The authentic devotee of Ifá is easily identified by his or her moral-spiritual transformation. Ifá comes into our lives to bestow divine grace, peace, resolve, meaning, intelligence, inner-strength, purity and love.
These divine blessings and powerful endowments are given to us to enable and embolden us in our effort to pursue and gain Ifáyelele (divine awakening, harmony, fulfillment and moral-spiritual-emotional-
intellectual maturity). The [true] follower of Ifá can be discerned by the efforts he or she makes to uproot unwholesome tendencies and habits and replace them with divine and wholesome habits.
The enlightened Ifá devotee is never content or satisfied with his or her present moral-spiritual level but is always laboring, pressing forward and exerting himself or herself to acquire new moral-spiritual terrain (continual inner growth, virtue, understanding and purer love). An Ifá devotee delights to strive to attain ever increasing and higher levels of divine grace, sanctity, purity, character, wisdom and power.
To remain stagnant or stationary in ones moral-spiritual unfoldment is to retrogress and lose spiritual ground. A river that somehow or other becomes stationary or stagnant soon becomes the breeding ground of disease, weakness, illness, stench and death, but a dynamic and ever flowing river maintains tenacity, health, sweetness, life and vitality. Continual advancement and unceasing joyous effort is the clarion call of Ifá to its initiates.
Until we reach the state or condition of non-retrogression (firm, solid, stable, unwavering, abiding and consistent moral-spiritual maturity) there will always be the risk, chance or possibility of losing what level of moral-spiritual advancement we have made due to negligence, complacency, lack of perseverence and lack of strong determination. Only when we run the race legitimately and cross the finish line can we be considered true (spiritual) athletes, winners, champions, warriors and masters (masters of our own self, not other people).
The mature and illuminated devotee understands that to continually grow morally and spiritually is the root, foundation and aim of all Ifá studies and practices. This spiritual process of growth and development cannot be had by proxy. Inner growth and development is obtained by personal determined effort, continual engagement, honest self-analysis and consistent exercise.
No one can give you their well and hard earned intellectual-spiritual divine capacities, intelligence, character, gracefulness and inner spiritual-powers. These things cannot be bought, sold or simply given. They must be earned and acquired through personal consistent study, continual reflection and patient practice. One must qualify to obtain them. Each one must do his or her own work.
Moral-Spiritual progress is the continual fruit of diligence, hard work, self determination and personal conviction. Divine grace empowers us and Divine Wisdom informs us but we must do the work. There are no short cuts and no possibility of skipping steps or side stepping divinely arranged lessons.
Ifá shows us the path to follow and walk upon. Ifá gives us the just measure of instruction and provides us with provisions (diverse kinds of asé) for the journey, but we ourselves must perseveringly, patiently and determinedly walk the path from its beginning to its ends by the strength and power of continual self-initiative.Ifá will walk with you but Ifá will not carry you on his shoulders and do your necessary work for you.
Ifá has one part and you have the other. You work together. Your personal effort, consecration, sustained enthusiasm, self-renewing initiative, thoughtfulness and participation is essential. This is why there is no need and no point to be made in comparing oneself to others. You do not know and cannot know the inner life, spiritual history and trajectory of anyone. You can only truly know and discern your own. We are all on our own unique and individual path.You alone are responsible for your moral-spiritual progress. You alone are responsible for your lack of moral-spiritual progress. You alone carry the responsibility to promote your own spiritual well being, health and happiness.
Other qualifed, empowered and mature people can help and assist you but the responsibility rests upon you. It is your choice whether you will progress or not. It is your practiced determination which will advance you forward. It is your choice and action that determines what kind of person you are and will become. Yours alone.
Imitating others on their personal spiritual path will not help you. You have to find, discover and discern your own authentic, original and correct personal spiritual path and you must follow it wholeheartedly irrespective of whether others approve of it or not, and irrespective of whether you will be accompanied by others or not. No person can limit you except yourself.
The greater your personal aspiration, inspiration, ideal and insight, the more you can and will attain, if you so choose to actively pursue YOUR DIVINE IDEAL. One of the greatest secrets or greatest spiritual discoveries that all sincere aspirants eventually make is:
‘That all times, situations and/or circumstances are ideal, just right and perfect to make genuine progress and to acquire purity (singularity of purpose), understanding, virtue, divine power and deep wisdom. It is not our environment or circumstances that determines who we are and what we can and will become. It is our attitude, disposition, personal chosen outlook, determination and quality of personal self-confidence that determines our inner and outer achievements and success.’
