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Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Tag: meditations (page 1 of 8)

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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Sparkle with the River

IMG_0622While the Andean (salka) meditations can be done indoors they are so much juicier when done out in nature.  Now that spring is here I can with a big sigh of relief  go up the local canyon and sit by the river to meditate.   I would like to share a river meditation that I have been exploring and enjoying this spring.   It was written by don Americo and translated into English by Pia Ossorio.  I have changed it a little, but please know that its beauty comes from don Americo’s words (and Pia’s translation) .

Sit by the riverside. Take a few full breaths, and be exquisitely aware of your breathing as you do so.  This helps set the stage for shifting into another way of experiencing the world.

Remember that all of the salka meditations are accomplished through intent (sincere pretending).  The words of the meditation have no power on their own, they instead help us shape our intent, and it is the intent that has the power.  Pause between each step and phrase below, noticing and savoring the effect it has on you, before moving on to the next.

AmericoWater

Don Americo Yabar

  • Begin the meditation by using your intent to open up your energy field and let your filaments commingle with the filaments of the river…
  • Greet your waiki (friend/brother/sister) the river.  Then say…
  • Waiki, please send your energy washing through me and over me…
  • Take away the knots in my thinking…
  • Open my heart…
  • Speak to my heart…
  • Teach me to flow…
  • Teach me to sparkle in the light…
  • Teach me to flow around obstacles…
  • Teach me to move without aggression…
  • Teach me your quiet persistence…
  • Thank you…
  • Thank you…
  • Thank you…

When you are finished you might want to give the river a little despacho (perhaps a few drops of alcohol or a few flowers) as  ayni and to express your gratitude and to nourish your relationship with the river.  The river can be a beautiful companion as you walk your path.

Remember that the effect this meditation has on you is the only real ‘meaning’ of the meditation, so notice the effect, perhaps explore this meditation several times, and then decide whether or not to include it in your repertoire of steps for dancing through life.

This is the second river meditation I have shared on this blog, the earlier one was called Connecting with the River.

 

© Oakley Gordon at date of posting. Contents licensed under a Creative Commons License — some rights reserved.

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The Spiral

Here is another salka meditation that can be done together by a group of people. For reasons I give later the meditation is best done by a group of from 6 to 10 people.  This is yet another beautiful and powerful way to explore the Three Centers of our Being (the llankay, munay, and yachay).  The meditation engages the energy that flows from the Pachamama to the Cosmos and from the Cosmos back to the Pachamama.  This energy loves to spiral.

As usual, it is best to precede this meditation with the Touching Pachamama meditation (to move us out of our heads and into harmony with the Pachamama) and the Releasing Hucha meditation (to get rid of our own hucha before connecting with everyone else’s energy).

A fun way to set up the meditation is to have everyone hold hands and start moving counterclockwise in a large circle.  The leader of this meditation then releases his or her handhold with the person on their right and starts to move the circle inward to form a spiral, and continues winding inward until the spiral is complete.  However it is accomplished the goal is to form a spiral of people that goes counterclockwise from the outside in (or you can think of it as clockwise from the inside out).

The innermost person in the spiral lies down on her back, everyone else in the spiral sits on the floor except the very last, outermost, person who stands.  Everyone continues to hold hands with their neighbors except the innermost person (who is lying down).

The person at the outermost place in the spiral raises his or her free hand up toward the Cosmos and with intent forms a connection with the Cosmos.  The second innermost person places her or his free hand on the llankay of the person who is lying in the center.  The llankay is located a couple of finger-breadths below the navel.  With intent, she or he connects with the energy of the Pachamama and invites it to flow up through the person’s llankay, through the spiral of people holding hands, and up into the Cosmos…and back again the other direction.  After forming that intent let the energy flow without controlling it, letting it change direction as it desires.  The intent of everyone in between is to be a conduit of that energy, letting it flow through them, and noticing what it is like as it does.

After a short time period, perhaps 30 seconds to a minute, move the hand from the person’s llankay to his or her munay (located in the heart) and repeat the same intent of connecting to the Pachamama through the person’s munay.  When the person lying down is a female you can ask her to place your hand near her heart at a location with which she feels comfortable.

