A Paqo’s Approach to Relationships: Part 1

There is an aphorism used in psychology, leadership training, and even the military that goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” It’s a good reminder that how we attend to the ordinary, mundane, and seemingly inconsequential things of life Reaching Full Potential Speedometer Tracking Goalreveals how we will likely perform when dealing with things of consequence. We do not save our best effort for rare occasions, but bring our best to every occasion.

I have coined my own version of this kind of aphorism about our ayni, our energetic interchanges: “How we are in our relationships with others is how we are in relationship with the living universe.”

This is a phrase I currently use to lead off teaching a three-hour course I call “Holy Relationships.” Don Juan Nuñez del Prado coined the phrase ‘holy relationships” when talking about a type of relationship, rare though it is, that we can cultivate when we are moving with tawantin energy, tawantin being the highest tuning or vibration of sami and munay. I love that phrase, because the word “holy” comes from the Old English word hālig, which means “blessed.” It also relates to the word “whole.” A tawantin relationship, or “holy relationship,” is one that is blessed because of how two people bring the whole of themselves to each other. They are each living the realization of their Inka Seeds within the interchange of their relationship.

So, to tweak the opening aphorism: How we do anything in a relationship with our fellow human beings is how we do anything in every relationship, including our relationship with Nature, spirit beings, and, most importantly, the kawsay pacha—the living universe. In this blog post, we will look at our human relationships, and in next month’s post we will see how the state of our ayni with our fellow human beings is a good indicator of the quality of our ayni with the living universe.

Ayni yokes our intention to our action. From the energy this union generates, we fuel our interactions with others and with the kawsay pacha. Before we can truly cultivate ayni, or at least a high vibration of ayni, we have to cultivate our munay, which is the union of our love with our will. This is not an exclusively Andean energy dynamic. We can look to others, such as Indira Gandhi, for a similar view. She said, “There is no love where there is no will.”

When we look at the munay energy dynamic as paqos, we relate munay with our sonqo, our mystical heart and the center of our feelings, and with our Inka Seed, which is the center of our will. Interestingly, the integration of the energies of our sonqo (love and feelings) and Inka Seed (will) informs our kanay. Kanay is the essential human capacity to “know thyself.” The word “kanay” comes from the Quechua root “ka,” which means “to be.” Kanay, however, is not only knowing who you truly are, but also having the personal power to be able to live as who you truly are.

Paradoxically, if we are able gain even the merest glimpse of our kanay, we have to see ourselves not in isolation, but in relationship. Although kanay is the realization of the self, it is not solipsistic. It implies engagement between the self and others,Illustration of woman and man with aura, chakras and healing energy and between the self and the world. Kanay it knowing how to bring ourselves to the world as authentically as possible and, as we do, being in ayni with others without projecting, getting ensnared in story, wanting them to be who we need them to be instead of who they truly are. When we are in relationship with a high vibration of ayni, we allow others to help us cultivate our kanay as we help them to cultivate theirs. We again can look outside the Andes for both a beautiful rendering of and confirmation of this truth. Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

Gloria Steinem also hits the perfect note about kanay when she says, “Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.” [Italics added] Kanay is all about being—in “right” relationship with ourselves and with others. We reveal whether or not we are “right” within ourselves and our relationships not only when we are engaged in consequential interactions with others, but in every interaction with anyone: with a precious child, a loyal friend, an adoring spouse or significant other, a caring parent and doting grandparent, as well with the harried delivery driver, offensive opposition candidate, ruthless business competitor, or bitter rival.

With the latter group, it is not that we have to like these people, or anyone for that matter. We are allowed to choose our friends and others. Yet, we cultivate ayni even with those we don’t personally like by being in “right relationship” with them in spite of any uncharitable value judgment we have about them. In this case, being in “right relationship” does not mean faking our feelings or suppressing them, but rather that, at the very least, we choose the neutral stance rather than act in ways that generate hucha. Ideally, we release any heavy moral judgment by taking back our psychological projections, healing our triggers, and transforming our prejudices. Being “right” within ourselves is the antithesis of being self-righteousness.

There’s a huge difference between choosing not to be in relationship with someone and not having the ability to be in a (more or less sami-filled) relationship with a person. If we have no ability to be in a relatively “right” relationship with someone, we lose our freedom because both choosing and refusing are beyond our capacity. We lack even the perception of what it means to even be in ayni with another human being. Don Juan Nuñez del Prado says that “lack of perception indicates a person has erected boundaries or has fear of opening their poq’po to incoming energies, including sami. [They become] too private, or fear life, relationships, enjoyment, growth.”

In the Andean mystical tradition, we focus our work in two primary relational domains: on developing a conscious and sami-filled Two love hearts in being protected in a nest. Conceptual designrelationship with ourselves (and our Inka Seed) and on learning to perceive and manage the energy dynamics of our relationships with others. Hucha mikhuy, especially, is an energetic tool devoted to improving our interpersonal relationships. But the ayllu poq’po training is at the heart of interpersonal work. As don Ivan Nuñez del Prado explains, the ayllu poq’po training is based on the energy of taqe—joining. He and don Juan say that each one of us must really see and know at least one human being deeply. Through seeing and knowing the glorious kanay and Inka Seed of that one person, we find it easier to see how amazing everyone one else is (or has the potential to be). Husband, wife, child, friend, mentor, coworker, neighbor—it does not matter who the other person is. To be fully in this human life starts with being in full communion with another human being, one to one.

What we can achieve with one, we can achieve with many—and with the living universe. Which brings us full circle to my opening aphorism: how you are in your relationship with others is how you are in relationship with the living universe. We will explore our relationship with the living universe in Part 2, which I will post next month. Between now and then, our work is to bring our intention, attention, and perception to ourselves—through our love and our will, through our capacity for munay—and continue to refine our own energy, so we can, in turn, more easily cultivate our ability to raise our relationships with others closer to a state of “holy relationship.”


The Deep Structure of Andean Mysticism

I feel compelled to launch this post with a caution. This is an extremely long and a decidedly nerdy post, one that takes a deep-dive into the esoteric aspects of Andean energy dynamics. If you are not well versed in the karpays of the Chunpi Away and Ñawi K’ichay, this discussion may be confusing, or even unintelligible, to you. (And there are no illustrations or pictures!) So forewarned is forearmed . . .

My primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, has described our training in the Andean sacred arts as a protocol. This means there is a sequence of tasks in our training, which we follow toward the goal of being in ayni more efficiently, effectively, and joyously with our fellow human beings and with the living universe. We would do well, he suggests, to review the entire training—in the order and according to the sequence in which we learned it—once a year to refine our capacity for perceiving and moving energy and to attain greater mastery of the practices.

Once I understood our training as a protocol—that it has a deep structure—I was able to see how it also has many subprotocols (protocols within protocols). For instance, one of the core energy dynamics of the tradition is ayni, or reciprocity. It can be seen as a kind of subprotocol in that there is a set order or sequence to practicing ayni: first using intention, then taking action, and, finally, being aware of the feedback. Another important aspect of our training is the qanchispatañan, which is a sequence of the seven stages of the development of human consciousness, so it too can be seen as a subprotocol. I also saw—based on teachings from don Juan and don Ivan and on my own thinking about the topic—that there is another qanchispatañan of human relationship—it is a set sequence of increasingly refined energy dynamics for developing our interpersonal relationships: tinkuy/tupay, taqe, munay, ayni, masintin, yanantin, tawantin.

There is no skipping a step or reordering steps in a protocol or a subprotocol. The sequence is everything in terms of gaining proficiency in the energy dynamics. For example, in seeking to achieve high-level, quality interpersonal relationships, we can only establish an ayni dynamic in that relationship after we have developed our munay. People tend to generalize munay as love and ayni as any two-way interchange, but these energy dynamics take on particular qualities and characteristics within the development of a meaningful interpersonal relationship. Likewise, there is no achieving a truly harmonious yanantin relationship without first doing the work associated with the masintin energies of the relationship. So, the sequence is crucial.

In my capacity as a teacher of the tradition, I eventually began to develop standalone advanced classes, which I call the “deep-dive classes,” that are devoted to examining some of these subprotocols in depth. For example, my thinking about the relationship qanchispatañan described above turned into a class I call “Achieving Holy Relationships,” which focuses exclusively on this sequence—this protocol—of the energy dynamics of the seven stages of interpersonal relationships. A new deep-dive class, which I will offer for the first time this year, is about willka (the black light energy). As I was thinking about willka and all the ways it shows up in the Andean tradition, I couldn’t help but probe more deeply into its importance in our mystical body. We create willka during the karpays of the Ñawi K’ichay and Chunpi Away (activating the mystical eyes and weaving the energetic belts, which I will call a “joint” karpay since we do them together). I realized that this joint karpay can been seen as a type of subprotocol, where the sequence of the energies we move has a precise order that is not accidental but quite meaningful. When I took a deep, and admittedly speculative, dive into trying to unravel these energy dynamics, I realized that the logic of this sequence reveals interesting aspects of how we are tuning our mystical body (and even our physical body) in this joint karpay. I began to see why the karpays took this form in terms of energy dynamics. So, in the rest of this blog, I am going to focus on these joint karpays as an example of the value of understanding some of our core practices as having a deep structure. I trust that this explication will provide insight into the protocol nature of this energy work—into what may be going on energetically, why the sequence matters, and how the sequence is helping us achieve a more sensitive and holistic mystical awareness.

I feel compelled to stress that this information is just my way of seeing things, and it is not intended to suggest that don Juan, don Ivan, or any of the paqos of our two lineages would agree with me. This is my own take on the energy dynamics, although everything I am about to suggest is based on the broader teachings from these masters. (And, again, if you are not well acquainted with the form of this joint karpay, this view of its energy dynamics may be challenging to follow.)

The karpays of Ñawi K’ichay and Chunpi Away are karpays we perform together, as a single integrated karpay with two goals: to awaken or activate our mystical eyes (called the ñawis) and to weave the belt-like energy fields (called the chunpis) into ourselves. The combined purpose is to energetically connect the separate ñawis into a fully integrated system. As we do that, we also activate the energies of the universal spirit beings associated with each ñawi (e.g., Mama Unu, Mother of the Waters; and Tayta Inti, Father Sun) and begin the process of refining the human capacities at each ñawi (e.g., rimay, khuyay, atiy).

We use five khuyas (called the mullu khuyas) to perform this combined karpay, and their form is, in and of itself, significant in this subprotocol, although discussing them in any depth is beyond the scope of this blog post. But that’s where we will start: with the mullu khuyas, because they guide the energy dynamics of this joint karpay.

The five mullu khuyas we use to perform this ceremony have names that refer to the number of “nubs” or protrusions on them. They are ch’ulla (one, singular), yanantin (two, dual and complementary), kinsantin (three), tawantin (four, the number of wholeness or unity), and pisqantin (five). Very briefly, let me share that odd numbers and even numbers have meaning in terms of Andean energy dynamics: odd numbers refer to a vertical movement of energy, whereas even numbers refer to a horizontal movement.

In the energy dynamics of this joint karpay, we start with the ch’ulla khuya, which we place on the pukyu, the energy point at the top of the forehead at the hairline. Through this single-nubbed khuya, we initiate a vertical flow of energy: we connect to the singular source of our paqarina, our place of origin, which for the sake of convenience I will call God (devoid of religious dogma and referring more generally to First Cause, Originating Consciousness, Creator, or the All). Kawsay is always flowing from our place of origin (from God) through a point at the top of our forehead and down into our Inka Muyu (Inka Seed). So, we start the karpay with the single khuya moving a singular, unitary energy, which to me is an undifferentiated energy (we and God in effect are this same life-force energy). This is the foundational and essential connection: the energy flow from Spirit to Flesh, from the Immaterial to the Material, from God-Spirit to God-Matter.

You will note that I italicized the word “undifferentiated” above. This term is important! My insight into this karpay is about how the protocol leads us—tunes us—from a state of unitary, integrated energy (undifferentiated energy) to increasingly discrete, or differentiated, kinds of energy and then back toward an undifferentiated, unitary (or integrated) energy. This is the deep energy dynamic of this joint karpay, at least according to my thinking about it as a kind of protocol. So, I will be focusing on how energy moves from an undifferentiated state to differentiated states and then back to undifferentiated.

