Important Message from the Kogi Elders...
Our love of
truth is evinced by our ability to discover and
appropriate what is good wherever we come upon it. -- J.
W. von Goethe
The Elder Brothers by Alan Ereira (Alfred A. Knopf, New
York, 1992; 243 pages, ISBN 0-679-40618-2, cloth $23.00),
tucked among the new books on display, caught my eye. Its
subtitle, "A lost South American people and their
message about the fate of the earth," clinched the
matter. The dustjacket portrayed Indians of unknown
genre, dressed in neat cotton garments and wearing
conical hats, against a backdrop of mist-shrouded
mountain slopes. Alan Ereira, historian and film director/producer,
was chosen by the Kogi Indians of Colombia to bring their
message to the world. This he was able to do with his TV
film From the Heart of the World (British Broadcasting
Corporation, London) and with his book The Elder Brothers.
Many of us were moved in the '30s by James Hilton's Lost
Horizon with its Shangri-La, a city deep in the Himalayas
ruled by a wise lama, where peace and harmony prevailed.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is no fiction. Its two
peaks, nearly 19,000 feet high, seem to rise out of the
sea in Colombia, and are home to the Kogi. They have
lived in harmony with the Great Mother with great
fidelity for Millennia, following an ancient wisdom which
affirms all things are rooted in divinity. All things,
they believe, exist in the mind of the Creator before
they finally become manifest. Spirit permeates every
That binding thread of spirit, called aluna, is central
to the Kogi philosophy. An enlightened teacher, Mama
Everything we do is an event not only in the physical
world but also in the spirit world. We live in a world
shaped in spirit. Every tree, every stone, every river,
has a spirit form, invisible to the Younger Brother. This
is the world of aluna, the world of thought and spirit.
Aluna embraces intelligence, soul and fertility: it is
the stuff of life, the essence of reality. The material
world is underpinned, shaped, given life and generative
power in aluna, and the Mama's work is carried out in
aluna. -- p. 63
elders or Mamas are seers, graduates of a mystery school,
they have the natural ability to penetrate higher planes
of existence and hidden causes. They understand the vital
truth of the maxim "as above, so below." When
the Younger Brother in his vanity, urged by his greed and
ambition, thinks that he is "running things,"
that is when the planet and our existence on it become
endangered. The expression of the law of the Great Mother
is interfered with.
The Kogi way of life -- being content with the ways of
old -- is a deliberate choice on their part, rooted in a
profound sense of duty for carrying out the will of the
Great Mother and insuring the well-being of this living
planet. Other peoples of the New World were not so much
conquered by the invader as they were seduced into
believing that they were inferior to the race that
identified "progress" with self-fulfillment in
a limited sense. Many became Christians, assured that
they would be considered more civilized. The Kogi have
adopted the Spanish word civilizados ("civilized"),
but when applied to the Younger Brother it expresses a
contempt for the Western understanding of that word. The
word civilization is an invention of the seventeenth
century, but was, in fact, excluded by Dr. Samuel Johnson
from his Dictionary on the basis that it merely
duplicated "civility." Since then civilization
has been used to refer to almost anything that
distinguishes man from the animal. Almost every culture
regards its way of life as the supreme achievement of the
Though much of the Kogi philosophy is unfamiliar, that
should not deter us from opening "new doors"
and widening our horizons. The end-product is the strong
conviction of brotherhood and respect for the earth. But
how will the sophisticated "man of the world"
react to it? Possibly millions of TV viewers saw From the
Heart of the World; far fewer will read the book. The
film permits a glimpse into the pure hearts and minds of
this people, but to share in Alan Ereira's adventure
fully one should read the book. Every paragraph is worthy
of note and calls for response. In this writer's opinion,
Ereira's commitment to the Kogi, their elders or Mamas,
is well taken. The message they bring indicates -- as the
evidence is totaled from many sources -- that there is a
sunrise of spiritual awareness in the world, and in
response to that awareness the "gods come out of
hiding" and allow their voices to be heard once
Was there ever a time when humankind was not encouraged
to come up higher -- to truly evolve forth its inner
capabilities to bring it to a higher moral, mental, and
spiritual level than it has ever known? The proof is
obvious: it resides in the existence of great souls who,
history records, shone like beacons and, because they
were once ordinary humans like ourselves, could identify
with the masses and inspire them. How many more left no
record of themselves? The Kogi have told us repeatedly
the Highest dwells within us. They modestly consider
themselves "a simple people" while striving to
work ever more perfectly in harmony with the Great Mother.
Few outsiders would have the grasp or the stamina to take
instruction from the Mamas.
Does not the Kogi Genesis sound familiar?
In the beginning, there was blackness.
