Why do some people derive great benefit from their initiations whereas some do not?
Being a master of iwa: The true and spiritual meaning of being an oluwo – a master, expert practitioner and owner of iwa.
Everyone can be a superior person, a moral person, a person of good character, but a great many are unwilling to be. Most people are seemingly ‘good’ for convenience purposes, to maintain appearances, to comply with social pressure or due to fear of loss due to public disapproval. There are few authentic men or women of iwa in today’s world. Iwa is the spirit and power that sustains, nourishes and governs the creation and iwa is the power that connects us to and gives us entrance to the divine spiritual world. Iwa is a divine, progressive, eternal energy, primordial intelligence and power that has no beginning and no end. When we are connected to this eternal power, energy and intelligence, we express this reality by good thoughts, good words, good actions, lofty demeanor and trustworthy behavior. These are the signs and symptoms of the presence of iwa in the life of a human being. The morality of a great many today is like the rise and fall of the mercury in the thermometer, it is like the changing colors of skin of the chameleon. Instead of being actually good, sincere, genuine and honest; people today feel virtuous and great pride in themselves by merely acting and pretending to be good, sincere, genuine and honest! Few people today know what real honor, divine knowledge, iwa and integrity are. No one needs to be a petty person, a self-seeking person, a fake-person, but that is what many are and want to be. To be sincere, faithful and respectful, to be amiable, harmonious and upright, to promote the worthy and praise the good, to benefit beings according to what is appropriate: all such things are the deeds of a superior person, a moral person, of a person of iwa. Such deeds are not hard to do. But people are unwilling to pursue this noble path from the heart — why?
To be devious, tricky and arrogant; to be coarse, rough, violent, lustful and deceptive; to speak of the shortcomings of others, to speak of the flaws of others while not acknowledging the excellent qualities in others. To elevate oneself at the expense of others. To hide ones own many flaws and shortcomings and to praise ones few virtues before others; are not such things the deeds of a petty person, of a hypocritical person, of an arrogant person, of a fake-person and of a self-seeking person. What is the benefit in practicing such a petty, hollow, superficial and meaningless life? Yet people are determined to live in this useless and meaningless way — why?
If you are a superior person, a person of genuine iwa, compassion and humility, the people will irresistibly be pleased with you, the irunmole-orisa will help and support you, and misfortune will not occur. You will seek and secure spiritual fulfillment, prosperity, fortune, and riches and you will gain much, because the spirit of honesty, kindness, iwa and good-will will support you and will cause your honest efforts to yield satisfying results.
But if you are a petty person, a manipulating and controlling person, an unfeeling person, a zig-zagging person, a person lacking iwa, integrity and honor, the people will mistrust you, the people will hate you, the people will see right through you and will not trust you and support you. The irunmole-orisa will be angry with you and will detest you, the irunmole-orisa will not take you seriously and will not listen to anything you have to say, your name will stink to the irunmole-orisa, the irunmole-orisa will withdraw themselves and their benefits from you, your person will be a taboo to them; and disaster, shame, dishonor and calamity will come to you. Your good fortune and your life span will be cut short, and you will suffer many losses.
Being an oluwo in the truest and highest sense is a rare and extraordinary attainment. It is a rare attainment and achievements reserved for the dedicated few. A true oluwo does not become an oluwo by mere socio-religio exercise. A true oluwo does not become an oluwo by the power of the purchasing power of money or due to the connection with worldly friends. A true oluwo is formed not only due to divine steps and activities in this life, but is formed due to the momentum and continuity of spiritual progress and efforts carried over from past existences. The true oluwo is one who is able to successfully guide and heal others. The true oluwo is able to win people over with his simplicity, love, honesty, wisdom and straightforwardness. The genuine oluwo does not lord it over people. The legitimate oluwo is not moved by the praises, flattery or verbal abuses of anyone because an oluwo is not conceited or self-absorbed. The destiny of an authentic oluwo is to selflessly serve others without arrogance, conceit, corrosive pride and airs of superiority. Oluwo is not a superficial title but is an earned state of being. Oluwo is the spirit of divine wisdom, grace, kindness and intelligence manifested in our world in a human form. Oluwo is more than human, the true oluwo is a divine being who hides his divine identity and glory and is only interested in illuminating others and in delivering people from their doubts, confusions, sorrows, sufferings and afflictions. The bonafide master, practitioner and owner of iwa is permeated with divine ase, gracefulness, serenity, contagious enthusiasm and the sentiment of the divine irunmole-orisa. A divine oluwo knows how to install and activate the spirit of wholesome self-esteem, confidence, kindness, hope, gentleness, and clarity in people. An