Andean Questions and Answers

Because I teach the Andean tradition, I get a lot of questions from students. Perhaps you may have some of the same queries. So today my blog post will reproduce come recent questions and my answers. I offer my understanding of the tradition as passed on through my training with my primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, and his son, don Ivan, who has also been an important mentor to me. My answers, of course, also reflect my own thinking about the tradition and reasoning about its practices, meanings, and applications.

 What are the distinctions between kawsay, sami, and hucha?

Kawsay means “life” and it is the foundational, animating energy of creation. It is the “living” energy. Truthfully, we don’t know what it actually is. It is beyond human conception, just as ki, chi, and prana are at heart inexplicable. Whatever First Cause is (God, or whatever you want to call Original Consciousness), it expresses itself as kawsay. Kawsay, then, can be thought of as the animating expression of Creator. Kawsay is the essence of everything, so that everything, both natural or manmade, is infused to some degree or another with beingness, even with a measure of consciousness.

From the kawsay pacha (the immaterial realm of Creator, which is beyond all imagining, beyond space-time and dimensionality) comes the Pachamama, the Mother of Space-Time, which is the material, physical world. Kawsay is the living energy, and the most refined form of kawsay is called sami. It’s ancient name is llanthu kawsay, or light living energy. Sami is light not as in visible light but in terms of quality: as lightness, refinement, the finest vibration of living energy. So it imparts a lightness of being. The distinction here is: kawsay is living energy; sami is light living energy.

Everything in the material world is made of sami, including human beings, and we want to be as full of sami as we can be. Sami confers well-being at every level of our existence: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, in the condition of our bodies and of our lives.

Everything in the material world absorbs and radiates sami. Everything, we can say, is in perfect ayni, or reciprocity—except for human beings. Because of our complexity, especially that of our thoughts and emotions—which can be a wild rush of conflicting energies and impulses, confused and even hidden from our conscious minds—we can slow down or block sami from flowing through us. Hucha is this “denied” life-force energy, some of which becomes stuck on the surface of our energy field or inside us. The Andean paqos have a name for this slowed or blocked sami: hucha. It’s ancient name is llasaq kawsay, literally heavy living energy. Hucha is not negative, bad, harmful, or dangerous. It is only slow sami. It is sami that has lost some of its transformative power. So it feels heavy to us. If too much accumulates on the surface of our energy field or within us it can make our lives feel heavy because it reduces our overall well-being.

Do we work with the elements of nature, such as sun, water, fire, air?

Not really, although technically you can work with any energy and every energy, including elements such as wind and sun. This question mostly comes up in relation to the ñawis, the mystical eyes, because each of the four lower mystical eyes are associated with a spirit being. The association is as follows :

Siki ñawi, eye of the root—Mama Unu, Mother of the Waters (rain)

Qosqo ñawi, eye of the belly—Mama Allpa, Mother Earth

Sonqo ñawi, eye of the heart—Tayta Inti, Father Sun

Kunka ñawi, eye of the neck—Tayta Wayra, Father Wind

These are universal spirit beings, because every human being across the globe is touched by them. So they are known by and available to everyone.reflection white clouds and sun on the blue sky in water You are working with these spirit beings, not with their physical elemental manifestation of water/rain, soil/natural world, light/ heat, air pressure/air movement. You work with them just as you would any other spirit being, such as an apu (spirit being who lives in a mountain), by developing a personal relationship with them. Their natures differ, and you can learn from their unique powers. Father Wind is flexible, changing, moving. Father Sun is illuminating, revealing, enlightening. Mother Earth provides everything to us. She is fecund, productive, empowering, strengthening, stabilizing.  Mother Water is refreshing and revitalizing, cleansing and transformative.

There are other spirit beings that are not universal, but more localized in nature. These include the mukis, gnome-like beings; anchanchus, nature beings of the lakes and caves; sachamama, amaru (anaconda/snake) of the forests; phausi runa, playful spirits of waterfalls and water cascades,  and so on. As you can see, in the Andean tradition we work not with elements but the spirit beings themselves, and they can mentor, counsel, and guide us, imparting to us some of their own qualities.

Is the tradition Q’ero?