The next step in this protocol involves our changing to the yanantin mullu khuya, which does most of the work of the karpay. Using the yanantin khuya, we move this unitary, undifferentiated energy of Creator up and back to the uma, the top of the head, where through the yanantin khuya (twoness, dual but complementary) we pull in a split stream of energy that is the abstract Creative energy of the material realm. I see the uma serving, in this joint karpay, as a kind of “reverse chaupi” point. A chaupi is usually a place where two energies merge into one. So, a reverse chaupi point would be where a singular, unitary energy splits into two. So, the uma as a reverse chaupi point is where we separate out from the undifferentiated unitary God energy the differentiated cosmic creative energies of the material cosmos: we simultaneously pull a gold stream and a silver stream of energy from the cosmos through the yanantin khuya. The gold and silver streams of energy can mean different things to different people, but usually they represent the male gold cosmic energy and the female silver cosmic energy. I see these as the unitary energy of God splitting into the Pachatata (Father Cosmos) and Pachamama (Mother Cosmos), the two universal yet differentiated energies necessary for creation in the physical world. They are the Father and Mother of the created world.

Two, as an even number, signifies a horizontal movement of energy. That’s what is happening here. We pull this yanantin energy over our skull as two fields that spread over skull on each side and then narrow down into thin streams of energy (seqes), which we cross over at the back of the neck (at the root of the kunka ñawi). Using the yanantin mullu khuya, we pull these two seqes (one gold, one silver) down to the bottom of the spine to the siki ñawi. Then we lift this khuya off the body and, at this point, the person undergoing the karpay uses only their intention to differentiate the energy further by pulling up the (green) energy of Mama Allpa (Mother Earth). We can think of what is about to happen as the two creative cosmic energies (as a yanantin) touching the energy of their creation—the physical earth, the energy of Mama Allpa.

The person pulls this green Earth energy up along their spine to the crossover point of the gold and silver in the middle back of the neck. We now have a new yanantin pair: physical, cosmic energy (the combined unit of gold and silver, Father and Mother Cosmos) and physical, earthly energy (Mama Allpa). And here, at the back of the neck, the person merges these three energies together, creating willka energy, or black light energy, as they move the energy down to the root of body, to the siki ñawi.

I see this crossover point at the back of the neck as another chaupi point: it is the point at which we begin to merge separate energies (the paired cosmic energies with the earthly energy) into a single, unitary energy, which is the black light energy. The person integrates these differentiated energies into a single, undifferentiated energy, which is the willka energy.  Thus, differentiation leads back to a new kind of undifferentiation. The outer is now inner! In the willka energy, we have created a personal source of Creator energy inside our physical and mystical body; we have “incorporated” the three physical Creator energies as one within, and from now on we are self-sufficient in this “Creator” energy. We can pull from our own source of willka energy at any time to restructure, reorganize, or reset ourselves (or use it to help others to do the same). According to don Juan, don Benito Qoriwaman would speak of the God Without and the God Within. At this point of the karpay as protocol, I see the integration of the God Without and the God Within as exactly what is happening along the spine from the neck (root of the kunka ñawi) to the tailbone (eye of the siki ñawi).

Something equally as interesting happens next. We are about to weave the four discrete chunpis (black, red, gold, and silver energy belts). I see the process of weaving these belts as resulting from the energy dynamics of another “reverse chaupi” point at the siki ñawi. From the integration of the creative energies into the singular willka energy, which is a restructuring or reorganizing kind of creative energy, we are about to break energy apart again into discrete types or frequencies to weave the four chunpis. We begin now to again work with differentiated energy and to restructure ourselves by “wiring” up the discrete ñawis into a unified perceptual system. As we move up the front of the body, we will be working in the karpay only with differentiated energy to weave each belt, activate and wire up each ñawi, and connect with and receive attunement from discrete universal spirit beings.

Using the yanantin mullu khuya we make the black belt, awaken the siki ñawi, and connect with and are tuned by Mama Unu (Mother Water). Next, we use the kinsantin mullu khuya to make another differentiation of energy, creating the red belt (the puka chunpi), awakening the qosqo ñawi (eye of the navel/belly), and connecting with and being tuned by Mama Allpa (Mother Earth). We switch to the tawantin mullu khuya to make the qori chunpi, or gold belt, activate the sonqo ñawi (eye of the feelings/heart), and connect with and be tuned by Tayta Inti (Father Sun), and then we move the tawantin mullu khuya up to the neck.

At the front of the neck, we back to another chaupi point, where we are going to reverse the process again and work toward integrating differentiated energies back into an undifferentiated unity energy. I think it’s not too much to see these shifts as mini Pachakutis (or world reversals) within!

Here at the throat, we use the pisqantin mullu khuya to weave the qolqe chunpi (silver belt), awaken the kunka ñawi (eye of the neck), and connect with and be tuned by Tayta Wayra, or Father Wind. We have completed the work of weaving the fourth and final chunpi. We have four chunpis, and only four chunpis. Together they form a tawantin of the differentiated energies of the mystical body. A tawantin represents wholeness, perfection, and harmony, and by activating our four (discrete) main ñawis and connecting them together into an integrated system through weaving the four chunpis, we have achieved a tawantin of mystical capacity and perception in the body. The tawantin also is of the four primary universal spirit beings, which represent the four aspects of Nature that anything physical needs to live: water, earth, sun, and wind/air. These are the energies necessary for life; the energies we need to be, as don Juan says, a “self-made human being.” (However, we are not working with these energies as “elements,” but as universal spirit beings.) So, now having created this energetic tawantin—the mandala of the self, as don Juan has termed it—we begin the move back from working with discrete kinds of energies to working with unified or integrated energies. We do this at the kunka, the neck, which, to me, makes the kunka ñawi, as the top of the tawantin, another chaupi point.

At the neck, we use the five-nubbed pisqantin mullu khuya to weave the silver belt. Five is an odd number and so indicates a vertical energy flow. Once we have woven the silver belt, we are about to “lift” energy from the physical back to the metaphysical in a way we have not done previously in this joint karpay. As we move up past the neck, we are back to moving toward undifferentiated energy, the energy of Oneness, as I explain below. And we are about to end the karpay very close to the starting point of the pukyu, which is always flowing undifferentiated Oneness (God) energy into us.

