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.

Covid-19 as a Fourth-Level Event

I was recently talking with a friend about the state of our communities and the Covid 19 specimenworld as we deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. While I have family members who are recovering from the virus in a state that is being hit hard, I live in a state that, as yet, is not severely impacted. There seem to be two realities: there are the Centers of Impact and then there are the Outer Bands, and people are experiencing different realities depending on where they live. There’s an all too familiar “us versus them” mentality at play across the land in the United States, and I suspect in other countries as well.

Still, as predictable as that response is, there also seems to be something different happening with this crisis.

While my friend and I didn’t get too philosophical, or even necessarily spiritual, we did wonder if there is some “larger meaning” to what’s unfolding across the world. After mulling over this question of “meaning” for a while, here’s what I have come to think—from a paqo’s perspective.

In the teachings of our lineage through don Juan Nuñez del Prado, we examine the seven levels of consciousness. Each level has both healthy and unhealthy expressions. The world is mostly at the third level, which in its unhealthy expression involves an emotional, social, cultural, and even political view that my country, state, religion, political party, race, gender, or whatever is the best. It’s a level of consciousness that views things in oppositional terms; it’s the me vs. you, self vs. other, my country vs. your country, my religion vs. your religion view. Third-levelopposites compressed -thumb up and down Pixabay 489521_1920 people (in the level’s unhealthy, or hucha-inducing, expression) view almost everyone outside of their clique as “other.” This “separation mindset” leads to all kinds of other transactional responses: I win, you lose; I get more, you get less; I’m right, you’re wrong; you’re either with us or against us, and so on. It’s a thinking style focused on competitiveness, exclusion, scarcity-thinking, stereotypes and prejudices, and the like. I think we can all agree that these kinds of energetic impulses have predominated across the world.

The fourth-level, in contrast, sees beyond labels, outward and superficial appearances, and us vs. them approaches to politics, religion, and other group identities and beliefs. A fourth-level person perceives the underlying commonalities among all people. He or she has an expanded, inclusive view that we are all one community—the family of human beings. A fourth-level person seeks to resolve conflict in mutually beneficial ways, so that instead of win-lose, the solution allows for a more cooperative win-win result. A fourth-level person, while taking pride in personal and even national capacities and characteristics, keeps his or her view on the larger truth that beyond artificial boundaries of all kinds we are in this world together.

Most of the crises we have faced in the last century, even the flu pandemic of 1918, have been third-level crises. Catastrophes of all kinds have affected some of the people of the world, but not all of the people. Terrorists hit here, then there. We might rally to mutual aid, but it’s a limited response in a limited area over a limited time frame. Even weather events share those third-level characteristics, horrific as some of them have been over the past decade. It’s happening “over there,” or “to them.” We have been able to be comfortably third level, despite our empathy, relief efforts, and prayers during or after such a crisis.

Now, however, with Covid-19 we may be facing the first real fourth-level crisis of our Earth children togetherlifetime. I call it fourth level because unlike any other challenge I can think of—except for climate change, which I will discuss later—this pandemic is truly global. This isn’t about a tornado in the American heartland or a tsunami on the coast of Japan. This isn’t a terrorist attack in Brussels or wildfires in California or across Australia. This is not a regional Ebola or SARS epidemic. Covid-19 is teqse, meaning universal. There are 195 countries in the world, and as of today 182 of them are experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks. Because of airplane flight and other modes of travel, there are no boundaries or easy ways to respect boundaries. A contagion against which we have no immunity cannot remain local or even regional. We have never faced a situation like this before. To my mind, this is truly a fourth-level event, as it is common to all of humanity.

And for the first time in my lifetime I am seeing the inkling of a global mindset and a global response—a potentially fourth-level response.

We can’t treat Covid-19 yet as there are no vaccines or therapies available, although dozens are being developed. All we can do is attempt to slow and ultimately stop its spread through social distancing and isolation measures, and good hygiene. To achieve any result, we have to act together. Everyone, everywhere—even those not yet affected—have to pitch in to do what’s necessary. This crisis is truly a fourth-level “we” period during which we must act as a family of humanity. Despite the pockets of complainers and resisters here and there, I see evidence that we are doing that: we are coming to the understanding that what I do affects you, and what you do affects me, regardless of whether we are across town or across an ocean. We are reaching across boundaries of all kinds to share knowledge and strategies, equipment and supplies, and personnel. We are reaching out to strangers and neighbors alike to bolster their spirits and lend a helping hand. Instead of a third-level win-lose response, we are much closer to acting from a win-win mindset.

I have gone even further in my speculation. Some might say too far! But let’s play a mind game, shall we? Let’s view Covid-19 as a gift we are giving ourselves to further our individual and collective conscious evolution. In the past, we have had opportunity after opportunity with increasingly dire, and truly horrific, disasters of all kinds to think and act from the fourth level, but we have never risen to the challenge. But now perhaps we are in “practice” mode. Perhaps we have taken a step up on the qanchispatañan, the stairway of the seven levels of consciousness. To tackle this crisis that is indeed what is required of us. Perhaps now, somewhere in our collective unconscious, we know we need to up our game and so we have finally “manifested” a crisis that will help us evolve as a species, as the Andean prophecy of the rise of the Runakay Mosoq (the New Humanity) tells us we are able to do. We are in the Taripay Pacha, an energetic period ripe for such a collective evolution. So, what if now through Coid-19 we truly have manifested a type of teqse, or universal, crisis that can serve to lift us to a new level of understanding, perception, and behavior?