Only partly. This is the Andean mystical tradition, meaning common to those  groups who live in the south-central Andes. Historically, the Q’ero have been highly respected throughout the region as the finest paqos. However, the tradition as passed down through don Juan Nuñez del Prado is comprised of the knowledge of two lineages. Only part of the training was passed on to him specifically from the Q’ero Wachu (Inkari lineage) through the late don Andres Espinosa; the other aspects of the training are from the Cuzco Wachu (Waskar lineage) through the late masters don Benito Qoriwaman and don Melchor Desa. So unless you are working exclusively with the Q’ero, it is more accurate to call our work and practices Andean to honor all the paqos of other nations/groups of the region who have shared the tradition with us.

Is a layqa a light being?

That’s not the meaning today, and hasn’t been the meaning for hundreds of years. There may have been a time far back in the reaches of Andean mystical history when a layqa simply meant a paqo. (This word is also commonly spelled laika and laeqa.) But at least since the time of the Spanish Conquest, it refers to paqos who have lost their way along the path and so practice without ayni or to others who are using their power in self-interested ways for their own ends rather than with the good of all in mind. In the anthropological literature the term layqa is used by everyday Andeans (who are not paqos) to mean sorcerer or witch. Just about every online translator of Quechua and most Quechua dictionaries define a layqa the same way: as a sorcerer or witch. So if you use the term today, you would be wise to use it in its contemporary, commonly accepted meaning or else you will be misunderstood. If a paqo today was called a layqa, he or she would likely be insulted or shocked!

Do the paqos work with Star Beings?

I cannot say with certainty that they don’t, but from all the conversations I have been part of (through translation) with many different paqos (mostly Q’ero) over the last two decades, I have never met a paqo who claimed there were “star beings” as that term is commonly defined. In fact, in one conversation in which they were really pressed, the Q’ero simply looked mystified when asked about this. They insisted they do not work with “star beings” and did not seem to even understand the questions they were being asked about this topic.

They describe working with stars in two primary ways. First they may identify a particular star that they feel they are especially connected to. It is their “guiding star” but they see it not not so much as a spirit being but as the doorway or portal through which they came to earth and through which they will return to the hanaqpacha (upper world, God) upon death. Otherwise, they use the stars and constellations as calendars, to know when to plant and when to harvest, to take care of their herds in their various life cycles, and to mark the time for both sacred and common festivities and celebrations.

Remember, though, that everything is a “being.” A star is a chask’a, a planet a qoyllur, the night is Mama Tuta, and all can be considered beings because everything in nature is infused with kawsay, the animating energy. And, of course, there may be paqos beyond the Q’ero of the last generation, which is the generation I mostly worked with and who are mostly deceased now, who do believe in and work with “star beings” (as that term is currently understood in popular culture).

In terms of time, is the hanaqpacha (upper world) related to the future and the ukhupacha (lower or inner world) with the past?

No, the associations are exactly opposite! The hanaqpacha is associated with the past, and the ukhupacha is related to the future. There is much to know from the cultural landscape of the Andeas to fully explain this. But the short answer is that the upper world, hanaqpacha, is more closely aligned with the kawsay pacha, the eternal realm beyond time and space. It always was, is now, and always will be. Its qualities, according to anthropologists who have recorded local Andeans describing the hanaqpacha, include permanence, order, stability, persistence (as in the duration of time), and perfection. According to the mystical tradition, it is the upper portion of the Pachamama, the abode in which dwell those beings who practice perfect ayni, who are enlightened. For all these reasons, it is associated with the past, with the First Cause of creation that continues to unfold without end.

The ukhupacha is the realm of those who did not practice ayni well while alive. They are in a place of regeneration, where they can learn and grow as beings (including human beings) and transform themselves. Some anthropologists cite Andean people as describing the ukhupacha as a place of change, creation, and fertility. It is place of “becoming,” of evolving the self. Thus it is associated with process and potentiality and, hence, with the future.

I have not gone into detail in these answers, but I trust this Q & A session helped you brush up on concepts of the tradition you already knew but may have forgotten or not fully understood, and that you learned a thing or two new. If you have questions you would like me address, please email me at or

Tawantins in Nature and Relationship

The highest energetic relationship in our Andean cosmosvision is the tawantin, four factors united in harmony and wholeness. In Andean energy dynamics, the tawantin plays out in many ways.

