Message of the Chakanas

Four is the sacred number of the Andean mystical system, and the most sacred representation of this sacred number is the Andean cross—the chakana. It, in turn, is Island of the Sun compresseda symbol of the most sacred energy dynamic of the Andean mystical tradition— the tawantin. The tawantin represents four factors that are harmonized, thus creating wholeness. The chakana is the Peruvian version of a mandala, a sacred geometrical symbol found the world over in wisdom traditions. The mandala image always has four “gates” that lead to a center—often a circle, which represents the integration of the energy that comes through the four gates into one of wholeness. The chakana shown here, from a temple on the Island of the Moon in Lake Titicaca, shows the four-armed mandala-like chakana.

Stepping one category of meaning down in symbolism, the chakana also has a “threeness” to it. Each of the four arms of the cross has three “steps” on it. There are a plethora of meaningful associations, but two of the most important are the three worlds and the three human powers. The three worlds are the hanaqpacha (upper world), kaypacha (this material, physical world), and the ukhupacha (the lower or inner world). The three human powers are yachay (thought, reason, intellect, perception), munay (feelings, love under your will), and llank’ay (action). Interestingly, these three human powers are really a tawantin, as llank’ay can be broken down into two powers: khuyay (passion, focused engagement in the world) and atiy (measuring your personal power, timing action, bringing your impulses under your will).

Finally, all Andean wakas (repositories of the sacred, most often a carved stone formation) and spirit beings, and particular symbols such as the chakana, are seen as being either male or female. The chakana is considered a female energy.

What’s interesting is that when you see chakanas built or carved into the stone walls in Andean temples, they are not always full chakanas. Sometimes they are halved and facing in different directions. What’s that about? Is there any significance to this kind of representation? As you can guess, there is. The direction the half chakana is facing tells us as paqos what kind of work to do at that temple or waka.

There are specific kinds of practices at particular temples and wakas that I can’t go into here—such as the series of practices to activate the hummingbird energy at Machu Picchu—but from the direction of the half chakana you will be able to know what the general intended type of work is. (Note: The four images that immediately follow are all rotations—adjusted for illustrative purposes—of a single left-facing half chakana from a temple wall at Ollantaytambo, the Temple of the Wind.)

A downward-facing half chakana indicates that the work is a form of saminchakuy. Saminchakuy is a downward flow of the light living energy called sami (the practice half chakana cropped down facing cropped compressedmight not necessarily involve hucha release). So, the work you might do here would involve pulling sami down from the hanaqpacha, the  cosmos or the Pachamama (as the material universe), or from an apu or waka to the self or through the self. You might work with that flow of sami to empower yourself, to do an actual hucha-releasing full saminchakuy practice, to support or cleanse one or more of your mystical eyes (ñawis), to connect with your Inka Seed, or to empower or cleanse one or more of your chunpis (energetic belts) if you have woven them into your poq’po (energy body). You might also be pulling sami down from one or more of the teqse apukuna (univeral spirit beings), such as the sun, wind, rain, or moon. Using this energy, you can stimulate the capacities of specific ñawis that are associated with that teqse apukuna, such as the energy of the sun (Tayta Into) to the heart/sonqo or the energy of the wind (Tayta Wayra) to the ñawi of the neck. You also can be working masintin and/or yanantin energies (similar or dissimilar energies) to create a specific aspect of energetic harmony within the self. If you have “built” the four energetic staffs (red, gold, black and silver) within, you might work with the sami and one or more of the staffs.

The upward-facing half chakana indicates that the work is a form of saiwachakuy. Inhalf chakana cropped up facing compressed saiwa work, we pull sami up from the earth or from a nearby waka to the self or through the self for empowerment. You might intend to support or empower one or more of your ñawis, your Inka Seed, or to fill and empower one or more of your chunpis if you have woven them into your poq’po. The work here can also be a masintin or yanantin practice, or, as in the saminchakuy work, integrating energy with one or more of the energetic staffs.

A left-facing half chakana indicates a form of lloq’e practice—working the left side of the path. Perhaps that will be work with the eight helpers, the chunpis, or the staffs if you have made them. It might be a healing practice, since healing is considered half chakana cropped left facing compressed.jpgworking the left-side of the misha (mesa) and path. It helps to understand the ancient use and meaning of the entire sacred site—or the specific temple—at which the chakana is located, as this will help you determine the specific practice to do or the purpose of the practices you do there. But generally lloq’e work involves llank’ay—taking action, supporting and empowering your ability to take right and proper action in the world, which means you have to be empowered to do so. Intention to act is not enough. You have to have accumulated the personal power to successfully complete your intended action. That’s the focus of the left-side of the path, whether talking about clarity of intentions and then the expression of  those thought, words, or actions.

