Salka Wind Blog

Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Category: Ways of Knowing (page 2 of 3)


For a context for these cryptic quotes please see the introduction to ‘The Flower of Experience’.  For more information on munay please see the post ‘The Three Centers of Being‘…

Engage in an intuitive exploration of the munay. The love found in the munay is not an emotion, it is the underlying frequency of the Cosmos. The desire of the munay is not for a thing or for a person, it is a desire for being one with the Cosmos.

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Deep Intent

When we look back at some of the Andean meditations I have shared in this blog–connecting with the world through our llankay, munay, or yachay; operating from our left side or our right side; opening up our energy or withdrawing into ourselves–what emerges is our having a choice in how we interact energetically with society and the Cosmos. Often this is not just a choice of which behavior to exhibit, or how strongly to be connected to what is going on around us, but a choice of which facet of our Being to face towards the Cosmos.  Each facet giving us a different way of interpreting reality and a different set of abilities for responding.

So, what ‘part’ of us makes that choice? We could turn to our intellect to make the choice but that may not be our best approach. The intellect is great at understanding pieces of the Cosmos, but it is curiously inept at understanding the larger patterns from which the pieces at drawn. The intellect is skilled at accomplishing goal-directed activities, but with its analytic skills it lacks the ability to select those goals wisely or with beauty, for wisdom and beauty come from the picture as a whole.  This makes the intellect a great servant but a poor master. The intellect is ultimately and inevitably limited by being only a part of who we are.

So what ‘part’ of us can best make the choice of which facet of ourselves to turn to face the Cosmos at any particular time? The answer is that aspect of our Being that is meta to (above) all of our facets, i.e. that aspect of us that is not a ‘part’ at all, it is not a facet of our being, it is the diamond that has the facets. Who or what is this aspect of ourselves? It is our ‘intent’.

Up until now, in the earlier posts, I have defined ‘intent’ as ‘sincere pretending’, a definition that works for me beautifully in many ways. That definition is also the surface of something much deeper. Don Americo Yabar has described intent as the conscious Cosmos expressing itself through our Being. The more I have played with intent in the various Andean meditations, and the more I gain awareness of that aspect of myself which guides me down this path, the more I glimpse the depths of intent.

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Right Side / Left Side

The Andean Cosmovision draws distinctions between various aspects of our Being in many overlapping, non-mutually-exclusive ways. In an earlier post we looked at the Three Centers of Being; the llankay, the munay, and the yachay. In this post I would like to examine the distinction between the quality of energy we have on the right side of our body and that on the left.

Our right side (called paña) handles our activities in the everyday, ordinary, realm of our life, in other words, that aspect of our reality which is created by our society. We tap the abilities of our right side when we work, go to the store, get to our kid’s soccer game, balance our check book, watch TV, buy airline tickets to go to Peru, and so on. Our left side (called ‘lloqe’) handles our connection to the vast, ineffable, mystery that is the Cosmos. There is no way to describe that part of the Cosmos, for it is exactly that aspect of reality which exists beyond all the words we have to describe it and beyond all the concepts we have for understanding it. The Andean meditations move us into our left side.

Whether or not we develop the skills and perceptions available on both sides, we all do have both, for they are part of our heritage as human beings. It is my experience that in my western technological culture we place a heavy emphasis on the right side, and we are hardly aware, if at all, of what is available on the left side. If we want to explore more of who we are, and who we can be, and the full potential of our relationship with Nature and the Cosmos, a rich place for us to explore is the vast territory of experience available through our lloqe, the left side of our being. If we want to have dinner, hold a job, raise children, not get run over when we cross the road, enjoy our technology, and get to Peru, then we need to honor and nourish the skills we have on the right side.

Our paña and lloqe are complementary opposite aspects of our Being. In previous posts I’ve written about the role of complementary opposites in the Andean Cosmovision (Yin/Yang of the Andes) and their role in the relationships between women and men (Warmi-Qhari), and between communities and individuals (Remember to Wave Your Warak’as). The distinction between our right and left side takes us into the complementarity of opposites within ourselves. We find that the principles which became evident in the earlier posts apply here as well.

Our right and left side are not two, independent, things but instead are mutually defining aspects of a unified whole (our self). As in the post Yin/Yang of the Andes I will use a Taoist symbol to represent this: For these two mutually defining aspects of our self to exist we need to keep a clear distinction between the two, otherwise we end up with:

The Taoist symbol for Yin/Yang usually contains small circles that convey the concept that each opposite contains a small seed of the other:

This implies that when we are operating on our right, social, side it is good to have a small connection to the great, ineffable, mystery that is the Cosmos, and when we are operating on our left, mysterious, side to have a small connection to the everyday world. I’ve never heard anyone in the Andes say this nor can I speak from my own experiences. This idea arose as I was writing this post and I offer it as something to consider.