The chakana—Andean cross—is the core graphical representation of the Andean tawantin. But chakanawe have tawantins within us as well. Our three human powers—munay, or love under our will; yachay, or knowledge and thoughts; and llank’ay, or action—are a tawantin because llank’ay can be broken down into two factors: khuyay, or passion; and atiy, or measuring your personal power in the moment, discerning proper timing for action, and bringing your impulses under your will. So our three human powers are actually four—they form an inner tawantin.

If you have had the chunpis (belts of power) woven, you will know that there are four of them: the yana chunpi, or black belt at the trunk/root of the body; the puka chunpi around the belly area; the qori chunpi at the chest, and the qolqe chunpi at the neck. Their primary purpose is to connect into an integrated system the four main ñawis, of which there is one in each of the chunpis: the siki ñawi in the black belt, the qosqo ñawi in the red belt, the sonqo ñawi at the gold belt, and the kunka ñawi at the silver belt. After you connect these up into a tawantin, you link these to the three upper ñawis: the two physical eyes and the seventh eye (qanchis ñawi). You have then created a holistic, harmonious wholeness within your metaphysical body.

Your Andean energy work provides ways to dynamically create all kinds of tawantins, from a despacho to dynamically moving and tuning energy to the level of tawantin energy. And we find other tawantins in our relationship to our human form. Our birth into the physical as humans is a result of the merging of or connection to two major tawantins. The first is that we have four parents: our human mother and father, and our Cosmic Father and Mother Earth. Second, we have our human mother and father, and then we are claimed by two nature spirits Atomwho become life-long guides: our Itu (male nature spirit being) and Paqarina (female nature spirit being).

Tawantins not only are an integral part of our Andean energy work but also suffuse physical nature and human nature at the most fundamental levels. From physics to biology to art to human relationships, there are essential tawantins everywhere. There are, of course, many other kinds of “fours” but these are representative of tawantins that undergird our world.

* The four bases of DNA: Adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine

* The four bases of RNA: Adenine, uracil, cytosine, guanine

* The four force carriers of physics: Gluons, bosons, photons, and gravitons

* The four fundamental physics forces: Gravitational, electromagnetic , strong nuclear, and weak nuclear forces

* The four lobes of the brain: Frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital

* The four chambers of the heart: Left and right ventricles, and left and right atria

* The four essential representations in mathematics: Numeric, graphical, symbolic, words

* The four fundamental mathematical operations: Addition, subtraction, division, multiplication

* The four alchemical elements: Earth, air, fire, water

* The four domains of expression: Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual

* Four natural stages of life: Child, youth, adult, elder

There are tawantins in all kinds of other areas, such as the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, the four divisions of the day, the four stages of the moon, and on and on. And I have barely mentioned more symbolic, metaphorical, and spiritual meanings of fourness: the luck associated with a four-leaf clover, Plato’s four cardinal virtues, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the four winds, the Pythagorean identification of the number 4 with God, the numerology symbolism of  the number 4 as bringing heaven down to earth.

Perhaps the most important tawantin is that of relationship, as it is through interactions with others that we potentially create the most hucha. Within the Illustration of woman and man with aura, chakras and healing energyAndean mystical tradition, there are four factors in the growth of a relationship, forming the overarching framework of increasingly sami-filled interactions. The four-fold progression starts with munay, developing a mutual respect and affection. Then comes ayni, when your munay deepens so that you are beyond the needs of the self and truly see the other person for who they really are (and vice versa, with the other person reciprocating). Reaching ayni is the true beginning of a relationship, which can then take you to the stage of development called masintin-yanantin. This is the stage where you begin to work through the dynamics of your individual similarities and differences, more fully taking back your projections, expectations, and so on to harmonize the interactions without judging or trying to change the other person. Despite your differences, you both act in ways that benefit the other. Your similarities amplify your munay and ayni, and you can achieve harmony as your differences become supportive and complementary. Finally, you can reach tawantin, where you are each being who your really are, fully appreciative of the other as an individual, and aware that there is almost a third body in the relationship: the energy/poq’po of the relationship itself.