Only the sea.
In the beginning there was no sun, no moon, no people.
In the beginning there were no animals, no plants.
Only the sea.
The sea was the Mother.
The Mother was not people, she was not anything.
Nothing at all.
She was when she was, darkly.
She was memory and potential.
She was aluna. -- p. 115
Mama is the
name the Kogi give to the Great Mother, to the sun, or to
a wise or enlightened teacher (male or female). In the
Inca pantheon Mama Ocllo corresponds to the Egyptian Isis
(A Land of Mystery," by H. P. Blavatsky, The
Theosophist, March, 1880, p. 160). Even if we call this
Mother "Space," no matter how universal, it is
not an emptiness but an existence, a manifestation, of
something. The wisest of the wise gave it no name. The
Hindu calls it Parabrahman, "beyond Brahman" or
limitless. Unnamed, this power is nonetheless real and no
thing exists but what is derived, supported, and
sustained by it.
While most native Americans left no written records,
there is no doubt they identified with nature and the
Great Spirit. The first invaders from Europe took slaves,
gold, silver, and jewels. Full of missionary zeal,
priests used every means to make converts. They had no
sympathy for native cultures and did their best to
eradicate them. The little we know about many early
American cultures is derived from Spanish accounts.
Alexander Humboldt, a man of universal interests, came to
Colombia in the early nineteenth century. He visited the
famed sacred lake of El Dorado ("The Golden Man")
that had proved such a magnet to the Spaniards. He
brought back to Europe descriptions and drawings of Inca
and Maya temples.
In 1915 Hiram Bingham, an American, made the first
excavations at Machu Picchu, the sacred Incan city. On
his team was O. F. Cook, botanist, a man of open mind.
Because of our proclivity to regard ancients as
uncivilized, their structures are usually labeled
sacrificial altars, fortresses, or temples dedicated to
gods and goddesses -- all an expression of barbarism.
Cook changed all that. He showed that the prehistoric
walls and terraces were built to convert rocky hillsides
and canyons to tillable land. Behind them, in every case,
Mr. Cook found that selected soils had been brought in
from afar and then placed in layers to achieve the ideal
mix for agriculture. This unknown people was dedicated to
the art of farming and, hence, to the well-being of the
community. What was done there on a grand scale has never
been equaled in any other place and must have taken
The Kogi, today's custodians of the Tairona civilization,
have managed to cling to their mountain refuge against
great odds. In four hundred years they have had to
contend with slavers, land-grabbers and plunderers,
fanatic missionaries and, in our own time, hostile drug
traffickers, warring politicians, and murderers.
Realizing that this reclusive people had "stuck
their neck out" by allowing themselves to be
publicized, Ereira set up a trust fund to help them
regain their rights and reclaim some of the coastal land
which formerly was theirs. The Kogi learned from bitter
experience they had nothing to gain from hospitality.
Their first words to a stranger are: "When are you
leaving?" Alan Ereira proved to be a rare "gringo"
who treated the Kogi with respect, put his skills as a
publicist at their disposal, and consented to take
instruction from the Mamas for a period of one year.
Why did the tribe finally decide that now is the time for
their message, and why is it important in their efforts
to save the planet? They point out that the world was
made by Serankua, the Son of the Mother, before we humans
were. A long time ago all humanity held a common belief:
there were no Younger Brothers. All recognized an
indebtedness to the Creator for their worldly blessings.
Understandably, payment has to be made for everything --
game taken for food, air that we breathe, and all that we
require in order to live.
When the Younger Brother was given knowledge of
mechanical things, it became apparent that its
application would prove destructive to Mother Earth.
There was no place for him in the sacred land. Serankua,
recognizing the danger, declared: "Let us send them
away to the other side and, so that they respect us and
so that they do not pass, I make a division -- the sea"
The Kogi message, delivered by the Mamas in the Chibcha
language in the nuhue (ceremonial house), was translated
into Spanish, and finally into English. The English
conveys some of its primitive majesty.
After centuries and centuries of years
the Younger Brother passed from the other country,
says the Mama.
Senor Christopher Columbus* came to this land
and immediately saw the riches
and killed, shot, many natives (*The symbolic name for
He took the gold which had been here.
Sacred gold, gold of masks,
all kinds of gold.
They took so much.
So much. -- p. 59
Younger Brother thinks
"Yes! Here I am! I know much about the universe!"
But this knowing is learning to destroy the world,
to destroy everything,
all humanity. -- p. 197
Because Younger Brother is among us,
Younger Brother is violating
the basic foundation of the world's law.
A total violation.
minerals. -- p. 196
If all the Kogi die, do you, Younger Brother,
think that you will also go on living?
