Esoteric traditions of the old Inca empire
Dutch Journalist Liefhebber reports on a trip to Machu Pichu, where he met a tourist consultant with unusual insight into Incan traditions.
"At the full moon in June over 300,000 people go on a mass pilgrimage into the snowcapped mountains of the Andes, to a holy spot some 5,500 metres high. This festival is connected with the appearance in the skies of the stars of the Pleiades, a very important astronomical fact and to the Earth a vital energetic event. A tremendous stream of energy links our planet with the stars and it is this fact which brings all those people together in a highly spiritual attitude. Modern science accepts that the energies of the sun are vital for life on Earth. Yet it seems to be unable to understand that such streams of energy are reaching our tiny planet from everywhere. We are influenced by the energy outflow of planets and solar systems around us. In a human body the blood circulation connects and keeps alive all parts; likewise in the universe energetic circulations keep alive and relate planets and systems."
To those who have some knowledge of the esoteric teachings this information is unlikely to be an earth-shaking revelation. However, the circumstances in which I came to hear these words were, to my mind, another confirmation of their universal nature.
Early this summer I went to do some journalistic work in Peru. One of my trips took me to Cuzco, once the holy city and seat of government of the mighty Inca empire. In the now impoverished city high up in the Andes, I met Carlos Milla Vidal, President of the Regional Tourist Organizations, who kindly advised me which of the many attractions of the region were not to be missed.
One of these was a train trip to the ruins of Machu Pichu, an almost inaccessible Inca city re-discovered in the last century and now partially restored. Inevitably our conversation turned to the legendary ‘El Dorado’, the sun worshipping cult of the Incas and the remarkable social structure of the Inca empire. Carlos Milla turned out to be a walking encyclopaedia on the subject. His study of history led him to specialize in the culture and the philosophy of the Indian peoples who ruled over a large section of South America for several centuries. His elucidation also included the spiritual aspects of Inca lore, and he revealed, with the ease which comes with in-depth knowledge, several concepts which could have come straight from the Alice A. Bailey books. The analogies speak for themselves to such an extent that I shall keep to Carlos Milla’s story as he told it without constantly pointing out the correspondences.
"The Incas had three major commandments, three principles, as the basis of their approach to life: search for the truth, work hard, and respect every form of life. When the Spaniards came and rewrote our history, they adopted the same principles, but in their negative aspect: do not lie, don’t be lazy, do not steal. This shows a completely different attitude, since there is a vast gap between the positive ‘search for the truth’ and the negative ‘do not lie’.
"Searching for the truth, of course, is related to an inner attitude. It contains the insight that the secrets of life are to be found within your own nature. As Socrates had said earlier: know thyself. The Inca philosophy allowed two levels of knowledge, one for the common people, another for the initiates of the age-old wisdom, an exoteric and an esoteric level. The Inca empire was supervised or advised by leaders who had gone through this process of initiation, who, in themselves, had achieved this ‘search for the truth’. They were the custodians of a very deep knowledge about the nature of life, the cosmic relations, the secrets of the Universe.
"It was probably due to the existence and influence of this hermetic circle of initiates that the culture flourished for such a long time. We are talking in terms of at least 25,000 years of development, in which these initiates probably acted as advisers to the Government. Their knowledge inspired the people of Cuzco to become the founders of a vast empire with a correspondingly high level of civilization. They built a kind of ‘commonwealth’ of Indian nations under the leadership of Cuzco. The empire stretched from South Colombia in the North to deep into what is now Chile, from Argentina in the East to the Pacific Ocean in the West. In this often inhospitable area 23,000 kilometres of roads were built, and a hierarchical, and what we would today term socialistic, state was established, providing for the material needs of all.
