April/May 2010 Volume 62Welcome to this bi-monthly edition of our newsletter! You will find these columns contained in our April/May issue:
Carla Woody, Founder
Metaphors for Life
Excerpt of article: Andean Mysticism and Healing the Planet
First, let us consider what it means to 'know' something. In the West we usually think of knowledge as involving words. Intellectual knowledge, the realm of words, is the primary type of knowledge recognized by our culture, but there are some contexts where we recognize that a different kind of knowledge also exists. For example, I started off as a single, fertilized egg, and that egg 'knew' how to grow into me, an incredibly complex organism consisting of billions of cells all working together to create an adult body. That is an incredible feat, involving an unimaginable amount of 'how to' knowledge, but they won't give me a Ph.D. in biology for pulling it off, for it is not intellectual knowledge, it was not stored as words in my original cell, nor could I possibly put into words how it was accomplished. There are other types of nonintellectual knowledge as well, for example, the ability to play basketball well or play a musical instrument.
In the Andes they recognize three ways of knowing, each associated with a different part of our physical body. I have found this distinction to be very useful in organizing my thoughts about what the Andean culture has to offer and how it differs from our own. One way of knowing is through the yachay, which is located in the head. The yachay is the center of the intellect. A second way of knowing is through the munay, which is located in the heart. The munay is the center of love. And a third way of knowing is through the llankay, which is located slightly below the navel. The llankay is the center of the physical body.
The Andeans take the whole of who we are as a being and differentiate it into three aspects, sometimes, for they also differentiate it in other ways as well, into two aspects (the right side and left side of the body), or some other number, depending upon the context. After all, as a being we are a single, whole thing, that is what is real, and our differentiations are simply boundaries we draw around areas of the whole that seem different than other areas. The idea that we are as beings separate from the rest of the Cosmos is also just a differentiation we make, taking the entirety of the unified Cosmos and organizing it into 'me' and 'everything else'. Anyway, one class of distinctions the Andeans make in our existence is between the intellect (yachay), the heart (munay), and the ability to manipulate the physical world (the llankay), we can be differentiated in other ways as well.
I would like to focus on the munay, for the Andean people (and I suspect many other indigenous people in the world) are as expert in the munay as Western culture is in the yachay (intellect) and in technology (which could be considered to be an extension of the llanqay). The munay is located in the area of the heart and is the center of love. Now, from my education as a scientist and psychologist I view the idea that love is located in the heart as being a quaint, but totally incorrect, vestige of days long gone by, for I know that the heart is just a biological pump, and that emotions are run by the brain. I am, however, wrong in a very important way.
The munay is located in the area of the heart and it is the center of love, but this is different than how we usually use the term. By 'love' I don't mean an emotion. Emotions are pretty much run by the brain. Our emotions arise from how we think about what is going on around us, which is why two people don't necessarily have the same emotional response to the same stimulus. The love of the munay is not an emotion, it is not romantic love, or sentimental, or capable of jealousy, the love of the munay is the experience of being interconnected to the rest of the Cosmos. Perhaps the term 'love' doesn't quite fit and we should have a different word for it, or perhaps it is the deepest meaning of the term 'love.'
The way to access these various ways of knowing is by moving your consciousness there. My normal way of being is to have my consciousness in my head, right behind my eyes, the realm of the intellect, the yachay. It is possible, however, to move your consciousness to the area of your heart. At least 'moving your consciousness' is the best description I can give for the experience, for that is what it feels like to me. Being able to do this is part of what it means to 'know' the Andean approach.
In this exploration of the munay the intellect is not invited, I cannot be in both my munay and my yachay at the same time. They are both important, the yachay, the intellect, is a wonderful gift for us to have, but so is the munay, and we simply can't be in both places at the same time.
Don Américo Yábar
Once I was participating in a ceremony on the slopes of Apu Pachatusan, a sacred mountain that is the supporting pillar of the Cosmos. Before the ceremony we, the paqos and my friends, were sitting on the earth (the Pachamama) having a picnic. A very old woman approaced us. My memory of her is that she had shiny black eyes (I don't even know if that is possible) and was so short that she was almost at my eye level as I sat. She was dressed in the traditional skirt and sweater, and wore a tall, white, stove-pipe hat. She walked up to me and with a smile said something to me in Quechua, I had no idea what she was saying. My friend Américo (Yábar) responded to her (in Quechua), she said something back to him and then turned toward me again. Américo said something else and she got a beautiful smile on her face and turned and walked away. I asked Américo what that was all about. He said "she told you that she had some very nice chickens that you might want to look at. I told her, thank you mama, but my friend does not have any use for your chickens. She replied, but they are very nice chickens, he might want to see them. And so I told her, I'm sorry mama, but he can't use your chickens, but he could use you caressing his dreams tonight with your gentle hands." I felt as if I were in a song.
So, in the world of the munay, if we are to talk about it at all, we need to move out of the intellect, out of distinctions between what is true and what is false. Perhaps the best way to talk about the munay is with poetry, where truth and falsity are also irrelevant, and where words are used to point at what cannot be addressed in any other way. I am not a poet, but I can tell stories, and perhaps that will suffice.
© 2008 Oakley Gordon. Reprinted with permission.
Oakley Gordon is a research psychologist physically living in Utah but with a foot in the Andes, straddling both worlds equally well with much munay. Oakley serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for Kenosis Spirit Keepers. To read the complete article, please visit the Kenosis Spirit Keepers library.
To learn more about Don Américo Yábar and work with the Q’ero and Mollamarka paq’os, please see our Spiritual Travel to Peru Program.
More often than not, the publications or music you will find reviewed here will not be new or "bestsellers." Websites or organizations may not be well known. But all are spotlighted by virtue of their impact and value.
Set by the Ancients:
A Mystical Journey of Trust, Love and Adventure
There are those among us who are called out of an ordinary life and heed the invitation; who hear inner messages and listen to the direction even when the why or wherefore is unclear. Answering the call is a measure of faith. Such is the case with Paul and Phoebe Hoogendyk. This is their recounting of a spiritual path that has taken them on a global journey, to far-flung and unlikely places, but for specific purpose. Guided by unseen advisors, they were asked to undertake a pilgrimage across continents carrying the Greenstone of New Zealand, sacred to the Maoris, to make a connection with other Indigenous cultures and lands. To do so means to set aside convention and the well-meaning cautions of family or friends, a willingness to be called crazy and even be put in sometimes risky situations. In their book, they have given honest voice to their own evolution, the poignant mixture of beauty and pain that it takes to grow; and the rare joy of communion, sitting in sacred ceremony with Indigenous elders and fellow travelers along the way. Set by the Ancients is inspired through the Paul's and Phoebe's joint belief in the absolute ability of individuals to affect global consciousness and invites us all to have the courage to jump in accordingly with complete immersion.
I’ve been honored to share in part of their mission when they traveled with me. In 2005, after a despacho ceremony with Don Américo Yábar and a Quechua paq'o, the Greenstone found a resting place in a lagoon at over 18,000 feet in altitude on Apu Ausangate in the Cusco Region of Peru. In 2007 Don Antonio Martinez of the Lacandón Maya granted permission for the Greenstone to be placed in one of their sacred sites. We all watched from the banks as a young Lacandón man paddled Paul and Phoebe out in a traditional canoe to the middle of Lake Najá. With mist adding to the Mystery, after further ceremony, the Greenstone met the sacred waters and gained entry.
To learn more about the work of Phoebe and Paul Hoogendyk and to purchase the book, go to the Ancient Pathways website.
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