At this point in the karpay, we take the pisqantin mullu khuya off the body of the person undergoing the karpay and ask them to pull sami in from all around them, filling themselves from the siki (root) up to the kunka (neck) with sami. When they have done that, the person giving the karpay (the chunpi paqo) pulls in sami through him- or herself and into the pisqantin mullu khuya toward the person while the person sends some of the sami they just filled with out their kunka ñawi. Just off the skin of the throat these two streams of sami meet: the sami that the chunpi paqo is sending inward meets the sami that the person is sending outward, so that at this chaupi point the “inner and outer sami” become one. Again, the God Within and the God Without merge, and the chunpi paqo pulls this integrated (undifferentiated) sami up over the person’s face and uses it to activate the person’s two physical eyes (which are the paña and lloq’e ñawis) and the qanchis ñawi, or the seventh eye in the forehead, which is the eye through which we perceive the non-material (or metaphysical) world.

These three upper eyes are activated almost as a unity. There is no chunpi (belt) here, but we see these three eyes as a unit. It is through these three upper ñawis that physical perception and metaphysical perception are integrated, so that we can learn to see the Whole, which is to simultaneously perceive both the physical human world and the metaphysical world. We are back at a place of integration, of undifferentiated perception. If we train ourselves well, we now have the capacity to “see” with the equivalent of the eyes of God: the Whole of reality.

But there is an even greater integration that ends the karpay. Once these three upper eyes are activated, the chunpi paqo removes the pisqantin mullu khuya and the person connects with the cosmos and fills their body and poq’po (energy body) with the violet energy of the cosmos. This is the final incorporation of undifferentiated universal energy. During the karpay, and now most strongly while filling with the violet energy, the person releases their connections (seqes) to everyone in their life. (This happens automatically and doesn’t involve conscious intent). By the end of the karpay, as they fill with violet light, they are an utterly singular human being. The karpay ends with this experience of the state of complete inner integration of the Self.

Whew! Are you still with me? Many thanks to those of you are. I have gone into such great depth not only to offer a hopefully interesting (and maybe even an enlightening?) view of the sequenced energy dynamics of this important joint karpay, but also to show you why and how we can see this and other important practices of the Andean tradition as protocols: as ordered dynamical progressions of energy work that contain an inner logic. I often tell my students that if you take a deep dive into the Andean tradition and stick with it, you will attain the equivalent of a PhD in energy dynamics! I think you can see why from this post. Whether you agree with the interpretation I have shared here or not, I hope that you will have deepened your respect for the incredible sophistication of the energy work that has been passed on to us and that you will hold that knowledge and our practices as I do—as a precious gift.

Life as a Spiritual Path

“There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.” —William Barclay

Sometimes people ask me about choosing a spiritual path, as if there are multiple choices. But for each of us there is only one path—our life. The modifier “spiritual” is not necessary, and, really, it is redundant. The core root of the word “spirit” means to breathe, to be alive—to be filled with the life force that animates physical matter. According to the Andean mystical view, we are allpa camasca: animated earth. I believe it is wise for us to honor that core truth: every life is a spiritual life by the fact that it is astairwary-metaphyscial-compressed-adobestock_102606538 life. So, from this perspective, we don’t choose a spiritual path, we become consciously aware of the nature of the one we are living.

That said, I understand that when people are asking about a spiritual path, they are really asking about a methodology or a philosophical framework by which to deepen their conscious connection to their lives. They are using the word “spiritual” in a gnostic sense: to deeply and truly experience the essence of their lives. They are seeking to revitalize their lives, to resacralize them. Let’s face it, from the factual biological perspective, we did not have a choice for life. If we are here, it is not because we did anything to be here. Our “spiritual” belief about the nature of existence is another thing entirely. To imbue physical life with a sense of the sacred is a choice, even an act of will. Since we are here, we are free to seek meaning, to understand the possible “why” of it all. The irresistible magnetism of meaning-making is what elevates us above our purely biological life and informs our humanness. Every life matters, but we alone, among all creatures, decide to consciously choose how to ascribe meaning to our lives. Doing so presupposes that we have chosen a framework to explain that “why.”

In my own exploration of the “why” of life, and as a means to sacralize my life and choose to consciously develop myself, my choice for a “spiritual” approach is the Andean tradition. That choice comes after decades of exploring, testing, and practicing in other traditions. The same might be true for you. From the fourth-level perspective, following the Andean “sacred arts,” as don Juan Nuñez del Prado likes to call the tradition, is an exploration of our inner world, but without that inner focus being either an over-absorption with the self or a rejection of the outer world. So much of what matters in the outer world is shaped by and even dependent upon the state of our inner world.

In the Andean cosmovision, we are seeking to know ourselves, called kanay: to know who we really are and, more importantly, to have the personal power to live as who we truly are. Our approach is not outwardly directed either through formulaic practices or channeling power through sacred objects. Ritual, ceremony, and supernatural connections are wonderful, and there are good reasons for them, but they also can become a distraction or even a trap. What matters is our connection to ourselves, because the quality of all that we can share with the outer world is proportional to the quality of our inner state of being. As the Vedic tradition teaches, we are not in the world, the world is in us.

Via the Andean tradition, how we engage the world is dependent of the quality of our consciousness and of the sami energy we can share through our ayni. One of the most insightful teachings I have received from don Juan Nuñez del Prado is that there can be more power in offering a single k’intu than in making and offering an elaborate despacho. Our most important work is invisible: itK'intu Lisa Sims cropped compressed is inner directed and yet utterly relational to the outer world and other people. We work on the inside so that we connect more authentically with what is outside, as free as possible of our heaviness (especially the heaviness created through our projections, illusions, personal judgments, and the like).

This inward exploration is focused both on the “who” and the “why” of ourselves. In the Andean tradition, the Inka Seed is the repository of that information and knowledge. The Inka Seed is said to be the connection to our origin, which is with God, The Unknowable, The All, Wiraqocha—or whatever name you give to the non-physical force that is the bestower of the originating breath (spirit) that gives life to inanimate matter. In one respect, our Inka Seeds are exactly alike: they contain every capacity that a human being is capable of expressing. In another respect, no two Inka Seeds are alike, for each of our Inka Seeds constellates these capacities differently, so that we each truly are unique in the expression of our humanness.

