The Concept of Saving and Salvation in Ifá.
Aboru Aboye. Ogbo ato asure iworiwofun. Àse.
Holy Odu-Ifá Iwori-Osa teaches us the grand truth that:
IFÁ IS THE ONE WHO SAVES HUMANITY.
How does Ifá save us? What are the ways in which Ifá saves us? What does saving and salvation mean within the context of the Ifá-Orisa tradition?
Today I would like to share with you the four main ways in which Ifá saves us, but before speaking on the four ways in which Ifá saves us I want to first of all define and make clear what is meant by saving and salvation within the context of Ifá understanding and experience.
The reason I want to explain this matter on saving and salvation is because I am aware that there will be many people of different spiritual cultures and faiths who will be reading these words who have their own peculiar understanding of what saving and salvation is or means. I will speak on saving and salvation from the Ifá perspective and then I will continue with today’s consideration.
The Ifá conception of life is based on the principles of fundamental goodness, personal-dignity, celebration of life, wholesome self-esteem, harmony, gratitude, optimism and the inherent sacredness [goodness] of humanity. The Creator [Eledumare] has created mankind in goodness, innocence, purity and nobility. The things we choose to think and believe about ourselves can and will have a constructive or destructive effect upon our lives. How we perceive ourselves and how we perceive our relation to the Creator and creation is all important. Ifá reveals that human beings enter this world in dignity, innocence, without guilt and with a wholesome and wonderful nature.
Consider what Ifá teaches us in Holy Odu-Ifá Ejiogbe:
***The honorable and good way Olodumare created me in, in that way of honor and goodness I am walking. I do what is good and right. I refrain from evil and I don’t practicing lying [I practice honesty], so that I won’t die a wretched person, because the things we practice [cultivate] in our youth will catch up to us in later years. This is the revelation of Olodumare for those who practice [who have chosen to practice] truthfulness and for those who [have chosen to] indulge in wickedness. Only the truthful and upright will succeed and triumph.***
Ifá does not teach us that human beings are born ‘sinful’ or disconnected from their Creator. Such an idea or belief would dishonor our Creator and it would stain and poison our awareness of the Creator’s wisdom, tenderness, goodness, love and perfection. Such an idea or belief would psychologically sabotage our ability to take full responsibility for our lives and it would put us in an awkward, contradictory and confusing dysfunctional relationship with our Eleda [our Creator]. Such an idea or belief is also incompatible with the power, principle, ability and gift of free moral agency. In other words, how can someone be held responsible for an unwholesome nature that he or she did not choose nor was able to avoid?! Let me put it in a humorous way: How can we blame chocolate for not tasting like vanilla? How can someone live their life with confidence and joy if he or she has persuaded themselves or has been persuaded by someone else that they are sure to ‘fall’ at any moment or at some point?!
Ifá does not suscribe to such contradictory, counterproductive, psychologically damaging, toxic and hurtful ideas or beliefs. To put such ideas and beliefs in the mind of an innocent and defenseless child, adolescent, or an adult human being is to hurt, destabilize and sabotage him psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. There are many variants of these kind of negative, self-defeating, damaging and pessimistic thoughts and/or beliefs in various spiritual cultures and belief systems.
I am happy to say that Ifá is not one of these pessimistic belief systems. Western Culture has been heavily influenced by some of these beliefs which have been ascribed to ‘Christianity’. How Christianity came to adopt such ideas is a topic for another day, but the person of Jesus of Nazareth never taught such things and never weighed down the minds and hearts of people with such contradictory, pessimistic and arbitrary beliefs. The words of the great master Jesus of Nazareth also coincides with the above revelations of Ifá. Jesus said and taught that A GOOD MAN FROM THE DEPTHS OF HIS HEART BRINGS OUT GOOD THINGS AND THAT A WICKED MAN FROM THE DEPTHS OF HIS HEART BRINGS OUT WICKED THINGS. These words of the great master and teacher Jesus would be meaningless and untrue if human beings were born ‘sinful, evil or inclined to malice’. Human beings are not inclined to malice, they are inclined to happiness, dignity and peace. I don’t know about you but I have never woken up in the morning desiring and intending to be the worst human being I can be. I have always desired and intended to be the best that I can be. Jesus taught, BLESSED ARE THE PURE AT HEART BECAUSE THEY WILL SEE GOD. How could anyone be pure at heart if they were born intrinsically ‘sinful, evil or inclined to malice’? Jesus taught that, THOSE WHO ARE COMPASSIONATE AND FORGIVING WOULD BE FORGIVEN AND THAT THOSE WHO ARE INDIFFERENT AND UNFORGIVING WOULD BE TRAPPED BY THEIR OWN INDIFFERENCE AND UNFORGIVENESS. How can someone be forgiving if they were born intrinsically ‘sinful, evil or inclined to malice? So you see Jesus never taught such contradictory, confusing, sabotaging and backward teachings. He taught that people choose their character and that people determine the quality of their heart. We make ourselves good or bad.
