“Ayni is the feeling we experience when we help our fellow human, plant or creature and feel their gratitude and joy.” It is to enter into right relationship and embody a sense of balanced well-being.
It can be described as being in service to something larger than our selves that isn’t always knowable.
Traditionally Ayni is the experience of helping others to survive. For example, plowing your neighbors fields before your own which is still practiced today in the high Andean mountains and perhaps elsewhere. Over thousands of years villages with this concept of Ayni demonstrate that it is the most efficient way to generate well-being, community and abundance for many.
Ayni is based on the idea that life regenerates itself through mutual nurturance. It is a cosmic energy that we are in constant interaction with, a continual cycle of interchange where the more that we give the more we receive. “Ayni is like a deposit of energy in the same cosmos that is invested in life to fill it up.” – Jesús Salqa Rios.
The interchange is a current and present experience, as we give energy we immediately receive energy. It is symbiosis on an energetic level through all the relationships we have in our lives, including with Mother Earth. In raising up another person and encouraging them to shine we become more centered in our heartspace and grow our capacity to love and be of service leaving ourselves with increased energy. We know those moments, and it feels good.
In the Haudenosaunee world view we can look at the planting of the three sisters (corn, bean and squash) and understand the principal of Ayni or Tekarihwaienawá:kon (Sacred Reciprocity). The corn takes care of making light available through its height; the squash reduces weeds with its abundant large leaves and the gift of the beans is underground in the soil fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere to turn it into usable nutrients for all three of the plants. When the individuals flourish, so does the whole.
Ayni generates and germinates feelings of affection, companionship, protectiveness, joy, gratitude and happiness.
On our little farm of plenty we strive to be in ayni. To experience and create right relationship with the land, the animals and each other and those who come to experience it. Life is Ayni. In the act of reciprocity, we can fill our spirits, as well as our bellies (with both food and laughter).