Search Ifa articles

Thursday, January 4, 2007

What it means for Ori to select one's destiny. . . September 17, 2006

The following question was recently posed:

"When we select our Ori's in orun our destiny begins. Is this to say that the many
Nigerians and other countires selected ori's that brought them into servitude?
Help me out Babas. Why was this option even present for us?"

To which I responded:

We should clarify what it means to select one's desiny. As I understand it, it does not mean that you can choose to be born to a rich family, or that you can choose to be white or black, or that you can choose to be born during a time of peace and prosperity vs. during the holocaust or other times of atrocities. What it means is to choose what one will do with one's life once here on Aiye. It's about choosing character, choosing what type of life one will lead, even what one might try and accomplish while here.

The Yoruba have a clear concept of the idea of freewill, which is reflected in this idea of destiny. While our Ori has chosen its destiny, we do not remember it, and it is through our actions, our search and our attempt to discover it that it can be can achieved. We do that through Iwa pele, we do that through leading a good life, we do that by being kind and giving, we do it by being humble, we do it by serving Orisha, we do it by seeking their council and abiding by it, and we do it through sacrifice.

The concept of sacrifice is one that I feel often gets twisted. We think that sacrifice only means giving the blood of an animal, or leaving food. But sacrifice also comes through one's actions, by adhering to ewoo (taboo), by giving to others and serving the community and by helping your neighbor. This is far too often forgotten, and many in the Orisha traditions get caught up in the "business" of Orisha, or simply the idea that leading a good life means being rich and having material things. Choosing your destiny means just that, but it still requires getting there, and it is up to each and every one of us to do what we need to do to both understand it and achieve it.

I believe that our Ori understands the human conditions under which it incarnates on this earth. Due to some peoples poor choices, egotism and wickedness, earth is not always a great place to be. With that understanding, Ori makes it choice, which we hope was one filled with goodness, and it is up to us to fulfill that destiny. Some people are born under the hardest of conditions, and fulfilling their destiny will be very difficult. But we must not fall into the trap of thinking that a good destiny is one filled with material things and money. A farmer with only his land and a little savings can lead a happier and more fulfilled life then the richest and most powerful of men. A slave can fulfill his destiny and lead a happy life by seeing that his/her children do not have to go through what they went through. A poor person can fulfill their destiny by seeing their children have an education and opportunity to succeed. Long life, with good friends and family that support us, with enough to ensure we are always fed, clothed and sheltered can be more fulfilling then a 5,000 square foot house and 5 mercedes benzes. Those things might seem like they will make you happy, but more often then not, they don't.

I hope this shed a little light on my perspective on this,


1 comment:

Hiram said...

This is an interesting subject. I personally believe in karma: if Hitler or Saddam Hussein have to come back to this plane, I'm sure they will attract a lot of misfortune regardless of what head they choose in heaven! In this sense, I personally don't believe that we chose many of the conditions that exist in our lives, some of these conditions were imposed by our karma. Others we chose. That simply makes sense.

I think one aspect of the complexity of Ifa that is overlooked or ignored is how many lifetimes have we had, how many times have we chosen previous Oris and are there vestiges of those lifetimes still with us?

In other words, when we refer to the scene where Ori was chosen, are we speaking of ONLY ONE event that happened once before we took this birth or of an archetypal event that happened collectively, many times and over many lifetimes? I don't know if you have an answer to this, but it's a valid question to present to our elders and to ponder.

On the issue of slavery, it is said that 'Cada cabeza es un mundo' (actually Hector Lavoe said that :) and happyness does not depend on external factors: in the Bible, we read that JOSEPH was sold into slavery by his own family and suffered tremendously but because of his good character, humility, prophetic vision, intelligence and hard work he would always end up victorious over all obstacles. He had a strong head and slavery did not break him.

On the other hand, many celebrities and people who have amassed great wealth have also lived sorry lives and tragic deaths, Anna Nicole Smith comes to mind. Money does not buy happyness. Happyness is completely subjective and private and depends more on one's head and one's attitude than one's circumstances.

Everyone faces difficulties, but like a drag queen once said to me after she had a fall during a performance: "It's not how you fall baby: it's how you get back up".

In order to be happy, in this system we are told to worship Oshun.

Oshun is said to be an Orisha that makes life worth living, and giver of happyness. She rules temporary pleasures which only give temporary joys ... but the way that she truly gives people happyness is because she holds the comb. People who are superficial or religious bigots who do not wish to understand the African religious system consider this frivolous and trivial, they do not understand the transcendental significance of the comb, which She uses to beautify and bless and renew ORI, the head and the character.

People cannot enjoy any of the temporary things that they have if they lose their heads. Reality is perceived and processed and created in the head. This is why we've all met people who have it all and they're miserable.

It's with the head that choices are made. In this system we are told that we CHOSE (past tense) Ori in heaven before we were born, 'once upon a time'. In truth, every moment of every day we are making choices, and Ori is constantly producing our reality, we CREATE our 'destiny'. This is the true significance of Ori being the Orisha of destiny: it is the womb that carries our thoughts and decisions, which birth our destiny.

There are things, like our DNA and family, that we cannot change. However, we should not see Ori sort of as merely the sperm that was able to reach the ova once upon a time, but (most importantly) as the thinking Self that seeks constant evolution today and always.

Destiny is not fixed. We are constantly having an effect, even exerting our sovereignty and power as conductors of this bodily vehicle, by the use of Ori, this is why it's the most powerful Orisha.

Please accept my respect. Thank you for your blog, it has a lot of interesting information. I'm glad I found it.