Some trips are simply excursions, while others are spiritual journeys into ourselves.
Joseph De La Cruz and Simon Vandekerckhove met on the road in South America and their paths intertwined in such an intriguing way, that they can now present their perspective of the inward and outward scope of their experiences in their book, “Paths to Pachamama”.
The indigenous people of the Andes revere Pachamama, or ‘Earth Mother’, as the goddess who carries the power to create and sustain life on the planet. Written independently, these are two stories of self-discovery proving no matter our unique journeys, we all travel the same spiritual path. A tale suitable for any traveler on the adventure known as life, in “Paths to Pachamama” you’ll understand there’s more to this world if you’re willing to look hard enough.
We contacted Simon and Joey to ask them more about their story, plans, and dreams.
– Who are Simon and Joey and what are their dreams?
– Joey grew up in Boulder, Colorado, a graduate of a K-12 bilingual Spanish education program and the University of Colorado, Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Italian. After the passing of his mother, he was forced on the road to discover the meaning of life and death. Through his travels he has opened himself up to the universal consciousness that drives our existence, and ever since he has sought to continue his personal evolution by learning to tap into this vast source of powerful energy and endless wisdom available to us all.
Simon from Bruges, Belgium, is a historian and avid traveler who spent a few years abroad studying in Spain, teaching in Thailand, working around Australia and backpacking through South America. Throughout his journeys, the symbolism and coincidences he’s experienced have also widened his perspective to the spiritual dimensions of reality.
For both of us, travel has been a way to get to know ourselves beyond the surface illusion of our physical world, and we both dream that by combining our stories and insights, we can make more people aware of the powerful spiritual force that resides within us all and discover together how we can use it to our advantage.
– How did two independent journeys through South America intertwine and make you a team?
– Fate. We met at a very energetically charged location, Iguazu Falls, and after a short bus ride and a few conversations we got a glimpse of what we could learn from each other. Each independent journey would have been incomplete had it not been for the experiences and input we shared from a distinct, yet complementary perspective of the other. In short, we needed each other to further concepts and ideas we were both discovering on our own after we both had encountered meaningful experiences during our travels. After our meeting we realized that by combining our stories and insights, we were able to gather a much greater understanding of the enigma that is life, which we would not have attained individually.
– How has the concept of Pachamama changed the way you see the world?
– Looking at the world through the lens of Pachamama has removed our sense of physical boundary to some extent and lifted barriers which have blinded us to a greater truth, that everything in this universe is conscious vibrating energy and that we, as energetic beings, have the ability to direct this field of endless opportunity. Pachamama has taught us that we can steer our life experience with our directed conscious intent and take greater control over our lives. Thanks to Pachamama, we have also become much more aware of the signs that are put in front of us to guide us along our journey through life. She has become the fundamental filter through which we see the world.
– What’s the connection between traveling and spirituality?
– There is a fundamental connection between traveling and spirituality. While traveling we are presented with the rare opportunity to be ourselves. Our authentic disposition, our real personalities hidden underneath the costume of everyday life, are given the chance to come out. We are no longer a doctor, a policeman, or a teacher. Our identity becomes fluid, and we simply become a traveler. Without the weight of these labels holding us back, we get the chance to see ourselves in a new light. For a brief moment, we are no longer defined by what we do. What matters most is who we are and who we have always been. In this more elemental state of being, we can look beyond the countless separations and boundaries we usually impose on one another. We can understand that people everywhere are not all that different from one another and that deep down we all share the same hopes and desires. And isn’t that what spirituality is all about?
– Your book is called “Paths to Pachamama”. So there’s more than one path?
– Yes, each and every one of us travels our own personal path towards the highest evolution of our spirit. We all have different lessons and challenges we must face in this life and different ways by which we must overcome them. There is no one path, there is only your path. We must each honor our individual journeys, while at the same time we need to respect the path and personal choices of another.
– Was there one powerful experience during your journey that was a turning point and made you reconsider your lives?
Joey: That moment came to me in the first month of my year long journey. I was sitting utterly alone on a beach in Colombia with nothing but the open road ahead of me. From this place I could see for the first time that I had the choice to bring my past with me on the road, or drop everything I knew and leave it in the sand behind me. I could see that I had an opportunity to completely rewrite my identity, to live free from the layers and constraints of a predetermined identity imposed upon me by friends, family and society back home telling me who and what I should be. Sitting on that beach in solitude, I gifted myself the opportunity to redefine who I was, what I was capable of and who I wanted to become. It was there I began to reconsider every aspect of my life, and it’s never been the same since.
Simon: For me that moment happened in Cadiz. I was out with a friend during carnival, and a tragic accident took the life of my friend that night. I won’t say anything more, other than the fact that the events that took place on that night changed everything for me and have become the bedrock of my spiritual belief. It is all described in the first chapter of the book.
– Your journey to South America has inspired you to be the change you want to see in the world. What are some specific changes everyone can make to make the world a better and more balanced place?
– Redefine your identity. Realize that you are not merely a physical body, but an eternal spark of conscious light vibrating in a void of potential energy over which you have a high degree of creative control. In order to come to this understanding, first you must recognize that an intelligent universal consciousness exists. That is the first step. The second step is recognizing and feeling that we are in constant communication with this universal consciousness, through a personal spiritual connection within an infinite field of opportunity. The final step is to engage in mutual conversation with this energetic source, and send it our desires and intentions with focus and determination so we can allow them to be received, processed, and sent back to us.
An important tool to use in this creative process is your breath. Take the time to focus on it every now and then and learn to control it. By taking control of your breath, you take control of your life.
– What’s the one thing you never travel without?
Joey: My backpack. When traveling my backpack becomes my home. I bring only what’s essential and leave the rest behind and embrace the freedom it provides me as I explore the intriguing paths of life.
Simon: Honestly, every time I travel I tend to take less with me than the last time, as each trip I realize that I really don’t need all that much. So my question is: is there anything that you really cannot travel without, other than your eyes, limbs and sense of wonder?
– What is your next big challenge?
– Writing a book is challenging, but it’s a much greater challenge to have people read it, and an even greater one to get people to the point where they will actually change some of their ways as a result of it. We believe firmly in the ideas presented in the book and are convinced that it can help many people move their lives forward with greater purpose and understanding. Therefore, the next big challenge is to achieve a certain degree of practical implementation of the spiritual constitution and other ideas presented in the book with regard to how we deal with relationships, commerce, money, media, or politics. This will not be easy, but we are hopeful. Thanks to the digital revolution and the technological advancements it is bringing, such as online currencies and green energy, the way we interact with each other and our environment will fundamentally change, and this development will inevitably accelerate the evolution of our spirit.
– Share something inspiring with everyone reading this!
– You are a traveler of many worlds, but ultimately it’s the spiritual journey within that matters the most and will take you the furthest.
Paths to Pachamama is available on Amazon:
All images: courtesy of Joseph De La Cruz and Simon Vandekerckhove/Paths to Pachamama