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Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Tag: filaments (page 2 of 2)

Connecting with the River

Two world views (both are valuable in the appropriate context): ask an engineer and a paqo to define pure water. The engineer may point at distilled water, a liquid that consists of nothing but H2O. The paqo may point at a spring where it bubbles out of the mountain slope; clear, cold, with dissolved minerals and perhaps bits of plants and insects.*

Go to a river, a river of pure water without industrial pollutants, flowing in its natural river bed. With intent greet your waiki (brother/sister) the river. Get in a comfortable position, for in this meditation being comfortable fits what we are about to do. Now, with your intent, open up your energy field and let your filaments commingle with the filaments of the river. Then just relax, let the flowing energy of the river cleanse your energy of any hucha you may have, and let the river teach you about the flow of energy.

When you are finished remember, not out of obligation but out of love, to complete the circle of ayni. Pour a little alcohol into the river, or toss three red and three white flowers into the river, and thank it for being your waiki. The first time I did this the sense I received back was, ‘Oh! Wow! Thanks, it’s been a long time since anyone has done that.’ and the river sparkled a little more brightly in the light of Tai Tai Inti.

All over the Andes, the people stretch out like lizards on the rocks next to the river, cleaning their energy.

* From a story told to me by don Americo.

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The Four Elements Meditation

Our ego consists of all the thoughts and beliefs we have about our self. A description, no matter how detailed, is not the same thing as what it is describing. All of the thoughts we have about who we are not the same thing as who we really are. We are much more mysterious than our thoughts can possibly encompass.

For this meditation it helps to be out into Nature, that is not necessary but in my experience it leads to a richer experience.  Enjoy!

Begin by using your intent (sincere pretending) to greet the element of earth (Pachamama). Connect with the earth, with your intent and an out breath send your filaments into the earth. Then bring your awareness to the earth inside of you, for much of our body is made up of elements of the earth. With your intent feel the unity of the earth upon which you stand and the earth within yourself.

Next, using your intent, greet the element of water. With an out breath connect your filaments to the rivers, the lakes, the oceans, the rain. Bring your awareness to the water inside of you, feel the unity of the waters upon the earth and the water within yourself.

Next, greet the element of fire. With an out breath connect your filaments to all of the fires burning on the planet, and with Tai Tai Inti (the great spiritual Being who is the sun). Bring your awareness to the slow fire within yourself that is your metabolism, feel the oneness of the fires upon the earth and the fire within yourself.

Next, greet the element of air. With an out breath connect your filaments to the air around you and any wind or breeze that may be caressing your body, connect to the immense movement of air around this planet. Bring your awareness to the air within yourself, flowing in and out of your lungs, and in and out of your bloodstream as it flows to and from all of your cells, feel the unity of the air upon the earth and the air within yourself.

And finally, let your energy expand vertically, down into the ground and up toward the Cosmos, until you become the Tree of Life.

 

…If you only read this meditation you won’t get it, it’s not about who we think we are, it is not about the concept that we are made up of the four elements. If you do this meditation you may experience some of your Being that is beyond thought. The ego is good, we need our ego to operate in this life, it is just helpful to not get too attached to it. The goal is not to get rid of the ego but to explore who we are beyond it, for this our ego needs to be willing to play second fiddle.

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Inside / Outside

The Andean path that I have learned from don Americo Yabar has an inherent appreciation for natural balance. There are times, for example, when we want to be fully engaged in the energy of what is going on around us, dancing with it, being influenced by it and influencing it in return. There are also times when we may want to take a break from the dance and withdraw into the sanctuary of our own Being, to be contemplative rather than active, to rest. Here is a simple meditation which gives you that choice.

Begin by standing with your weight evenly balanced on your feet, and notice your present state, how your energy feels, what it is like to be you right now. Then, take one step forward and spread your arms in a gesture of opening up your energy field. Do this with the intent (sincere pretending) of letting your energy flow out and connect with the environment around you. Remain in this position long enough to perceive how this shifts your experience. Then, step back and bring your arms back in to a shielding position (e.g. cross your forearms on your chest). Do this with the intent of drawing in your energetic connections and creating a protective wall between you and your environment. The flavor of this latter position is not that of putting up a siege barrier, it is more that of entering a haven where you can relax within yourself.* Spend some time getting in touch with how this affects your experience.

The movements and gestures are like training wheels that support the corresponding intent, making the shift more obvious and thus easier to learn. You may find that other movements than the ones I described help you to shift into the appropriate state of being. After you have practiced this for a while the supporting physical movement can become more and more subtle until you can work with intent alone.

Source: don Americo Yabar

* This meditation can be used to avoid picking up hucha from what is going on around you, but I don’t want to presuppose that if you don’t like what is going on around you that the best option is to withdraw. There are also different meditations/processes that can serve you when you specifically want to protect yourself from hostile energy in your vicinity.

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The Three Centers of Being (Part 1)

In the Andes they identify three centers of our being; the yachay, the munay, and the llankay. Each center is located in a different part of the body and each provides a different way of perceiving and understanding reality.