oluwo abides in imperturbable peace, serenity and clarity. An oluwo sees things from the root and is not taken in by appearances. An oluwo is empowered to inspire trust, confidence and love in people. Oluwo or master, expert practitioner and owner of iwa is the embodiment of wisdom, power and compassion. Oluwo is a state of being, consciousness and manner of life. This divine state and condition of life is what gives elegance and attractiveness to ones knowledge of Ifá. This divine state and condition of life is what gives effectivness, power and authenticity to ones spiritual activities, rites and rituals. This divine state and condition of life is what attracts the irunmole-orisa and their blessings, guidance and power into ones life. The state and condition of oluwo is what makes makes a babalawo a babalawo, a babalorisa a babalorisa, an iyalorisa an iyalorisa and a genuine human being into a true divine human being. The status and condition of oluwo is not only related to Ifá practices, methodology, chants, priestly services and oracular practices. A person can know much Ifá, can know how to conduct and officiate all the mysteries, rites and rituals of Ifá and yet not have the oluwo state and condition of divine spirituality. There is many oluwo in name only but not in the actual reality and power of what oluwo means and stands for. Oluwo state and condition is what gives these practices meaning, power, credibility and efficacy. The oluwo state of being and inner condition of life transcends all religious practices, religions, sects, mysteries, names and titles; and is the heart and core of true saving knowledge. An oluwo does not have to go out to seek of anyone, nor does an oluwo need to promote himself, because his mastery and accomplishments in iwa ase will go out far and wide and will speak for him and will attract all good and auspicious things to him. Oluwo is not a temporary title that one earns or purchases from other human beings, but it is a spiritual attainment, condition and state of being that one has earned and that one discovers; and that others discern that one is firmly established in. Everything that such an oluwo blesses, oversees, institutes and approves will unfailingly prosper. Aspire to be such a master, expert practitioner and owner of iwa. Aspire to be a master of yourself and not others. Learn how to discipline, master and control your own life and you will be well on your way to true mastery, advancement and divine attainment. An oluwo exists to serve and not to be served. An oluwo does not praise himself to himself or before others. An oluwo delights in and glories only in displaying and exhibiting the eternal spirit and power of iwa in extraordinary, original, beneficial, practical and wonderful ways. An oluwo loves humility, meekness, moral courage, truthfulness and holy living. An oluwo is a being of few words but of great, meaningful and magnificent actions; and when an oluwo does speak, he speaks according to the truth of things, he speaks with depth and gracefulness, the oluwo speaks to benefit, uplift, encourage, admonish and empower others. An oluwo does not deliberately draw attention to himself. An oluwo does not speak about himself but about the ways of truth, kindness, harmony and holy wisdom. The words of such an oluwo penetrates to the depths of the hearts and minds of his listeners and brings about a great change and transformation in their attitudes, perceptions and manner of living. This is the true, confidential, spiritual and transcendent meaning of oluwo, a master practitioner of iwa and a true lineage holder and child of the primordial and all embracing iwa.
There is confusion, controversy, conflict and uncertainty everywhere in today’s world. This is an age full of dizzying activities, anxiety, depression and unrest. Why? Because humanity has forgotten Olodumare Agotun and has determined to give Him none of their time. Is time really ours? Who by chance has given us this time? Olodumare! Mankind has no time to stand still, stare at nature and to consider who the wonderful creator, nurturer and upholder of all things is. The life of humanity is overwhelmed with misery, dissatisfaction and sorrows. Humanity finds no way to shatter the shackles of bitter experiences. The rich and the poor alike sail in the same boat. What makes humanity live in the midst of a lot of grief and miseries, is the hope of a grain of fleeting joy which comes across occasionally.
The way out lies in facing challenges, hardships and difficulties with courage, understanding and patience. The only path to shake off these moments of hardship and difficulty is to surrender ourselves at the feet of Olodumare and to offer our iwure (supplication) and adura (heartfelt prayer). Then, after we surrender to God, our turbulent and restless minds will become calm, serene and peaceful. Surrendering to Olodumare is not as easy as it sounds. We can only surrender to someone whom we truly know the person. We can only surrender to a person when we really know his quality of character, personality and behavior. We can only trust when we perceive the love, care and sympathy of the Other towards us. We can surrender only when we recognize our need for divine support. We can surrender only when we acknowledge our limitations and when we awaken to the fact that no one here can be self-sufficient. Surrendering to Olodumare is not a passive activity. Surrendering to Olodumare is a dynamic and fulfilling action. Only when we surrender and entrust ourselves to Olodumare Oba Anu in a very real and wholehearted way can we experience the peace of Olodumare and divine happiness.