The right facing half chakana indicates that the work is a form of paña practice, which is the right side of the path. The right-side practices focus on energetic half chakana cropped right facing compressed.jpgperception, cleansing, harmonizing, communicating, group work, and such. So perhaps the work will involve saminchakuy (empowering by drawing in the sami of the waka while releasing your hucha to the earth). Or it might involve working the sami to empower your sonqo (feelings and heart) or your Inka Seed. It might be establishing connections with or integrating energies from spirit beings, working in one or all of the three worlds, or working in ayni (reciprocity) through the misha or despachos. Again, it helps to understand the ancient use and meaning of the entire sacred site or specific temple at which the chakana is located, as this also will help you determine the type of practice to do there.

Here is an example of the work you might do at an actual site with a half-chakana. This photo is of a part of the Temple of the Three Windows at Machu Picchu. Let’s look at all the information that is available to us just by looking at these two side-by-half chakana temple of three windows cropped compressedside wakas—the upward-facing half chakana and the tall columnar stone.

There are two clues here that this is a site at which we will do saiwa work: the upward-facing half chakana directs you to pull sami up from the earth. The column is itself literally a saiwa in stone. (Saiwa means “column,” although a saiwa can also take the form of a cord of energy, called a seqe.) So both wakas indicate saiwa work. Then we notice that we are dealing with a pairing of energies: the chakana is considered female and the stone saiwa male. That is a good clue that the work will involve making a yanantin energy (the harmonizing of dissimilar energies, in this case male and female). This leads us to one of the actual saiwa practices we do here, which is to pull the feminine sami energy of this upward-facing half chakana up through the waka, to us and into our poq’po. Maintaining that connection, we turn our attention and intention to the  columnar stone waka with its male energy and we pull that male energy from the waka to us and into our poq’po. We then harmonize or integrate the two energies to form a yanantin within.

We’ll look at one more example. This is a picture of a water “fountain” or “bath”—The Bath of the Princess—at Ollantaytambo, the Temple of the Wind. Even though the general work of the entire sanctuary, as its name makes clear, is to work with Tayta Wayra, Father Wind, there is other work to be done here. There are manyBath of Princess chakana Ollantaytambo compressed fountains scattered throughout the temple grounds. So both these pieces of information provide a clue as what to do here.

The entire temple is dedicated to Tayta Wayra, Father Wind, who is a male spirit being (a teqse apu, or universal spirit being). Water wakas, like this bath or fountain, are almost always considered ñust’as, or princesses, and are female energetically. It’s a safe bet then that a lot of masintin and yanantin work is done at this sacred site. You can work specifically with the wind. You can work specifically with the water (ñust’as). Depending on your gender, that work would be masintin or yanantin (i.e., a man working with the wind = masintin; a woman working with the wind = yanantin). So there are all kinds of personal masintin and yanantin practices that could be done here. Or you could work more holistically with the entire site, working both waka energies (wind and water) as a yanantin in relation to each other.

Moving from the general meaning of the sanctuary to the specific wakas within it, we can then do work at the individual wakas (baths) according to the clues they provide. The Bath of the Princess shown in the photo above is carved with an upward-facing chakana. This indicates saiwa work, pulling the energy of the ñust’a up from the depths of the water and then into the self and your poq’po. This can be the work of empowerment. Or perhaps of clarifying perception and communication with the spirit of the waka, establishing a connection with the ñust’a. But you also know from your work as a paqo that water is one of the great eaters of hucha. So in an ayni exchange, you could then send your hucha back down a seqe and into the water, cleansing your poq’po.

As you can see, the sacred sites are not just beautifully carved stone temples and wakas. Through their design they are communicating with us paqos, alerting us to the type of work we might be expected to do at that sanctuary.

Space, Time and the Three Worlds

Andeans spatially position time differently than we do in Western Judeo-Christian cultures, and this blog post examines the Andean conception of future and past in relation to the Upper World (hanaqpacha) and Lower World (ukhupacha).

