Generation after generation, the Mayan peoples preserve fundamental values for individual, community and national development that are rooted in wisdom and experiences of centuries. Our ancestral vision prevails through teachings and practices of great simplicity and current relevance. Most importantly, the genuine practices of our wisdom do not conflict with or oppose other cultures and traditions. On the contrary, we have integrated ourselves into the life of the times and also into the circumstances, even the most adverse.
Such is our strength, functionality and deep meanings that are still valid in the daily life of our families and peoples. Throughout the presentation tour of my autobiographical book migrant and from talks on innovation and development that I have been invited to share throughout Guatemala, I have come across our vibrant multiculturalism and ancient thoughts that were born here in this land of the quetzal, in the lowlands of Petén, in the mountains of the Altiplano and on the leafy South Coast since pre-Hispanic times.
In the Mayan worldview, corn, rain, the sun, the Heart of Heaven, Mother Earth, the four winds, circular time are some of the mystical concepts, which have their own representations and descriptions. They are elements, not Mayan gods. In some stretch of history these elements were seen as “gods”, perhaps because they were approached with the concept of the Greeks. This was because those who tried to document Mayan spirituality were not Mayans and brought alien approaches. The moment they saw the Mayan elements as “gods”, they began to see them in conflict with the faith of the conquerors and there our Mayan beliefs were proscribed. An attempt was made to suppress our ancestral wisdoms. But they survived.
The elements that the Mayan peoples venerate have a transcendental meaning, because they are part of life. How to deny the profound significance of corn in our lives, in our diet and in the international grain trade? Corn was born here in Guatemala, in Paxil, in the mountains of Huehuetenango, as a gift from our ancestors to the whole world. Such as the conception of 0 or the management of time.
Mayan spirituality is an infinite notion that goes far beyond any religious division. Nowadays, the prayers for the timely arrival of the rains are the occasion of traditions and rituals that also include Christian celebrations, whether they are Catholic masses or evangelical cults to pray for the success of the work in the fields.
I grew up with the advice and practices of the Mayan Q’anjob’al culture. When I was born, they hung my navel on the top of a tree so that I would not forget where I came from and grow as tall as possible, and that belief does not limit me or prevent me from respecting, admiring, understanding and dialoguing with other worldviews. I am a Christian and I have my Mayan roots.
I will never tire of saying that our roots are our strength. Mayan traditions and cultural manifestations are frequently exposed in the international promotion of the country, and that is totally valid. But in practice, the essence of Mayan spirituality must be taken into account without making the mistake of projecting them as gods, since this practice has put spiritual guides and Mayan scientists at risk. It has cost many their lives—intolerable in any religion.
Discovering the productive, cultural and also spiritual strengths of the peoples of the north, east, west and south will help us strengthen Guatemala as a mosaic of encounter, brotherhood and democracy in which we are all equal in rights and obligations. . We are all Guatemala!