What are we in practice for? To my mind it may be tackling the reality of climate change. We have failed as a global community to come together to face it, never mind really act to change our contributing behaviors. Climate change is the ultimate fourth-level—global—threat, and it is an existential threat. Maybe Covid-19 is our practice run to see how it feels and what it looks like to come together now to save ourselves as individual human beings and local communities of human beings, so that we can better come together to save ourselves as a human species?

Even if this pandemic is not a practice run for climate change, why can’t we treat it that way? Why can’t we use it to consciously lift ourselves to the fourth level? The Andean tradition tells us that we influence the kawsay pacha both individually and collectively. Perhaps we are ready to ask ourselves, in an immediate and striking way, “Do we have any other choice but to face our problems together?”

What I am suggesting may be happening at the energetic collective macro level, also may be happening at the micro level of the individual. I certainly hope so! Because as paqos we must each take responsibility for using the smaller challenges of this time to cultivate fourth-level thinking and actions. Instead of seeing social distancing as a challenge or a bother, can you see it as a  mirror of how you might have taken Healing Hands Ayni Compresssed Dollarphotoclub_67573261togetherness for granted? Maybe the isolation you are feeling will help you cultivate a deeper gratitude for family and friends. If you have stocked up on food and supplies, are you thankful for the bounty that is available to you? Do you acknowledge that there are millions of people who don’t share that bounty? If you have lost your job, are you able and willing to overcome fear and even despair, able and willing to allow others to help? Are you reaching out to help your neighbors? Are you aware of the countless acts of kindness that are happening all around you? Are you expressing your feelings of appreciation and love to those who matter most to you? Are you receiving with an open heart the expressions of kindness and love others may be showing you? Are you realizing your yanantin nature—that you are both a physical human being and a divine spirit, and that you must take care of and express both aspects of yourself? Are you also realizing the masintin reality among people across the world—of our common humanity?

There are so many ways we can use this trying and even devastating time to contemplate what it means to move from the third to the fourth level. Each step up the stairway of consciousness increases our awareness that the well-being of the individual and the well-being of the collective are ranti—a harmonization of similar energies. Each small step we take individually also propels us collectively along the evolutionary path toward the Runakay Mosoq, the rise of the New Humanity. There is no denying the fear, suffering, and death that are sweeping across the world; but perhaps, just perhaps, there is a possibility that Covid-19 also could be a gift to us individually and collectively. Whether it is or not is entirely up to us.

 

A Paqo’s Response to Covid-19

What’s been your response to the turmoil and anxiety—if that is indeed how you feel or how you discern others are feeling—in the world, in your country, in your community in response to Covid-19? What’s been the response of those closest to you? Of your leaders?

It’s important to examine our responses because our outer behavior reflects our covid 19 imageinner state. I suspect that you, like me, are seeing or experiencing three general varieties of response. One view is, “What’s the big deal? Not my problem. I’m not changing how I live my life.” Another is, “Stay six feet away, because you are a threat to my well-being. What if I get sick and I can’t get a test or a hospital bed or a ventilator if I need one?” A third is, “Take care of yourself and I will take care of myself. Let me know how I can help, and I will call on you if I need help. We are all in this together.”

Those of you who know the seven levels of consciousness, as passed on from don Benito Qoriwaman through don Juan Nuñez del Prado, will recognize the characteristics of the second, third and fourth levels in the responses above. Of course, there are a host of other responses, but it is probable that the majority of the responses you are witnessing fall into these three common levels of awareness. (For a brief overview of the levels, see my “Birds of Consciousness” post of May 11, 2016.)

By discerning how people we know and others we hear about on the news are reacting—and how we ourselves are feeling—we can tease out opportunities for growth to the fourth level in the midst of this pandemic. Here are some perspectives from which we can view Covid-19 based on the Andean path, and offered not as a teaching but as food for thought.

We recognize that we are yanantin beings: we are both physical and energetic beings. We are not either-or, but both-and. In the physical world we are subject to the vagaries of germs and viruses, of our own immune system, of our habits for or against health, of the near impossibility of controlling our environment. We cede the need for control while respecting our ability to influence our own and others’ health. We don’t succumb to fear but use commonsense to do what we can to slow or stop the spread of the virus and keep ourselves and others healthy.

As energetic beings we use our tools. We continue our daily saminchakuy, and we add in occasional saiwachakuy to empower ourselves and strengthen our energetic IMG_4436 compressedand physical immune systems. We can use hucha miqhuy to reduce the fear or anxiety we experience or that is being experienced by those we love or care about. We can send sami to our leaders, from our town mayor to our president to other decision makers. We can send sami to the first responders, from EMTs and pharmacists to nurses, doctors, and the other health professionals on the front lines of our health care systems. We can send sami to those who support our sustenance and well-being while we are under “stay at home” orders, from the grocery store clerks to the restaurateurs who are making food for pick up or delivery to the people still picking up our trash and the employees still processing our health insurance and other claims. We can send sami to the volunteers who are making masks on their home sewing machines, the companies retooling their plants to provide protective gear, and the artists of all stripes who are posting songs, comedy routines and the like online to boost our spirits.