Generally speaking in our culture, we think of the Upper World—sometimes as a heaven—as representing the future. After all, we won’t go there until after we physically die and its most common characteristic is that of redemption, something we may not be worthy of in the current time but may attain or be blessed with in the future. The Upper World is a perfected world and a place beckoning us through future possibility and even potential reward. It presumes a future state we might attain. On a more personal level, in terms of our body and spatial positioning, we locate the future in front of us: we are walking into our future, creating it moment by moment. It is unformed until we form it through how we live. It is full of potential because we can improve how we live and thus impact our future for the better.

In contrast, generally speaking our conception of the Lower World is of the past. It is the place we may go once we die because of the conditions of our past—the quality of our past character, the thoughts and actions of our recently ended life. Spatially, the past generally and our personal past more specifically is behind us: they are comprised of our collective or personal completed thoughts, words, actions, and so on. We are walking away from our past toward our future, but our future is conditioned by the consequences of our past.

Andeans see things differently.

Let me start with the Upper World, the hanaqpacha. It is associated with the past, which Andeans call the ñaupa pacha. In terms of its characteristics, the Upper World is eternal and perfected. What was now is and forever will be. It is the abode of the Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or AgingMystery, or whatever you want to call God, who is unchanging. According to anthropologist Jan Szemínski and his collection of oral testimonies of indigenous Andeans, the Upper World’s chief characteristics are stability, permanence, duration, in front (spatially), and past (chronologically). He also reports that Andeans associate it, in terms of the direction of left or right, with the right (paña). In the Andean mystical tradition, the right-side work is that of yachay and perception—of knowledge. The Upper World is the place of those who know or who have perfected their perceptions (qaway). It is the place of perfect ayni, and hence occupied by God and those beings who practiced ayni well during their lifetime (their past).

In terms of each of us as humans, we have a personal hanaqpacha, which encodes our true and eternal self—our ñaupa pacha, or past. It is our inner heaven, where we are revealed for who we really are—drops of the Mystery/God, already enlightened and perfected, although as beings in human bodies in this material world our past as an aspect of Gods is something we have forgotten and must recover. Thus, enlightenment is held in potential in our Inka Seed, and on this material plane we must grow into who we really are. Anthropologist Constance Classen, in her book Inca Cosmology and the Human Body, confirms this association of the past with divine time and eternal space. She reports that Andeans correlate the Upper World and the past with the moment of creation, when “Viraqocha sets the body of the cosmos in motion with his animating breath . . .”

In terms of spatial position in the physical world, the hanaqpacha is above us. But in terms of its association with the past in relation to the human body, both the mystical eye imagistic compressed Pixabay -1228968_1920mystical tradition and the indigenous peoples of the Andes place the past in front of us. We know it, we have seen it, and we have experienced it. It is in full view for us. In terms of our personal poq’po (energy body), we can have a striking clarity about our past because we have six mystical eyes (ñawis) in the front of our poq’po looking at it. These are the qosqo ñawi at the belly, the sonqo ñawi at the chest, the kunka ñawi at the neck, the two physical eyes, and the qanchis ñawi in the  middle of the forehead. This mystical vision can provide deep insight into our past, which can be liberating; or it can cause us to become fixated on our past, as so many Westerners do through our psychological and analytical propensities.

But we also have a personal hanaqpacha inside of our poq’po. It is located in the space between the top of our head and the upper inside of our poq’po. This mystical knowledge is supported by anthropological knowledge, as Classen tells us that for Andeans the hanaqpacha is said to be located not only in the upper part of the world but also around the upper part and top of the head. Mystically, this is the place of the three eyes (the two physical eyes and the qanchis ñawi). Our two physical eyes provide the vision to see ourselves as we have been in this human life whereas our seventh eye provides the mystical vision to see beyond this world—to our eternal past and our original perfected, enlightened selves.

In contrast, the ukhupacha, or Lower World, is associated chronologically with the future (called kaya pacha) and spatially is situated behind us. The ukhupacha in Andean cosmology is not a place of punishment or damnation but of regeneration. It is the place of potential—of the future self. Those who occupy it did not live their lives in ayni, and now they are in the Lower World to learn ayni and, thus, to improve themselves. They are being given an opportunity for personal transformation and growth. If they succeed, they can rise up to the hanaqpacha.Unfolding of Self

According to Classen, the ukhupacha symbolically is the place of the “dark, fluid future.” Szemínski confirms this information: he reports from his discussions with hundreds of Andeans that the Lower World is associated with future time, with a spatial position in back of or behind us, and with the main characteristics of change and creation. He also says Andeans place it in a position/direction of the left. This makes sense, since in the Andean tradition the left-side work (lloq’e) is the place of action, which is certainly what the people in the Lower World are undertaking on their path of regeneration.