For me, when it comes to the “why” of our beingness, there is a “Big Why” and a “Small Why.” The Big Why of our lives is why any of us are here at all, in human form with our astonishing human capacities. The Small Why, which to my mind is the more important one, is utterly personal: it is “why” of our individual lives, of our distinct expression of this humanness. It is this Small Why that Barclay is speaking about in the opening quotation, and it is this Small Why that can set us on the search for a “spiritual path.” We share the same common and singular path: life. But we have an amazing variety of frameworks that can help us access the personal power to singularly express ourselves and create a life that reflects our kanay.

There is an almost infinite distance between the belief that there is no meaning to life and the belief that each of our lives is imbued with sacred significance. Don Juan, and his son, don Ivan, very poetically express this latter view by saying each one us has a distinctive place in creation that no one else can fill. If we are not aware of why we are here, if we don’t know ourselves and our singular kanay—and therefore are not living our individual expression of whatever God is—then it is like there is a hole in the fabric of creation. They are not the first to express this idea (others from Eileen Caddy to Dr. Suess have said as much), but it is an idea worth being reminded of repeatedly: there is one, and only one, spiritual path—your life. There is only one of each us. Forever and forever and forever there will only ever be one you. Whether you believe that to be true or not, what a tragedy not to live as if it were true!

All of this can sound cliché. You’re unique. You’re special. You should take how special you are to heart and start acting like it. We’ve heard it a hundred times, right?

Well, knowing and doing are two entirely different things. Which is why the “doing” of actually living your life as you is so rare. We are used to being who others think we should be, or who we think they think we should be. When we are mindless or dismissive about how we shape ourselves not to our own inner “truth of being me” but to what others’ value or prefer we be, we disconnect from ourselves (our Inka Seed) and, thus, from our lives. As Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This is a quotation that tends to pop up (tiresomely) when someone wants to remind us that we are all pretty much alike, just making it up as we go along, and living our fictions, or even our delusions, of ourselves. And there is some truth to that. But, keeping with the theatre quotations, we also can live upon the stage of life as creative artists of the self. As playwright Lee Small said, “The point of theatre is transformation: to make an extraordinary event out of ordinary material right in front of an audience’s eyes.” That is the point of life as a spiritual path: to reveal the extraordinary within our very ordinariness—and then not be afraid to show our extraordinary selves to the world.

We are not being solipsistic or cultivating a false grandiosity. And our approach certainly is not to take ourselves too seriously. It is hard to be creative when we are overly serious, and life as a spiritual path is about nothing if not serial acts of creative expression. From the Andean perspective, paqos are beings who cultivate their inner joy. So, to resacrilize our lives we would benefit from cultivating two core sensibilities: that of pukllay, a sense of playfulness; and of tusuy, of performance. Life is our ritual. Life is our ceremony. Rather than find or choose a “spiritual path,” we treat our lives as the one and only path, where every ordinary moment can become imbued with a sense of the sacred. The very word “individual” comes from the root meanings of indivisible, inseparable, one, unified. For each of us, every insight into our individual kanay—into what makes you you and me me—becomes a way of more lovingly gathering the disparate or disowned aspects of ourselves into a realized whole.

However, when it comes to actually living life as a spiritual path. . . well, that is easier said than done. I will leave you with a quotation I just came across that is the perfect conclusion to this post and reminder that ayni is not just about intention, but action.

From T.E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

“All men dream; but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty
recesses of their minds wake in the day
to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers
of the day are dangerous men, for they may
act their dreams with open eyes, to make it

©Photo of k’intu is copyrighted by Lisa McClendon Sims.

Working with Khuyas: Part Three

To finish our discussion of working with khuyas, this long post continues the question-and-answer format, focusing on using khuyas, especially for healing. If you have not read Part One and Part Two, please go to the archive to access those posts.

Because the majority of the information in this post concerns healing, please be aware that energy healing is not a substitute for certified, professional healthcare if someone has a medical condition. We are yanantin: we have both a mystical body and a physical body. A paqo deals with the mystical body. An allopathic medical professional deals with the physical body. Of course, there is overlap, but our areas of responsibility are different. As don Juan Nuñez del Prado says, “As a paqo we have to be absolutely clear that we are not medical doctors. We don’t do that kind of healing. We are healers of the soul. That is our part, unless you are at the fifth level [the level of consciousness associated with infallible healing]. You can only think in those terms if you are fifth level, and we know there are no fifth-level healers around yet. In the meantime, let the medical doctor do his job and you stay as the soul doctor, which is what the paqo is.”

What are the various uses for khuyas?

There are many ways to use a khuya, a few of the most common of which are focusing a paqo’s attention while moving energy to aid healing, for teaching, and for connecting with a teacher or the lineage. Don Benito Qoriwaman had a large, square, carvedMasintin-Yanantin Khuya cropped khuya that he used to teach the principles of masintin (similar) and yanantin (dissimilar but complementary) energy dynamics. It had four quadrants, with a representation in each quadrant of an object that is considered either of female or male energy. He would test his apprentices by asking them about the various masintin or yanantin relationships among the sybmols.

If we have a khuya that was given to us by a paqo, we can use it to  connect with that paqo, perhaps even to receive mystical teachings through it. And of course, through such a khuya, we also can connect to the entire lineage associated with that paqo, or more generally with the lineage of all paqos. If a khuya comes from a sanctuary or a natural sacred site such as an apu, the same type of connection can be made to the power of that site, which we can pull to us through the khuya

Does a khuya have healing power?

Yes, but not in and of itself. Most paqos who perform healings will tell you that they are not doing the healing; they are channeling or marshaling the power of Mother Earth (Mama Allpa), or of the whole material universe in its feminine representation as Pachamama (Mother Cosmos) or masculine representation as Pachatayta (Father Cosmos), or of a spirit being of nature, such as an apu or ñust’a. In addition, they are channeling their own sami and munay through the khuya. From the fourth-level perspective, they are using intent to move energy in the service of healing, and so they are not turning their khuyas into fetishes. A festish is an object that we think has power or into which we invest our own power, so if we lose that fetish, we have lost a source of power (its power or our own) and are unable to work. Seeing objects as having power in and of themselves is more of a third-level perspective. Seeing them instead as outward symbols or conduits of our inner power (or as objectified channels of a nature spirit’s power) is more of a fourth-level approach. So, in healing it is not the khuya that matters, but our karpay. Our karpay is the amount of personal power we have available at the current time to use to tune energy, and then to do something with that tuned energy, such as sharing it during a healing session. So, for the most part when it comes to healing, a khuya is only as powerful as our own karpay.