As paqos, we are not idle during our “down time,” but participators.

We can use this down time to lift ourselves and others up. The one thing the hustle and bustle of normal daily life squelches in many of us is the energy for creativity. This is a time for qaway and khuyay: being present in the moment and seeing reality as it really is, and for engaging with munay and passion. You can go online to see funny mask covidvideos of the many ways people are marshaling their compassion and creativity to say, “We are all in this together. I see you. You see me.” Italians singing from their balconies. American nurses in non-Covid wards waving and making funny faces and fashioning their hands into heart symbols through the closed glass doors to their colleagues in the sealed-off Covid-19 wards. The children writing letters and drawing pictures of appreciation to their teachers, local health professionals, first responders, and others. A son talking by phone on one side of a window to his grandmother on the other side. The neighbors of a cul de sac standing at the end of their driveways with their kids, each family group separate by together saying the Pledge of Allegiance before they start their home-schooling day.

We can do a gratitude inventory, giving thanks that we have homes to go to, water and food to sustain us, family and friends to support us, books and movies to amuse and educate us. That most of us have freedom of speech to speak out and stand up, that we are not subject to government censoring of our tweets and online posts, that while we are being asked to curtail our movement and act responsibly to “flatten the curve” of contagion, we are not giving up our human rights, and on and on. We can reflect on how we might have come to take our comforts for granted. How we might have become complacent, or even lazy, in our mindfulness of our bounty and well-being. Years ago I saw a sign in the front yard of a church in rural North Carolina that brought my own complacency, lack of gratitude, and even sense of entitlement to the forefront of my awareness, and caused me to change both my thinking and my behavior: “There are millions of people praying for what you take for granted.” When you really stop and take that truth to heart, you may feel prompted to make the most gratitude-filled despacho of your life!

There are all kinds of ways we can make this time of outward slowing down and even self-isolation a useful period of active flowering and expansion, both within ourselves and among our communities. For most of us, in this age of smart phones, tablets, and other electronics, there is no such thing as isolation. And for paqos, there is no such thing as not knowing what to do!

Paqos and Coronavirus

corona virus spread mapThe COVID-19 coronavirus is at pandemic proportions, and while I hope we are all dealing with it calmly and sensibly at a human level, we as paqos have a role to play at an energetic level as well. As the paqos of old have told us, we have a responsibility to use our tools to increase the well-being of ourselves and others. And so it is with this responsibility in mind that I post now about what we as paqos can do.

My primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, has posted information about how to work the energy of the virus. I am pasting that posting in here. However, I have received emails from several students and others about efforts they are undertaking to help reduce the power of the virus. Hats off to them for being proactive. However, I have a few things to say about those efforts that may be instructive, at least in relation to how I learned and teach the tradition. I will comment at the end of this post.

Our tools are, of course, saminchakuy, saiwachakuy, and hucha miqhuy. Don Juan explains how we can use these (using his personal spelling of terms and only slightly editing):

“To my paqos colleagues:

“On the occasion of the ongoing epidemic, chains of prayer and meditation are beingcorona virus image 1 organized to help control it. Of course we can join their intentions and practices. According to tradition, at the end of the 19th century, don Garibilu Quispe, one of the founders of our spiritual lineage, used the practices of the Andean spiritual arts to counteract an epidemic of smallpox, which occurred in Peru at that time. In the current circumstances, we can use the basic practices of our art for similar purposes, as follows:

“Saminchakuy: Using your intention, make the living energy—kausay—flow from top to bottom and through the generated flow offer Pachamama—the cosmic mother—as food the energy of the virus and the heavy energy of the epidemic.

“Saywachakuy: Using your intention, make flow the living energy of the earth, from the bottom up, with the intention of strengthening your immune system [or the immune systems of others].

“Juchamijuy: Using your intention, attract to your qosqo—energy center of the navel—the heavy energy of the people of your family or intimate group to support and strengthen them, and with the power of this center digest it [their hucha]. Extract from it fine energy [sami] and incorporate that into your energy field and discard the heaviest energy, offering it as food to the earth.”

Of course, you can follow don Juan’s advice working as a group as well as individually. For those of you who have shared your group work with me, I would like to respectfully offer the following comment: keep it simple! I mention this because some of the practices people have proposed in the emails are quite elaborate indeed! Remember, as paqos we never want to waste our energy. So, we always use the simplest, most efficient practice first. And we repeat that practice and give it time to work. Only then, if there is not a good effect, do we increase the complexity of our practice. But that increase is incremental, adding in only what is absolutely necessary to try to produce the effect we are seeking.

Individually and together, we can do our part as paqos to “work” our energies to reduce the impact of or even stop the spread and effects of the coronavirus. Please join us.