As already mentioned, in terms of the body the future is located behind you, which has an important connection to the mystical eyes, the ñawis. Classen reports that for most Andeans “the future . . . is not something one can walk ahead into, but rather, is something that one has to turn oneself around . . . to reach.” This may not be a literal turning. It may instead refer to the single ñawi that is in the back of the body/poq’po. Remember that you can see your past with clarity because you have six mystical eyes in the front of your body/poq’po looking at it. But you can’t easily see your future—or potential future, since it is not set but is a field of potentialities—because you have only one eye, the siki ñawi, at the base of your spine looking at it.

Classes also points out that in terms of the human body, the Lower World is associated with the feet and is considered a place of transition. This correlates perfectly with the mystical tradition, where the personal ukhupacha is located within your poq’po in the space between the bottom of your feet and the lower inside of your poq’po. It is your place of personal inner regeneration and transformation, where you undertake the work of realizing your potential.

There is much more I could say about the Upper and Lower Worlds and their time and space relations, but let me end Healing Hands Ayni Compresssed Dollarphotoclub_67573261by mentioning the Middle World, or the kaypacha. The kaypacha is this world—our material, human world. According to Szemínski, the kaypacha results from the interaction of the two other worlds. The hanapacha and ukhupacha energies, the past and the future, meet in the now to create your personal kaypacha. We can turn to psychology to help explain more about this process. The Lower World can be associated with our unconscious and conscious selves, and the Upper World with our divine and Higher Self. We become whole in this life, in our kaypacha, when we bring our unconscious impulses under our will and integrate our unconscious and conscious selves to express our Higher Self. Our inner Lower World/ukhupacha expands and moves upward while our inner Upper World/hanaqpacha expands and moves downward, with the two coalescing into a more perfected personal human world or kaypacha.

Phutuy: Flowering as a Paqo

This post is based on a conversation I had with my teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, about phutuy, or flowering. Literally, in most Quechua dictionaries, it is a noun that means germination, and it correlates with the Quechua word wiñay, which means many things, such as eternity, to develop, to grow, to sprout. In your mystical work, it refers to being born or to birthing your mystical self. Juan reminds us all that our paqo path is a process of kawsay puriy—walking in a world of living energy. Don Martin Quispe Machaqa, the current top paqo of Q’ero and one of many paqos our group was working with, said, “We try to walk with well-being through our lives, in alignment with the kawsay pacha, in ayni, using all of our capacities.” To do that, you have to “flower” as a paqo.

There are other metaphors that provide context for your work. Two are wachu, which means furrow (as in a plowed row in a field), and tarpuy, which means both Seedling close up compressed Pixabay forest-2290740_1920to plant and to sow. In effect, you are a muyu, or seed, and you are learning to plant yourself in this wachu—the universal field of living energy—so you can grow and evolve. You literally have an energetic seed within you, the Inka Seed, which is close to your heart in your chest and which contains within it your fullest potential. When you grow your Inka Seed you not only can realize who you are (exactly as you are) at the current time, but you can perceive your highest potential—that of an enlightened sixth-level being. Everything you need to realize this potential lives within you. You have only to use your energy practices to germinate this potential and grow yourself into the fullness of your individual beingness over time.

Juan says that in your work, especially the basic energy practices of saminchakuy and saiwachakuy, you are enriching yourself, feeding your Inka Seed. When you grow, you will grow as a tree does—you are building yourself. A tree uses all the power available to it—water sun, earth and wind—to form and shape itself. You use all your practices to grow and shape yourself, to feel and express your beingness. Touching that beingness enriches you, it empowers you to continue to evolve, enriching yourself in many specific ways.

