In the modern era of spiritual exploration, we have access to an incredible breadth of practices and paths. The internet, combined with international travel, mean that a seeker is able to dabble in multiple traditions and learn from a number of teachers, depending on what resonates for them at the moment. It’s a habit some might say is dangerous, and endemic to our information-overloaded times.
But is it possible that these seemingly disparate and isolated ancient traditions can support one another and, in fact, enrich the seeker’s growth in an entirely new way?
Cynthia Robinson and Roman Hanis, founders of the Paititi Institute in Peru, offer an opportunity to weave together the essence of diverse traditions from around the world. They argue that, under the guidance of an experienced teacher, the union of Tibetan, Amazonian, and Andean spiritual disciplines can bring a deeper understanding of the inner essence of each of these unique traditions.
“We see the work of the Paititi Institute as being, much of the time, building intercultural bridges,” Roman explains. “For example, this idea of suffering arising from duality and separation is not actually copyrighted by Buddhism, although it is certainly a core truth of that tradition. This is something that is actually very prevalent in the indigenous Amazonian and Andean traditions. In these cultures, individuals see themselves as an integrated part of a greater whole, and it is this sense of separation as a conditioning that creates dis-ease and disharmony.”
Many Westerners are drawn to these traditions in search of personal transformation and healing from that very sense of dis-ease. Even so, engaging in healing work is an intense experience that can shake the very foundations of our being. Healing with ayahuasca, for example, is a process of multidimensional purification and reconnection to natural (and other!) worlds. At the Paititi Institute, this process is complemented by the range of meditation techniques of Tibetan Buddhism, which can help to meaningfully integrate the intense experiences that can arise in plant medicine work.
“All of these practices and traditions are essentially fingers pointing toward the same sky,” Roman says. Consciousness, healing, and harmony within and without. Really, is there any spiritual practice that, at its essence, isn’t seeking these truths?
“The differences are really in terms of emphasis, nothing more. Rather than arguing about which finger looks better, we have the opportunity to realise the same universal essence from many different perspectives. When approached from this perspective, engaging with diverse traditions allows us to get to understand this essence in a deeper way.”
As the opportunities grow for deep work with Amazonian shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism, and beyond, so too will the recognition of the benefits of intercultural bridging. At the Paititi Institute, spiritual seekers and healers can engage with these traditions in a coherent and integrative way, honoring each of the fingers pointing at the essence of wholeness.
Cynthia traded in the corporate boardrooms of New York for 100 acres in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest where she co-founded the Paititi Institute for the Preservation of the Amazon Rainforest and Indigenous Culture.