Olodumare created us with the power of will and the ability to think and choose the path we will follow. Our will, choices and actions determine whether we are living our lives with a progressive mentality or a retarding (retrograde) mentality.
Olodumare has given us the power of self-dominance if we choose to exert it or we can relegate ourselves to the self imposed status of victims of circumstance. Do not victimize yourself and subject yourself to self-pity which is nothing more than a subtle manifestation of selfishness and laxity. Be strong. Be resilient. Know and honor your true divine pedigree and identity! We are not strong or weak by artifice. We are strong or weak by our own will and choice. By our own will we decide if we are going to be determined, successful, persevering and enthusiastic or not.
Through self dominance we have grace, wisdom, freedom and power to master the negative and destructive emotions that arise within us. These negative, destructive potentialities and defilements that arise within us are represented by Oyeku.
We must know that we are able to receive the light, love, power and life of Olodumare within us as represented by Ogbe.
This principle of moral agency, choice and self-determination is seen in Holy Odu Ifá Ogunda Meji:
‘The Core Of The Tree Does Not Call For Water (was the name of the awo) who consulted Ifá for, When All Men Will Give Account In Heaven (before Olodumare).’
‘If it is good you do then continue to do good. If you engage in evil deeds immediately desist from them because the hand will speak (reveal your actions) and the leg will give account (will reveal your activities).’
‘You will account (before Olodumare) for ALL YOUR DEEDS which you practiced on earth.’
Holy Odu Ifa Otua Aira:
‘It is what Ifa expects of us that we should say. Let us speak (and practice) the truth.’
‘It is he that speaks (and practices) the truth that Olodumare will uphold. Let us speak (and do) the truth.’
‘It is he that speaks (and practices) the truth that Irunmole will uphold.’
‘It is he that speaks (practices) the truth that the Earth will uphold.’
Holy Odu Ogunda-Bede:
‘Falsehood will cause the death of a liar.’
‘Treachery will cause the death of the deceitful one.’
‘Whatever we choose to do, even if it is beneath the earths surface (hidden from people) the (limitless) eyes of Olodumare will see them all.’
‘These were Ifá’s declaration to, ‘He who stole at midnight and said the kings of the earth would not see him.’
‘Even if earthly kings (human authorities and agencies) do not see you, the eyes of Olodumare are surely watching you.
Holy Odu Oyeku Ofun:
‘Honest people are rare. Good people are rarer still. Ifá sees the intentions of the heart. Those who practice what is good, Olodumare knows who they are.’
We have been endowed by Olodumare to a remarkable degree with the ability to choose our course in this world and the quality and kind of person we will be. The essential and fundamental nature of human beings is Ogbe (light, clarity, increase, progress, fluidity and life). But in His wisdom Olodumare has provisionally introduced the training element of Oyeku (darkness, unclarity, decrease, decline, resistance and death) as a sort of spiritual weight or sparring (training) partner so that we can exercise, develop and strengthen our moral-spiritual muscles and our intellectual-intuitive faculties.
Through the interaction and interplay of Ogbe and Oyeku; moral agency, choice, satisfying selection, achievement and intelligent effort is made possible. Through the interaction and interplay of the Ogbe and Oyeku principles the arena is set for the will to be able to exercise, develop and realize itself.
So, who are you? You are what you pursue, practice and associate with inwardly and outwardly. You are your cultivated and nurtured affinities. Our fundamental nature or essence by creation is Ogbe. This means that the root, core and foundation of our being is of the essence of actual fundamental and potential goodness. While our inner essence is goodness itself this goodness means nothing if it is not challenged, cultivated, tested or proved and intentionally appreciated and desired.
You have to want to be and actually be, by your own decisions, thoughts, choices and actions, demonstrably good. It is a fact that from apple seeds new apple trees are born and from the trees new apple fruits are obtained. But if this seed is not cared for, protected, watered and nourished it will not even become a young creeper much less a fruit bearing tree.
Not only the seed but the soil upon which it grows must be prepared. Weeds, stones, fungus and harmful insects must be continuously removed. Even when the tree grows and matures it has to be pruned so as to ensure future productivity. The apples you eat do not reach you by chance or accident. Someone intentionally took care of the soil, of the seed, of the tree, nurtured and cultivated it.