Everything in this world and everything in our possession will one day abruptly cease to be and fail us. No warning will be given before hand. Only the grace of Olorun, our own store of good actions and the remembrance of our noble-honest living will remain with us to support us.
We must spiritualize our lives. We were created to discover our inner divinity and to cultivate it. Spiritualization of our lives does not mean the destruction of our human faculties, abilities and sentiments. It means raising our human faculties, abilities, feelings, thoughts, will and actions to the level of purification, correction, perfection and higher consciousness. Ifá consistently and repeatedly encourages and invites us to acquire, develop and perfect clear-seeing consciousness and deep empathy for all.
There is a purpose to our lives! When we fail due to neglect, indifference, ignorance and/or laziness to live according to this purpose, nature causes us to experience discomfort, pain, dissatisfaction, suffering and restlessness so that we can reflect upon and examine on what path we are walking on, so that we can get on the right path. These pains, discomforts and periods of unease are veiled messengers of love, wisdom and compassion to assist us and to steer us in the right direction. If you sincerely long for a divine quality of life, a genuine moral-spiritual life and fulfillment it is needless to say that you should give up habitual mundane habits and replace them with divine habits. It means that through our own personal willingness, determination, resolve and initiative we change our life pattern and our manner of understanding. This implies that we should train ourselves to relinquish ordinary, worldly or mundane desires, attachments and ideas that are within, which are ruling us, which are keeping us down and restricting us from fulfilling our divine mission and purpose in life.
To achieve freedom from the peculiar unwholesome types of bondage that we are susceptible to, we must develop mindfulness of the reality, primacy and importance of Olodumare in our lives. All power, strength, virtue and potency is of Olodumare and from Olodumare. Olodumare will assist and empower us, and will help us shoulder our responsibilities, when we acknowledge Him and we decide to build our lives according to His guidance and divinely given pattern. If our approach towards Olodumare is in earnest and is done in a spirit of loyalty, sincerity and determination, He will cause our mentality to change. We will be free from a retarding-retrograde mentality and we will be established in the joy, power and freedom of a divine-progressive mentality. Olodumare will surely save us from all we need to be safeguarded from. We should cultivate the feeling, sentiment and thought that Olodumare is our true father, mother, best friend and loyal companion of the heart. We should see Olodumare alone at work in our lives and we should acknowledge no secondary influences or causes in our lives. This is the way to peace, serenity, inner strength, courage and confidence. This is the way to independence and freedom from the control of people, places and things.
By changing from an unenlightened mundane life to an illuminated spiritual life we can change the quality and direction of our destiny for the better. By wholeheartedly adopting a new divine moral-spiritual life, the repercussions, impressions and influences of past wrongful acts done in ignorance will be completely wiped away with nothing remaining. Our future will be bright, confident and radiant, —irrespective of how previously destiny was seemingly unfavorable to us. Even bad destiny becomes purified and sublimated when we change our hearts, minds, habits, attitudes and manner of living. We should then view and consider past difficulties, hardships, sorrowful experiences and undesirable elements as ordeals that we needed to pass through, like gold thru fire, so that the dross of impurity, defilement, laziness, childishness and ignorance might be removed from us. Divine life upon this earth and the increase of goodness on this earth can only be achieved when we are individually and collectively established in a change of life leading to moral-spiritual regeneration and stable, consistent and abiding holy living. The things of true value in our lives cannot be achieved and secured until we are willing to resolutely exert ourselves and are willing to sacrifice immature, worldly and impure ways for the sake of attaining moral-intellectual divine spiritualization of our inner life and outer practical life. We need inner harmony and outer cohesiveness. Only by living in conscious union with Olodumare Agotun can we realize our divine humanity and bring great pleasure, satisfaction and delight to our great divine Parent, Friend and Guide. We must build up the divine spiritual force within ourselves, so that we can be qualified to assist and enable others to do what otherwise would be an impossibility for them. From building up and cultivating the divine force -asé- of Olodumare within ourselves through enlightened living, divine knowledge and devotion, we will experience the personal manifestation of our own divine sacred energy and genius. Our lives are a gift. Time is a gift. Enlightening knowledge is a gift. Fortuitous Opportunity is a gift. The divine spirit of inspiration, insight and motivation is a gift. We must cease squandering our time and gifts and get to the realization of our life purpose. No one can do this for us. Others can help and assist us but they cannot do it for us. We have to be our own best friend, well wisher and true guide. If we fail in this due to negligence, lack of interest and forgetfulness then we alone will share the losses. It’s time to awaken from the slumber of indifference, laziness and superficiality. Make the best of your life. No one can make your life better for you, than you.