Many stories have been heard that the sun will go out,
the world will come to an end.
But if we all act well and think well it will not end.
That is why we are still looking after
the sun and the moon and the land. -- pp. 166-7
civilization we boast of does not embody what spiritual
man is capable of. G. de Purucker in his Studies in
Occult Philosophy states the kernel of the problem -- so
difficult for our dominant culture, which permeates the
whole world, to grasp: "That which sins in man is
his intelligence. Sin lies in choice, in action" (p.
72). Now it becomes apparent what H. P. Blavatsky meant
in The Secret Doctrine when she gives the reason for a
"select number of fragments" of the ancient
wisdom making an appearance again, after millennia of
silence: "The world of to-day. . . is rapidly
progressing on the reverse, material plane of
spirituality" (1:xxii). Modern man has been largely
persuaded that he is not born of spirit. Whether he is
aware of his divine origin or not, he exercises, as a
matter of course, a sacred gift: his freedom to make
choices, guided by his intelligence. When we use this
gift solely for our own ends -- more plainly, selfishly
-- we do it in the face of nature's examples all around
us of selflessness. This, in my opinion, is what is meant
by proceeding on the "reverse, material plane of
In our heart of hearts -- for all our declared beliefs
and good intentions -- we know better. The Kogi Mamas see
clearly; they are not naive. They are unmoved by pious
declarations, alibis, excuses, and the down-deep
conviction that nobody is looking and we can get away
with it. If what we are doing is destructive to other
humans, the lower kingdoms, and a living planet which
provides home for mankind, is it too much to ask us to
consider changing our direction -- say 180°?
Gloom and doom are not what we like to convey. Neither
can the strength of good intentions undo the harm that
has already been done. Good intentions are not enough.
The bottom line is that there are those who will not stop
plundering the earth for the dollar bill until they are
compelled to do so by a rising tide of public indignation.
Apparently nothing is sacred to those who are determined
to plunder the planet of its riches. There is no thought
for the generations to follow. The exploitation of other
human beings did not end with the abolition of slavery
and serfdom. Our ingenuity never ceases. The Kogi Mamas
see us for what we are: very Younger Brothers.
The last resort of the "intellectual" is:
"What are your proofs that the Kogi initiates have
more insight than our Ph.D.s in the universities in
preparing students for life?" Compare the
practicality of the Kogi with our own: possessing few of
the gadgets we regard as necessities they, nevertheless,
have no homeless or starving, no gangs, no banks, no
"working mothers"; whatever urban renewal they
need, they do themselves. They do not feel disadvantaged
because they have no shopping malls.
A Mama was assigned to Alan Ereira to instruct him in
basic teachings and make him welcome in the ceremonial
lodge. At one point the pupil asked the teacher about
creation. He was told there was no time for it: just to
run through the chapter headings would take nine nights.
The details would require nine times nine nights. "We
will tell you what you need to know." From this we
may deduce that The Elder Brothers is based on the same
logic. The Kogi message is limited to what the Younger
Brother can receive.
Present-day scientists are beginning to investigate the
world of sleep, in which we spend a third of our lives,
but do they really understand about death or the causes
of birth? The Kogi Mama knows that it is only in
recognition of the reality of soul and spirit that the
divine side of human nature can be cultivated.
Over the next days, Javier (Rodriguez) was a mine of
information about the Kogi. He told me that Mamas are
educated from infancy in the dark, and only allowed into
the light when their education is complete, after two
periods of nine years. Nine is the number required for
completeness, as a foetus spends nine lunar months in the
womb, and there are nine worlds. There are also
characters called moros, he said, whose education
continues for two more periods of nine years. These I
would never meet; they live high in the Sierra, and speak
only with Mamas. These are the oracles who determine
ultimate policy. These creatures are the ones who have
seen the approach of the end of the world. I later
discovered that moro is the word for any pupil studying
to be a Mama. It does seem quite possible that some
students are not released into the light until they are
over thirty. . . . The Kogi are profoundly ascetic, and
prepare themselves for important moments by fasting,
meditation and sexual abstinence; contact with anyone who
is still locked into the gross physical world can, they
believe, render this preparation useless. Javier's moras
would be in this heightened state all their lives, and it
would therefore be impossible for me ever to set eyes on
them, but he suggested that they would have their eyes on
me. -- pp. 77-8
can discern the pure virtues of the bushman, the
Australian aborigine, the Athapascan, Seminole, or the
Hopi, should have no problem with the Kogi. They wear the
seal of majesty: the recognition of the divinity in the
heart of all. That gold insignia shows in their concern
for their very Younger Brother.
By Raymond Rugland
1993. Copyright © 1993 by Theosophical University Press