Ayni In Practice
Oakley Gordon, PhD writes in his blog Salka Wind that “Ayni is, perhaps, the most fundamental principle of the Andean Cosmovision… It does not fall easily into Western thought, for it is essentially about relationship while we in the West tend to focus on outcomes. Ayni is about a balance between giving and receiving; between people, between people and Nature, and between people and the Cosmos”
I have often times wondered if ayni really works in the western world, especially in large communities or cities? It seems rather obvious that in the small andean communities where ayni has been a way of life that if you help me collect wood and straw and then help me to build a roof on my new stone hut, that soon when you need my help I will gladly offer it back. But in cities good deeds and paying it forward on a regular basis sometimes feels as if the flow of energy can be a one way stream outward and away from you. When I give money to a homeless person, allow an aggressive driver to pass, hold a door open for an elder, praise an employee or give in many ways throughout my day I wonder if the “Bank of Karma” is listening for and recognizing the deposits? Perhaps I shouldn’t have these expectations, but I’m human and while I don’t look for a direct payoff I have been taught that in the end ayni provides for everyone and everyone is taken care of. So, I continue to give and practice ayni.
Well, in the last number of months I can say that ultimately ayni does work and it is a positive feedback loop and it does work in large communities, even in the global community. Let me share my story.
Several years ago I became friendly with a gal on Facebook who also practices in the andean way. She is a member of the Q’ero Mystics of Peru Group I set up on Facebook for people who want to learn more about the ways of the Q’ero and the Andean Spiritual Arts. Last Holiday season she approached me and asked for my help. She needed someone to edit a film for The Heartwalk Foundation. They are a non-religious not for profit that in their words “partners with indigenous Q’ero communities in Peru on projects that strengthen food security, education, and respect for traditional cultural practices.” I liked what I read about them and agreed to edit the video that would be used to raise funds for an alpaca barn which would protect the animals from the severe weather in the winter ensuring their survival which the Q’ero depend upon for theirs. The job paid nothing and they needed the video in one month. I accepted and also made an offer to anyone who purchased the Director’s Cut version of The Path of the Sun over the holiday season I would donate back 50% to The Heartwalk Foundation. Ultimately, I was able to give The Heartwalk Foundation nearly $400 for the Alpaca barns. Well, if any of you who are reading this story are a capitalist or understand the economics of the western way of life, this approach to making a living seems backwards at best. I’m sure if I presented this concept on Donald Trump’s show The Apprentice I would have been “FIRED” and kicked off the show ;) For me, it was not about the money, but helping the Q’ero who have given so much to me. As far as I know, none of the Q’ero even know I helped promote the video which helped raise funds to save their animals. But I know inside I did a good thing and was happy. So, this is an example of the first part of ayni. I gave and had no expectation of receiving anything in return, but if I’m honest I would say that I hoped “Bank of Karma” accepted the deposit.
Well, it sure did and the ayni came back in a completely unexpected way.
Several weeks ago I received a call from Penelope Eicher who founded The Heartwalk Foundation with her husband Tim. Penelope invited me to join her and The Heartwalk Foundation team on their annual journey to Q’eros. They are bringing me along to film several mini documentaries about health related issues, namely the need for a healthcare facility and cultural stories of the elders. In the next coming weeks I will be blogging about the projects in detail. We leave on September 7th. Returning to Q’eros has been a dream of mine and I was not sure if that was going to happen anytime soon. But the universe listened and I will be journeying back next month.
In honor of the ayni that Oakley Gordon also says “is the organizing principle for the flow of energy in the expanded view of reality of the Andes.” I can say that it is part of my view as well. And in the spirit of ayni I am making the same offer that I did over the last holiday season and that is if anyone purchases the Director’s Cut version of my documentary films at The Path of The Sun I will donate back 50% of all sales to The Heartwalk Foundation to help fund the medical facility that I will be filming.
I have never been a person with a lot of patience, but I am glad in this case believing, having faith, continuing to pay it forward, paid off. Ayni works!
Best as always