First, it is important to say a word about how we approach these understandings which is with reverence and curiosity understanding that these ideas are built from many peoples experiences. Many of the elders of this wisdom tradition came to these truths in a very different method that employed by western (think “enlightenment through empiricism”) society. Much of the wisdom within Inca and Andean thinking was distilled through more than what western culture understands as “thinking”. The ideas and the framework created from them was distilled through the study of symbols. Each symbol does not translate as a “fact” as it does in empirical thinking. Rather, it translates as story. So, it is a matter of figuring out from an overlay of symbols left behind at different times and places how to integrate these various stories into a meta narrative.
Friends and colleagues, Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow have a way of describing this process. Their focus has largely sought to create a more reverent and vital relationship between science and religion. Trying to marry ‘evolution’ and ‘creationism’ has, in many hands, been a fools errand. But Dowd speaks about the kind of interpretation needed to read or translate the language. He would say to those who question any who offer credibility to writings that describe snakes and angels talking or bushes burning without being consumed as ‘night language,’ which is to say metaphoric, poetic, symbolic. The language of rational and emperic science – ‘day language’ – is more ‘factual,’ measurable, more readily comparable.
The work before Evaristo and the spiritual ascenders that follow is to find the light by searching in the dark. This process of excavating wisdom from these ancient traditions is not a competition between two cultures or two sides of the brain, but an art of discovering the complimentary nature reaching out from each and connecting both together.
Through this disclaimer, I’m partly trying to explain that our exploration in this place at this time is not one that possesses the exclusive rights to truth or attaining higher levels of consciousness. In fact, it is already clear from what I’ve seen in four days that there is much that Inca wisdom has in common with Buddhist wisdom, Hindu wisdom, Native American Spirituality and even some Abrahamic mysticism.
It is also important to convey that our particular ‘tour’ or ‘exploration’ is ritual based. That is, it is very experiential – where we are going through some ancient practices as a way to engage with the symbols rather than just rational discourse and study. The body plays a powerful role in discerning and distilling information which is radically different since, in Western practices, religion is often conveyed only from the neck up and the body’s incredible capacity to receive and transmit energy and information has atrophied from being long ignored and dormant.
So, as I describe these ‘experiences,’ understand that they are offered, experienced, translated (very imperfectly by me) and offered without critical diagnosis or judgment. To employ such filters would infect the transmission and severely limit my own understanding. In the end, I may or may not be able to integrate some or all of these lessons and stories. But unless I invite them into my awareness in as close to the pure form as they are presented to me, I will simply be intellectually toying with profund ideas that are designed to engage human beings on a more comprehensive sensory, intuitive and spiritual level.
Evaristo explains that it is important to keep the ideas of community and reciprocity as pillars upon which this foundation of wisdom is built. I-me, I-you and I-all relationships are mutually primary and are in indispensably interdependent conversation. It is also crucial to understand that this wisdom comes from a long history of people for whom the mountains, animals, elements (earth, air, water and fire) and spiritual conversation/connection are not just concepts. They are strong, dynamic and ever present sources of energy and wisdom as reliable as anyone who is next to you in the room. These present sources of energy shape the lives and history of these people and it is important to be reverent. We are here to learn from one another.
So, with that said, let´s go back to the 12 pointed rock.
This is a rock that is at the heart of the Inca system of wisdom and it was the first thing that we saw on our tour.
It exists approximately a half mile away from the traditional square in Cuzco along a narrow alleyway.
One would never notice it if it weren´t for the flurry of tour groups and guides that come by and let people know what it is. Most people know that it is a crucial piece of the Inca wisdom tradition. Not many tour guides know why.
The rock is symbolic because of the way it is able to describe developmental processes. Divide the rock (by the corners) into five vertical sections and call that time. Divide it into four horizontal sections and call that growth or maturity. This describes the developmental process for human beings.
Starting from the right side, you see a thin slice of time which describes the life of a child. That section along the x-axis is considered about four years. But if you look how much growth happens (along the y-axis) and it is enormous.
A second section – describing the period of youth – is significant in years. And there is significant growth that´s usually seen (although if you compare to the growth achieved in childhood it is not as much. Adulthood corresponds to a great deal of time, but the growth is usually very small. And the time spent as an elder is both short with more emphasis spent on teaching than learning. Finally, there is a period of time spent dying.
This was how the Inca viewed growth over a lifespan. They broke down growth into three planes: Physical, mental and spiritual represented by three animal symbols
Physical – Puma
Mental/Psychic – Snake or serpant
Divine – Condor
Human development rests on a foundation of the four elements : Earth, Air, Fire, Water.
More tomorrow on the 7 levels of consciousness.