Inka Wisdom
Inka Wisdom
Inka spirituality: lessons for the modern world

By Kathy Sanchez

“When I was a little boy of maybe 6 or 7, I used to get up very early, usually around 5:30 am. After getting out of bed, I would run to my grandfather’s bed and watch him sleep. You see, my grandfather was my teacher; everything about him fascinated me.  So, I got up early because I wanted to see exactly how he woke up in the morning—what did he do when he first opened his eyes?  How did he get ready for the day ahead?”

“After several days of seeing me at his side when he first awoke, he finally explained his morning ritual to me.”

“’At the moment I awake every day, as soon as I open my eyes, my very first conscious thought is directed toward Father Sun (Inti in my grandfather’s Quechua language),’ my grandfather said. ‘I thank the sun for lighting my way so that I can continue one more day on my path of ascension.’”

“‘Next, I inhale deeply and express my gratitude to Wayra, the wind, for giving me the air I need to breathe to continue my path of ascension for one more day. After I get out of bed, I go to the washbasin to cleanse my face and hands. And as I begin my morning cleansing ritual, I say a prayer of reverence to Uno, the spirit of the water, and give thanks for the many ways it supports my life, from hydrating my body and cleansing the dirt from my skin, to providing the essence of all life.’”

“’Finally, I go down to the breakfast table to have my morning meal. And I give thanks to Pachamama, Mother Earth, for providing me sustenance and nourishment to continue my journey of ascendance.  For I know that by taking the fruits of Pachamama into my body, I am partaking in sacred mass—a true communion with life’s four vital elements—water, air, the sun and the earth.’”

“’I also thank my wife, who balances me with her female energy, completing our family. Like Pachamama herself, my wife nutures me by preparing my morning meal. That is how I begin each day. Anyone who wishes to walk the path toward ascendance must create his or her own prayer to each of the four elements and practice it daily,’ he advised me gravely.”
That conversation between Evaristo Pfuture and his grandfather could also be a lesson on how to align oneself with the Universe from the moment you awake.

Pfuture is now an Inka spiritual teacher and professor of human nutrition and Quechua (the language of the Inkas) at the Universidad de San Augustín in Arequipa, Peru. He also serves as a spiritual guide, teacher and interpreter for spiritual seekers who travel to the sacred sites in and around Cuzco, Machu Pijchu, and Peru’s Sacred Valley.

Why practice Inka spirituality?

Most people who participate in Inka spirituality workshops or make the journey to Peru already have their own belief system(s). They typically aren’t searching for a totally new spiritual paradigm; rather, they want to strengthen and expand on their own, unique forms of spirituality. Inka (also known as Andean) spiritual practices are a powerful addition to just about any spiritual tradition because they are both simple and very effective, and they remind us yet again that in every second of our lives, we are participating in something very important, something much larger than ourselves.

By visiting (physically or through intention) the sacred sites with deep reverence in our hearts and communicating with nature and the elements, we were helping to re-energize each site (or waka in Quechua), to restore its energy, healing power and its capacity as a place of connection for us and Pachakamaq—the universal, refined energy that reigns in the upper world of Spirit. As we help strengthen the energy of the waka, we reinforce the power of that vortex to help us to continue in our spiritual ascendance.

“Each time a ceremony is performed, whether it’s to honor a waka, to connect with one or more of nature’s elements [earth, sun/fire, wind/air or water], or to recycle living energy, Pachakamaq gives us a little more information that helps us continue our journey toward ascendance, toward our highest path,” says Andean spiritual practitioner Ricardo Sanchez, founder of, an organization dedicated to sharing the wisdom and spirituality of the Inkas. Sanchez is quick to point out that people can perform such ceremonies and exercises anywhere and at any time. “The beauty of the ceremonies and exercises is that you can do them anytime, no matter where you are in the world. You don’t have to be in Peru to practice Inka spirituality.”

“The key is to form your intention to connect with the energies of one or more elements in the natural world, and through that energy, with Pachakamaq itself,” Sanchez explains. “It’s important to realize that the heavy energy (such as self-serving thoughts, unpleasant emotions, or even physical pain) that humans tend to generate or experience, is like food to Pachamama and the other natural elements. When we use our intention to lovingly release that heavy energy—called ‘hucha’ in Quechua—to Pachamama on a regular basis, we feed Her. At the same time, Pachamama helps us to regenerate ourselves by simultaneously sending us ‘Sami’ or pure, refined energy in exchange for the hucha that we give to Her. If we fail to recycle our ‘hucha,’ it can build up within us. When that happens, we might feel depressed or grumpy or like we have a grudge against the world; and if we let it accumulate for a really long time, it may even manifest physically through disease.”

How we ascend: the seven levels of consciousness

As we begin to consciously work with the living energies in our lives, we can begin to ascend to higher levels of consciousness, individually and as a society. The Inkas believe that there are seven levels of consciousness, said Professor Pfuture. As we progress through these levels, our view of the Universe continues expanding, as does our awareness and concern for others. 

At the first level, we are innocent and unconscious in most ways, unable to discriminate between our self and others. We focus primarily on individual survival in the first level.

We learn the ability to discriminate between good and bad at the second level, as well as between our self and others. While at the third level, we not only capable of discrimination, but also of choosing to align ourselves with good. We also acquire the beginnings of the ability to heal in a very specific, specialized way, on the physical plane. On the soul plane, we begin to become aware of consciousness. Currently, most of humanity vacillates between the third and fourth levels, Pfuture says.

We begin to develop our ability as specialized healers on the fourth level, using tools to help us in our healing practices. On the soul level, we move beyond simple awareness of consciousness and begin to live purposefully, in consciousness. We begin to reduce the intake of toxins (such as alcohol, processed food products, etc.) into our physical bodies, while we practice reverence toward nature and increased conscious awareness in our daily lives. 