The yachay is located in our head. It is our ability to think, in other words it is the intellect. In our culture, at least in my world of science and academia, logic is viewed as the epitome of thought. In the Andes, however, wisdom as a quality of thought is valued more than logic and intelligence. Wisdom is built upon life experiences, accompanied by an appreciation and understanding of the larger-than-individual and larger-than-humanity systems involved in any action. I would add that wisdom also implies some amount of caring and compassion. Wisdom, it would seem, implies a yachay that acts in accord with the other two centers, which we will turn to next.

The munay is located in our heart. It is the center of love. The ‘love’ associated with the munay, however, is not an emotion. Emotions are tightly connected to our thoughts. How we respond emotionally to an event is largely a product of the meaning we assign to it. But the love of the munay is not an emotion; it has nothing to do with romance or sex or sentimentality, and jealousy does not apply. Our yachay and its ability to analyze (i.e. break things into pieces) gives us the experience of being separate from everything else in the Cosmos. In the Andean Cosmovision the Cosmos is a vast network of interconnected filaments of energy and we, rather than being disconnected things, are part of that network. Through the munay we experience our connection with the rest of the Cosmos. The Cosmos has an underlying frequency, and it is our (beautiful) experience of tuning into that frequency through our munay that gets labelled with the closest available term ‘love’. (This definition of love comes to us from don Americo Yabar).

To experience reality through our munay we need to move our consciousness from our head to the area of our heart, and when we do, we experience a different way of perceiving and understanding the world. It may seem strange to speak of moving our consciousness to our heart (compared to, say, keeping our consciousness in our head and simply being aware of our heart). In my culture it is generally assumed that consciousness is always, must always, be in our head. The best way I have, however, for describing how to experience the munay or the llankay is that all we need to do is to move our consciousness there. I’ll be sharing some meditations for exploring this in later posts .

Now to the llankay. The llankay is located a couple of finger-breadths below our navel and a few inches inside our body. The llankay is the center of our physical being and its ability to come into physical manifestation. It is also described as our ability to work, to use our physical body to alter the world. At the center of the llankay is our ‘not-being’, where we are ‘no-thing’, from which our physical being emerges. The llankay is another location where we can place our consciousness and shift our experience of the Cosmos.

I have found the concept of these three centers (yachay, munay, and llankay) to be helpful in integrating my boy-scientist, Western upbringing (very yachay) with my experiences in Peru (very munay). Science, religion, philosophy are all of the yachay. They are immensely useful…and they cannot possibly understand the munay (and vice versa). The intellect can describe and explain and think about reality all it wants and it still does not overlap with reality as experienced by the munay or by the llankay. The integration of these three centers of being comes from a deeper level of ourselves. For me it was at this deeper level–beyond the distinction of the yachay, munay, and llankay–where the beauty and value of my explorations of munay eventually established a level of credibility that my intellect could acknowledge even if it could not understand.

I’ll be sharing some more thoughts about the yachay, munay, and llankay and providing some meditations related to them in upcoming posts (see below)

July 9, 2011:  The following subsequent posts are available:  The Three Centers of Being (Part 2), Tuning the Three Centers of Being.

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Andean Cosmovision: The Basics

One overriding factor to take into account when contemplating the Andean Cosmovision (view of the basic nature of the Cosmos) is that it is fundamentally different than that of Western* culture. This means that we can’t simply force their ideas into our own conceptual categories. The temptation to do so, however, is strong and rather automatic for we are accustomed to making sense of new things by relating them to what we already know.

We in the West essentially have two ways of viewing the basic nature of reality; through the lens of science or through the lens of (Western) religion. While these two approaches have some important differences they both arose within our culture and were built upon the same philosophical foundation. The indigenous Andean culture, however, does not share that foundation. Neither science nor religion have a counterpart in the Andean Cosmovision, and what they have (for which we have no corresponding terms) has no counterpart in our Cosmovision (or we would have corresponding terms).

Imagine, if you will, a view of reality that was not influenced by the Bible (where God as the creator stands outside of the creation and who made humans, alone of all the species, in His own image). It was not influenced by the classic Greek philosophers who emphasized the intellect as the highest form of knowledge, nor was it shaped by Descartes (the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’) who proposed that reality consists of two separate realms, a transcendent realm of spirit and mind and a physical realm of mindless energy and matter. If we wish to explore the Andean Cosmovision we need to let go of our normal way of thinking about the world and approach it with room for it to be something brand new, we need to be a more accommodating (letting new information change how we view the world) and less assimilating (making new information fit how we already view the world).

The Andean Cosmovision is mystical in its essence. Mysticism is the belief that words (including beliefs) are, at best, signposts or blueprints for how to connect directly with the sacred underlying nature of reality, and that it is that connection with the Sacred–not the words or beliefs–that is of fundamental importance. The Andean Cosmovision is not primarily about their beliefs, it is about the experience of reality that becomes possible with these beliefs, it is about the relationship with Nature and with the Cosmos that becomes possible with these beliefs. Neighboring villages in Peru differ somewhat in what they believe, as do paqos (mystics/shamans) within the same village, but those differences are irrelevant to being a paqo, for what matters is what they can accomplish through those beliefs. What they can accomplish arises from the loving and mutually supportive relationship with Nature and the Cosmos that is made possible and nourished by their Cosmovision.