How do we use a khuya to channel our power?

The effective use of that khuya as a channel for our own sami is influenced by the quality of our ayni and munay. All healing comes through munay, which is love under our will. When we have cultivated our munay, we can be in deeper and more profound ayni with the person on whom we are performing the healing. Don Juan Nuñez del Prado tells us that when we are in ayni, when we are channeling our energy through munay, then in healing we are willing to touch the other person’s hucha. There will likely be no healing without the willingness to do that. And there is nothing to fear in doing so, as we know that hucha is not harmful, contaminating, dirty, or evil energy: it is just slow sami. Still, we have to be willing to totally and deeply connect with the person, which means touching their hucha and helping to transform their hucha.

It’s important to understand that hucha does not cause disease. Illness is often caused by a purely physical vector: a virus or bacteria, exposure to toxins, genetics or the immune system gone awry, and the like. The virus, bacteria, and genes are pure sami: they are living, natural energy. There is no moral overlay onto them, because they are just doing what they do—what nature designed them to do. Our health habits and other personal choices can open us to infection by these natural agents, and our genesIllness or cold Pixabay cold-g0c81af917_1920 and immune systems are subject to influence by our thoughts, emotions, stress levels, repressed energies, and the like. These mental and psychological influences are what most often cause us to create hucha for ourselves, which may keep us from dealing well with our health or other challenges. Thus, there almost always is an emotional component to experiencing illness: heaviness can arise because of fear, anxiety, conflicted feelings and ideas, and the like. None of those emotions or mental states automatically creates hucha. These emotions may be perfectly appropriate responses to something happening to us. But when they become chronic or are inappropriate to or misdirected beyond the immediate situation, then they can create hucha. As paqos, we are working on a person’s mystical body, and we can use many different methods, from focusing mostly on their poq’po (which we can see as their psyche) to working to clear hucha from the  ñawis. As a result of improving a client’s energy field by reducing their hucha and increasing their sami, the disease also may be affected in positive ways. Remember, sami is the life-force energy, so increasing it—regardless of which method is used to do that—is a way of indirectly working on the disease itself.   

If we don’t need a khuya to perform a healing, why use it all?

All of the factors explained in the above paragraphs influence why we (working from a fourth-level perspective) tend to see khuyas as not having powers of their own, but as serving, if we so choose to use them, as externalizations of our internal state. We don’t need a khuya to perform a healing, but we can choose to use one to help direct our intention and energy. We can use it as a focal point for our attention, intention, and personal power rather than as an instrument of healing power itself. In this regard, don Juan says that “working with khuyas is a creative endeavor.” He reminds us that sami is always moving, and through a khuya we can remember that and so better channel, direct, and use that sami energy. We can use a khuya to help us focus and connect to sources of power, both within ourselves and outside ourselves, such as with a spirit being or our yanapaqkuna (personal helper spirits). Then, as don Juan says, “How you use that power is up to you.”

More importantly, our clients may need us to use one or more khuyas, or even some other object of “healing power.” Clients, especially those new to energy work, may have a psychological need to see some kind of outer action or ritual in order to believe anything is happening and, thus, to consciously or subconsciously engage their own self-healing capacities. For this reason, weKhuya cropped chalcedony-g1baa106b3_1920 may choose to meet their expectations and provide that “healing experience” for them. We are not duping or manipulating them. We are simply undertaking the energy work just as we always do—which is invisible work, marshalling and channeling our own sami and munay, our own personal power and intent, or channeling that of a spirit being—but we can do that while also creating an outward display that meets the emotional needs of our client. There is one “must do” I tend to tell people who ask about healing through an outward ritual: the important stance is not that we do what we always do or were trained to do in a rote manner—such as always using the same methodology or ritual for each person—but that we always, first and foremost, meet the other person exactly where they are and creatively adjust what we do and how we do it to meet their individual needs.

How do we work with khuyas or other objects, such as our misha, if we choose to use them in healing work?

For brevity, and assuming most readers of this blog have been trained in the techniques of saminchakuy and saiwachakuy, and understand the mystical anatomy, I will provide a list of ways we can channel energy while choosing to use an externalized representation such as a khuya.

Saminchakuy/Pichay and Saiwachakuy

We can perform a pichay, which means “sweeping.” This is a saminchakuy during which we move the khuya, or our misha, over the person’s body and through their poq’po with the intention of pulling in sami and sweeping hucha down to Mother Earth. It’s always a good idea to follow this practice with a saiwachakuy, which is pulling up sami from Mother Earth to empower the person. During the pichay, the siki ñawi is the ñawi to spend a lot of time on because, for almost all of us, it holds the most hucha.

Khuya Karpay

A khuya kaypay, says don Juan, is “learning to work through structure.” In this case, the practice is a structured or organized way of using a khuya to focus our intention to release hucha from all of a person’s ñawis (mystical eyes), one at a time, and then after the hucha cleansing, to empower each ñawi by bringing sami from Mother Earth up and into it. We have some flexibility, as energy artists at the fourth level, to decide how we do this: 1) we can do the full cycle of cleaning and then empowering each ñawi, one by one, or 2) we clean all of the ñawis first, moving down the body, and then move back up the body and empower each ñawi in two separate sweeps.  

Either way, usually we start the process at the top of the body, at the qanchis ñawi, the seventh eye, and then move down the body. If we are using the first method, we would perform a pichay, sweeping hucha from the qanchis ñawi and then empowering it with sami from Mother Earth in a saiwachakuy. Then we would work on the two physical eyes, which are ñawis, repeating the process. We skip cleaning the sonqo ñawi because it has no hucha, and we just empower it. We continue to move down the body to the qosqo ñawi, and we end at the siki ñawi, where we tend to spend the most time since it usually has the most hucha. If a person is lying on their back, work on the siki ñawi through the root, which is at the front of the body, rather than the eye, which is at the back of the body.

