Salka Wind Blog

Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Category: Andean Cosmovision (page 1 of 8)

The Invisible Embrace

Sometimes I run across something from outside of the Andean Cosmovision that beautifully describes some aspect of that Cosmovision.  The following was brought to my attention by my friend Angela Rhinehart.  It is, to me, a beautiful description of Andean salka (undomesticated energy).

The imagination awakens the wildness of the heart. This is not the vulgar, intrusive, wildness of social disruption. It is the wildness of human nature. Social convention domesticates and controls us; it also imprints deeply on the interior life and would turn our one adventure in the universe into a program of patterned social expectation. We rarely break free; indeed, we are generally not conscious of how smoothly we slide along the rails of social ordering. The awakened imagination desists from this domestication. It returns us to our native wildness, to the natural and seamless fluency of our own true nature. Other worlds come into view and we are invited to risk new and original ways of dwelling in the world. —John O’Donohue, Irish poet, in Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, p. 146.

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It Is a Way of Being

The Andean Cosmovision provides a different-from-Western-Society way of perceiving and interacting with reality. It is not a way of thinking about the world, it is not a set of concepts and beliefs, it cannot be describe or encompassed with words. To explore the Andean Cosmovision is to enter into another way of experiencing reality that is so different from that of the West that it cannot be distinguished from actually exploring a different reality. I have found it to be a path that takes me through territory that my own society ignores. It takes me to my heart, to beauty, to love, and to a relationship with Nature and the Cosmos that fulfills my desire to sip at the cup of the sacred.

It isn’t easy. It is not a path that everyone would want to take, and it certainly isn’t a path that everyone should take, for it has no dogma, it has no rules laid down by an external deity, within the Cosmovision there is no moral imperative to walk this path. If the path itself is rewarding to you then keep going (if you wish). If not, stop, and try some other path, or no path at all. That decision is something that only you can make.

Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi.  From The Illuminated Rumi
Broadway Books, Coleman Barks (translator).

There are many different paths that lead into the Andean Cosmovision, each has its doorstep in a different region of the Andes or with a different teacher. I really only “know” the path I have been shown by don Americo Yabar and don Gayle Yabar and that I have walked for many years in the company of several dear friends. I know something about some of the other paths, not enough to describe them from experience, but enough to know that they have some noticeable differences from the path I have taken. I would like to point that out, so that you will understand that what I share in this blog may apply only to the path I know.

In this path of heart the meditations serve as the portals for entering the Andean Cosmovision. That is a reality that has no limits, and I intend to be exploring it for the rest of my life, or at least so long as it continues to nourish my blossoming as a Being in this Cosmos. For me it is not a set of powers to be gained, or techniques to master, or knowledge to accumulate, it is a way of being in this Cosmos, and very much so it is a way of relating to Nature and the Cosmos.

There are times in my life when I stop meditating for a while.  This often happens in the winter when it is hard to go outside and I am busy teaching at the University and being all intellectual.  Engaging with the politics of a world that seems to be increasingly directed by fear and hate also moves me away from meditating. Much of what I love and value is under immanent threat of destruction.  There are times to meditate by the river and times to throw myself in front of the bulldozer. The two modes represent my left side and right side, respectfully, and part of what I value about this path is that it embraces all of who I am.  Occasionally I get glimpses of that aspect of myself that is greater than the sum of those two parts, for whom the left side and the right side are but two facets of my existence, but we are the diamond that has those facets.

Still, when I stop meditating, this path stops being something I am being, and it becomes a memory, an idea, which it can never be without losing its essence.  I have discovered, rather obviously, that when I abandon this path, this connecting with the Cosmos, that I slowly start to feel abandoned by the Cosmos.  I get depressed.  When I start to meditate again I return to this way of being, and its essence returns and my existence again puts on a mantle of meaningfullness.  My challenge is that when I haven’t meditated for a while, and I start to feel down, I don’t feel much like meditating.

I would like to share with you something that I have found to be useful.  I have put the following poem on the desktop of my computer where I can see it everyday:

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi.  From The Illuminated Rumi
Broadway Books, Coleman Barks (translator).