Here is my representation of the Andean Cosmovision. Imagine the Cosmos as consisting solely of filaments of energy organized into a tremendous three dimensional web. Where the filaments come together to form a bundle or a node is what we experience as an object. You are such a node, as am I, as is my coffee mug sitting here by my keyboard as I type. There are some important consequences of this world-view:

  1. Everything in the universe is part of this web of filaments and so ultimately everything in the universe is connected to everything else. This means that a flow of information or energy or influence can exist between ourselves and anything else, including other people, the stars, the river, the wind, and the rest of the Cosmos.
  2. While these bundles of filaments, these nodes in the web of filaments, are distinct from each other they are really inseparable parts of the larger, unified whole that is the Cosmos. Perceiving the world as consisting of isolated objects and experiencing our consciousness as limited to just our own being is but one way of approaching the Cosmos, the way most supported by our Western Cosmovision. The ability to actually experience the Cosmos as an undifferentiated whole is a defining goal of every mystical approach of which I am familiar, including that of the Andean Cosmovision.
  3. While the nodes that constitute humans may differ in the way the are organized from the nodes that make up a stone or a tree, we are all just bundles of filaments of energy and the differences between us is less in the Andean perspective than in the perspective of Western culture (where the gap between being a stone and being human is immense indeed). The diminishing of the difference between types of objects in the Andean Cosmovision is tied at least partially to their view that everything is conscious.

In the Andean Cosmovision consciousness is an inherent attribute of the filaments, rather than being a byproduct of an advanced nervous system . The idea that stars, trees, and even stones are conscious is so far from how my discipline of psychology views consciousness as to make the idea seem ludicrous from that perspective. Consciousness, however, from the perspective of the intellect, is and must remain the ultimate mystery of the universe, for consciousness, while it can be experienced, cannot be understood. The intellect trying to understand consciousness is like a knife trying to cut its own edge. Consciousness needs to be separated from all of our concepts about it, including what we think about thinking and about being self-aware and so on. Rather than consciousness being something of dubious reality because it is so unapproachable intellectually, it is instead the most real thing in the universe, for consciousness is that out of which our ability to think emerges. But I digress.

Of all the nodes of filaments in our neighborhood of the Cosmos perhaps the most important one is the Pachamama, the great bundle of filaments, the incredible spiritual Being, who is our Cosmic mother the planet earth. While I call the Pachamama a ‘spiritual’ being she is not a transcendent spirit residing in the large rock we call earth. Western culture essentially only gives us two options for viewing ‘spirit’, that spirit is transcendent (e.g. a soul that descends from heaven to inhabit the physical realm) or that ‘spirit’ does not exist. The Andes provide a third option, that the planet itself is a great spiritual being, that the sacred is not separate from the filaments but is immanent in them. The Pachamama is not the great spiritual being who resides in the earth, she is the great spiritual being who is the earth.

Other important Beings (nodes in the web of filaments) include the Apus. The Apus are the great beings who are the majestic mountain peaks. While the Apus are physically part of the Pachamama they are also Beings themselves. This is a common feature of the Andean Cosmovision. The Cosmos is one tremendous web of filaments but it does have places where the filaments come together to form a node. The Pachamama is but a node in the whole web, yet she is herself; the Apus are but part of the node that is the Pachamama but they are themselves as well; a cultivated field (called a ‘chakra’) is but part of the Pachamama, but before planting the field the villagers communicate with and make offerings of gratitude to the chakra (the daughter of the Pachamama) as well as to the Pachamama herself.

The further we go into details about the Andean Cosmovision the more variations we will find across individuals, villages, and regions of the Andes. The version I have given is my personal, inevitably Western-flavored, account but I have found that it provides good support for my exploration of this Cosmovision and I offer it to you in the hope that it may serve you as well. Before drawing to a close I want to emphasize again that the beliefs themselves are of little importance, what is important is the loving and mutually supportive relationship with Nature and the Cosmos that becomes possible within this Cosmovision, within this relationship some beautiful and magical things can occur that cannot be understood by the intellect.

The Andean Cosmovision opens us up to a whole new way of understanding reality, a whole new realm for us to explore. This blog is essentially a guidebook based upon my experiences. Treat it as you would any guidebook, understanding that while it is meant to contain useful information that my tastes, evaluations, and interests may differ in some cases from your own, and that a guidebook is no substitute for actually going there.

*The distinction of Western (Occidental) vs. Eastern (Oriental) philosophy doesn’t really make sense in this context. I need, however, a term to refer to the view of reality that arose in Europe and that served as the foundation of modern, industrial, technological society. For simplicity of expression I simply call it ‘Western’ society.

 

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