The highest energetic relationship in our Andean cosmosvision is the tawantin, four factors united in harmony and wholeness. In Andean energy dynamics, the tawantin plays out in many ways.
The chakana—Andean cross—is the core graphical representation of the Andean tawantin. But we have tawantins within us as well. Our three human powers—munay, or love under our will; yachay, or knowledge and thoughts; and llank’ay, or action—are a tawantin because llank’ay can be broken down into two factors: khuyay, or passion; and atiy, or measuring your personal power in the moment, discerning proper timing for action, and bringing your impulses under your will. So our three human powers are actually four—they form an inner tawantin.
If you have had the chunpis (belts of power) woven, you will know that there are four of them: the yana chunpi, or black belt at the trunk/root of the body; the puka chunpi around the belly area; the qori chunpi at the chest, and the qolqe chunpi at the neck. Their primary purpose is to connect into an integrated system the four main ñawis, of which there is one in each of the chunpis: the siki ñawi in the black belt, the qosqo ñawi in the red belt, the sonqo ñawi at the gold belt, and the kunka ñawi at the silver belt. After you connect these up into a tawantin, you link these to the three upper ñawis: the two physical eyes and the seventh eye (qanchis ñawi). You have then created a holistic, harmonious wholeness within your metaphysical body.
Your Andean energy work provides ways to dynamically create all kinds of tawantins, from a despacho to dynamically moving and tuning energy to the level of tawantin energy. And we find other tawantins in our relationship to our human form. Our birth into the physical as humans is a result of the merging of or connection to two major tawantins. The first is that we have four parents: our human mother and father, and our Cosmic Father and Mother Earth. Second, we have our human mother and father, and then we are claimed by two nature spirits who become life-long guides: our Itu (male nature spirit being) and Paqarina (female nature spirit being).
Tawantins not only are an integral part of our Andean energy work but also suffuse physical nature and human nature at the most fundamental levels. From physics to biology to art to human relationships, there are essential tawantins everywhere. There are, of course, many other kinds of “fours” but these are representative of tawantins that undergird our world.
* The four bases of DNA: Adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine
* The four bases of RNA: Adenine, uracil, cytosine, guanine
* The four force carriers of physics: Gluons, bosons, photons, and gravitons
* The four fundamental physics forces: Gravitational, electromagnetic , strong nuclear, and weak nuclear forces
* The four lobes of the brain: Frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital
* The four chambers of the heart: Left and right ventricles, and left and right atria
* The four essential representations in mathematics: Numeric, graphical, symbolic, words
* The four fundamental mathematical operations: Addition, subtraction, division, multiplication
* The four alchemical elements: Earth, air, fire, water
* The four domains of expression: Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual
* Four natural stages of life: Child, youth, adult, elder
There are tawantins in all kinds of other areas, such as the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, the four divisions of the day, the four stages of the moon, and on and on. And I have barely mentioned more symbolic, metaphorical, and spiritual meanings of fourness: the luck associated with a four-leaf clover, Plato’s four cardinal virtues, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the four winds, the Pythagorean identification of the number 4 with God, the numerology symbolism of the number 4 as bringing heaven down to earth.
Perhaps the most important tawantin is that of relationship, as it is through interactions with others that we potentially create the most hucha. Within the Andean mystical tradition, there are four factors in the growth of a relationship, forming the overarching framework of increasingly sami-filled interactions. The four-fold progression starts with munay, developing a mutual respect and affection. Then comes ayni, when your munay deepens so that you are beyond the needs of the self and truly see the other person for who they really are (and vice versa, with the other person reciprocating). Reaching ayni is the true beginning of a relationship, which can then take you to the stage of development called masintin-yanantin. This is the stage where you begin to work through the dynamics of your individual similarities and differences, more fully taking back your projections, expectations, and so on to harmonize the interactions without judging or trying to change the other person. Despite your differences, you both act in ways that benefit the other. Your similarities amplify your munay and ayni, and you can achieve harmony as your differences become supportive and complementary. Finally, you can reach tawantin, where you are each being who your really are, fully appreciative of the other as an individual, and aware that there is almost a third body in the relationship: the energy/poq’po of the relationship itself.
