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Unprecedented Presidential oath
by David Nayan

The Accidental Monk    Translate This Article
8 August 2010

[To see photos of the events, please use article reference URL at the end of article.]

Yesterday [7 August] was a big day for Colombia. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, as is the case in all countries when there is a change in leadership.

It is a change in Government that most Colombians had been a bit weary of for nearly eight years. They had grown accustomed to President Uribe and his take charge style. They had seen violence decline dramatically, investor confidence increase, historically high growth and the guerrillas had been severely diminished and displaced to the farthest jungles of the country. The nation went from being a nation in chaos to being one of the most promising ones in the region. It was something that few Colombians had believed possible and they attributed it to President Uribe's leadership.

So it was that Colombians began to fear the thought of the nation being lead by any other. Three years into his first term, the constitution was amended to allow for a historical consecutive re-election and up until a few months ago the nation's hope was that a second amendment would allow Uribe to run for a third time. However, these hopes were crushed earlier this year by the Constitutional Court's denial of a chance to hold a Referendum on allowing a President to run for a third term in office.

I must admit I was one of those who feared for what might come in the absence of the strong handed, highly disciplined Uribe. Yet yesterday, as a newly elected President took office, I could not help but feel more hopeful than ever about Colombia and about its future. It was not just that the newly elected President had been the star Minister in Uribe's cabinet or that he had managed to form a coalition with the support of 80% of congress and it was not just that the ministers he appointed were seasoned technocrats and not bureaucratic politicians. There was something else that gave me confidence that this man wanted to go beyond what had been done so far and open up to a new way of leading our nation.

As it turns out, yesterday morning, before the ceremony that would inaugurate his Presidency in front of Congress, Colombian leaders and foreign dignitaries, the new Colombian President decided to do something that had never been done in modern history. The President chose to do a symbolic swearing-in which he called a spiritual oath of office.

President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez, and three children began the day high in the Caribbean coastal mountains in Seijua, a sacred area north of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, at a 'passing of the baton' ritual presided over by Mamos (indigenous leaders) from the Koguis, Wiwas, Arhuacos y [and] Kankuamos nations.

These nations are descendants of the Tairona culture, which flourished at the time of the Spanish conquest. After the destruction of the Tairona cities, they escaped into the higlands, where they have been living in relative isolation for generations.

Their mythology teaches that they are 'Elder Brothers' of humanity, living in the 'Heart of the World' (the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta). Those not living in the Heart of the World (generally people from the west) are called 'Younger Brothers.' Their mythology suggests that these Younger Brothers were sent away from the heart of the world long ago. In response to infringements on their homeland by westerners, a legend arose claiming the Younger Brothers had now found their way back, and were wreaking their destruction on the land.

In 1990, having seen evidence on their mountain to suggest extensive worldwide ecological damage, the Koguis sent a message to the world via a Lampeter University archaeologist, filmed in partnership with the BBC. The Koguis gave a warning to the 'Younger Brothers':

'... the world does not have to end; it could go on, but unless we stop violating the earth and nature, depleting The Great Mother of her material energy, her organs, her vitality; unless people stop working against the Great Mother, the world will not last...'

It is a message that has yet to be heard or acted upon by most of the leaders in the world.

Yet yesterday, on what could be described as one of the most important days of his life. The newly elected President chose to reach out to the 'Elder Brothers' and receive their blessings. Dressed entirely in white linen and barefoot, and as part of the ceremony, Santos received a wooden staff, a necklace of polished stones and two string bracelets, one for each wrist.

In the ritual, which became a symbolic oath of office, Santos received from the indigenous leaders the spiritual appointment to have a good government and the staff as a symbol of authority. He also received four sacred stones representing the Earth, Nature, Water and Government. Then threads of cotton were placed around each of his hands for protection.

As part of the ceremony and in recognition of her motherly role for the nation President Santos' wife, Maria Clemencia, was given a cotton spindle, which represents the creation of the world.

'Earth and water produce the food and now I understand what I have received: water, earth, food, the people and the government,' he told the group of tribal leaders.

'That is going to be my inspiration during my term [as president]. I receive these elements with a great commitment and I will take good care of them.'

Later in the day in Bogota (the Colombian Capital), in front of Congress and foreign dignitaries the new President of Colombia started his first Presidential address as follows:



Our country is a wonderful mix of cultures, races, talents, natural resources, which makes us unique in the world.

In recognition of this cultural and ethnic diversity, this morning I went with my family to the large ceremonial temple of Seiyu, in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

There we met with leaders and representatives of the Kogi, Arhuaco, Wiwa and Kankuamo peoples, heirs of the ancient Tayrona culture.

They preceded us in the possession of these lands, and still keep watch from their reservations on the balance that must govern our nation and our relationship with the universe.

In a symbolic act, with deep transcendental meanings, the 'Mamas' handed me a baton and a necklace with four stones.

One represents the Earth for which we must care.

Another represents Water that is the source of life.

Another represents Nature with which we should be in harmony.

The fourth represents the Government, which must comply with the order of nature and the will of the Creator.

Land, water, nature and good government, these precious symbols, will be part and parcel of the administration we begin today.

The message of our 'Elder Brothers', of the guardians of the universal balance, I transmit today, filled with emotion, to more than 45 million compatriots who come from the indigenous heritage, Spain's legacy, rich African contribution, and so many other areas that have built what we are.

It is the message of life, harmony, and unity in diversity.

It is the message of the peaceful, wise Colombia we want to leave our children.


[David Nayan continues his comments;] In the midst of marking the 200th anniversary of Colombia's independence July 20, 2010, it gives great comfort to know that the new President recognizes the wisdom and the traditions of the natives that are most attuned to the land and its laws of nature.

At a time when we are struggling to understand and cope with the effects of our actions on the environment it is inspiring to see that one of our leaders is reaching out towards ancient wisdom and though it may be a symbolic act, it brings the hope that it is the opening of a flow of communion and interaction with ancient knowledge and traditions around the world so that we may grow to re-establish our nations in harmony with the laws of nature.

It is a sign that there is a growth of consciousness in the world, an awareness that we are not the owners of the land but rather its care-takers. And for Colombia, in particular, it brings hope that perhaps through these shared rituals we may begin to mend the wounds of the violence that landed on these shores with the discovery of the New World and its conquest. A violence that has, in the 200 years of Colombia's history, been a constant to this day.

As it stands, President Santos faces an incredible array of challenges in all areas of Colombian life. Yet we can hope that as Aristotle said, 'Well begun is half done.' Honoring the ancient traditions of his land and receiving the blessings of the wise 'Elder Brothers' seems like a most impressive way to begin his term in office and it gives us a glimpse of the insight and judgement of this new President.

It is my most sincere hope that this is a sign of a dawn of a new era for Colombia and the world—a sign that collective consciousness is growing and maturing so that we may soon globally experience a time of peace, sustainability, and prosperity in tune with natural law. And I celebrate full of optimism and delight, this great sign that the 'Younger Brothers' are honoring the 'Elder Brothers' and that we are now receiving and appreciating these auspicious blessings from the 'Heart of the World'.

*Perhaps it is worth noting that in the late 1990's as sitting Minister of Commerce, President Santos, a practitioner of Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation, visited this forrest campus where I currently live and work, to speak personally and receive guidance from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the world renowned expert in consciousness, who worked tirelessly to promote life in balance with the Laws of Nature through knowledge and techniques derived from ancient Vedic science.

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