Your friend and well-wisher: Awo Òrúnmìlà Mark Casillas
Ogbo ato asure iworiwofun.
Today’s message is a timely and special one. May the tenderness and love of Ifá-Olodumare and all the positive loving thoughts of all sincere devotees permeate this message with power, comfort and strength. In today’s world there is so much stress, strain, pain, sorrow, and pressure of all sorts. Some of us are in sorrow, strain and excessive states of stress due to the pressures of the environment which surrounds us. Others are suffering mentally and emotionally due to unhealthy conditions in the home and dysfunctional relationships. Others suffer due to inherited congenital defects. Some of us are suffering from physical, psychological and emotional illness and disorders. Others suffer from loneliness, melancholy, depression and from the sensation of feeling out of place or misunderstood. Many suffer from many things that are not their fault and which they did not cause. Life can be difficult. Life can be hard. Even though we know that there is supreme person, Olodumare, who loves us and cares for us, it is hard to accept certain situations in which we find ourselves in. During times of great pain and suffering, speeches about Olodumare somehow are not sufficient to heal the pain and wounds in our hearts and lives. We need to see Olodumare manifested in and through flesh-and-blood people to derive comfort, hope and confidence. We cannot always fathom the plan and purposes of Olodumare in our lives, especially when we are are the ones who are personally being overwhelmed with suffering, pain and anguish, which seems in all honesty senseless, meaningless and purposeless in our lives. It is easy to speak about the love of Olodumare and His wonderful plans for us, the love of Ifá and the love Irunmole/Orisa when we are enjoying health, opportunities and a success sustaining environment. But when pain, mishap, great suffering, anxiety and fear comes in person knocking at our personal doorstep, it can be hard, difficult and even impossible, to see, feel and acknowledge the reality of Olodumare, His love and His glorious plans for us. How can we accept, feel, see and find love in suffering, in worry, in anxiety and in fearful times?! It is hard if not impossible to convince ourselves of the existence, goodness, wisdom and perfection of Ifá-Olodumare, when we are personally and individually undergoing a great crisis and a prolonged period of worry, anxiety and depression due to illness or other upsetting events. Human beings of all faiths, traditions and no traditions, including many Ifá-Orisa devotees are suffering from diverse illnesses and ailments because they are simply human beings who are susceptible to sicknesses and ailments like all other human beings.
Whether we are at present healthy or not, the fact of the matter is that we are all subject to mortality. Not a single one of us will live forever in our present bodies. We will all in one way or another succumb to sickness, old-age and then death. Even when we are healthy and life seems to be smiling upon us, our lives can be taken from us, due to time and unforeseen circumstances. Our bodies and lives as far as the human body is concerned are limited, transient and impermanent. We are all dying…with every breath we take we are getting closer to the grave. This is a sobering but strangely comforting fact if we understand that we are all undergoing and experiencing this process TOGETHER. There is a reason and good purpose for everything that Olodumare institutes, even if we cannot at present comprehend or accept this fact. What often makes our pain and suffering unbearable is not necessarily the fact that we as human beings are mortal and that we will die someday from one thing or another, but what injures our minds and feelings is when we have to endure these things alone. There are hard and difficult things to accept or comprehend in regard to the divine arrangements of Olodumare that we cannot at present understand, and to be quite honest there are things that are hard, difficult or impossible for us to accept. The only comfort that we have is in knowing that somehow or other everything is tending towards our ultimate good and happiness, and that we are not alone and that we have friends, companions and family who loves us, who will be with us and there for us. Our friends, companions and family might not be able to do anything about our illness or ailment but it is surely easier to enjoy life, to cope and to live with hope and gratitude when we have friends and family who are with us from moment-to-moment and day-to-day, who are able to impart strength, comfort, love and hope to us, by which we can live one-day-at-a-time. The fact of the matter is that there are things for which a solution will not be found in this world at the present time. Only trust in Olodumare, resignation to His will and the comfort and company of beloved friends, companions and family members will be able to give us strength to live and courage to press forward. Ifá is about community, this means to come together in unity with care, affection, sympathy and concern. Ifá means family, friends and associates bound together by mutual love, respect, care and concern. How wonderful it is when we are not well, when we are fearful, worried or sick and a true friend, brother, sister or family members arrives to comfort us, to laugh with us and to cry with us! How wonderful to have someone or many people to come around you and they throw their arms around to tell you they care about you and that they are going to be with you come