Another form of a khuya karpay is to receive the assistance of the teqse apukuna—universal spirit beings—who are associated Mystical eye Pixabay fantasy-gc83e0a966_1920with each ñawi. In this variation, we might place a khuya on or near each of the seven ñawis. Then we work down each ñawi, one by one, from the top of the body to the root. As we do, we call in the specific teqse apu associated with that ñawi and use the khuya we have placed there to work with that spirit being to do a pichay at that ñawi, sweeping hucha from it. (Except at the sonqo, which has no hucha). Once the hucha release is done at a ñawi, together with the helper spirit, we pull up earth energy (in a saiwachakuy) to empower that ñawi and its capacities. Then we replace that khuya and move down to the next ñawi, using the khuya placed there and calling in the spirit being associated with that ñawi and repeat the process. And so on down the body.  

The ñawis and their related teqse apukuna are: upper three eyes have no specific helper spirit, but we connect to the cosmos through them, so we can call on the assistance of Pachatayta, Father Cosmos. At the kunka, the spirit being is Tayta Wayra, Father Wind. At the sonqo, Tayta Inti, Father Sun (for empowerment only at the sonqo). At the qosqo, Mama Allpa, Mother Earth. And at the siki, Mama Una, Mother Water.

There is no fixed way—and no right or wrong way—to perform a healing or empowerment, so we can be energy artists and change things up, perhaps even receiving inspiration and counsel from the teqse apukuna. For example, the empowering sami might not come from Mother Earth, but be directed into the ñawi directly from the spirit being itself, as each is a source of pure sami. What matters most is that in some way or another, each ñawi be cleansed of hucha and then empowered with sami.

Increasing a Client’s Access to their Inka Seed

This is a way that I see we could productively undertake a slightly different kind of khuya karpay. It is based on a teaching from don Ivan Nuñez del Prado. As he so eloquently discussed in one of our conversations, we can see the various ways we carry hucha as different kinds of screens or filters that prevent us from fully accessing and expressing our human capacities and, thus, our Inka Seed. If we have a lot of hucha, as we go to express our Inka Seed or any of the capacities of our ñawis, the energy emerges and flows but then hits one of our emotional screens and that energy reflects out as hucha rather than the pure sami of our Inka Seed. So, I have adapted the khuya karpay to focus on cleaning these hucha screens from each ñawi (except the sonqo), focusing our healing intent on the human capabilities that may be diminished by those hucha screens. After clearing some of the hucha that is acting like a screen around each ñawi, we can empower the ñawi and that capacity by bringing up sami from Mother Earth or, if we are working with the teqse apukuna, allowing the spirit being that is associated with that ñawi to empower the ñawi and associated capacities with its own sami. In this kind of khuya karpay, the process is the same as the process described previously, and the difference is in our intent, which rather than focusing on a general hucha release is purposefully directed at moving the energy around any emotional screens that may be affecting each ñawi and its capacities.

The capacities are as follow. The three uppermost eyes are associated with qaway: the ability to see the reality of ourselves and this world as it really is while also developing mystical vision. So, qaway relates to being able to simultaneously bring awareness to both the material and mystical worlds so that we can know the whole of ourselves and the whole of reality. At the kunka ñawi, the capacity is yachay (experience and thoughts) and rimay (expression). There is no hucha at the sonqo ñawi, which is the seat of the most refined feelings and of munay. Even though there is no need to perform a hucha release, we can work here to bring in more sami, helping the person more easily access and express their highest feelings, especially munay. At the belly, the capacity of the qosqo ñawi is khuyay, the ability to use personal power to take and sustain action in the world and to make healthy emotional bonds with others (and with beliefs, values, causes, etc.) At the siki ñawi, the capacity is atiy, bringing our impulses under our conscious control, and measuring and marshalling our personal power to act in the right way at the right time.

These are some of the core methods of working with khuyas, especially in healing. No doubt there are many others, but, to my knowledge, most are some form or another of the basic healing practices of saminchakuy and saiwachakuy. (I deliberately am not discussing hucha mikhuy, because we wouldn’t need or want to use a khuya or misha during that practice.) Of course, anything we can do for another person, we can do for ourselves. So, we can use any of these techniques to heal, improve, and empower ourselves.

Working with Khuyas: Part Two

In last month’s blog post, I discussed khuyas contextually and introduced the process of working the Andean practices from the fourth level, an approach that moves from a rote way of relating to your ayni, misha, and khuyas to a more personal and artistic expression of them. I stress that these posts about the meaning and use of khuyas present one way of approaching the tradition and its practices. I do not claim they are the only way or even the definitive way.

In this post we will look at using the khuyas by focusing on application rather than concept. However, if you have not yet read Part One in last month’s post, I urge you to do so before reading this post so you will have a firm foundation in the fourth-level way of thinking about and using khuyas. I am going to proceed by asking questions about using khuyas and then providing answers, which present just one perspective and so are by no means representative of the variety of personal styles of paqos in the Andes.

And, I discovered while writing about this topic that I couldn’t cover all I wanted to in two posts. So, the last post of the year in December—Working with Khuyas: Part Three—will complete this discussion.

What are khuyas used for?

In the Post-Conquest Andes, the word for a khuya was, among others, conopa, which for the most part referred to a stone or baked clay figurine or amulet, usually shaped like a llama or alpaca with a hole in the top or center. Conopas were considered connections between human beings and the mystical world, between human beings and nature—as able to connect us to what one anthropologist calls the “animating in-between” of the material, physical human world and the universe of living energy. TheyConopa Votive_Container_(Conopa),_15th–16th_century Attribution - Inca culture, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons mostly were used as magical protection for herds of llamas and alpacas or in ceremonies or on “altars” for marshalling the energies to keep herds healthy and flourishing.

For us as paqos, khuyas also are representative of our connection to the “animating in-between,” but they take on other, different meanings and uses. For the most part, they represent our development as human beings and as paqos. Each one represents an important milestone, event, person, or karpay along the path of our practice. Each khuya is infused with our affection, and when gathered together they comprise the “bundle of signs” that is our misha, which itself represents our personal power and our kanay (our truest selves). Beyond that, the most common use of a khuya is for healing, which will the subject of the December post.

How do we “charge” a khuya?