Human beings have only ONE CREATOR and ONE ORIGINATOR of everything they are as human beings: Eledumare. Eledumare has not made any mistakes nor can anyone frustrate His perfectly laid out plans. Everything is moving perfectly according to His divine dispensation. There is a perfect and flawless plan and perfect chain of events running throughout creation. What we are experiencing as human beings is a part of that perfect plan.
When we objectively look at other Abrahamic belief systems like Judaism or Islam they also have their own variant of belief in regard to humans beings having something intrinsically negative or harmful within them.
When we consider the grand majority of Eastern Religions and/or Eastern Philosophies we will clearly see that they also are heavily laden with pessimistic ideas about life and human nature. According to Eastern Philosophy human beings are born in ‘maya’ in illusion, and to them life is something dreary, bleak, depressing and something to deny and run away from. The grand majority of eastern religions and philosophies are escapist in nature. Life and existence according to them is called ‘samsara’. Samsara means wearisome, tiring, aimless and pointless. To these systems life is not an intrinsically good thing. According to them it is better to deny life and escape! The more positive philosophies among them will at least acknowledge the goodness of the human soul but for some strange reason they account the human body as something negative. So they divide their own hearts and minds by all of these silly, foolish and self-defeating hair-splitting arguments, categorizations and conclusions! Ifá teaches us that all of the human being is one indivisible bundle of goodness, as befits the Sublime Creator Eledumare who created us. The whole of the human being is sacred, good and wonderful.
Ifá is a 100% optimistic, positive, holistic, and uplifting religion, philosophy and manner of life. Ifá explains things with such depth, clarity and reality that Ifá bestows immediate emotional, psychological and spiritual healing and correction to anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to consider and study Ifá. Ifá explains the positives and negatives of life within a context of positivity, optimism, dignity, divine achievement and satisfying meaning.
Contrary to pessimistic belief systems, pessimistic religions and pessimistic ideologies, Ifá teaches us that beyond all appearances humanity is fundamentally good, noble and divine but this goodness, nobility and divine nature has to be cultivated, practiced, developed and perfected [matured]. Our intrinsic goodness does not develop by itself or on automatic, we have to apply our will and effort because it is the maturing of our will, thoughts, intelligence and emotions that Ifá is gently encouraging and developing in us. Ifá reveals that we enter this world in innocence, but in an initial beginning state of immaturity, or we have our beginning in an undeveloped state or condition. Our sole constitution is of the nature of ogbe [light, life, increase, fluidity, progress and movement] but in his infinite wisdom Olodumare adds to us the training element of oyeku [darkness, death, decrease, solidity, resistence and inertia]. To what end does Olodumare do this? To create the basis of choice, achievement, fulfillment and satisfaction. To create the basis for free moral agency. To create the basis and criteria that enables us to know and determine what is good and bad, proper and improper and what is correct or incorrect.
We are divine seeds of pure goodness which have been planted in the soil of adversity, challenges, negative-resistance and difficulties so that we can discover our innate divine nature and develop our intellectual, moral, emotional, reflective and spiritual muscles. The provisional and [temporary] negative aspects of life are the necessary and needed contrast that will enable us to grow, develop and flourish as children of Eledumare. The provisional and [temporary] negative aspects of life are the sparring partners and spiritual weights that we train with to develop our innate but yet undeveloped and uncultivated noble qualities, powers and abilities that are yet to be matured [perfected]. And it is in this sense of maturing that the words saving and salvation apply in the Ifá conception of life.
Salvation in Ifá is not about switching out one nature for another. Salvation in Ifá is not about running away from life or trying to escape from life. Salvation in Ifá is not about fearfully trying the gain the love and favor of God because God already loves us and favors us. We relate to Eledumare in a spirit of love, gratitude, trust and awe. Eledumare can and will disclipline and chasten us when needed, even with severity [intensity] when the occasion calls for it, but he can never do us any harm. Even the apparent ‘hardness’ of Eledumare is pure love, goodness and good-will. Eledumare created us for Himself and He will see us ALL through [in His own way and time] to PERFECTION AND EXCELLENCE.
Salvation in Ifá is about immersing ourselves in the reality of life as it is, and embracing life to make a better life for ourselves and others. Salvation in Ifá is about discovering and nurturing our singular noble true-self and our singular noble-nature which we refer to as IPONRI. Ifá is about walking and relating to Eledumare as our best friend, companion and wellwisher. If we practice the good we will experience the good. If we practice what is bad then our own unwholesome actions will reprove and punish us.