After another short time period move the hand from the munay to the yachay (located at the crown of the head) and repeat the same intent of connecting to the Pachamama through the person’s yachay.

When finished with the yachay the person in the center  moves out to the end of the spiral, taking up that position.  The person who was most outermost now sits down as part of the inner spiral. The new innermost person lies down and everyone in the spiral scootches in a bit to keep the spiral’s shape.  Repeat the whole process, changing positions each time, until everyone has had a chance to be in the middle.

It is my experience that being either the outermost or the second innermost role is pretty powerful and it also involves a very specific intent of connecting to the Cosmos or the Pachamama.  I like to remind everyone in between, however, that they are more than just a conduit for the flow of energy.  When this train pulls into town everyone gets to ride…the people in the middle use their intent to let the energy flow through the spiral, this is a crucial role, and they are in an excellent position to experience and learn.  I invite them to sense how the energy is different when it flows through the yankay, munay, and llachay, and how it changes from person to person, and to experience how the flow of the energy is affecting themselves.

Now, about the recommended size of the group.  It can be of any size.  I recommend at least six people simply because with less people it is more like a comma than a spiral, but there is nothing wrong with that, if you would like to try it with fewer people then feel free to do so.  I also recommend not having more than 10 people simply because with more people it takes longer for everyone to get a turn in the middle (which experientially is the ‘wow’ position) and people may lose intent after a while if the whole process takes too long.

Credit for this, and for all of the meditations I have shared, goes to my teacher and friend don Américo Yábar.  For many years I took notes of the various meditations he taught us in the workshops I attended.   I want to give him the credit while acknowledging that there must be differences between what don Américo taught us and what I am sharing with you, based upon my sketchy memory or sketchy notes, or due to changes that occur organically over time as I have shared these meditations with others. Everything I have shared has worked for me and for the people in my workshops (but remember the Two Fallacies).

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Sole to Sole

Hi, here is a nice salka meditation that involves working with a partner.  This is another very simple meditation that can be quite profound. As usual I recommend that you first tune your energy using the Touching Pachamama and Releasing Hucha meditations (particularly because you will be working with another person).

To do this meditation take off your shoes. Lie down with the soles of your feet in comfortable contact with the soles of your partner’s feet.  Using your intent (sincere pretending), as you breathe in draw the energy from the Cosmos through your partner’s head, through your connection at your feet, and up through your head into the Cosmos.  As you breathe out send the energy in the opposite direction, from the Cosmos through your head through the two of you and out into the Cosmos through your partner’s head.

Do this for several minutes and then bring the meditation to a gentle close.

As with all of the salka meditations, the meaning of this meditation is simply the experience that you have while doing it.  We are all explorers on this path.

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Heart-to-Heart

Up until fairly recently in this blog I have focused on meditations that we can do on our own (well…in the company of Pachamama and the Apus and stars and the trees and the stream tumbling down the mountain side…).  Beginning with the Back-to-Back meditation I have begun to share more meditations that can be done with a group of people. The Heart-to-Heart and Back-to-Back meditations are examples of a practice in the Andes that is known as yanachakuy, the touching and sharing of energy between two Beings.  Like the Back-to-Back meditation, the Heart-to-Heart meditation is best done with a group of at least four people, so that you can switch partners a few times to see how everyone’s energy is different.

It is a little complicated for me to continue to write this blog as I would like to assume that you have read the earlier posts, but I know that may not be the case.  If you haven’t already, I recommend that you at least read the posts that cover the three centers of being, starting with the aptly named Three Centers of Being post, which ends with some links to subsequent posts on the topic.  Everyone doing this meditation at least needs to have some idea of what the munay is.

Since the essence of this meditation is the connection and sharing of energy between two people I recommend that everyone do a little spring cleaning of their energy before they start. When I am leading the group I have us all begin by first doing the Touching Pachamama meditation followed by one of the meditations that help us get rid of our hucha (my favorite is the Releasing Hucha meditation). After getting rid of hucha I recommend moving on to the Cosmic Circle meditation as it enlivens the munay, and the Heart-to-Heart meditation is all about the munay.  That is more than the usual amount of preparation for a salka meditation, but this beautiful meditation is worth it.