We are aware, in the fourth level, that there is no difference between harming another and harming oneself. We know that we are all one and we realize that separateness is an illusion.  We are aware that all life depends upon and consists of the four natural elements—air, water, light energy and earth.

Also in the fourth level, we begin to consciously recognize that we are larger than our egos; rather, we become aware that our egos are simply tools that our minds have created to gain control over our behaviors, our desires and our essence. Likewise, as our understanding regarding our oneness with the Universe grows, we begin to recognize the futility of self-aggrandizement, social climbing and similar behavior, and we naturally begin to decrease our attachment to and desire for material possessions and other excesses.

At the fifth level, we become more proficient healers, becoming capable of healing in a more generalized fashion, rather than specializing in specific healing segments. Our healing ability grows even further as we progress to the sixth level. Specializations are obsolete at this point, as we become capable of healing through intention alone, no longer requiring tools to assist us. Likewise, sixth-level practitioners have no desire to take toxins into their bodies, no longer considering them edible.

Community and reciprocity (ayllu and ayni) acquire increasing importance as we advance from one level to the next. By the time we reach the sixth level, individuality has little value, as we focus instead on contributing to our communities. Self-interest disappears and community service becomes the main goal; people strive to help others, thereby establishing a sacred balance in which one gives with abandon, and receives according to his or her needs.  
People who have ascended to the sixth level immediately recognize those who have reached the seventh level. Seventh level souls are teachers of those at lower levels of consciousness. They know that it is their obligation to help those at lower levels to ascend, as well. They teach by exemplifying the four Inka principles: be honest; be faithful; work hard and serve others with love; and be truthful.  Consequently, they are the most humble, wisest and most powerful souls in our Universe; they demonstrate nothing but respect and reverence for the natural world and all its elements, and they are masters of the living energies. Jesus of Nazareth or the Buddha are among the best-known examples of seventh-level beings.

The four elements and the natural world

People sometimes misunderstand the Inkas’ reverence for the four elements and the natural world, confusing that reverence with paganism or “nature-worship.”  However, the Inkas do not “worship” nature or the four elements—air, water, earth and the sun (or light energy)—as God-like entities in and of themselves. Rather, they see the elements as conduits through which we can divine various aspects of the Great Unmanifested Energy (a.k.a The Divine, God, the Universe, Spirit, All That Is, or as the Inkas call it, Pachakamaq or Viraqocha).

The four elements and nature itself are sacred because they consist of living energies that offer us a portal to the Divine. By connecting with the elements, the sacred sites (wakes) or specific aspects of nature (the condor in South America or the eagle in North America, for example), we can establish a direct connection with the unmanifested energy of the spiritual realm. Establishing such a connection on a frequent basis and living according to the four Inka principles (be truthful, work hard, be honest and be faithful) accelerates both our own ascendance and that of the rest of humanity.

The Inkas: Teachers, not Conquerors

The Inkas, many of whom had reached the fifth, sixth, or seventh levels of consciousness, have served as teachers to people at lower levels since at least the 1400s. As such, they profoundly understood the importance of the elements as natural conduits to the Sacred. That is why they devoted so much study, care and time, as well as so many physical and human resources to constructing and maintaining their plethora of sacred sites.

Once you know what to look for, you begin to realize that the Inkas expressed their reverence for Pachakamaq, the Divine, in everything they did. They adorned their creations, from clothing to drinking cups to the great stone walls of their buildings, with symbols of the Divine. For example, the Inkas valued gold and used it amply in their adornments, not to demonstrate wealth, but because it represents the light of Father Sun (Tayta Inti), the source of all masculine energy, which like all feminine energy, comes directly from Pachakamaq.
Textbooks on Latin American history are filled with accounts of the supposed Inka “reign” over much of South America in the 1500s, implying that the Inkas “ruled over” a huge territory, conquering every other nation they encountered. Indeed, at the height of their so-called “power,” from the 1400s to the 1530s, the Inkas led and administered an extended community of peoples that spanned six modern-day countries in South America—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Unfortunately, these accounts greatly distort the true relationship of the Inkas with their so-called subjects. The Inkas were not conquerors at all; rather, they were seventh level teachers who were called to help other peoples ascend to higher levels of consciousness.

Unlike the governments of most modern-day societies, the leadership of the Inkas was strongly rooted in spirituality and based on a deep respect for the value and interdependence of all things in nature, as well as a recognition that humans are simply one part of nature, not the center of it. Even the Spanish conquistadores recognized the true nature of the Inkas’ leadership, as evidenced in their writings.

Cieza de León wrote:truly, there are few nations in the world that, in my opinion, had a better government than the Inkas.” 

Polo de Ondegardo said: “hunger didn’t exist in that kingdom.”

Blas Valera wrote: “the kings of Peru were so loved by their people that even today, the indians who have become Christians cannot forget them. Before doing anything at all, they weep and moan out loud, chanting and howling, they call out to them one by one, by name. Why don’t we ever read of any ancient kings of Asia, Africa or Europe that were so caring, so calm, so generous, frank and liberal as the Inka kings were with their people?”

The good news is that the teachings and spiritual practices of the Inkas are still accessible to us today, thanks to the careful, loving efforts of the relatively few communities of direct Inka descendants, who have worked to preserve and restore their ancestors’ wisdom. If we honor their efforts by becoming familiar with the Inkas’ ways, we will benefit tremendously, both personally and as a worldwide community, and we will take an important step in our quest to live in continual alignment with the Universe. How different our own world might be if we became as adept as the Inkas at incorporating our principles and values into every aspect of our work and play, from the moment we first awake and the moment we fall asleep?  

Notes: (1)Pfuture, Evaristo; “Inka Spirituality;”

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