Salka and Atiy

A fellow paqo and former student recently wrote me about an online teaching he attended with two Q’ero paqos about salka and atiy energies that he found intriguing and informative. He reviewed a bit of the material with me and asked for my perspective. I thought this subject would make a good blog post. But before I dive Jungle compressed Pixabay 1865639_1920into the subject and offer my own perspective, I need to define and explain a few relevant terms.

Salka (salqa) means “selva” in Spanish and “jungle” in English. Overall it refers metaphorically to wildness, but its meaning has two distinct “flavors.” At one end of the spectrum, you experience salka as a natural and even primal life force. You express this energy by being spontaneous, original, unbridled, even daring. It’s a passion expressed through actions, an approach to life involving joyful abandon. It’s a personality style that drives you beyond familial or societal norms to express yourself without an overarching desire for approval or acceptance. It goes beyond intellect and emotion to a visceral, physical immersion in life. At the other end of the spectrum, salka is wildness that stays dark and goes deep, so it is mostly beyond your awareness. This salka is the energy of the hidden self, of the personal shadow, of impulses that drive your thoughts, words, and deeds in ways beyond your conscious choice. When left unchecked, this energy can be the cause of hucha, and it can even wreak havoc in your life.

Atiy refers to the capacity of the siki ñawi, the mystical “eye” or energy center at the base of the spine; this is the eye of the black belt, or yana chunpi. Atiy refers to personal power: to having the ability to take action or to overcome a challenge. Atini means “I can do it.” In the Andean mystical tradition, the capacity of atiy at the siki ñawi refers to an awareness of measuring your power, of determining how much power you have to undertake something you want to do. It also refers to determining proper timing of that action, where undertaking the action at the most opportune time increases your chance for success. Finally, the siki ñawi and yana chunpi are the places of impulses, of your baser, instinctual, and impulsive self. Impulse here refers to both core human needs (such as survival, food, nurturing) as well as the unconscious aspects of your “shadow self,” the hidden (or denied) psychological self that is a frothing cauldron of impulses that drive your thoughts, opinions, beliefs, responses, behaviors and more.

As you can see, salka and atiy can be yoked together to produce a powerful energy within the self, linking passion and action. But I want to make one more distinction—provide an important contrast—before I talk about this. At our qosqo ñawi, the eye of the puka chunpi (red belt) at the belly, we have the capacity for khuyay, passion. How is this passion at the qosqo ñawi different from the passion of salka, which some paqos are linking to atiy at the siki ñawi? Khuyay is passionate and mindful engagement; it is the intensity of connection of two lovers looking into each others’ eyes; it is the one-pointed immersion of attention and joy of a child at play; it is the perfect synchronization of a jazz trio making spontaneous music together. In contrast, salka is the more unconscious, unmediated wildness of your expressions and actions. You might say it is action that is less disciplined and defined, less shaped and understood. It tends to be reactive, and so too often is outside the realm of choice. I urge you to not confuse the two kinds of “passion”—salka (even in its healthy aspect) and khuyay— as the distinction is important to this discussion.

From what my fellow paqo and former student told me, in the online discussion the Q’ero paqos were speaking of salka as a powerful but largely hidden power. They also related it to animal spirits, such as the puma, hummingbird, condor, and serpent. If you seek this natural, wild, and passionate power, they said, you will find it. And you can, upon mastery of that power, link it with your atiy—your action in the world—to become a tukuyatiynioq: a total owner of atiy. I find all of this a beautiful rendering of one aspect of atiy, in a way I had not heard before.

But I would like to extend the discussion, admitting that I was told only a little about what the paqos said. I would like to tease out other meanings and applications of salka and atiy, and move beyond having to work with spirit beings, animal or otherwise. All power is within us, and that is how I would like to extend the discussion here.

I will begin by discussing salka as a step up an evolutionary path. (So that I don’t have to repeat myself in too much detail here, I refer you to an earlier post for moreMoray compressed and cropped about salka: “Bridge Between the Worlds,” September 30, 2016.) My teacher don Juan Nuñez el Prado has discussed salka in relation to the Inkas. Very briefly, salka generally was thought of as wild in the sense of underdeveloped or undomesticated. The Inka were all about organization and improvement of what was wild, out of control, or unhelpful in nature. They did not seek to dominate nature, but to work in partnership with nature to undertake a process called mast’ay. Mast’ay means to structure, reorder, reorganize. Nature left to itself provided a harsh and unforgiving environment for humans to live in. It was difficult to thrive. As human culture developed, including the introduction of farming and domestication of animals, nature was remade in a way that was more organized and less wild. The Inkas perfected the art of irrigation and water rerouting, and of terracing mountainsides to grow crops, and such. They were reducing the wildness of nature and bringing greater organization to it for the benefit of human well-being. So, in this sense salka is a step down on the evolutionary path. Nature in its wildness is not amenable to human life; nature made more domesticated is. That’s the very general metaphor and actual process of human physical and cultural evolution. (We have gone to an extreme today, dominating and even destroying nature.)

I have said so many times that our Andean mystical path is a path of personal and collective evolution, moving up the stairway of consciousness from the zero level to the seventh level (from absolute dependency and no sense of self, like an infant, to the full revelation of being equivalent to God in human form). This is a path of power. It is a path, if you will, of atiy: of human action in the world.

Your karpay is your full amount power at the current time. Atiy is how you sensitize yourself to seeing reality as it really is in terms of how much personal power you have at the current time. Do you have enough personal power to carry out your intentions? If not, where are you lacking? Atiy also is bringing your impulses (as in your shadow self) to consciousness and, thus, under your will. When your impulses are not under your will, you tend to be impetuous, reactive, hasty, brash, and even reckless. So, if you are too salka—too hidden from yourself, too wild and uncontrolled in your impulses and, hence, with your power—you can be said to be less organized within the self, less able to consciously use your power. Your whole life will be affected because you will have less of a sense of your atiy.

Another aspect of salka and atiy involves the three worlds. You have the three worlds within you: a personal heaven or hanaqpacha (upper world) and a personal unconscious or ukhupacha (lower or inner world). Your personal kaypacha—your human life—reflects how well you integrate the inner upper world (enlightened self) and inner lower world (hidden, unconscious, shadow, impulsive self). The lower world, the ukhupacha, is a place of regeneration. It is the place you go to see with clarity the hucha you are generating and your lack of understanding of ayni. Through this awareness you then can make a choice to transform your hucha and improve your ayni. When you do, there is much less about yourself that you hide from yourself. You bring awareness to your deep emotional and psychological self and begin re-ordering your personal lower or inner world. This is a powerful mast’ay that leads to a quickening evolution of the self.

The animal spirits relate to these three worlds if you consider them metaphorically and energetically. The “totem” of the upper world used to be the condor and at some time in the past shifted to the hummingbird. The inner upper world is your inner divinity, your perfected and enlightened self that expresses only sami and practices perfect ayni. The condor is the eater of hucha (heavy energy), whereas the hummingbird is the bringer of sami (light living energy).  Your work is twofold. First, getting your inner wildness under control involves both seeing and owning where you are creating hucha and then transforming (eating) your hucha. This is the work of your inner condor.  When you have less hucha, you have more sami available to bring to the world, and you can consciously spread your sami as the work of your inner hummingbird.

The animal spirit of the lower world is the amaru, or anaconda/snake. It metaphorically heralds your ability to go deep into your salka or hidden self—your inner lower world of the subconscious—and begin the work of regenerating yourself. You shed the skin of your old impulsive and reactive self and take on the new skin of making conscious choices and taking conscious action. (As an aside: Black leopard Panthera Pardus prowling through long grassImpulses in and of themselves are not negative or bad. Impulses can be seen simply as the energy to do something. But hidden salka impulses can be the content of your shadow self, the repressed energies you keep hidden from yourself and that drive you without your conscious awareness. There is little personal power involved in that kind of impulse energy.)

The way your upper and lower worlds are aligned with each other (integrated or not) at least partly determines the condition of your kaypacha, your human life. The kaypacha is represented by the puma. After integration of the upper and lower inner worlds you identify not with the hidden, wild otorango of the jungle, but with the mountain puma, who lives closer to human communities. You move from your wild self to your more human, domesticated self. Or, to put it another way, you can transform your salka energy from uncontrolled and unconscious impulse to a thriving, passionate engagement in life.

All of this discussion brings us to qaway—mystical vision, seeing reality as it really is. The three uppermost ñawis are the two physical eyes and the seventh eye. You must learn to see the reality of your physical world and human self without the overlay of your desires, opinions, stories, and projections. At the same time, you must learn to see the reality of your energetic self, of your potential to be a perfected, enlightened human being. This is an integration process—a mast’ay—of the physical and metaphysical understanding of yourself. The process can start many ways, one of which is through developing your qaway to determine how salka (wild, not under your control) your atiy (ability to use your power) is. How reactive, impulsive, unthinking, even reckless are your thoughts, words, or actions when you are emotionally or psychologically triggered? The more you find yourself at the mercy of those salka impulses, the more hidden from yourself you are and the less ability you have to make actual choices for yourself. Your work is to bring those unruly salka aspects of yourself to the light of awareness (qaway) so that you can consciously sort out what is mindfully engaged passion (khuyay) and what is unthinking impulsivity (salqa). By doing so, you can increase your inner mast’ay and thus your atiy (what you choose to do in life and how you choose to apply your intention and energy).

If you can do that work, you also will discover that your impulses won’t be trapped at your siki ñawi. You can consciously move those impulses once they arise in the siki ñawi up through your other centers and ñawis, bringing other capacities—such as munay (love) and rimay (clarity of action, whether in your thoughts, emotions, words or deeds—to that impulse. You can then mediate the energy of that impulse, transforming it so that it is less hucha-inducing and more sami-producing. You can eventually evolve your salka energy to the level of khuyay, the capacity at the belly to experience a healthy and directed passion instead of an impulsive, undirected wildness. In that way, you move closer to becoming a tukuyatiynioq—a total owner of your ability to know your power and express it beneficially in the machu-picchu-compressed Pixabay 568728_1920world.

You don’t need to work with animal spirits to do this inner work. You need to work with your own inner salka “animal” self. Evolutionarily we were once one step above wild animals. But we have evolved to becomes creatures of amazing complexity, creativity, insight, self-awareness, and more. This biological evolution, now more or less complete, has morphed to an evolution of conscious: to moving up the qanchispatañan, or stairway of seven steps of consciousness. Part of this process is morphing unconscious impulsivity (salka) into focused and joyful passion (khuyay). Then infusing your atiy with this passion to express yourself and engage with life in a gloriously authentic way.

Ten Precepts of Andean Mysticism

Someone once asked me to put together a list of what I consider the top-ten mishas compressed IMG_4625principles and practices of Andean mysticism. It took a while for me to get to it, but here it is. These are the precepts and energy dynamics that I think are absolutely core to the tradition through the Inkari and Waskar lineages in which I was trained. Of course, there are others aspects of the tradition I could have chosen, but these are, to my mind, absolutely fundamental to living the tradition. It’s impossible to order them from most important to less important, because everything is integrated. So this list should be understood as horizontal in nature of importance rather than as a vertical hierarchy.

Also, I see the Andean mystical tradition as a path of conscious evolution—a path toward becoming a sixth-level human being. So while there are many energy dynamics and other aspects of the cosmovision that are fundamental to the tradition, I have chosen the ones I feel are of the highest usefulness for our development into the most glorious, joyful, fully realized human beings we can be. My selection is based on how this tradition helps us accumulate the personal power to achieve this lofty goal.

1. Energy is just energy with no moral overlay. There is nothing at the energetic level of the cosmos or of nature that can harm you, so you never have to protect yourself from energy. Although human psychology drives people to say and do things that range from hurtful to evil, the energy of creation is beyond moral overlay. Everything in the material world is made of llanthu kawsay—the light living energy, and at that level of energy you want to be able to interact with all the diverse expressions of energy in the world and cosmos. This is what it means to be a master of your poq’po, your energy body.

2. Intention moves energy, and the core energy dynamic and natural “law” is ayni. Ayni is energetic reciprocity in myriad manifestations, from your ability to absorb and radiate kawsay as the life-force energy, to how you treat others and expect to be treated by others, to how well you are able to manifest an intention or desire. Everything is connected and in energetic interchange, whether you are conscious or unconscious to those energy dynamics. Your ayni is dependent on the clarity of your intention and the state of your energy body (how much sami versus hucha you have), so work your poq’po to release hucha and use whatever strategies resonate with you to increase your level of self-awareness. The most important aspect of improving your ayni is to “Know Thyself” as both a human being and an energy/spiritual being because ayni is inherently personal to your own state of energy.

3. Hucha is only slowed sami. Hucha is not bad, negative, contaminating, or even evil energy. It is sami (the light living energy), but it is sami that humans (through our less than perfect ayni) have slowed down so that it feels heavy. Hucha is sami that has lost some of its transformative power. Our emotions, inner conflicts, self-delusions, projections, and such (both conscious and unconscious, as in the “shadow” aspects of the self) cause us to degrade our ayni and so create hucha. Over time, having a lot of hucha will lessen the quality of your experience of life.

4. Saminchakuy is the primary energy practice. To release hucha—to speed it back up to its natural state as sami that moves unimpeded and so is highly life-enhancing and transformative—use saminchakuy, which is a kind of pichay, a sweeping of your poq’po. This hucha-transforming technique is the core daily practice for restoring the integrity and energetic coherence of your poq’po. As you reduce hucha and increase sami, you will increase your capacity for ayni, come to better know yourself, and can more easily and swiftly evolve toward your fullest expression of self.