Everything exists to help us in our development, unfoldment and growth. We are now individually and collective exactly as Eledumare intended. We begin in weakness and we end in strength. We begin in ignorance and we end in complete and well-rounded understanding. We begin as earth bound ‘caterpillars’ but we end up as sky bound ‘butterflies’.
Yes, there is some pain, sorrow and sadness on the journey but everything is not pain, sorrow or sadness. There is also joy, enthusiasm, excitement, friendship, love, inspiration and satisfying effort and achievement. The negativite aspects of life that we see and experience outside of ourselves and within ourselves are for our benefit, enhancement and growth. Saving and salvation in Ifá refers to all of that which we experience in the process of realizing the purpose and meaning of our existence: Ifáyelele.
Having explained the basic Ifá conception of life I will now proceed to the main topic under consideration. While I could go on to elaborate on more related topics but I think I will leave it here since I do not want to make this message too long and I do not want to lose the focus, patience and interest of the kind readers.
I will briefly share with you now the four main ways in which Ifá saves.
: Ifá saves us [enlightens, assists and helps us] by making known to us in clear, experiential and reasonable ways the principles, understandings and ways of conduct by which we are to live our lives. How much pain, emotional strain and psychological stress could have been avoided in our lives if we lived honest, quiet and productive lives? How many troubles, mishaps and headaches could we have been saved from if we followed Ifá’s advice to not involve ourselves in things that do not pertain to us and in things that are none of our business? How many unsavory things would we be saved from if our conduct, behavior, manners and demeanor were according to the good teachings and example of Ifá?
: Ifá saves us by exercising the power of divine manifestation in our lives to deflect hurtful, useless and dangerous things, people, situations, circumstances and antagonistic energies from our lives. Ifá saves us by exercising the power of divine manifestation in our lives by attracting to us positive, success bestowing and opportunity granting situations and circumstances. Ifá saves us by attracting good, wise and useful people to our lives. Ifá saves us by leading and guiding us to render relief, aid, help and benefit [or salvation] to others. When we take care of others, others will take care of us. When we save others, others will save us. Through mutual collaboration, benevolence and effort we advance and gain.
: Ifá saves us by giving us a sound, healthy, profound and truthful outlook, perspective and understanding of life, and our place in it. Ifá saves us by correcting and removing erroneous, untruthful, immature and injurious views and beliefs from our minds and lives. Ifá saves us by removing the negative imprints of past unwholesome conditionings, traumas and impressions. Ifá implants within us through accurate knowledge and through the bestowal of àse, an understanding, experience and comprehension of our true nature, our lives in relation to one another, and our lives in relation to Eledumare that is so inspiring, empowering and uplifting that once we have this we are fixed in our course of forward progress and attainment. Ifá is so sweet, clear and satisfying that the heart and mind naturally and with cheer responds to the wholesome and uplifting attracting and drawing power of Ifá.
: Ifá saves us from disillusionment by giving us a true hope, by giving us an understanding of what we should actually be expecting in life and from life. Ifá does not give us false hopes, neither does Ifá give us a vision of unrealistic and/or unrealizable expectations. Ifá teaches us in truth what our expectations of ourselves and others should be. Ifá saves us by making it clear and without sugar coating it that in life we will not be able to avoid all undesirable and painful things. Ifá saves us by communicating to us that there are certain experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, which have been programmed into our lives that we will not be able to avoid. These occurrences fall within the category of that which we call destiny. In Ifá destiny does not mean that everything in our lives has been pre-determined. Ifá does not teach us fatalism. Our lives are our own and we are always free to choose a positive, useful and productive life, and we are also free to choose the way we respond to life’s challenges, sufferings and difficulties when they appear. Destiny in Ifá means specific things that Eledumare has chosen for us to experience that we cannot avoid. Ifá saves us by deflecting calamity, illness and mishap from our lives, but Ifá also saves us by explaining to us that some negative experiences cannot and will not be defected, but what Ifá will do during these periods of challenge and adversity is to infuse and empower us with àse, so that we are made strong and resilient so that our mind, emotions and spirit will be fortified so that we can endure the challenge and adversity with calm, courage, serenity, composure and a contented mind. Ifá can extinguish a dangerous and out of control fire and/or Ifá can give us the power, strength and protection to walk through that fire without getting scorched [by the difficulties, problems, conflicts and challenges of life]! When we come out on the other side of the fire we will not even have the smell of smoke on us!!!
So, Ifá saves us by deflecting difficult, painful and challenging things from our lives, and Ifá saves us by giving us empowerment to calmly endure the difficulty, pain and challenge with composure, patience and a joyful attitude until it passes.
Only by undergoing this process of growth and development which is marked with moments of pain but which is also permeated with joy, happiness and satisfaction will we be able to enter into, enjoy and be established in Ifáyelele [the perfected or matured state].
Ifá gbe wa ooo!
Aboru Aboye. Ogbo ato asure iworiwofun. Àse.