Our khuyas are important symbols of our growth as human beings, and so each one represents a person, place, event, and so on that has shaped us in deep, meaningful ways. We say that each khuya is infused with our affection and love, but how do we “infuse” each one or, as more commonly expressed, how do we “charge” each one with that particular feeling and meaning? The methods vary, but believe me when I say that over the last twenty-seven years I have heard about ways of charging khuyas that couldn’t possibly have come from the paqos or even from the Andes of Peru, as they were tinged with all kinds of metaphysical and supernatural ritual complexities. I can offer the advice that if you struggle to discern what feels or seems more authentic to the Andean tradition, remember this: the paqos are always practical, efficient, and grounded. When it comes to moving or tuning energy, simpler is always better. Paqos are masters of driving the kawsay (the living energy), and a foundational tenet of practice is to never waste your energy. That means moving the most kawsay in the most effective or powerful way with the least amount of effort. This same approach applies to “charging” khuyas.

We charge khuyas by infusing them with our feelings. Our work is mostly internal, and there is very little, if any, outward display or ceremony. Our ayni is personal—your ayni is not my ayni, because we each have a unique Inka Seed, and so our expression of our ayni is unlike anyone else’s. Thus, our work is mostly private and interior to ourselves. So, to charge a khuya, we simply hold it and infuse it with our finest energy, especially with our munay. The energy arises from our state of being—our love, appreciation for, and honoring of the person, event, place, spirit being, or other factor represented by that khuya—and we simply use intention to infuse that state of being and those feelings into that khuya, which from that moment forward carries that energy. When we place that khuya in our misha, we are in effect adding that particular “feeling relationship” to the bundle of symbols that represents who we are.

Although the charging process is so simple, as fourth-level paqos we are free to express ourselves playfully and artistically in that frog khuya hatun karpay lloq'e compressed captionprocess in any way we choose. I remember paqo Americo Yábar showing me and a few others how to charge a khuya. He said it should be in our right hand and held aloft toward the hanaq pacha. Then we should pull down a stream of sami from the hanaq pacha and into the khuya, then move the khuya down toward our chest until it was touching our heart and we joined energies with it, pulling the stream of sami into ourselves as well. Beautiful! But not necessary. From the fourth-level perspective, we love to express our pukllay—our freedom and playfulness—and we can choose to do what brings us pleasure. That’s perfectly fine—as long as we are conscious that our performance is our choice and not some magical or superstitious ritualistic necessity.

In addition, since we are working in a particular tradition through a particular lineage of paqos, we also tend to infuse a khuya with our affection/munay for the lineage of paqos of which we are a part. Therefore, we need to know what and who our lineage is. For example, if you take what I call the Foundation Training through don Juan Nuñez del Prado and his son don Ivan, me, or another teacher trained by don Juan and don Ivan, you will be part of two lineages: the Waskar lineage of the Cuzco Wachu and the Inkari lineage through the Q’ero Wachu. So, to charge a khuya, after infusing it with our affection as described above, we also establish a loving energetic connection with those two lineages of paqos and pull the sami we associate with those lineages from them, through ourselves, and into the khuya. In this way, as don Juan says, each khuya “always keeps you connected to the masters.” (As an aside, we especially make this lineage connection with the khuya we use as the “center” of our misha.)

So charging is that simple: we touch deeply into our munay and infuse our feelings into the khuya. Then we connect with our specific lineage(s) and pull their power into the khuya (and in ayni we also may infuse our munay for those paqos who came before us into the khuya).

My answer about charging a khuya would not be complete without talking briefly about the related term, khuyay. For those not familiar with khuyay, it is the capacity associated with our qosqo ñawi, the mystical eye of our belly area. Khuyay is passion, meaning how our energy motivates us both to initiate action and to sustain that action over time. It also is what motivates us to make connections to others and the world. Don Juan and don Ivan explain the relationship between khuyas (the objects in our misha) and khuyay (passion as motivation and connection) as follows. Don Ivan says, “Khuyas are empowered by your khuyay, your passion. I think khuyay is [the energy] to create bonds with things, to connect with things. It is an attachment.” Don Juan then offers us a deeper insight about what a khuyay attachment is when he says, “Khuyas represent power through your passions—not with your passion but through it. Your passion—your khuyay—is not just your appreciation, love, and munay. It is how those feelings and energies motivate or move you to act and be in the world.” So, each khuya itself is the sign or symbol of a particularly important and meaningful occurrence or relationship in our lives, and as we charge a khuya we are infusing it with the depth of feeling connected to that occurrence or person and how as a result of that engagement we are able to move forward in life in a more conscious and sami-filled way.

Do I also have to “charge” my misha?

People often ask about charging their entire misha bundle in addition to the individual khuyas. My answer is to point out that from the fourth-level perspective, our misha is the khuyas it contains. It has no meaning or existence separate from them. So, it is already charged and activated through those khuyas. However, as I have already pointed out, at the fourth level we make a clearmesas-compressed-lisa-sims-photos-2016 distinction between choosing to do something and thinking we need to do something. So, as with charging the individual khuyas, we can through our artistry, pukllay (playfulness), munay, and ayni decide to undertake some kind of ritual to celebrate making our first misha or to charge our misha bundle, but doing so is a personal choice and not a necessity.

If there is any ritual at all around the misha—and it is a stretch to call this a ritual—it is another form of khuyay, or connecting. When we wrap the mestana (woven cloth) over our khuyas to make the misha qhepi (bundle), we may want to blow through it three times, which traditionally is a way of infusing the misha with our kawsay (life-force energy). We blow through or into it three times, with one breath carrying our finest munay (love and affection), another our yachay (knowledge, intellectual capacity, experience), and another our llank’ay (ability to act in the world). There is no order to which breath carries which energy. Sometimes in those same three breaths we also are connecting with and honoring the three worlds: hanaq pacha (upper world), kay pacha (this world), and ukhu pacha (lower world or inner world). Finally, since the misha represents our development as human beings and our path as paqos, we also might connect to and honor our lineage(s): we can blow our energy through the misha bundle with the intent of sending our munay to those paqos who came before us and whose company we now keep energetically.

What do I do if I lose a khuya?

No problem! Simply choose another stone or object to replace it, and infuse that replacement with the same meaning, intention, and feeling as the one that was lost.

This is where I will end the discussion for this post. In the final December post, I will discuss using khuyas, especially for healing.

Photos of frog khuyas and misha bundles are the copyright of Lisa McClendon Sims.