Salka Wind Blog

Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Tag: meditations (page 1 of 8)

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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Presentation and Workshop in the United Kingdom

Hi, I will be giving a Friday evening presentation and a Saturday workshop in the United Kingdom on August 11th and 12th, 2017.  More information, including how to purchase tickets, is available through the links below:

Evening presentation (August 11th), “The Andean Cosmovision”,  in Manchester.

Workshop (August 12th), “Reconnecting with the Wild”, in The Gathering Fields (Lancaster).

I am very excited to have this chance to connect in salka with the people of Europe!  Thank you Neil Brocklehurst and Debra Delglyn.

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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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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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