“All the authentic drinkers of yagé in the Amazon that I have met share a great love for nature and all humanity, and they are outspoken protectors of the rainforest and the good way of all that is right.” ~Jonathon Miller Weisberger, Rainforest Medicine
By itself, ayahuasca as a transformational medicine offers us profound opportunities for spiritual awakening, physical renewal and reconnection to the most important aspects of life and nature. Journeying with the vine of souls is unlike anything else in this world, and while many have shared their personal stories of harrowing nights in ceremony, another chief aspect of this medicine tradition is less often discussed: the valuable lessons to be learned from time spent with traditional plant medicine masters.
Sadly, true Amazonian medicine elders are a dying breed. To be in the presence of a genuine master is a treasured experience, and those of them still with us exemplify the virtues of living a life aligned with nature, devoted to spiritual development, and focused on the well-being of others.
I have been blessed with the good fortune of spending time with and learning directly from Secoya elders, who are the torch-bearers of a unique lineage of spiritual masters in the upper Amazon. Their tradition, that of Gods Multi-Colored People, as they know it, is the longest un-broken and non-syncretic tradition of working with the sacred brew Yagé, or Ayahuasca.
The attitude, demeanor, habits and character of these ‘abuelitos’ symbolize the simple purity and deep peace that may be found with dedication to this spiritual path. Reflecting on my time spent with the Secoya, I’ve realized that many of the best lessons come not when they are teaching, but when they are just being themselves.
Here are 9 simple rules for living, as learned from proper Yagé shaman of the Amazon.
- Abundant laughter is the hallmark of spiritual achievement. Laugh first and laugh often.
- All life is beautiful and priceless, and even the most pitiful or comical of creatures is infused with the sacred.
- Always be productive in the service to others, and even if all you can offer is a smile, your positive contribution is important.
- Love everyone equally, for we are all equal in spirit and life.
- Silence is golden. Communicating without speaking is more penetrative than attempting to express the infinite with language.
- It is in stillness you will find that which you seek. The ability to highly control one’s impulses is the key to spiritual advancement.
- Gentleness is often more powerful than force.
- Sincere dedication to spiritual development is the highest calling in life.
- Follow nature instead of following man, for the lessons in nature are universally true and infinitely pure.
“In the collision between the remoteness and purity of the rainforest realms and the crassness of consumer culture, the difference is so extreme that for the most part there has been no authentic or practical method for this medicine system as traditionally practiced to integrate and adapt to the changing times.’ ~Jonathon Miller Weisberger, Rainforest Medicine
As Ayahuasca continues to push its way ever further into the consciousness of contemporary society, the brew may be available for us to drink, but the presence of traditional elders is fading. The transmission of their priceless cultural knowledge is still happening today, however, and in honoring their presence there is much we can learn about how to live a good and productive life in harmonious balance with nature.
In the following video, ethnobotanist and conservationist Jonathon Miller-Weisberger explains some of the ways in which the Secoya tradition is so unique.