In like manner you have to intentionally and responsibly nurture and cultivate your innate fundamental Ogbe nature. It needs to be said the Oyeku is not our enemy but a veiled friend. Oyeku can seem like a harsh and hard taskmaster but this is not the case. The heart of Oyeku is pure compassion. Oyeku holds out noble prospects for us but these must be worked for and earned. Oyeku comes along aside us and within us to challenge us and to offer us countless opportunities and occasions for moral-spiritual growth.
When we at times feel the sting of Oyeku is only because we are looking and drifting away from Ogbe. Oyeku is the strict and unwavering disciplinarian who trains us up and leads us to true freedom, the freedom of being mature, enlightened, disciplined and responsible people. Without enlisting the support of Oyeku, Ogbe cannot fulfil its task in regard to our moral-spiritual and emotional-intellectual training, development and education.
The manifestations of Oyeku like adversity, challenges, stressful situations and difficulties are for our ultimate good. It is not the fact of adversity, challenges, stressful situations and difficulties which injures us but it is our attitude, outlook and response to these that determines whether we gain benefit and advancement or experience loss and decline in our moral-spiritual development. These moments of challenge, difficulty and endurance reveal to us who we presently are and where we are in our spiritual unfoldment. They don’t make us who we are. We choose who and how we are by our attitudes and responses towards life challenges as well as by our developing perception of our own selves.
Moral-spiritual unfoldment is not glamorous or flashy. In fact one will experience many dry seasons and seemingly unfruitful seasons in ones spiritual career of divine ascent. To achieve deep inner transformation, divine gracefulness and god-like character is a work in progress which requires steady commitment, patience and perseverance especially during the dry and seamingly uneventful seasons. Steer away from superficiality and superficial (morally-spiritually uncultivated) people. Steer away from attitudes of laxity, complacency and laziness. Don’t try to jump steps or side step necessary lessons. Don’t fall into the contemporary practice of being a jack of all trades but a master of none.
Honor your life and calling. Resist the urge to be impulsive and the habit of being a people pleaser. Stop jumping here and there and develop strong, firm and deep spiritual roots. You lament and wish there were more real and genuine spiritual devotee’s. Well become one. Be one.
Achieve this for your own advancement and for the benefit of those who are seeking for the truth and its genuine representatives. Do not complain, bicker or lament, instead take steps to elevate your life condition above that which is mediocre, superficial (fake), insubstantial and unsatisfactory.
No one can give you a superior and sublime status and inner condition. You have to develop it, work it in and cultivate it in the laboratory of your own life over many days, weeks and years. You will experience and have many highs and lows, ups and downs, and many moments of ecstasy and tears in relation to your moral-spiritual progress and development.
This is a normal occurence but you have to be persevering and look to the finality of your struggles and challenges. You have to recall what it is that you are working towards. A divine quality of life has to be cultivated, divinely appropriated and earned otherwise it would hold no true meaning or value. You have to earn it, work for it, to have a right to it.
Don’t look at others but instead look at yourself and what you are or are not doing with your life, privileges and opportunities. Don’t spend your time and energy assessing and criticizing others, instead fairly assess yourself and honestly criticize yourself constructively. Ifá puts before you two choices. You can choose the way of the genuine, honest and diligent aspirant (awo) or you can choose the path of the hypocrite (double minded), zig-zagging (unstable) and willfully uninformed (ogberi). The choice is yours alone to make.
Do not blame others or find fault with others for your own choices and decisions. Allow no one to take advantage of you but also ensure that you do not take advantage of anyone. Do not ask or expect from others what you do not ask or expect from yourself. Do not make demands on others to practice and do. what you yourself neglect to practice and do.
You can only give what you have. You can only suggest and ask others to do and practice the principles of truth and noble character only if you have been firmly established in them yourself for some considerable and observable time. Your words will lack moral-spiritual power, authority, healing gracefulness and uplifting potency if you are not a well cultivated embodiment of those moral-spiritual principles you espouse.
Minimize the need for excessive verbosity, instead convince and win others over by the power of your actions, behavior, attitude and conduct. How can you teach others if you have not taught yourself? How can you offer others a hope and standard that you do not have for yourself? This is the teaching and standard of Ifá.
Ela ‘boru. Ela ‘boye. Ela ‘bosise.
Your friend and well-wisher Awo Òrúnmìlà Mark Casillas.