For example, you can work through your ñawis—mystical eyes—in various ways. Juan says just like a tree works with the power of sun, earth, water and wind (which are not elements, but spirit beings: Tayta Inti, Mama Allpa, Mama Unu, and Tayta Big tree in nature compressed Pixabay -4238445_1920Wayra respectively), you can work with them through your poq’po (energy body). He explained, “Working with those spirit beings at your ñawis is a type of phutuy, or flowering. You offer yourself as a flower to Wiraqocha. You germinate, bloom, grow. For example, you can lay on the ground and connect your four main ñawis to the Earth and grow as a mallki (an energetic tree) and see the project of your life.” The mallki, or sacred tree, is a symbol of the enlightened human being, a “self-made” being just as a tree is self-made using the gifts of the spirit beings of sun, earth, water and wind. When you pull in these powers you can catch a glimpse of yourself in your future potential, as a sixth-level being. And that glimpse can be enough to motivate you to do the day-to-day work of seeding, germinating, and growing yourself and your poq’po.

Juan reminds us that it is not just your mystical body you are seeking to evolve, but your physical body as well. In the mystical work, “you are building another kind of body, a perceptual and mystical body,” he says, “so you can be stronger. When you are energetically weak, you cannot do fully, you cannot be fully. But your work also builds your physical body. You are developing your gifts—such as atiy, khuyay, munay, and yachay—but also building your body.” As paqos, we are always about building and empowering both: our human self and our spiritual/mystical self.

We have many practices to help us do this work, but in terms of phutuy we would do well to work with our primary mystical centers, our ñawis, or mystical “eyes.” These are, in reality, full perceptual centers and are not associated only with “seeing.” The seven mystical eyes are the siki ñawi at the base of the spine, the qosqo ñawi at the belly, the sonqo ñawi at the chest/heart area, the kunka ñawi at the throat, your twomystical eye imagistic compressed Pixabay -1228968_1920 physical eyes, and the qanchis ñawi (seventh eye) in the middle of your forehead.

As I pointed out previously, the ñawis—the mystical eyes—are associated with the seven teqse apukuna, or universal spirit beings. (Among other posts on this site about the universal spirit beings, see the one of December 27, 2015.) As examples of how to work specific ñawis, Juan offers the following: “If you want to have the capacity to stick with something for a long time, to undertake a long-term effort, you work through your qosqo and qosqo ñawi with the spirit being of the Earth, Mama Allpa. Mother Earth provides the stability and grounding to help you sustain an effort over the long term. If you want to start something new, you work with the siki ñawi and the capacity of atiy, which is the power to do something, to take action, and also about the proper timing to start your project. If you want to learn about a subject deeply, you work with the air and wind (Tayta Wayra) at the kunka ñawi, the eye of the throat. If you want to deepen feelings, you work at the sonqo ñawi with the sun (Tayta Inti), who sheds light and brings illumination to what you are feeling so it you feel with greater clarity.”

These are all ways to “flower” the self, both physically and mystically. But I would add that none of these practices will be particularly effective if you are not attending to the coherence of your entire poq’po. Ideally, these specific practices should be combined with the more general practice of saminchakuy, which is a type of pichay, of sweeping hucha from your poq’po. Pichay literally means to remove dirt, to sweep clean. (If you don’t know saminchakuy, it is a practice of bringing sami in and over your poq’po while simultaneously releasing hucha from your poq’po.) I always start my work with a general saminchakuy of my entire poq’po, and I recommend you do that as well. Then, if you are planning to work at a particular ñawi, you can go on to do a pichay at that center. You can direct the sami to a particular ñawi and release hucha from it. Then, once it is “clean,” you can begin your phutuy work with the spirit being associated with that ñawi. Following this sequence is like preparing the soil bed of the self first, and then preparing a place for a particular seed. However you decided to work, your intention matters. Your focus is on phutuy—flowering the fullness of yourself.

Sanctuaries as Engines of Power

Juan 2019 editedWhen I am with my teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, we have wide-ranging conversations and he inevitably offers enlightening off-hand remarks that, unbeknownst to him, alter my perceptions of the work we are doing together or with a group. Recently he said, “Sanctuaries are spiritual engines. You pull energy from them.” That might seem an obvious statement, but it got me thinking about my relationship to the sanctuaries we work at and how to expand and deepen the work I, and others, do there.