You might enjoy my book:  The Andean Cosmovision:  A Path for Exploring Profound Aspects of Ourselves, Nature, and the Cosmos.

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The Path of the Poet

On my journeys down the path of heart into the Andean Cosmovision my intellect cannot lead, it cannot even follow.  It can, however, let me go and it can welcome me back.

Prose cannot guide me, but at times poetry can be a window to that place that blossoms, and even give hints on how to journey there .  The poems of Rumi, in particular,  and I have quoted Rumi in this blog.  Recently a friend of mine suggested that I read Letters to a Young Poet, a collection of letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke, during the years 1903-1908, to a young poet with whom he was in correspondence.

“Here, where an immense country lies about me, over which the winds pass coming from the seas, here I feel that no human being anywhere can answer for you those questions and feelings that deep within them have a life of their own; for even the best err in words when they are meant to mean most delicate and almost inexpressible things. But I believe nevertheless that you will not have to remain without a solution if you will hold to objects that are similar to those from which my eyes now draw refreshment. If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you, not in your intellect, perhaps, which lags marveling behind, but in your inmost consciousness, waking and cognizance. You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Translated by M. D. Herter Norton. Revised edition, 1954. W. W. Norton & Company. pp 34-35

The post The Creature and It’s Creations also address’s the poetical nature of the path of heart.  If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy it as well.

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Interview

Hi, I was recently interviewed over the phone by people who run the website FuturePrimitive.com.   I’m always a little nervous about such things but I thought it went very well.  Joanne was a great interviewer.  The interview is available at: http://www.futureprimitive.org/…/the-magic-of-the-pachamama/

 

 

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The Creature and its Creations

Don Américo Yábar

The first part of this post was inspired by Alan Watts (1915-1973) and his book Nature, Man, and Woman. Watts was a wonderful writer and philosopher best known for bringing Eastern philosophy into Western culture. His titles include The Way of Zen, Tao: The Watercourse Way, This is It, Psychotherapy East and West, The New Alchemy, The Joyous Cosmology, and The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

I would like to begin by asking the question, “Are we more like clocks or are we more like flowers?”

Let us begin by considering clocks. Clocks are created to fulfill a purpose, which is to indicate the time. After the purpose of the clock has been determined we can apply our rational mind to how to construct such an object. From this design various parts are manufactured and assembled into a working clock. The creation of a clock, then, has these elements: 1) it is created by a creator who stands outside of the clock itself; 2) the clock consists of pieces that were made first and then assembled into a whole; and 3) the clock was created to meet some purpose.

Now let us move on to flowers. First, we note that flowers don’t have pieces. They have petals, and stems, and roots but these are all part of a whole. We can break off the petals and call them pieces, but they weren’t created first and then glued on to the stem, they emerged from the stem, and once we turn them into pieces by breaking them off we can’t snap them back into place. Second we note that flowers are not constructed from the outside. Flowers grow from within. The growth of the flowers is informed by the seed (using the the old-fashioned meaning of “informed” which is “to give shape from within”). And third, the flower has no purpose, at least not the sort of rational purpose that goes into making a clock. Flowers weren’t created with a purpose and then inserted into the web of life. They co-evolved with other life, with pollinating insects in particular. Flowers do play an important role in the interrelations of life on the planet. This role was not rationally decided upon from outside the dance of co-evolving life but emerged from within that dance, a dance that earlier proto-flowers had a part in.

In Western society we are very familiar with the process of making things like clocks and computers and houses…and dinner. When we turn to consider who or what made us, and made the Cosmos, it is natural to conceive of a Creator in our own image. Such a Creator would exist outside of the Cosmos that he/she/it created, the Cosmos would consist of individual pieces, and the creation and its pieces (e.g. we humans) would be created for some purpose.

What if a growing flower, however, is the better metaphor for existence and creation, that the Cosmos grew from within, that everything is interconnected, that the creator is not an external God but an internal blossoming, that the Cosmos created itself from within and continues to do so? Well, if this is the better metaphor then we are left with no “purpose” for our existence. Poor us and poor flower!