With the preparations complete, let’s move on to the Heart-to-Heart meditation itself.  I will describe it as if you are leading some waikis (friends / fellow adventurers) through the process.  I believe that it really helps me to guide other people into a meditation if I enter that energy as well.  If there is an even number of people (including me) I can have a partner as I talk everyone through this.  If not, then I find I can enter into this state anyway.  I set my hands (as described below) and then it is as if I am doing this with the nature around me.

First, have everyone pair-up.  I recommend when possible that the waikis don’t pair up with someone they know really well (e.g. a significant other) as they already know that person’s energy so well, and also because close relationships have a lot of other things going on that may muddle the waters.

Anyway, after people pair-up have them face each other, close enough to clasp hands.  Now have them clasp hands with their partner, palm to palm.  The goal is to be able to gently press the back of one of your waiki’s hands to your munay (heart area) while your waiki presses the back of your other hand to his or her munay.  An easy way to set this up is for one waiki to put both hands forward, one palm up and one palm down, and then have the other waiki grasp those hands palm to palm.  Or…just play around until you get it.  Again, the goal is that you are pressing the back of your waiki’s hand to your heart while your waiki does the same with your other hand.

When everyone is arranged correctly with their waiki then suggest that they close their eyes (pause for a moment)…and then connect with the Pachamama through the souls of their feet (pause while they do this)…and then open up the energy center at the top of their head to connect with the energy of the cosmos (pause while they do this, then pause a little longer for them to enter more fully into both connections).

Now, invite them to gently open their eyes, and with soft eyes look into the eyes of their partner. Invite them to look with soft eyes until they get the sense that they are perceiving the essence (beyond the personality) of the other waiki.  Then gently close their eyes again. I usually give them about 5 seconds for this before going on to the next step. It is my experience that I can get at least a hint of my partner’s essence in that amount of time and I get concerned that going much longer might raise defenses.

Now invite them (still with eyes closed) to use their intent (sincere pretending) to send their munay energy into the back of their waiki’s hand that is pressed against their munay, and to receive their waiki’s munay energy through the back of their hand that is pressed against their waiki’s munay. After they have had enough time to start to experience the flow of energy I like to add that they can just let the energy flow between the two of them however it wants to.

I like to give them a couple of minutes or so to fully experience this. Then, I thank them (to let them know it is the end of the round).  This is a very personal and deep experience, and I usually hug my waiki when we are finished.  Then have people pair up with someone new and repeat the meditation.  Repeat again so that everyone has a chance to work with three or so partners before ending.

At the end of all this I like to form a circle with everyone and open the table (so to speak) for comments and experiences.  People often comment on how everyone’s energy is different.  Like the Back-to-Back meditation, this meditation accomplishes a lot.  Detecting other people’s energy seems to be pretty easy in this meditation, and this opens the door for people to have a deeper experience with the salka path.  Also, it just takes us right there to what this is all about, connecting through the munay with other Beings, interacting at another level beyond the confines of our Western, domesticated worldview.  Or not…as always, the meaning of the meditation is the effect it has on you…not what I say it is.  When I write these posts I vacillate between wanting to share what I get from these meditations and keeping quiet so that I don’t get in the way of how you might experience them.

This is one of the ways don Americo has had us do this meditation.  It was in my notes this way and this is how I usually do it in my salka meditation classes.  I consistently find it to be a beautiful experience.   I have also been with him when he had us do different variations on this meditation, perhaps you have one that you like better.  Feel free to share that by commenting on this post.

One last idea.  When we do this out in Nature, when we are done working with each other, I like to then invite everyone to disperse and go spend several minutes carrying out the essence of this meditation with some aspect of Nature; with the river flowing by, or with the trees, or with Pachamama, or Mama Killa, or Mama Tuta.  Something is learned in this meditation that transcends having to be in contact back-of-hand-to-munay, and this is a great time to explore that.

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