By Don DeMercurio
In this video of a teaching given by our godson and teacher, Puma Quispe Singona, above the city of Cusco in the sacred valley of Peru, Puma gives a simple but profound teaching, "we are always seeding and we are always harvesting."
Our indigenous brothers and sisters who carry the wisdom teachings of our ancestors remind us that when we are seeing reality clearly we recognize that everything is a "being", including our thoughts and words.
One of the first teachings that we received when we began spending time with our family in Peru was a lesson in language. In the Quechua language there are no articles that create distinctions of separateness, such as: the, it, this, that. For example, we might be on an excursion somewhere and in seeing a beautiful vista, exclaim, "look at the mountain over there. Isn't it beautiful!" When Puma came to visit Vermont for the first time, before he ever arrived he made ceremony to ask permission of our Apu Abraham (Mt. Abraham in Vermont) to come and share his work with his brothers and sisters in the North. He instructed us in how to make offerings to Mama Champlain, Apu Camels Hump, Apu Deerleap, Sister New Haven River. It is recognized that each "Being" has a spirit that is a part of us. And, in that recognition, these beings are here to serve us just as we are all here to serve. Apu is a sign of respect, similar to our use of the word Sir, though having a greater meaning that doesn't translate into English. As I understand it, although the mountain spirits are generally seen as masculine in their physical manifestation they also have a feminine counterpart which comes to us in visions and dreams. The spirits of the waters are also feminine in nature.
This simple teaching is one way of understanding the principle of reciprocity or "Ayni" which isn't just a philosophy but an understanding of what it means to participate in the natural flow of creation. From the perspective of Integral theory, as we evolve me move through various structures of development. Philosopher, Jean Gebser described these 5 stages: archaic, magical, mythical, mental and integral. Humanity is on the verge of shifting out of the mental and into the Integral structure now.
As we experience the Integral structure our awareness opens to see that all of the prior structures are not less evolved and separate but co-existing realities. Depending on the level of development that we are perceiving life from our values and beliefs about life can be very different. In the archaic structure we recognize ourselves as the source itself without any sense of being an individual. This is a dimensionless reality. As we evolve into the magical structure we recognize ourselves as discreet forms, living in a one-dimensional reality that is time-less and space-less within nature and that our community must listen to nature in order to survive. Shifting into the mythical structure, the concept of soul begins to emerge and we come to know who we are through our stories. We recognize that there is a greater meaning to all of life that can be understood and expressed through myth. We can see the magical and mythical very much alive when we enter indigenous cultures. The mental structure which is where much of the developed world finds itself today seeks to appropriate meaning through the use of logic. And, Gebser describes the deficient form of the mental as the rational, which seeks to deny the other structures with its claim that humans are exclusively rational. As we are entering the Integral age Gebser suggests that, "In a world where know-how is overvalued, simple knowing must also be nurtured."
Our indigenous brothers and sisters are reminding us of how to reconnect with our cosmic nature and our place in the greater cosmos.
The impulse for this post came from a passage in the book, "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Here she offers a teaching from her people, the Potawatomi Nation. She summarizes the teachings that she received about honorable harvesting, recognizing that what we are harvesting is a life that we are intrinsically in relationship with.
Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Take only what you need and leave some for others.
Use everything that you take.
Take only that which is given to you.
Share it, as the Earth has shared with you.
Reciprocate the gift.
Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever.