Having a Spiritual Comprehension and Appreciation of the Orisa. The relation of Olódùmarè with the Orisa.
Aboru Aboye. Ogbo ato asure iworiwofun. Àse.
The law of creation is one of progress, development, expansion and unfoldment. We cannot remain stagnant in our spiritual unfoldment neither can we be satisfied with an undeveloped and immature understanding of spiritual realities. We have to grow. We have to progress. We need a fresh vision for our times just like the ancients had a corresponding vision for their own times. We cannot live by the vision of the ancients because their vision was intended for them and not for us. We need to have a vision of our own that meets our needs in the today and now.
By vision I mean a clear, satisfying, harmonious and accurate understanding of things. We must acquire a satisfying, inspiring, healthy and lofty comprehension of spiritual matters. We cannot remain locked in the past understanding of the ancients because as wonderful, knowledgeable and venerable as the ancients were they did not know it all. They expressed divine realities according to the historical reality of their times, according to their needs and according to their particular individual and collective level of intellectual and spiritual development and capacity. They understood divine realties according to their individual and collective capacity which were at different and various levels of development and understanding. The ancients opened the door for us to enter the spiritual realities. They left it to us to enter and to continue to grow, to develop the tradition, to make new discoveries and to acquire a better understanding of things. They had a glimpse of divine realities and took in as much as they were able and needed according to their circumstances, needs and aspirations. The ancients had exceptional understanding of many things in part and in part they held views that quite honestly were just superstitious or based on misunderstanding, fear of the unknown and/or lack of clarity. They were at the beginning of making an effort to understand the things they had perceived and experienced. They did not have an accurate or complete understanding of things in regard to all the things they spiritually perceived and experienced.
We cannot fault them because they simply were where they were in their individual and collective capacities. They were learning, and each individual according to his personal interest and effort was going through the stages of spiritual growth beginning from spiritual infancy and working their way to spiritual adulthood or maturity. The life of the ancients was not as comfortable as our lives are today. They had to struggle to make a living and survive in ways that perhaps we could never be able to relate to. They faced many challenges, difficulties and problems greater than the ones we experience in modern times. So we have to value the efforts of the ancients in preserving the heritage of orisa spirituality and we must value the compendium of spiritual data that they compiled and communicated via oral transmission and via the method of spiritual rites of empowerment. We are also indebted to the ancients for preserving the diverse àse of the orisa so that we might derive benefit, power, healing, illumination and uplift by receiving these àse orisa to complement our ori through the divinely sanctioned initiatory processes. The ancients made their initial spiritual discoveries and communicated to us their understanding of these realities per the individual and collective capacities of the times and per the stage of spiritual unfoldment that they had until then acquired.
Tradition is a living reality based on discovery, experience and observation. Tradition must grow, evolve and renew [refresh] itself to accommodate itself to the present times. We must continue our spiritual work and investigations where the ancients left off. The ancients did not intend for us to receive their outlook and to etch them in stone as something not subject to subsequent investigation, study, development and adjustment. What they gave us was simply a starting point that they intended us to continue to develop and bring to maturity, greater efficiency and clarity.
There has been research, study, practice, new discoveries, new applications, development of more accurate understandings and progress in all areas of knowledge like math, art, science, medicine, physiology, neurology, anthropology, archeology, carpentry,
architecture, agriculture, technology, psychology etc. etc.
The only area of knowledge that has not kept pace with the other sciences or fields of knowledge is spiritual science. Spiritual science has lagged behind the other sciences. But why? Simply because there is little interest in studying, developing and practicing divine spirituality which is the supreme or perfecting science. Divine spirituality is about self-improvement, and to be painfully honest people are reluctant to pursue the path of self-improvement, self-correction and spiritual refinement. Isese or divine tradition is a sacred science that is subject to study, development and the acquiring of clearer understanding of spiritual realities and practical applications like all other sciences, but there has to be a personal interest in this special field of knowledge. No field of knowledge develops by itself. They are developed by interested, observative, studious, clear-headed and practical people. Theory and practice must be one in regards to Ifá-Orisa spirituality or Ifá spiritual science.
Today we yearn for more than merely believing and accepting things. Blind and unsubstantiated belief is no longer an option to enlightened, sincere and spiritually awake people. We want and need to understand, so that our belief is healthy, sound and complete. In our study and practice of isese or divine spiritual science our approach must be spiritual and intuitive but rational. Rightly understood the mysteries of Ifá and the irunmole-orisa are rational. There are not superstitious elements in Ifá and in Òrìsà spirituality. What people call superstitious elements are just their own lack of understanding of what Ifá-Òrìsà spiritual things and references actually are, mean and refer to. Rightly understood all apparently superstitious elements become non-existent to us and things begin to become clear, rational and meaningful to us. Our approach to the sacred science of Ifá and the teachings of the irunmole-orisa fall under the order of rational-mysticism. Rational-mysticism is a direct personal experience accompanied by a clear and orderly understanding of what we have experienced so that our experience and understanding satisfies the needs of the heart and satisfies the demands and needs of the human mind to understand. To this end to promote the spiritual, emotional, psychological and intellectual health, growth and overall wellbeing of my spiritual brothers and sisters and my spirituality inclined
friends let us in brief consider the subject of the relation of Olódùmarè with the orisa. May you find this spiritual study useful, insightful, stimulating and strengthening. May it bring inward unity, peace and harmony to your life. May it compliment that which you are receiving from your elders.
Ifá makes it abundantly clear that the supreme being is only one. There is only one supreme being: Olódùmarè. Olódùmarè is supreme. He has no equals, no rivals, Olódùmarè alone wields supremacy and Olódùmarè alone is the one who has complete and full control of all things. Olódùmarè alone has complete, full and limitless knowledge and understanding of all things. Olódùmarè is the eternal living wisdom. Olódùmarè is the eternal wisdom, love, beauty, bliss and life.
Olódùmarè is arinu rode, olumoran okan, the one who can see what is in our heart and mind. Olódùmarè knows us as we are and not as others see or perceive us or how we think we are. Olódùmarè always sees us as we truly are. We can hide nothing from Olódùmarè. Ifá says that whatever we do even if what we do is hidden and done in the deepest parts of the earth that Olódùmarè will still see and know because Olódùmarè is everywhere. Olódùmarè has countless eyes, hands and feet. Olódùmarè knows all, wields complete power and Olódùmarè can instantly reach us, touch us and grasp us wherever we may happen to be.
In sacred tradition we read about Olódùmarè and how Olódùmarè created all things including the orisa. The language of the ancients was expressed in very simple and easy to understand words but you must know and understand that those simple and easy words were pregnant with a lot of meaning and value to the ancients. When we consider the activities of Olódùmarè and the orisa as they are described in the narratives found in Ifá we must know that those descriptions, though couched in simple, easy and somewhat playful words actually carried a meaning and value to the ancients superior to the literal and superficial values than many attribute to them today. For example when we read about Òrúnmìlà coming down to earth on a chain that chain does not refer to a literal chain. The ancients used the word chain to convey a certain, sublime, extraordinary and lofty meaning because they had no other word to convey what they had spiritually discerned, but that chain refers to a spiritual mode of movement or translocation that is peculiar to the orisa. They used the word chain but in their understanding it was not a literal chain that they were thinking of. This special chain refers to a divine and spiritual manner of propulsion that enabled Òrúnmìlà and other Orisa to descend [translocate] to the earth realm by translating [transforming] their divine spirituals forms or bodies to one that resembled that of human beings.
Keeping the above in mind let us continue with our spiritual study and lesson. Olódùmarè the supreme one is everywhere. Olódùmarè is the source, origin and fountainhead of countless diverse energies, powers and potencies. In our world we have the example of the grand ocean from which flow countless rivers, rivulets and streams. The many rivers, rivulets and streams have no existence independent of the grand body of water that they originate in and flow from.
When the ancients beheld the diverse and manifold spiritual powers, energies and potencies of Olódùmarè they conceptualized them as independent intelligent beings distinct from Olódùmarè much like we differentiate between the ocean and the rivers, rivulets and streams that have their origin in and flow from the ocean. Even though we make this distinction they are one. The ocean is the immeasurable and inexhaustible source, and the rivers, rivulets and streams are the immeasurable and inexhaustible extensions of the ocean.
The supreme power Olódùmarè is one but from the one supreme power emanate, flow and branch off countless divine intelligences, energies, potencies and powers of diverse qualities and functions. These innumerable powers of the supreme power Olódùmarè we call orisa and they are inseparable from Olódùmarè. The various powers that originate in and flow from Olódùmarè are known as orisa. Olódùmarè is one but his powers are limitless. Therefore we have Olódùmarè and the 401 irunmole-orisa. The number 401 is not a literal number or count. The number 401 simply means inconceivably many, limitless or immeasurable. The orisa are simply the dynamic powers of the one Olódùmarè. They are expressions of the activity, person and power of Olódùmarè. The orisa are simply different ways, channels or paths of Olódùmarè that we can make use of to approach, experience and honor Olódùmarè. All orisa are storehouses, powerhouses and treasure-troves of virtue, goodness, inspiration, power, intelligence and strength. Olódùmarè is one but based on our own unique temperaments, affinities, present inner-state, capacity, spiritual leanings, needs and yearnings we relate to, conceptualize, perceive, experience and inwardly envision that ideal of the supreme one that attracts us, uplifts us, comforts us, inspires us and empowers us. These living ideals which are expressions of the one supreme power Olódùmarè we call orisa. Olódùmarè communicates with us in the language of our own individual heart and mind. Our receptivity, sensitivity and experience of that peculiar living current of energy and experiential spiritual language that is personally directed to us by Olódùmarè we call orisa.
Orisa are Olódùmarè coming down to us in a way, manner, form and level that we can personally and individually apprehend, experience and relate to. Orisa are Olódùmarè coming down to us in a way, manner, form and level in which Olódùmarè appears to our spiritual senses in an unique, specific and personal way that is relevant to ourselves as unique and individual human beings. Orisa are Olódùmarè coming down to us in that way, manner, form and level that we are receptive and responsive to, that will make it possible for us to be inspired, to experience divine love, to be strengthened [empowered] and gradually be elevated [perfected] by Olódùmarè.
If we approach our relationship with the orisa with this understanding our spiritual and daily life, and our relationships with one another will be much more richer, satisfying, dignifying and fulfilling. Also our outlook, conduct and quality of being will be transformed. I am sure that if you have been carefully following the lesson you have discovered a great secret. I am sure that you have arrived at a sublime conclusion and understanding: When we devote ourselves to our orisa we are in fact worshiping and devoting ourselves to Olódùmarè because Olódùmarè is the sum and substance of the orisa. The diverse orisa are Olódùmarè relating to us in the way, manner and form that we are uniquely attracted to and honestly able and capable of being receptive and responsive to.
Olódùmarè is the sun and the orisa are the immeasurable rays of light, vitality and warmth which emanate, irradiate and flow from the sun.
A true and sincere worshiper of orisa is himself or herself a divine being, or a person of divine [god-like] qualities. Olódùmarè has come to us in the form of the orisa to imbue our lives with the beautiful and attractive divine qualities that are inseparable from Olódùmarè’s divine, blissful and eternal nature. Worship of the orisa means putting their divine, marvelous and noble qualities into our conduct, speech, attitude and behavior. When we worship the orisa in this manner their divine virtues, powers and abilities become integrated into our lives and become a part of our nature, and gradually we experience many inner transformations leading to excellence, fulfillment and perfection.
Having understood the above we should understand that all orisa are equal as divine manifestations of Olódùmarè. One orisa is not better than another. The orisa are not in competition with each other. Through wholehearted devotion to any orisa we will find peace, self-respect, wellbeing, satisfaction, upliftment and fulfillment. We should follow the orisa that particularly attracts, ennobles and inspires us. It is silly to think that one orisa is better than another.
What is important for us to discern and internalize is that no matter which orisa particularly inspires us and attracts us that we should constantly try to make that orisa’s sublime qualities inseparable from our actions, words and attitudes. Worshiping your chosen orisa means loving the unique noble, wondrous and marvelous qualities of your chosen orisa and imbuing the totality of your life and being with those noble qualities, strengths and virtues. Your chosen orisa is with you at every moment. Remember that the orisa are one with Olódùmarè. Orisa are the expressions of Olódùmarè’s beauty, wonder, excellence and wisdom. Orisa are the loving hands and the expressions of the limitless beauty of the multifaceted face of Olódùmarè guiding you, attracting you and elevating you to the divine state of love, peace, excellence and bliss that Olódùmarè eternally enjoys. Keep this fact foremost in your heart.
It is my hope that you have been enlightened, inspired and spiritually invigorated by this teaching. This spiritual comprehension and appreciation of the orisa is so vital and needed today. Context is all important in our spiritual lives. Our spirituality has to have context because a spiritual life without context is like a ship at high sea without a rudder that will not go where it wants to go and will be at the mercy of the waves and the winds. Our tradition has to recover its rudder and begin to sail in a straight line towards the port of meaningfulness, satisfaction, fulfillment and purpose. A spirituality without order, cohesiveness and purpose is no spirituality at all.
For those who have eyes to see, this lesson will establish them in a true understanding of the relation of Olódùmarè with the orisa. It is a lesson to restore and enhance personal dignity, understanding, genuine devotion, integrity and a satisfying spirituality.
Aboru Aboye. Ogbo ato asure iworiwofun. Àse.
~ Awo Òrúnmìlà Mark Casillas