Watching for and addressing tawantins in your interactions with others is a productive way to reduce hucha and seek greater integrity , happiness, and wholeness. So let’s examine groupings of four factors that amount to tawanatins as identified by health and relationship experts. I will also add my own thoughts about the relational “tawantins” they identify.

Lawrence Michaels identifies what amounts to a tawantin of relationship by pointing out four main dynamics that can quickly degrade or even destroy relationships. This is a destructive rather than a constructive tawantin in that these are behaviors and attitudes to watch out for. If you remain aware and attentive to how these dynamics might be habits of your own relational energy or of the person you are trying to relate to then you will be able to see how and why you (or the other person) may be creating hucha in that relationship.

The first factor of the this tawantin is Criticism vs Complaining. Complaining gets you nowhere, except into a defensive standoff with your partner. Complaints are notinteresting conversation about highlighting a troublesome issue but about placing blame, usually on someone else. Criticism, or more accurately critique, on the other hand, is a healthier approach to resolving issues. Critique is a objective, unemotional airing of a grievance. You are specific about a single issue instead of making sweeping generalizations, you suggest specific changes that can be made, and you are realistic about both your role and the other’s role in the difficult dynamic.

The second factor is Expressions of Contempt. Become aware of how you signal distaste and disagreement. It’s not only words that can wound, but facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and other nonverbal cues. If you are prone to making sarcastic and cutting remarks, you are not communicating much of anything but blame and shame. You are not communicating but condemning. There is no room for discussion when you have already rendered a verdict on the other person. Expressing contempt (rather then discussing distaste or disagreement) can lead to the third most common hucha-inducing factor of this relational tawantin, defensiveness.

Defensiveness takes many forms, from anger and attack to withdrawal, dismissal, or flight. When either partner feels attacked or diminished, it’s common to go into protect-and-defend mode. But in that stance, neither partner can discuss the real issue, and trust breaks down. Causing someone to go into defensive mode or reacting in an overly defensive way yourself means you have shut down the sincere interactive energy of the relationship.

The fourth factor of this tawantin is Withdrawal or Stone-walling. The defensiveness that leads to the slamming of the emotional door of the relationship means communication is not possible. You or the other person simply are not present, available, or connected, so during the time of the withdrawal there is no relationship to work on.

How do you turn these hucha-inducing dynamics into a sami-inducing relational tawantin? Many psychologists identify another group of four factors that are constructive actions and attitudes. I bring their ideas together into the following tawantin.

First, cultivate respect. If there is no mutual respect, there is no munay or ayni. gift-from-juan-p-eRespect grows out of caring, consideration, listening, finding worth in others, and remaining open to ideas and values that are different from yours.

Second is honesty. To be honest, you have to know yourself, so that you are not fooling yourself or the other. You have to be willing to own your “shadow stuff” so that you are not projecting outwardly what is driving you from within your unconscious. Then you have to be both brave and vulnerable enough to speak and act from your truth, and to accept that from the other person as well.

Cultivating honesty in a relationship leads to the third factor of the tawantin, trust. Trust takes many forms in many domains of a relationship, but no matter the context it is only by building trust in yourself and the other person that you can be “real” with each other. Without respect and honesty, there can be no such trust.

And these three factors together result in the fourth aspect of the tawantin: communication. It might be surprising that communication is the crowning attribute of the tawantin, instead of the first factor. You might think you have to have good communication in order to develop respect, honesty, and trust. However, in the flow of relationship it’s really the other way around: these three core factors of respect, honesty, and trust are what determine your ability to truly communicate at all. The first three aspects of the tawantin are the foundational abilities that lead to the building of a dynamic and deep communication.

I could go on with other ways to see the various tawantins of relationship, but I trust that you see how tawantins work to reduce hucha and increase sami. Within your own life and relationships, look for the four major factors that, when integrated, lead to harmony and wholeness. Working on those four factors is the dynamic work of the tawantin. They are the “gates” of the mandala of interaction through which you simultaneously walk to reach the center of a harmonious self and healthy relationships.

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.