Watching for and addressing tawantins in your interactions with others is a productive way to reduce hucha and seek greater integrity , happiness, and wholeness. So let’s examine groupings of four factors that amount to tawanatins as identified by health and relationship experts. I will also add my own thoughts about the relational “tawantins” they identify.
Lawrence Michaels identifies what amounts to a tawantin of relationship by pointing out four main dynamics that can quickly degrade or even destroy relationships. This is a destructive rather than a constructive tawantin in that these are behaviors and attitudes to watch out for. If you remain aware and attentive to how these dynamics might be habits of your own relational energy or of the person you are trying to relate to then you will be able to see how and why you (or the other person) may be creating hucha in that relationship.
The first factor of the this tawantin is Criticism vs Complaining. Complaining gets you nowhere, except into a defensive standoff with your partner. Complaints are not about highlighting a troublesome issue but about placing blame, usually on someone else. Criticism, or more accurately critique, on the other hand, is a healthier approach to resolving issues. Critique is a objective, unemotional airing of a grievance. You are specific about a single issue instead of making sweeping generalizations, you suggest specific changes that can be made, and you are realistic about both your role and the other’s role in the difficult dynamic.
The second factor is Expressions of Contempt. Become aware of how you signal distaste and disagreement. It’s not only words that can wound, but facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and other nonverbal cues. If you are prone to making sarcastic and cutting remarks, you are not communicating much of anything but blame and shame. You are not communicating but condemning. There is no room for discussion when you have already rendered a verdict on the other person. Expressing contempt (rather then discussing distaste or disagreement) can lead to the third most common hucha-inducing factor of this relational tawantin, defensiveness.
Defensiveness takes many forms, from anger and attack to withdrawal, dismissal, or flight. When either partner feels attacked or diminished, it’s common to go into protect-and-defend mode. But in that stance, neither partner can discuss the real issue, and trust breaks down. Causing someone to go into defensive mode or reacting in an overly defensive way yourself means you have shut down the sincere interactive energy of the relationship.
The fourth factor of this tawantin is Withdrawal or Stone-walling. The defensiveness that leads to the slamming of the emotional door of the relationship means communication is not possible. You or the other person simply are not present, available, or connected, so during the time of the withdrawal there is no relationship to work on.
How do you turn these hucha-inducing dynamics into a sami-inducing relational tawantin? Many psychologists identify another group of four factors that are constructive actions and attitudes. I bring their ideas together into the following tawantin.
First, cultivate respect. If there is no mutual respect, there is no munay or ayni. Respect grows out of caring, consideration, listening, finding worth in others, and remaining open to ideas and values that are different from yours.
Second is honesty. To be honest, you have to know yourself, so that you are not fooling yourself or the other. You have to be willing to own your “shadow stuff” so that you are not projecting outwardly what is driving you from within your unconscious. Then you have to be both brave and vulnerable enough to speak and act from your truth, and to accept that from the other person as well.
Cultivating honesty in a relationship leads to the third factor of the tawantin, trust. Trust takes many forms in many domains of a relationship, but no matter the context it is only by building trust in yourself and the other person that you can be “real” with each other. Without respect and honesty, there can be no such trust.
And these three factors together result in the fourth aspect of the tawantin: communication. It might be surprising that communication is the crowning attribute of the tawantin, instead of the first factor. You might think you have to have good communication in order to develop respect, honesty, and trust. However, in the flow of relationship it’s really the other way around: these three core factors of respect, honesty, and trust are what determine your ability to truly communicate at all. The first three aspects of the tawantin are the foundational abilities that lead to the building of a dynamic and deep communication.
I could go on with other ways to see the various tawantins of relationship, but I trust that you see how tawantins work to reduce hucha and increase sami. Within your own life and relationships, look for the four major factors that, when integrated, lead to harmony and wholeness. Working on those four factors is the dynamic work of the tawantin. They are the “gates” of the mandala of interaction through which you simultaneously walk to reach the center of a harmonious self and healthy relationships.