"Christianity has never understood the ancient wisdom underlying the old Inca concepts, and simply concentrated on some exoteric aspects of Inca traditions. Thus the Incas got their reputation for being ‘pagans’, worshippers of the sun, and Christians believe to this day that this ancient culture was inferior, backward and superstitious. The Inca priests and initiates, however, did not at all believe that the sun is God. They believed in one God, but not in the personal sense held by most Christians. God, to them, was Pacha Yachay (meaning Universe, and ‘to organize’, respectively). According to the old Incas, God is the magnetism, the linking force, in the Universe, the energy which holds everything together. In its very essence this energy is love, the outer form of which manifests as energy, with fire as its symbol. This energy form of fire is to be found throughout the universe, and is identical with God. The divine energies are focused in power centres, fountains of energies: the planets. In our system, the sun functions as such a centre of energy. However, this fountain of energy is not the energy itself, is in the last analysis not divinity itself, but represents an expression of that divinity.
"This concept was much too abstract for the common people, and to them Inti, the sun, was identical to God. The initiates knew better. They knew, too, that this knowledge is useless as long as it is only outer knowledge. It receives its real value only in experiencing, in the realization of its truth. The outer wisdom was supposed to find its inner proof in the hearts of the initiates. They discovered in themselves that, in the deepest sense, there is only one energy, one life, one fire: inwardly, they found their own sun of love and fire. And they realized, as a living reality, that their inner self finds its source in the heart of the sun. Or rather: the energy of love which expresses itself through the sun finds its counterpart in the heart of man. This is not a lyrical metaphor, but physical reality. The (few) Indians who reached this level of self knowledge, who achieved this identity with their deepest being, used the words: I AM. They were called Hearts of fire.
"In order to present these deep and eternal truths to the people, the Incas, as always, made use of a formal organization, a church. The church symbolized the esoteric knowledge in the form of rituals, which have a tendency to be misunderstood and to become crystallized. A frequently used symbol to represent the relation between a ‘Heart of fire’ and the sun as source of the energy of love, is gold. The Incas, therefore, treated gold as a holy metal, and believed that gold had the special quality to hold and transmit solar energy. All the holy artifacts were golden. Gold, to them, was not important as a possession. In fact, their system did not allow personal possessions. ‘Being’ was the norm, rather than ‘having’. Gold was important as art, was used in religion, in magic rituals, but had no commercial value. So, when the Spaniards arrived and wanted the gold, it was simply given to them. As was to be expected, the Spaniards developed a greed for more and more gold. They readily killed to get it.
"Now, Cuzco had one palace, a temple of the sun, with a garden of gold. Everything, but everything, in this garden was made of solid gold: trees, plants, flowers, rocks, butterflies. The fame of Cuzco, as the ‘golden city’ was tremendous, but to the Spaniards it was still not enough and they began torturing the people, hoping to find out where El Dorado, the Land of Gold, could be found.
"The legend of El Dorado was not at all a fake. It did exist. And it exists today. Soon after the invasion from Europe, the destruction of the Inca empire began. According to the legends, some of the initiates of the old wisdom disappeared and found refuge in a holy place, to which the Indians gave the name Paititi. There, the ancient wisdom is guarded, there, even today, a group of Masters live, custodians of the old knowledge. El Dorado of the Spaniards and Paititi of the Indians refer to the same legendary spot; it represented gold to one group, wisdom to the other. And Paititi does exist, but at the same time it is nowhere."
Carlos Milla took me to see an old painting which was able to shed some light on this paradoxical statement. Along the edge of the canvas there was a Spanish text which read: Heart of all hearts. This is a map of the Indian land called Paititi. All kingdoms border it but it has no borders. Here you can see the colour of the song of invisible birds. The ordinary man will find only food there but the poet perhaps can open the long sealed door to the purest and most ancient love.
"In these symbolic words, hiding their true meaning to the Spaniards, it was indicated that Paititi does not exist in the outer physical world. The map may show mountains, rivers and jungle, but Paititi is, in reality, a place in the etheric world. Here, invisible and out of reach of the average person, the spiritual Masters live as the keepers of the tradition and the culture, as the keepers of the secret wisdom. And we are convinced that They work very hard to oversee our civilization and development. We believe, too, that there will be a time in which They will be able to show Themselves again in public. We do not know when They will give rebirth to our culture, nor do we know how it will happen, but the time will come."