compressed buddha- Pixabay 562034_1920light living energy—and allowing it to freely flow through you and back out, empowering you as it does. We each are always doing this, but sometimes not so well. Your psychological self—your messy and often unconsciousness emotions, beliefs, needs, and the like, coupled with your conscious thoughts, words, deeds, and so on—interfere with your absorption of sami, causing you to slow some of the sami down so you do not absorb it. Some of it may even get stuck on the surface of your energy body (the poq’po), causing you to feel “heaviness” in yourself and the quality of your life.

Your ayni is fueled by your intentions. In fact, our tradition says that the most fundamental “natural law” is that energy follows intention. The problem is that your true intentions may be unknown to you, hiding in the darkness of your “shadow” self, or you may not be paying attention to the quality of your conscious thoughts, words, and actions. Because you are moving so much energy unconsciously, you may wonder, on the conscious level, “What the heck is going on that my life is not matching up to my desires?”

A key to your ayni is awareness—paying attention to your conscious acts/interchanges and bringing your shadow stuff to greater consciousness. Most of the core Andean practices, especially saminchakuy and hucha miqhuy, are directed at helping you to divest yourself of hucha and improve your sami, which in turn helps you grow in awareness and bring clarity and power to your ayni. (And vice versa: by increasing your awareness, the clarity and quality of your thoughts, words, and deeds usually improve as well, and so you create less hucha to begin with, keeping your poq’po in better energetic condition.)

As you increase your conscious awareness and improve your ayni, you will discover that your capacity to influence the living energy cosmos improves, often quite dramatically, because your intentions more effectively and efficiently “push the kawsay.” I came across a beautiful example of this recently while reading Deepak Chopra’s new book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. In it he describes an episode that pointedly and dramatically demonstrated to him the power of intention. For us as practitioners of Andean mysticism, this episode also demonstrates ayni—reciprocity—and reveals how your intention is only half of the equation. When you put out an intention, something must respond (or not). So, the other half of the ayni equation is the universe—the living cosmos—or some aspect of it. Its response will be proportional to the quality and clarity of your intention, to what the tradition calls the amount of “personal power” you have. Power is not insistence, dominance, or will. It is simply the effectiveness and efficiency of your intention—how well you can be in ayni with the living cosmos. Here’s the episode, quoting from Chopra’s book and leaving out only a small section that is not important to the point:

“At a recent conference on science and consciousness, a young woman introduced herself, telling me that she was writing her graduate thesis on communicating with birds. I asked her how talking to birds was possible, and she replied that it was easier to show me than to tell me. We went outside. It was a bright day, and we sat quietly on a bench. She looked up at some birds sitting in a tree nearby, and one of them flew down and landed unafraid on her lap.

“How did she do it? Feeling no needs for words, she gave me a look that said, ‘See? It’s very simple.’

“. . . [I]t wasn’t a matter of talking to the birds or of knowing their language—the whole thing had taken place silently. It was a perfect example of going beyond—in this case, going beyond my own expectations. What the young woman did, she explained later, was to have mental clarity and insert an intention for the bird to come to her. In other words, it all happened in consciousness.

“So few people have such experiences that it only magnifies the need to show how much choice we really have to go beyond. My strong feeling is that we have much more control over life than we currently realize.”

In Chopra’s last sentence, I would substitute the word “influence” for “control,” but what this episode illustrates perfectly is how intention can move energy, and that the success of that invisible interchange of ayni is based not on any magical or unusual abilities but on the state of your consciousness.

The Andean tradition identifies seven levels of consciousness, from the zero level to the seventh level. One way to think about them is as stepping up a stairway to a stairwary-metaphyscial-compressed-adobestock_102606538more refined level of awareness and consciousness. This stairway of consciousness is called the qanchispatañan. (See my post “The Birds of Consciousness, May 11, 2016). At each level of consciousness, your ayni is more powerful because you have less hucha. Another way of saying that is that you can more perfectly absorb sami, the life-force energy, and radiate it, not slowing it down to the density of hucha. At each level, because you have less and less hucha, your “supernatural” (above the human norm) abilities increase. These enhanced abilities are what Deepak Chopra calls “metahuman” abilities. As examples, in the Andean tradition at the fifth level of consciousness you can become an infallible healer, healing any kind of illness or problem every time. At the sixth level, you will have achieved a state commensurate with the Christed One or Buddha Nature—to what is commonly called enlightenment. At the seventh level, you are equivalent to God in human form.

