What words signal to us the presence of a great character, leader, friend? What sounds bring us closer to the sacred?
There is a sound, a resonance, beyond words. This universal song holds language and intention. It is where we come together in what is essential: supporting life; protecting the Earth, our brothers and sisters; and being a better person.
My way of praying is through sound. Sound for me is color, is form. Sound is an expression of love. Sound is a bond with the sacred, and prayer is a bond with the sacred, an invocation. Whichever your sense of sacred is, I do it through sound.
My path with prayer, with the sacred, is through sound, and the words accompany the sound. That is part of where I have been walking in the last few years since I became a grandfather. It has allowed me to advance further and deeper into my spiritual path. Before I became a grandfather, my path was more superficial, more self-centered, the egocentric world of an artist, a writer, a painter, a musician--image comes first and then the rest. I spent a long time in that place. We artists have that problem, like intellectuals or great characters. We sin through arrogance, but I continue working to overcome this, and my condition of becoming a grandfather has helped me a great deal. Also, the profound solitude I have experienced in the last few years has brought an awakening of prayer to sound.
I have a set of thirteen musical instruments, which are thirteen prayers. I make my own musical instruments, searching for sounds that bring me closer to the sacred. And what is prayer? That which allows you to come closer to the sacred, to come closer to its inner part.
I have moments of prayer through musical instruments, which, for me, are living entities that have a spirit and through which I do my prayers. This form of praying started to come to my life through the teachings of my masters, both male and female. The sound started to develop, without words, through the musical instruments.
For instance, among the deities that we have in the Andes are the Sacred Mountains. We call them the "Apus," the Guardian Mountains of the people. With them, I pray through a conch shell trumpet, a "Potuto." When I play, I am not only making a sound, I am making a prayer. The prayer is to awaken and invoke the presence of the Apus. I am asking for protection. The words would be, "Sacred mountain, tutelar of our lives, protect life, protect our brothers..." and much more, but this happens in images through the sound.
My upbringing is Shamanic, part of the traditions of my people, but I also have a Christian upbringing, so I also pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is the Virgin of my town and the feminine deity of my people. The instrument I use is the Mama Quena (Mother Flute). This is one of the most important parts of my prayer work. This Mother Flute--this Mama Quena--is a flute of great size that has a tuning characteristic particular to my people. It is a tuning that opens up the most emotive parts of your body, tuned in A minor, which is a very intuitive tuning. This is the zone in which to invoke the Mother; it is the zone in which to invoke women, including important female characters from our history: Mary Magdalene, Micaela (a great woman advocate of the tradition of Andean people and their culture). I also invoke my teacher Amelia through the Mama Quena; the Mama Quena doesn't become a song, it becomes a prayer through sound.
What do I look for through prayer? I look, in the end, to be a better person, to be a better soul, to be something good for the people who are close to me. Also, a prayer reflects on the search for a more humane world, a world with more social justice, a world with forms of deep sharing.
Does my prayer look for change? Yes. Do I pray for change? Yes. Do I pray for the world powers to have a moment of reflection in which they can look at themselves and see the profound damage they do? Yes. Is my prayer--my song--political? Yes. Is my prayer politics? Yes. Am I a political man? Yes. Do I look for change? Yes. Do I look for the political transformation of my people? Yes. Do I look for the cultures born from my people to have greater political presence? Yes. Through prayer? Yes. Through my song? Yes. I don't divorce my work from my political component. This is very controversial for many people who adopt a totally different position.
Do I believe that there is a deep inequality and much political responsibility on the world powers? Yes. Especially the great world powers? Yes. On North America? Yes. The European Union, too? Yes. Is there a cordon of extreme poverty, misery and death in the world due to excessive exploitation? Yes. Is there a profound impact in mistreating nature? Yes. Do they want to make us all the same through globalization? Yes. So, against this we also pray, but we pray with a very strong component. We pray for our center to awaken, for our power to awaken, so it makes us strong and sometimes able to say: Enough.
This is my prayer.