In the traditions of the Andes, ayni is a way of life. This Quechua word has no real translation but loosely summarized means sacred reciprocity, merely one of the life-affirming teachings about balance and flow. I’ve taken it to heart—and attempted to pass the teaching on in my home culture. I say “attempt” because it’s been a real challenge where, in Western culture, it’s so much more about “winning” on an individual level. In other words: What’s In It For Me? When I was a fledgling organizational development consultant decades ago, I even remember being taught to appeal to people through “WIIFM”…in teambuilding workshops, a paradox for sure.
A Marker in Spiritual Evolution
My sense is that when a person reaches certain markers in their spiritual evolution there’s an inherent understanding of the circle of life—that to hoard interrupts a natural flow, not only to the individual, but affects global wellbeing detrimentally. Instead, there’s an automatic desire to give in whatever ways can be given…and there’s no obsession about how something will be received in turn—what is “due” on the other side.
How Sacred Reciprocity Connects Us
In a recent post, I reviewed Jamie Reaser’s new book of poetry Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life with beautiful verses about exchange with the Infinite through nature. Ayni touches many places in our lives.
In my review of the documentary El Andalon I introduced you to humanitarian healer Don Sergio Castro, who works with impoverished Maya communities around San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico. It was an act of ayni on the part of filmmakers Veremos Productions to have produced it and are donating part of the proceeds to his mission.
Without that film I wouldn’t have known about Don Sergio’s work. As a result of that introduction, audiences with Don Sergio are now part of the itinerary of my spiritual travel program in Chiapas. I’ve asked travelers to bring simple first aid supplies to donate, along with a monetary amount I will make as an offering.
But it doesn’t stop there. One of my subscribers, who lives in France, contacted Patricia Ferrer, who is in Tucson and connected with Don Sergio, alerting her to my review. Patricia has been volunteering with Don Sergio for a few years now, spending between two to five weeks per year. She gives of her skills selflessly. We corresponded and I had the good fortune to meet her in person when I was recently in Tucson for a speaking engagement.
Here are some of Patricia’s words from the article The Circle of Life posted on Meg Pier’s blog View from the Pier:
…Many of the Indios do not want to go to the hospital as they feel discriminated against, they don’t trust the hospital system, and they don’t understand the system nor does the system understand them. Many times they wait too long to go to the hospital and when they finally do go they die as their condition has become too severe…
…Don Sergio knows these people well and even when he recommends they go to the hospital they are still reluctant: some do, some don’t. The one constant is if they come to Don Sergio he will do his best to help them although he knows the outcome is not good. The unwavering trust from the Maya is clear when they arrive to his museo, which is also used as a clinic…
Another Opportunity for Ayni
We currently have six more openings for the January 13-25, 2013 Entering the Maya Mysteries program in Chiapas. A portion of tuition is tax-deductible and already designated toward Grandmother Flordemayo’s project to preserve Native seeds.
However, I have promised Patricia that, for each person she refers to me for registration through this blog post or otherwise, I will donate an additional $100 to Don Sergio’s work, aside from what I’ve already planned to personally donate. So, if you are someone who is called to practice ayni in this way while having a life-enhancing experience yourself, please contact Patricia through her blog, or me. When registering for the January program mention her name to ensure the additional donation will be made.
This is one way the circle of life continues to expand.
Ayni has a flow all its own.
Go to Sacred Reciprocity, Part II.
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I agree with your observations completely, Carla.
I see sacred reciprocity as a key ingredient for humans to navigate the current world situation successfully.
I am trying to deepen my practice of it in my own life.
Thank you for your insperation. I always appreciate what you have to share.
Wishing for you a blessed solstice time and a happy and abundant new year.