Chopra explains the primacy of consciousness (and heightened states of consciousness) in his book in a way that neatly accords with some aspects of the Andean mystical tradition. For instance, he writes: “ [T]he pivotal issue isn’t that solid physicality is an illusion. No one can dispute this—we couldn’t exist without buying into the psychological security blanket that the world won’t vanish tomorrow in a puff of subatomic mist. The pivotal issue is whether consciousness, and particularly human consciousness, is the creative force behind ‘something from nothing’.” He says, “. . .we are conscious agents whose potential for creativity and change is unlimited. We become metahuman by making the life-altering choice to be metahuman.”

I can attest that Chopra knows of what he speaks: he is the most metahuman human being I have ever met. My former husband used to work for him, and I know of the amazing intentions he has set and I have witnessed how the universe conspired to put the people and organizations in his path through which, in collaboration, he manifestedHealing Hands Ayni Compresssed Dollarphotoclub_67573261 his ideas and intentions.

Your ayni dynamic starts with motivation (decision or desire): to be something you are not right now, to do something you don’t necessarily know now how to do, to manifest something you desire, and so on. But if you are like most of us, the decision or desire alone is not enough. You have to undertake the practice, or work, of making changes to your state of consciousness, which starts at the level of your energy body. You learn to divest yourself of the hucha you have accumulated over time and learn to more perfectly absorb and radiate sami. Your fundamental practice will be saminchakuy, the “cleansing” of hucha from your poq’po (energy body) and the self-empowerment that comes with taking in more sami.

Chopra and others use Buddhist or other Eastern philosophies and practices to awaken the self. Most of these practices are based on quieting the “monkey mind” and seeing beyond the “illusions” created by the ego, that great and masterful storyteller. They focus on how we “grasp” because of these mind-created stories. This is work that involves energy dynamics, but largely those of the mind. We approach our conscious development from a different perspective, primarily through the energy dynamics of our poq’pos: by reducing your hucha and increasing your sami, you increase your energetic coherence systemwide—everything in the self communicates with everything else, so the elements of your poq’po (energetic anatomy) work together holistically rather than separately. As a result, everything about you can shift, change, and transform, including your state of consciousness. Certainly, though, by coming to know your mind more clearly, you can improve the clarity of your intention, which in turn improves your ayni. One way is not better than another, only different. The bottom line is that everything that matters, regardless of the tradition or school of philosophy and practice you choose, is related to a goal of elevating your level of consciousness. When you do, you interact with the “Great Mystery” of creation in a different way, a way that seems to others to be metanormal.

Matthew Fox, in his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, speaks to this reconnection poetically when he says that reinfusing the world with a mystical perspective and practice “calls for a spiritual awakening to the mystery of the universe and our existence in it. Reenetering that mystery is a fundamentally holy act, a sacred discipline.” Ayni is your “holy act,” for through it you deepen your relationship with the cosmos of living energy, the Earth and everything on it, including with other people. Fox quotes cosmologist Brian Swimme, as I will here, with a reminder Celebrating you compressed AdobeStock_73874996of how awareness matters at all levels of manifestation.

“We sometimes fall into the delusion that power is elsewhere, that we are unable to find access to it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The universe oozes with power, waiting for anyone who wishes to embrace it. But because of the powers of cosmic dynamics are invisible, we need to remind ourselves of their universal presence. Who reminds us? The rivers, plains, galaxies, hurricanes, lightning branches, and all our living companions.”

A Paqo’s Reading List

I love to read. Instead of watching television or surfing the Internet in my free time, I Woman holding an open book bursting with light.prefer to dive into a good book. At this time when many of us are self-isolating because of the coronavirus, when some of us may have lost jobs and are reeling with worry, picking up an inspiring and thought-provoking book—one that can help us step up the qanchispatañan (the stairway of seven steps of conscious evolution)—is the perfect antidote to a potentially hucha-inducing situation. So in this post I offer a recommendation for three books that can both inspire and educate. Each of these books shows us some of the precepts of Andean mysticism in action, although no one but a paqo would notice.

What Does a Fourth-Level Life Look Like?

For me, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, by David Brooks, is a template about four aspects of the journey from the third level to the fourth level of consciousness. That’s not an easy or direct path to follow, and Brooks’s book makes that clear. Part philosophy and part memoir, this book toggles between the messy, hard and sometimes transcendent reality of individual human life (including Brooks’s) to the equally messy, hard but ultimately transformative nature of a Apu Yanantincommitted and communal life. In our mystical tradition we say you have to take responsibility for yourself first. Once you are attending to your own healing and growth, then you find your place in the ayllu (community) and make your contribution there. This journey is at the heart of the primary metaphor of Brooks’s book: of moving from the first mountain of “me” to scaling the second mountain of “we.” He talks about how to scale the second mountain in four primary areas of life: family and intimate relationship, vocation, faith, and community. If you do nothing else but absorb the ideas, never mind put into practice the strategies, proposed by Brooks (and the many other researchers, philosophers, and writers he refers to), you will go a long way to furthering your progress up the qanchispatañan.

If you read the reviews of Brooks’s book, you will find yourself in the midst of extremes of like and dislike, or praise and criticism. I am not going to go into that granular level of the book. All I am going to say is that if you decide to read this book, overlooking its flaws, you will see a primer on what it means to live a fourth-level life, to improve your personal power and deepen your ayni with your fellow human beings and the kawsay pacha. What does a fourth-level profession look like? Read the section on vocation with the concept of khuyay (passionate engagement) and kanay (self-knowing) in mind. What does a fourth-level marriage look like? Read the relationship section with the concepts of yanantin-masintin (differences and similarities), rimay (integrity among thought, word, and action), and munay (the choice for love) in mind. What does a fourth-level faith look like? Read the section on faith through the lens of the fourth level, which sees beneath outer form (such as labels and dogmas) and so can find the succor and grace of God/Spirit through the lens of many faith systems. What does a fourth-level community look like? Read the relevant section with the concepts of ayni (reciprocity) and atiy (the personal power to take meaningful action) in mind.

Throughout this book, if you read it with the precepts and concepts of the Andean mystical tradition in mind, you will find our cosmovision reverberating throughout, from the distinction between emotions and feelings (especially the difference between happiness versus joy) to the insistence that growth moves you deeper into the human world and human community instead of away from it. This is a book about engaging life with maturity and meaning. It provides a glimpse of how we create a bridge that connects respecting the independence of the self with our interdependence as a member of local communities and our responsibilities as part of a national and even global family. As you read, examine your ethical and moral beliefs, and you will find, if this book moves you and provokes you as it moved and provoked me, that the ethical system of the third-level is unsustainable. And that while the ethical system of the fourth-level night not be easy to live day to day, we all have to make the effort.

What Do Khuyay and Atiy Look Like?

Khuyay means “to love,” and is our mystical work is refers to passionate engagement. It is the one-pointedness of lovers and children and anyone in “the flow” of the moment of whatever or whoever it is that engages them. As a noun, atiy means “to do,” “to be able to”; as a verb it means “victory,” as in winning a battle or triumphing in a challenge. In David Eggers The Monk of Mokha, you will find both khuyay and atiy displayed in incredibly intense and inspiring ways. You will also see a stunning example of how khuyay (passion) fuels atiy (as the marshaling of personal power to achieve something no matter how difficult the challenge).