If you have been to Peru you know how magnificent the sanctuaries are: Tipon with its amazing multilevel fountains, Ollantaytambo with its soaring walls and exquisite sweep of stairs, moray with its tiers of vast circular terraces , Machu Picchu with its finely wrought temples and profusion of wakas (stones and other structures or objects that are repositories of the sacred). We work in specific ways with each of these, and other, sacred sites. Among many other practices, at Tipon, we work with the ñust’a energies of the water fountains, at Ollantaytambo we work with the spirit of the wind, at Moray we form relationships with and are empowered by the teqse apukuna (seven universal spirit beings), at Machu Pichu we undertake all kinds of energy work, including the cycle of practices of the Q’enti Rijchay, the ceremony of awakening the hummingbird. But Juan’s remark helps me see that the work goes Ollantaytambo compressed and editedmuch deeper—beyond specific energy practices at individual sites within a sanctuary to touching the very heart of the poq’po (energy bubble) of the sanctuary as a engine of living energy.

Most of our work is that of connecting seqes—cords of energy—with a specific waka. But Juan is advising that we also connect with the entire sanctuary, offering it our energy and pulling its power to us in an ayni interchange. Once we lay down a seqe, it persists over time if we continue work it. That seqe then can be a permanent energetic link to the sanctuary from which we can—at any time, from any place in the world—continue to receive its energy empowerment. The sacred “engine” of the sanctuary is never idle. It is always running, thereby providing a continual source of power to us and helping us to grow and paqos and as human beings. What a beautiful concept! We would do well to remember that when we are in Peru or at any sacred site anywhere in the world.

The rituals of the Andes are not ceremonies per se. They are intention put into action to make energetic connections and to refine mystical perception. The flow between yourself and the entity you are interchanging energy with is an act of ayni.  There temple in Pacharare commonalities between each sanctuary—for example, they may all be engines of the sami of the earth. And, they are all sites at which paqos throughout time have worked, so they are imprinted with the energy of the collective energy of those paqos, which itself can be a source of power from which you can draw. But they also each have their own energy signatures. When you connect with that power source, then you may eventually become, as Juan would phrase it, an “owner” of that particular power as well.

Some sites are not man-made sanctuaries but natural formations that may or may not have been modified by the Inkas and pre-Inkas. For instance, the cave of Amaru Machay (which you can no longer enter) is a natural cave with carvings along the entrance rock face and a huge platform “altar” inside. You don’t have to enter to  connect with its poq’po and draw from the engine of power of this place. The work you would here is a kind of recapitulation of your life to release hucha and a rebirthing as a whole, healed human being, so the signature energy of Amaru Machay would be the energy of healing your past. By laying down a seqe to the poq’po of Amaru Machay, you can continually draw on this healing energy no matter where you are.

I am not an expert on what the “signature” energy is of the many sanctuaries of Peru, and I won’t go into any detail here for those I do know something about, but I can offer a few possibilities about how you can explore doing this kind of work. There are two primary ways. First, you can work with the sanctuaries according to their literal use and then extrapolate from that meaning to make a metaphoric Moray compressed and croppedconnection to human experience. Second, you can work with the energy of the site’s mystical significance within the paqo lineage.

Let me use Moray as an example. This was an experimental agriculture center, where the Inkas sought to develop plants that could thrive in different environments and at different altitudes. So, quite literally, it was a place of adaptation. If you extrapolate metaphorically to your life, you might draw along a seqe the energy and power of adaptation into your own life, perhaps to help you discover new ways to adapt in and thrive in a difficult environment of your current life (family, work, etc.). In the metaphysical realm, Moray is a place where we work with the seven levels of human consciousness. (This is not all we do here, but it is one of the primary energy practices we do at this site.) Notice in the photo above how each circular grouping is comprised of seven “steps” of terrace. In our mystical work, each level of terrace represents one of the seven levels of human consciousness. But you can work with the site holistically, drawing sami from the poq’po of the entirety of Moray to empower yourself to explore, heighten, and evolve your consciousness.

cropped-qero-in-front-of-archway-temple-of-wind.jpgThis is just a flavor of the work you can do with these sanctuaries as engines of power. I hope this post has inspired you both to see the creative ways you can apply Andean mystical practices and to develop a new appreciation for the sacred sanctuaries of Peru (or of anywhere else). Remember that everything is a being, including the sacred sanctuaries, and through ayni you can work with these “beings” to help you along your path as paqo and in your life as a human being.


Working Your Practice as a Paqo

I have been reading the latest research about consciousness, which has prompted me to speculate about how this science relates to our practice as paqos. My question Mishas slightly closer up 2019 compressedto you in this post is: How often and well are you practicing Andean techniques?