Alan Watts says about this, “Such a line of thought may be … disturbing, since it suggests a universe of life which has no motive at all…and surely an absolutely purposeless world would be the most depressing of all possibilities.” He then goes on to say, “But the idea of a purposeless world is horrifying because it is incomplete. Purpose is a preeminently human attribute.”

In the dictionary purpose is defined as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exits. To say that we, and the Cosmos, have no purpose is simply to say that our existence is not the product of rational thought, and that is far from saying what we are the product of, which would be nature and the Cosmos.

Again, turning to Watts.“To say that the world has no purpose is to say that it is not human, or, as the Tao Te Ching puts it: ‘Heaven and Earth are not human-hearted (the Chinese character “jen”)’. But it continues: ‘The sage is not human-hearted‘ (Tao Te Ching, Chapter V).”

What I propose Heaven and Earth (and sages) are is Cosmic-hearted. This flow of thought brings us to the “path of the heart” (see the previous post Paths to the Other Side of Reality). The path of heart does not lead to the human heart and its emotions, it leads through the human heart (actually the munay) to the heart of the Cosmos. This is what underlies the Andean meditations and also underlies salka. The Cosmic heart occasionally shines through the cracks of our reality while we are meditating, and when it does we experience the meaning of our existence.

Returning to earth, I would like to now consider the work of Gregory Bateson (1904-1980). Bateson was an anthropologist, social scientist, and linguist who helped create the discipline of cybernetics (also known as “systems theory”).  He was a pioneer in using cybernetics to explain social, psychological, biological, and ecological systems. Bateson proposed an elegant definition of “mind”  that resolved the “mind/body” problem (the situation where the mind seems to be both transcendent to the physical realm yet also seems to be just a byproduct of the physical realm). It would take too long and be largely irrelevant to describe his solution here but a consequence of it is that both humans and larger ecological systems fit his definition of having a mind.  From within this perspective we can see that human creativity and biological evolution share the same processes, and one is a special case of the other.

Bateson took the cybernetic explanation as far as it could go, eventually tackling the nature of the sacred in his aptly titled book “Angels Fear: Toward an Epistemology of the Sacred”. Some of Bateson’s ideas have appeared earlier in this blog, and in my book, under the titles “Why a Swan?” and “Lesson of the Mask .

The following is from the chapter The Creature and its Creations in his book A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind. In his very logical and erudite way Bateson begins by making the case that creations give us insights into the creatures that created them.  He then turns to the narrative poem Peter Bell by William Wordsworth, and says:

“Wordsworth mocks that to Peter Bell,

‘A primrose by a river’s brim

A yellow primrose was to him,

And it was nothing more.'”

Bateson proposes that, “To the poet, the primrose can be something more. I suggest that this something more is, in fact, a self-reflexive recognition. The primrose resembles a poem and both poem and primrose resemble the poet. He learns about himself as a creator when he looks at the primrose. His pride is enhanced to see himself as a contributor to the vast processes which the primrose exemplifies. And his humility is exercised and made valid by recognizing himself as a tiny product of those processes.”

Yes, he writes that way.

My original intent in creating this post was to share the related thoughts by Alan Watts and Gregory Bateson about the underlying processes of the Cosmos, thoughts that have helped me integrate my experiences in the Andean Cosmovision with my intellectual Western worldview.  As I have been writing, however, another thought has arisen that I would like to include.

Many years ago don Américo recommended to me that ‘we make our lives a work of art”.  I have always loved that advice.  In thinking about it now I see it as a way of having my life be more in accord with the processes of the Cosmos itself.  I think about the world a lot, and when I do I often get to a decision that seems to have no rational best choice;  “On the one hand I could…” and “but on the other hand I could…”  This is very familiar territory for me.  When I remember Americo’s advice I turn back to the options and ask myself which would be the more artistic path to take.  When I do the choice is usually obvious.

 

 

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