5. Use hucha mikhuy to cleanse relational hucha. For heaviness you feel in relation to other people, or events and situations (even from your past), use hucha mikhuy to cleanse the flow between you and the other person or situation. The perception of hucha is always in relation to the state of your own energy body, so release your judgments about and projections onto the other person and deal with the relational energy as you perceive it from your current state of being. You can also use hucha mikuy on yourself to perform a deeper “cleansing” of hucha from your poq’po.

6. Harmonize your three human powers. Understand the three human powers of yachay (reason, intellect, thought), munay (love under your will), and llank’ay (action, ability to do things in the world, to use opportunities). Most of us are overdeveloped in one or more of our human powers and underdeveloped in one or more. Both our over-reliance and under-reliance on one or a few of our human powers prevents us from living as a fully developed human being. To be all that we can be, we have to use everything we are capable of to its fullest extent and in the most integrated, coherent, and harmonious ways.

 7. Develop the capacities of the nawis. Understand your ñawis not only as your perceptual eyes, but also as full perceptual organs. Each allows us to develop a different human capacity: qaway, the ability to see holistically and to understand reality as it really is rather than as you would like it to be; rimay, expressing your human powers, especially how you communicate your thoughts and feelings; kanay, knowing who you really are and developing the personal power to live as who you really are; munay, love and compassion beyond the needs of the self offered with awareness and purpose; khuyay, passionate yet mindful engagement in the world; atiy, knowing the state of your personal power and using it well and at the right time, and also bringing your impulses under your will.

8. Weave the chunpis to integrate your ñawis. The ñawis are not “hooked up” as an integrated system until you weave the belts of power, called chunpis. By weaving the chunpis, you can mediate power more efficiently and productively through all your ñawis instead of only through one or a few at a time. This increases your self-awareness and enlarges the scope of possible energetic and psychological responses available to you, so you create less hucha and have more sami.

 9. Understand and work the four core energy dynamics. There are all kinds of energy flows in the universe and world but, to my mind, there are only four primary energy dynamics you have to learn to work or mediate in relation to yourself: an energy is either compatible or incompatible with your own state of energy, and you are always in masintin or yanantin relationship with an energy. You can only know the world perceptually in relation to yourself, and how an energy feels to you may say more about the state of your own energy than about the state of the other’s energy. You want to learn to be in harmonious energetic relationship with everything. So when you feel an energy that is incompatible with yours, use your tools (saminchakuy or hucha mikuy) to make the relational flow compatible. Also pay attention to energies that are or feel similar (masintin) to or different (yanantin) from your own. You can create hucha in any interaction, but you are more likely to when you feel an energy is different from yours. There are all kinds of complex energy dynamics within and among these four “relational flavors” of energy, but you can reduce hucha, and thus improve your ayni, by attending to these four energy dynamics. Mediating these four types of energy within yourself and between yourself and others is working to create a tawantin (harmonizing four factors into a harmonious whole), which is the highest state of energy relationship.

heart- compressed Gerd Altmann Pixabay 1982316_1920 10. To integrate the self, energetically connect your heart and Inka Seed. You are yanantin—you are both a physical being and an energetic being. Your heart is your humanness. Your Inka Seed is your connection to Taytanchis/God, to the energetic realm of your origin. When you integrate the energy of your human heart and energetic Inka Seed, so they function as a synergistic system, you can develop a deeper sense of the fullness and wholeness of your beingness. Through intention, connect your  Inka Seed with your heart using a seqe, or flow of sami in an energetic cord. This connection will foster the process of phutuy, the flowering of the complete self.

Paqos as Protesters

It’s more than two weeks into the demonstrations against racial injustice spurred by the police murder of George Floyd and it is clear that change may finally be imminent. Although regrettably there has been sporadic and sometime intense violence, most of the protest gatherings have been peaceful. Now that the initial intensity of reaction has worn off and those still marching are protesters who are committed to change and so are in it for the long haul, it is timely to consider what stance a paqo might take to protesting or to seeking change of any kind under any people protesting cropped and compressed Pixabay -2575608_1920conditions.

When I say “paqos,” I, of course, mean those of us who are non-Andeans but are practitioners of the Andean mystical tradition. We are a varied group: we are North American and South American paqos, European paqos, African paqos, South East Asian paqos, and on and on. We have adapted the Andean mystical system to our needs, time, and cultures. But we hold dear and we practice the universal core precepts of the Andean tradition. So accounting for these intrinsic cultural distinctions, we can surmise what a paqo might look like as a protestor, as a change agent.