The bottom line is that without committed practice, you will make only temporary gains in personal power. You will not make lasting changes in your attainment of all the benefits the tradition offers: greater consciousness of the self and the self’s integral connection with the conscious universe; greater well-being and joy as a human being in the human world, greater coherence in your poq’po so that directed intention results in more effortless and effective ayni; more profound use of your human capacities from munay to rimay to atiy, and on and on.

I turn to the latest science of consciousness to persuade you that you can’t just dabble in this tradition—or any tradition—and expect to reap its most important rewards. Practice matters.

I already have written a few posts inspired by Dawson Church’s book Mind Into Matter: The Astonishing Science of How Your Brain Creates Material Reality. In this post, I want to talk about the science of using intention, what Church calls “mind.”Mind energy beams compressed Dollarphotoclub_53649347

Let’s start with one of Church’s foundational points. He writes, “This is the everyday superpower that you possess: second by second, you are changing your brain by the way you use your mind. The consciousness of your mind is becoming the cells of the matter of your brain.”

Most conventional, materialist scientists tell us that mind arises as an epiphenomenon of the brain. For them, mind is little more than the complex firing of massively connected neurons and intricate arrays of biochemical cascades. Matter is “first cause.” They claim that the brain is the conductor of the orchestra of mind: It directs our sense of self and all of our perceptions, beliefs, desires, imaginative flights of fancy, actions, and so on. According to these scientists, we might not even have free will, since the impulse to act through the body involves signals that occur subconsciously milliseconds before we even have the thought or intention to act, such as to propel our arm outward to strike someone or reach out our hand to tenderly stroke a baby’s cheek. 

Frontier scientists such as Church, and the researchers he refers to in his book, disagree with the conventional consensus about the brain-mind relationship. They tell us the opposite: Mind in a very real sense is the conductor of the material orchestra that is our brain. “With each thought you think, as you direct your attention, you’re signaling your brain to create new neural connections. Use this 3d words of faith hope and lovepower deliberately, rather than allowing random thoughts to flow through your mind, and you start to consciously direct the formation of neural tissue. After a few weeks, your brain changes substantially. Keep it up for years, and you can build a brain that’s habituated to process signals of love, peace, and happiness.” Instead of matter to mind, the foundational flow is mind to matter. As Church explains, “What the mind does then determines which brain circuits are engaged. The neural pathways in the brain that the mind’s choices stimulate are the ones that grow. In this sense, the mind literally creates the brain.”

Of course, causality and correlation go both directions: from matter up to mind, and from mind down to matter. That’s what we as paqos call ayni. But as Church notes, you have to actually “direct” your mind/intention over time to effect change. Practice matters. You have to use your mind in a conscious way to build coherence, not let “monkey mind” keep you in a state of incoherent chaos.  You have to direct (or at least consciously monitor) your intentions—not once, or just when you feel like it, or when you happen to be in ceremony, but continually throughout every day.

In the same way that habitual and conscious choices are necessary to restructureJoan beginning despacho Clemmons Mar 2016 COMPRESSED 20160320_151543 your brain, Andean mystical practices need to become habitual and conscious to help you accumulate personal power and be in more efficient and effective ayni (to able to consciously influence the kawsay pacha to manifest your desires, from greater well-being to a more satisfying job to a new car).

Your practice does not need to be arduous, but it does need to be sustained. Church writes, “The speed of the process [how the application of directed mind correlates to physical changes in the brain] caused an earthquake in the world of our scientific knowledge. When neurons in a neural bundle are stimulated repeatedly, the number of synaptic connections can double in just an hour.”

That speed of change is indeed astonishing. However, the caveat comes in the following fact: “Within three weeks of inactivity in an existing neural signaling pathway, the body starts to disassemble it in order to reuse those building blocks for active circuits.” The cliché “use it or lose it” is quite literal.

Church sounds a warning, as he offers this message to readers in the early pages of his book: “Most of us are using just a tiny fraction of our ability, not even realizing that our minds create matter. . . . You’re already turning thoughts into things. You’re doing it every day unconsciously. Now it’s time to do it systematically and deliberately.”

don-martin-and-dona-isabila-apaza-blessing-despacho-and-mishas-compressedAt the start of every Andean mysticism training I offer, I get on my soap box and tell students the same thing—sustained practice matters. I advise them to not make the training just another workshop—fun while you’re there and then off to the next workshop on a different energy modality or esoteric tradition. If you value the Andean tradition and you want to reap its benefits, then you have to commit to practicing its techniques often and consciously, using directed intent. You’ll be glad you did.