Back to the main point. The first principle is to keep a clear distinction between our paña and our lloqe, between our ability to work in the everyday world and our ability to connect with the great ineffable mystery that is the Cosmos. The second principle is to bring these two aspects of our self into yanantin, a state of harmony with each other . When complementary opposites are brought into yanantin then something emerges that is greater than the sum of the two. This something is recognized in the Andes as a new life force, and it is meta to (above) the complementary energies from which it emerges (see the post Warmi-Qhari)

The Andean meditations move us into our left side, as we do the Andean meditations we become more familiar with that facet of our being. Interacting with our society and everyday world moves us into the right side, a facet of our being with which we are very familiar. Instead of being blown by the winds of circumstance into either our right side or our left side, we can choose from which side to operate at any moment, and the ‘you who can choose’ exists at a higher level than either. As we choose one or the other we become more aware of that higher level of our self that can make that choice. That’s really all it takes.

Meditation: After you have some experience with the Andean meditations and have noticed how they affect your experience of the world, and your energy, and how you feel, then there is a simple way you can move into the left side directly. Stand with your weight evenly balanced on both feet, then with a hand, or in your mind’s eye, draw a line down your body from your head to your feet that divides you into your right side and your left side, and while doing this use your intent (sincere pretending) to feel it divide your energy into your right side energy and left side energy. Then, just step sideways to your left and with intent step into your left-side energy and its connection to the non-ordinary, vast, mysterious, Cosmos. Being on the left side is a learned state, this ‘stepping into’ the left side can evoke an experience that is commensurate to what you have experienced in the other meditations.

Source: This differentiation between the right side (paña) and left side (lloqe), and the meditation for stepping into the left side, are from don Americo Yabar.

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On Doing Not Doing

Out beyond ideas…there is a field, I’ll meet you there.
Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)

I first ran into the concept of ‘not doing’ in the works of Carlos Castaneda. His early books, particularly Journey to Ixtlan and Tales of Power had a big effect on me when I was a young man. Later in my life I ran into ‘not doing’ again when I began working with don Americo Yabar. And more recently, I have run across it, in a most beautiful and pragmatic way, in the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. In the previous post I shared the basic outline of how and where to practice ‘not doing’ as part of the Andean approach for exploring our relationship with Nature and the Cosmos. In this post I would like to express more about what I think ‘not doing’ is all about, and also share some techniques for ‘not doing’ that I have found to be useful.

My awareness is almost always focused upon the products of my mind. The mind is an incredible thing, it takes all of the information reaching the senses and makes ‘sense’ of it all. That we see the world as consisting of separate objects rather than one undifferentiated mishmash of colors is thanks to the mind. Not only does my mind figure out, for example, that the chair I am looking at is an object separate from everything around it, it also places the object into the category of ‘chair’, so that when I look at the chair I don’t see just an ‘it’, I see a ‘chair’. That’s amazing when you think about it, and the mind is doing this all of the time we are awake with everything that we perceive. And that is just the start, not only does the mind identify and label everything reaching our sense organs, it also figures out–of all the millions of things happening around us at any one moment–what are the more important things to pay attention to. The mind also makes judgements about the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ of what is happening, and how it affects our view of ourselves and of the people around us and of the world itself, and so on and so on up to more and more abstract levels. The mind may also wander away from what is happening here and now, to consider instead what has happened in the past or might happen in the future, or what might be happening elsewhere. The workings of the mind are accompanied by an internal dialog, a flow of thoughts that accompanies the process of the mind making sense out of the world. Our normal state of awareness is to simply experience and act on the interpretation of the world that our mind presents to us, this is so much our habitual experience that we mistake the interpretation of reality presented to us by the mind as being reality itself.

To say that our mind is massively useful would be a gross understatement. It is rather helpful when putting on your clothes to know what part of reality is you and what part of reality is not, and when eating to know what is food and what is not, and to know why you need to have a job and how to get there, and how the refrigerator opens, and that you need to look both ways before crossing the road, and so on and so on and so on and…well…everything we need to know to live in this world.

After acknowledging its indispensable utility I’d like to point out that the mind is, like, totally mental (sorry…idiomatic joke). It can only give us its mentally created interpretation of reality, not reality itself. Reality is beyond all the thoughts, concepts, ideas, perceptions and feelings we have about it. We can use words and ideas to point at that, by saying that the essence of reality is ineffable, and that it is vastly more mysterious and wondrous than our minds can possibly encompass. And the same is true of us, we are more mysterious and wondrous than our minds can possibly understand. We are the Beings from which our minds and their thoughts emerge, not the being created by our minds.

Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with any ideas, concepts, or beliefs you have about yourself. Knowing yourself deeply involves experiencing yourself at the level of Being.  Eckhart Tolle (paraphrase).

In his book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle points out that we are not the experience created by our minds (our perceptions, our thoughts, our feelings), we are instead the experiencer, we are consciousness. Consciousness cannot be known, for it is the knower not what is known, and while we cannot ‘know’ consciousness we can become aware of our existence as consciousness itself, we can sense it here and now as our very Presence. When we move our awareness to consciousness itself we experience the world beyond/before/behind the interpretations of the mind. This is the basic dance step of the mystic.

While we cannot understand or talk about that which lies beyond all our mental constructs of reality we can use words as guideposts to help us get there. Carlos Castaneda, Americo Yabar, and Eckhart Tolle are all excellent sources for how to proceed down this path. I have culled a variety of techniques from them that I have found to be useful and I present some of them below. Sometimes one technique seems to work better than others, and on some days when I am doing the not doing meditation I may have to try more than one before my experience starts to shift. And on some days, of course, nothing works. Here are some hints (adapted from Tolle’s book):

*Move your consciousness away from the products of your mind (perceptions, emotions, and thoughts) and be aware of your consciousness itself. Let go of thought, become still and alert, and feel your own presence, become your own consciousness.

*Time is a construct of our mind, outside of the mind there is only eternity, ‘eternity’ defined not as an infinite length of time but as the state of timelessness. One way to ‘not do’ is to enter completely into Now. I played around with this for a while, a few times a day I would ask myself ‘is it still now?’, and then I would notice where my experience went when I checked out whether it was indeed still now. What I found was that for me there is something that is always there in my experience when I check out ‘now’. Now I can sometimes just go directly there…where was I…oh yeah. At times I can just go directly to that experience of now. The mind can only interpret reality within a flow of time, it can’t do its thing in pure now (eternity), but consciousness is still there.

*When my internal dialog has the bit in its teeth and has taken off I find it very difficult to enter the now, and I have found the following steps help me get started. First I pay attention, exquisitely, to my breathing. I can’t do that fully and carry on with my mental internal dialog at the same time. After doing that for a while I pay attention to the living energy of my body, the sensations that are available which inform me that my body is indeed still here and alive, it is kind of a gentle tingling within the body but not really tingling…just check it out to see what I mean. That puts me in the present moment as well, then I go on to fully enter the now as described in the preceding paragraph.

*We can only perceive light because dark also exists. Without darkness we could not see light. We can only hear sounds because silence also exists. Without silence we could not hear sounds. Listen to the ever-present silence that is the background to all sound.

*’Doing’ involves paying attention to the various forms (chairs, people, words) that our mind creates out of reality and also attending to the meaning our mind applies to those forms. Let that go, experience what you experience before your mind has organized the world for you. A way that works for me is to attend to the void out of which the forms arise.

So, how does this all tie into the Andean approach? For me it ties in by being something that I have been encouraged to do by Americo. (Paraphrase) “Just go out in Nature, and ‘not do’, especially ‘not doing’ thinking. If the power permits, that is all you have to do, there is no ‘process’ to do, there are just vibrations, your energy and the energy of Nature and how your energy begins to change when you do this. That’s it. I recommend that you do it a lot.” (personal communication). The challenge, by the way, in quoting Americo is that I almost never write down what he says when he says it. I sometimes write it down later that day, or perhaps the next, and then often I just jot down a cryptic note that I then expand back out at a later time to the best of my understanding.

There is a significance to practicing ‘not doing’ in Nature, in a place of salka. I have found this to be a common thread in many of the sources who have had an influence on my view of reality over the years: don Americo Yabar (of course), and as already mentioned the writings of Carlos Castaneda (Journey to Ixtlan and Tales of Power) and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), as well as the writings of Alan Watts (e.g. Man, Woman, and Nature) and the anthropologist Gregory Bateson (e.g. A Sacred Unity). I would like to share with you my distillation of what they have to say about this. I prefer to speak from my own experience but in this area I have not gone far enough down the path, so what I would like to share instead is my understanding of what lies down this path, for it is this understanding that draws me to want to explore it.