A Yemeni-American, Eggers was a twenty-four-year-old  doorman at a San Francisco hotel with few prospects of bettering himself when he learns something new about his heritage: that Yemen was instrumental in the development of coffee and that it coffee-compressed 1149983_1920 Pixabayproduced some of the finest coffee beans in the world. Big deal, you might say. Well, it was a big deal for Eggers. In a fit of yachay (intellect), Eggers begins to research the connection between coffee and Yemen, and his yachay quickly turns into khuyay—a passion to revive the faltering and nearly moribund coffee  production in Yemen and bring the finest coffee to the United States. That passion launches Eggers on a journey that is both harrowing and redemptive. Harrowing because of the lack of support from others, the growing dangers of the looming war in Yemen, and the enormous, and indeed the seemingly insurmountable, obstacles of breathing new life into a nearly dead industry. But nothing stops Eggers. His khuyay and atiy are forces of ayni that cannot be stopped.

This memoir has two story lines. It’s a primer on the cultivation, production, distribution, and appreciation of coffee (all of which I found fascinating, and perhaps you will too). And it is an adventure story that reverberates with just about every aspect of the American rags-to-riches, anything-is-possible, the little-guy-achieves-the-impossible narrative. A third, less prominent story line is that of synchronicity, of the proverbial stars aligning in confounding ways. In the Andean cosmovision we would call this ayni: your intent moves energy and influences the kawsay pacha, and the kawsay pacha responds. But the real takeaway for your work as a paqo is what Eggers achieves through the personal power of his khuyay and atiy. You, too, can cultivate these powers, and you, too, can achieve your dreams.

What Does It Look Like When You Add Kanay to Khuyay and Atiy?

Chris Wilson’s The Master Plan: My Journey from a Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose is another true story that chronicles one man’s bold, and even audacious, display of personal power, especially as funneled through khuyay and atiy.

This book is at once inspiring and infuriating, emotionally uplifting and devastating. Chris’s perseverance in the face of familial, economic, and social challenges, and ultimately vicious judicial injustice, is nothing short of astonishing. His redemptive journey, against all odds, was toward kanay—knowing who you really are and having the personal power to live it. That so few people who find themselves incarcerated in the United States successfully achieve this kind of selfhood is a testament to Chris’s tenacity. If you are looking for an example of qaway (seeing reality as it really is, stripped of self-delusions, illusions, excuses, and so on) and kanay, of khuyay and atiy, this is among the most impactful stories you could choose.prison-compressed 407714_1920

In prison for murder, Chris devises a “master plan” of self-education. He is relentless in his commitment to that plan, which keeps him engaged in both his inner and outer life, and motivates him to move untiringly toward a sense of self other than that imposed upon him by cultural, social, and penal influences, among others. He has to untangle the complex strands of belief woven into his sense of self by family, economic station, zip code, race, and on and  on. The most tenacious battle is against a penal system whose predominate mission is to grind the humanity out of inmates. This book is a crushing expose of the racism that explicitly and implicitly informs the American ethos. Likewise, it is an indictment of our penal system, and our wider judicial system, which focuses on punishment rather than rehabilitation.

While this book rips away the facade of the American myth as it applies to race and justice, if you read it as a paqo it provides another grand example of kuyay and atiy. But, even more important, it illustrates a journey toward kanay—coming to know your “real” self and accumulating the personal power to live as who you really are rather than as how others think you are. Chris’s progress exemplifies the progress we can make by harmonizing our three human powers: of yachay—knowing and understanding, of facing hard truths; llank’ay—taking action in a manner that enhances sami and lessens hucha; and munay—choosing to work for the greater good of the self and others, being part of the solution rather than the problem, working to transform and lift the self and society rather than ignoring your hucha and maintaining the status quo or lashing out in revenge.

Whether you’re home in self-isolation or going about your normal activities, picking up a book is always a good idea. And not just “spiritual” or “shamanic” or “energy” books. I invite you to widen your horizons to find inspiration and lessons in books that may not normally be on your reading list. The three I recommend above are not only good reads, but provide real and wise examples of how what we identify as concepts particular to the Andean mystical tradition are at heart core human powers.