Day 24 – Reflections on a balanced rural life, Javier Medina

Day 24 – Reflections on a balanced rural life, Javier Medina

The most surprising presentation for me was one made by Javier Medina of the CIQ – the International Center of Quinoa.  He presented a bio-cultural model of vivir bien and gave solid examples of how over the past 7 years, he worked with 27 municipal governments, local non profits and local communities across Bolivia to identify development opportunities.  In this event, he was demonstrating the results that came from llama communities. The program was created from connections made at international climate conferences and sponsored by the Bolivian Ministry of the Natural Environment in cooperation with a Swiss development organization.

Javier, a former mayor of Potosi, assured the people, “Though I am an academic, I was born a llama farmer and will die as one too.” This got a laugh out of the people and helped them to relate to Javier better.  It also helped to remind me that we are all so connected by our history that even though we move away from it, it is always a part of us.

Javier started by showing the universality of communication in symbols, especially the symbol of the square.  The square is a principle part of the cross, the Bolivia flag of the countryside – the Willapa, the structure of cities (square blocks) and even our houses.  Geometrical structures, he explained are a universally understood, it unifies us.

Applying this geographical structure to Vivir Bien results in the following structure:



Boson/ energia



Fermion/ masa





Unidad, unico





Inteligencia spiritual



Madre tierra

Inteligencia ecologica





Cultura/ Software

Inteligencia emocional




Inteligencia racional



This diagram was used in Curahuara and Turco, where I am now and led to the development of the 1st National Congress of Ancestral Knowledge in Camelids as people realized their ancestral ties to llamas, the presence of ancestral ruins, pottery and mummies, and their own wisdom.  Carahuara de Carangas of Oruro is the llama capital of Bolivia, but has not been largely promoted as so.  Carahuara de Carangas is also recognized as an autonomous self-governing state, a new designation allowed under Bolivia’s new constitutional law.  This means that as political parties may change, the governing of this sector is maintained by the people themselves.  The leaders are locally elected without party affiliations.

Other llama communities that participated in development based on this model include Yunchara who rediscovered its history of working with llamas, Villazon who rediscovered the importance of their llama industry, Lipez who is now developing a sophisticated market for the highly valued, rare vicuna fiber – the best in the world, valued at $60 a pound in world markets, and Bolivar who is also valuing again its livestock and handicraft industry including its production of dried llama meats.  The gola of this model is to enable other to self direct their own development and empower them to reach out and help direct others.   Javier explains that it is this natural way of transmitting knowledge and sharing ideas that creates the life cycle – with bio feedback and learning be shared all around in a constant flow of information.

To better understand the model one first needs to understand the outlying structure of plot or story (trama).  Almost as in a game theory model, the four outside themes intersect with the four (internal) aspects of Vivir Bien, which also correspond to the Andean Cross: Consciousness, natural environment, culture and social (political).  As in Andean ways of being, there is a contradiction and complementary element to each part.  In the Andean language there exists a third invisible place between two sides, one that has no word in the English language to describe it.  It is in this invisible place where harmony exists between two differences.  Javier later explained to me that this invisible place is present in indigenous languages around the world and even in ancient Greek writings but got lost over the years in translation as Greek ideas were simplified into the roots of economics today.  He suggested the readings of French economic philosopher Don Dominuqe Temple to further understand this.  These contradictions, explained Javier, exist consciously and unconsciously in each of us. Intuitively I felt I could understand the invisible space between two side as a pause, an open area where both can exist together without conflict as they are.  It felt like a meditation.

The first plot to look at is the one of the interior and the exterior, explained Javier.  The interior is the part of life that takes place inside of us.  It has energy and often is mired with confusion as the energy pushes us forward and we are unsure of paths to take and where to go.  The exterior is a place of expansion however, such as in Einstein’s theory of mass, it is concrete, solid and dispersed in ever changing ways.  It does not expend, but its form changes creating ore of one thing and less of another, etc. but form a single, constant source.  So in between our own driving energy and the everchanging but constant world outside is a place where both exist in contradiction and peace.  Javier suggested the writings of Ken Wilber a US based transpersonal phycologist, to further explore these ideas.

The other plot of One (UN) and Pair (PAR) refer to that of the individual and the community; the single aspect and that of many (diversity); in other terms, pach-a (earth) and ma-ya (biodiversity).  Again between the value of one and the needs of the community exist together with a space in the center for both.  It reminds me of Celia’s comment about quinoa and how it created conflict, an internal fight, where people had to choose between planting more land their children and leaving land open for nature.

Now crossing each plot with the themes in the center brings about a greater understanding of each and where one’s potential lies in balance. Menta is about spiritual intelligence: the shared stories of place, places and items of spiritual significance and ceremony.  Madre tierra (mother earth) is about ecological intelligence – how the environment is cared for, protected, developed – in balanced, sustainable ways. Cultural Intelligence are the learned programs.  It is equated with emotional intelligence and refers to the learned traditions and beliefs that are taught (downloaded).  While the state is the rational intelligence, the hardware.  This is where the national intelligence is stored.  It is what is saleable, what can be produced and includes manual labor.  It is present in municipalities.  As each of these 4 areas are crossed with their corresponding plot, new ways of understanding and connection arise both individually and collectively, internally and externally.

This exercise is what Javier did with the team of elected officials, development organizations and community members in reference to their communities to create what he calls, a “system of living” that transcends the colonial paradigm (of ownership and earnings) and awakens communities.  I look forward to further exploring this more with my own Landmark College community and Windham county towns.