Here it is. We as Beings have emerged from the higher order patterns of the conscious Cosmos. The Cosmos can be said to have a greater-than-human ‘intelligence’ if we don’t limit our meaning of ‘intelligence’ by having it only apply to the sort of mental intelligence that arises from the human mind. Just as we Beings have emerged from the higher order patterns of the Cosmos our minds have emerged from within us. The mind, then, is a product of higher order patterns and there is no way that our mind can comprehend the patterns, the processes, from which it emerged. It is not a matter of not being clever enough, it is instead simply impossible for the mind to understand its own origins. It would be like a knife trying to cut its own edge, like trying pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, like a mirror trying to see itself. The mind cannot possibly know the consciousness from which it arose for consciousness is the knower, and when the knower becomes the known it is no longer the knower. Consciousness retreats exactly as fast as the mind pursues, for it is the pursuer.

Now, the mind knows how to create things, for example, a clock. The process the mind uses to create things is not the same process the Cosmos used to create the mind, for the mind is much more limited than the Cosmos and operates off of different principles. We in the West live in a physical and social world that has been predominantly shaped by the human mind, which is one reason why the mind is so great at helping us get by in our society. Our human created world, however, tends to isolate us from an understanding of the higher order patterns of Nature and the Cosmos.

When we situate ourselves in a place of salka, and shift our consciousness from the content of our minds to the higher order Being who has a mind, i.e. move our awareness to consciousness itself, we experience our connection to Nature and the Cosmos, to the higher order, patterns, consciousness from which we emerge. We become, as Tolle puts it, conscious participants in the unfolding of the higher purpose of consciousness. As Americo puts it (comments in parenthesis are mine), the intelligence of the Cosmos is thinking about the solution for our current situation on this planet (‘thinking’ in the same sense that a flower contemplates blooming) and when the time is right (e.g. it is time to blossom) all we need to do is to be in harmony with the Cosmos. ‘Not doing’ in Nature is a way to do this.

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The Three Centers of Being (Part 2)

If you have yet to read Part 1 on this topic I recommend that you read it first. This post covers the same concepts introduced in the post The Crazy Ape (which I also recommend that you read), but with a slightly different slant that we can now consider given what we have covered in this blog.

The three centers of being (yachay, munay, and llankay), when applied metaphorically to cultures, provide a useful way of thinking about the environmental crisis we face and how we might approach it. Western society has the knowledge (yachay) and the technology (llankay) to head towards a future of greater health and beauty on this planet, not just for we humans but for the diversity of life. We seem, however, to lack the heart (munay) to do so.

The indigenous people of Peru (I am thinking specifically of the Qero because I am most familiar with them) have the heart. The Qero (also spelled Q’ero) are as developed in the munay as the West is in technology and knowledge. Knowledge about our planet’s environmental crisis and the technology to address it are crucial elements to solving the problem, but they may not be enough. The Western view of reality which leads us to being so great at technology and knowledge also tends to disconnect us at a very important and deep experiential level from Nature. The Andean Cosmovision puts us deeply into the experience of our connection with Nature, but it does not lead to the knowledge and the technology to address the problems we have created. My hypothesis is that an important step toward solving the environmental crisis would be to build a bridge between the two Cosmovisions. Americo Yabar and other Andeans are working to build a bridge from the Andes to the West. Other Westerners and I are working to build a bridge from the West to the Andes.

It might be possible to bring together experts from the various cultures, experts on the environment and technology from the West, and on the munay from the indigenous cultures, to map out the course our species needs to take. Or perhaps what we need to do is to develop and integrate the yachay, munay, and llankay within ourselves. That is part of what I am working on within myself. In this Salka Wind site I am endeavoring to give you all I can to help you follow a similar path if you would like. I say ‘part of what I am working on’, for the ‘three centers of being’ are but part of the Andean people’s vision of who we are and what our relationship can be with Nature and the Cosmos. I’ll be covering other aspects of their vision as this blog progresses.

One of the themes of this blog is ‘we can still head toward a future of greater beauty on this planet and this is one way that might work’. This was not my intent going into the study of Andean mysticism, the theme emerged as I was looking for ways of bringing my studies in Peru into my discipline of psychology, and finding that ecopsychology was a good fit. Even if it was not my original intent it is very congruent with my own values, cares, and concerns. I would like, however, to share that thinking of the Andean Cosmovision as a means to a desired end (healing the planet) does not encompass it, there is something more going on (‘means to an end’ is a very yachay thing) that will either connect with your munay through its love and beauty, or not.

There are three things in the universe: 1) those things the yachay (intellect) understands; 2) those things the yachay does not understand but eventually will (e.g. through advancements in science); and 3) those things the yachay will never understand (e.g. the munay and llankay).

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