what may. These people are veritable Orisa to us! They are bearers and emitters of life, strength and hope!!! They are a life-line to us. We see and feel Olodumare in them, thru them and because of them. This compassionate and sympathetic feeling, sentiment and attitude is the all consuming disposition of Òrúnmìlà, of Ifá and of Olodumare, and of all genuine devotees of Ifá-Olodumare. No one here can go at it alone. We all need each other. We are all in part strong and weak. We are all in part resilient and vulnerable. We all experience periods and moments of fear, doubt, worry and insecurity,…oh…but how wonderful it is when during these periods of struggle and challenge, a friend, brother and companion in the faith comes alongside you, to stay and be with you, until all things unfold as they must and as they will! Do you know that there were moments in the life of Òrúnmìlà when he completely felt alone and misunderstood? Do you know that there were periods in the life of Òrúnmìlà that were intense in pain, worry, suffering and anxiety in which he was only able to make it solely through the assistance, comfort, relief, encouragement, nearness and dedication of loyal friends and companions?! We are all subject to suffering, fear, illness, worry and anxiety. We are all subject to impermanence and decay, no matter how our bodies feel at the present time and no matter how our bodies look at the present time. We are all ‘sick’ with mortality. We are all ‘sick’ with aging. We will all succumb to illness, decay or dis-ease of one form or another. We are all in this together.
Olodumare arranged things like this so that we might learn to value our lives, our health, our friends, family and each other. Olodumare arranged things like this so that we might learn to discern and value what it truly important in life. What would we give to have another moment with our father, or mother, or friend or brother or son or daughter who passed!? How would we treat them and speak to them? How much more time would be have dedicated to them? What would we do different if we could go back in time to our youth with the experiences, maturity and knowledge that we now have? Olodumare arranged things like this so that we might learn the highest and greatest values. Olodumare arranged things like this so that compassion, generosity and sympathy might arise in us towards others. It is a fact that those of us who have been through the fire of pain, affliction and suffering are more sensitive, understanding and responsive to the pains, sufferings and ailments of others. When we are in true need we really discover the value, blessing and preciousness of our genuine friends, relatives and companions of faith. Through these unwanted but necessary processes of alternating pain and pleasure in life, we are developed, matured and perfected by Olodumare. His purpose is that we might grow, develop and bond together. His purpose is that we might simultaneously learn how to unpretentiously serve others and that we might learn how to receive humbly the generous service of others. This is what Ifá reveals and teaches to us. Friend you are not alone. Olodumare loves you and is caring for you no matter how things may seem. He is not upset with you or angry with you. Your pain, ailments and/or sufferings are not existing because you have done something wrong. You are not alone. There is a community of faithful devotees who reach out to you with their means, time, resources and strengthening prayers. Our bodies are transient, impermanent and subject to decay and decline. We are spirit beings who inhabit and utilize these physical bodies to connect us with the physical world through which we experience lessons which purify our lives and which causes our spirit to gain intelligence, maturity, knowledge, values and advancement. We are all on our way to the higher states and higher worlds of completion and perfection where all suffering, pain, illness and worry will exist no more because they will have fulfilled their training purpose in our lives. If we consider our lives, this world and our bodies as a divinely established temporary school and as a temporary practice vehicle for training and developing our mind, spirit, will and emotions, it will be more easier for us to resign ourselves to the plans of Olodumare with courage and without fear. Ifá teaches us to achieve clear-seeing consciousness and a sympathizing heart. Let us reach out to one another in a realistic way with compassion, understanding, patience, practical love and steadfastness. Let us help each other as best we can, each one contributing what he can to benefit and comfort his brother or sister who is enduring a difficult and painful time. Our love and sympathy may not instantaneously rid them of their illness or ailment, but it will contribute to their healing, it will relieve their suffering, it will give them hope and strength to endure one day at a time. It will minister to them moral, emotional and psychological health, strength and courage which will surely have an impact in the overall improvement of their health and situation. This is the message and understanding that Ifá would have us understand, appreciate and assimilate. You who are well, remember that a day will come that you will not be. You who are not well, do not lose hope and courage. You will make improvement. Things will get better. And with the activity of the fellowship of devotees near and far, you will gain strength, fortitude and courage to cope, while you receive continual healing, comfort, support and strength.
Ogbo ato asure iworiwofun.