At the heart of our protest we would strive to always be in ayni, which means we would think, speak, and behave in ways that added to the harmony of the world, especially as we seek to bring harmony to the disharmony of the problem. Don Benito said that we know what Taytanchis/God always asks of us: ayninakuychis—practice ayni.

So you can ask yourself, Am I the master of my own energy? What is the condition of my own awareness and the expression of my awareness? Am I speaking and acting from munay, fostering sami rather than hucha? Am I keeping to the forefront of my thoughts the decision to be part of the solution rather than to only be a representative of the problem? Am I rejecting the view that anything but forceful, disruptive, and even violent protest is really a form of appeasement?

The counter view is that of non-violent protest, which is a stance in accord with the Andean precept of ayni and so requires that you be a master of your energy. You will be aware of the flow of relational energy between yourself and others, including members of law enforcement and counter-protesters who don’t agree with you or your cause. There are many ways to view the unfolding of relational energy, but a core one is tinkuy, tupay, taqe. Tinkuy is the initial meeting, the touching of poq’po to poq’po. In the flash of a few seconds you have a decide how you will respond, how you will interact with this other energy. Will it be from peace and munay or from hostility and aversion? Your reaction takes you to tupay, the sizing up and response, which in the meaning of tupay usually refers to adopting a competitive or connect-cooperate compressed Pixabay 2777620_1920 (1)confrontational stance. Can you avoid that kind of reaction? Too many law enforcement members and protesters cannot. Too often the relational energy at this second stage of tupay becomes one of opposition. And the relationship stays stuck at this stage of hucha-inducing interaction. But if you can avoid that kind of response, then you can proceed to the third stage of relationship, taqe, which means to join. This is the sharing of energies in a beneficial interchange. Above and beyond the need to oppose injustice to get a message across and spur action toward solutions, it is only when we as change agents assume a stance of taqe (being the joiners of energy) that the two opposing parties can move from competition to cooperation. And from there we can work together to actually find solutions and enact them.

Here’s a simple way to encapsulate the Andean precept of ayni: As human potential leader and author Marianne Williamson has said, as have many others, you cannot be part of a peace march with war in your heart. Or with hate for your opponent, no matter how heinous the crime.

I am reminded of something my primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, told me. The Q’ero were marginalized, and worse, for most of their history since the Spanish conquest of Peru, as were all indigenous Andeans. They were treated horribly, as something akin to indentured servants to the Spanish landowners. But when asked where the landowners would go after death, a paqo said they would go to the hanaqpacha. Why? Because, he said, God is merciful. That’s the spirit of ayni—understanding that no matter the state of our human consciousness, we are all children of Taytanchis/God. And God is merciful. So how can we seek to be anything less? We can hate the sin, but we must be merciful to the sinner, understanding that people can only think and act according to their level of consciousness. There are seven levels of consciousness, and most people are at the third or below. We may not condone their behavior, but we don’t condemn the innate spirit of the person, and we work to help raise consciousness. We cannot do that if we are at the same level of consciousness as our tormentors.

Christ, who is a prototype of the sixth level of consciousness, said: “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” In that sixth-level spirit, our message as paqos protesters is, “You oppressed and even murdered because you did not value this life, and now I will help show you the value of every life—even the value of yours.”

Elie Weisel, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, has said something that might at first blush appear to be counter to Christ’s message, but to me it is not. He said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Paqos always have opinions, and so they choose their cause (what Weisel is calling a “side”). They don’t remain silent. But they raise their voices not as counter-oppressors meeting their opponents at the same level of consciousness, but as liberators from habit and entrenched thinking, as stewards of a higher vision.

That said, paqos are not naive. We cultivate our qaway, our ability to see reality as it really is. So the words of former slave and activist Frederick Douglass come to mind: “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

But at the fourth and higher levels of consciousness in relation to protest, struggle is demonstration-compressed Pixabay 4473634_1920not violence, power is not domination, demand is not insistence on others’ agreement with you. What Douglass’s words speak of, from a paqo protester’s perspective, is clarity of purpose, perseverance, and patience. Revolution might feel good, as a release of pent-up passion, but the work of revolution takes decades. The work of righting the wrong of systemic racism and other such deeply embedded cultural biases will start after the protests end and everyone goes home to their communities. It really begins in earnest when they get down to the delicate, and often fraught, work of talking and working with those they view as their opponents. So, the question becomes, Will I be there, face to face with those I think caused the problem, in ayni to help eat the hucha and be a bestower of sami? That’s when you truly become a paqo protester.

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.