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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oworin Irosun on new years eve 2013

I can’t tell you much
the enormity of the universe
often puts me in my place
but I can tell you this
the only thing that is certain
is that nothing is certain
that doesn’t mean it’s not probable
only that it’s not guaranteed
life is a gift that comes with no return receipt
and a manual that more often than not is missing pages
we assemble ourselves as best we can
adding memories like scavenged parts
trying to build the life we want
with only half the parts required
even those who appear to have more than needed
end up unfulfilled
missing those few critical pieces
to make them whole
you may not have the perfect machine
but you’d be surprised what you can make
if you take the pieces you’ve got
and reassemble them into something useful
you may even end up with
something better than you could have ever expected
-- Marcos Sanchez --

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oyeku Ogbe

Beware the system and its subtle ways
for one day you might wake up and realize
you have become dependent on it
enslaved by its rules
fattened on the milk of its breast
defending it like an addict
having forgotten that once 
you dreamed of life outside the box
wake from your slumber
and make your dream reality

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Ogbe Oyeku

It’s not just the notes played
but also the moments of silence
that make greatness.
Learning to play
regardless of capability
does not make one an artist
the art is in knowing
when to play
when to hesitate
and when to stop

-- Marcos Sanchez --

Inspired by Jose James "bird of space"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Odi Ogbe ( Odi'gbe, Edigbere )

Standing alone
amidst a crowded mass
waiting for greatness
to take hold of obscurity
and send it on its way
I feel your presence
like a ghost from the past
peering over my shoulder
only just out of sight
seducing me with your promise
but never quite delivering
I will take my place
by your side
as destiny and luck
shine upon me
my words will be heard
and they will move the world
because not even darkness
can fully envelope my light
nor can silence
muffle my screams
I will find you
as you will find me

my name is love

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oshe Otura (written on the dawn of my 44th year on earth)

If god is perfect
and humankind is not
then all things on this earth
must be recognized as imperfect
that includes the written word
being a means by which we as humans communicate
and as such, all things that use words to convey meaning
are also wrought with imperfection
So why is it that we ascribe certain books as the "word of God"
when we know full well that if God spoke, it would be perfection
and books are simply words
written by imperfect beings
unable to achieve perfection
let alone describe perfection
not to mention the fact that our particular state
also means we would interpret imperfect words
Bible, Koran, Vedas, Torah, Ifa, I Ching
are words
read by people
written by people
so why is it that we think each is perfectly correct?
When did God
limitless, unconstrained, unfathomable, immeasurable
decide to only talk to us through one book?
When did we
limited, constrained, imperfect, minute
decide we could understand infinity?
Words are three dimensional
changing significance depending on one's vantage point
isn't that the true meaning of the tower of Babel?
Have we not always lived in the tower of babel?
All speaking the same language
but unable to agree on a single meaning
Is not the single language we were meant to use
the unspoken
language of love
babel's lesson is not that we all should speak the same language
but that we should transcend words completely
and live
in harmony
through our actions
even words have no force
when they do not move one to action
do something

-- Marcos Sanchez -- Contemplation on the Odu Oshe Otura (written on the dawn of my 44th year on earth)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Ogbe Oworin

Wisdom and Wealth do not always walk hand in hand
They are neither mutually exclusive, nor mutually guaranteed
as life offers no assurance of the degree of either you will obtain
most often, one is the product of luck, the other the result of thoughtful contemplation
A rich man is not often wise
A wise man is not often rich
but we all should strive to achieve harmony between these two states
the balanced person sees that society sits on a scale
weighing finite amounts of wealth distributed to a limited population
the unbalanced person sees only wealth to be had
and no responsibility to anyone other than themselves and those they deem fit
the balanced person sees tyranny, injustice and oppression when the ranks of the poor grow large
raising the wealthy few to soaring heights of grandeur and decadence
the unbalanced person only tries to rig the scales to their favor
feeding the world the illusion that they might some day join the wealthy
full well knowing, few will benefit and most will not
If the wealthy are few, and the poor are numerous
society will eventually disintegrate
which in the end serves no one
and so we must spread the seeds of wisdom and wealth
so that we may reap what we sow
a society that values and cares for everyone
-- Marcos Sanchez --
soundtrack to listen to from "codes in the clouds"

Friday, August 16, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Iwori Aweda ( Iwori Ogunda )

I leaf through my emotions
like pages in a dusty tome
edges frayed from years of use
Dust jacket creased and torn
each year brings a new chapter
to the novel of my life
At times I pick up where I left off
seeing new adventures unfold
other times I re-read known passages
to find new meaning
only time and distance can provide
or simply to remind myself of what I know
Such a book
yellowed and worn
a traveler across time and space
by my side always
thrown into my pack
taken trekking to far off lands
then placed carefully at my bed side
to be read in those times alone
sometimes shared freely
sometimes revealed in stolen glances
each year it seems you get heavier
and I more frail and weary
but I will continue to carry you
until that day when weight does not matter
and I begin to write the tome
of my existence
in a language unknown to this world
across the midnight sky
perhaps if you listen closely
you will hear my story
within your heart
-- Marcos Sanchez -- Inspired by "the gravel road" by James Newton Howard (listen to it while reading)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Ogunda Osa (ogunda sa, ogunda masa)

There is no journey more difficult
then the journey within.
Taken without compass, guide or destination
it can seem a lonely desolate path
but with open heart and clear mind
even the darkness can eventually give way to the light
and the realization that
it's not our end
but our path
that defines us.
We all end the same way
but what we do en route is what we are remembered for...

-- Marcos Sanchez -- Inspired by sufi poet Shams Tabriz and "you" by Nils Frahm (listen while reading)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Okanran Oyeku

I can't relate
to what you are saying
though I'm sure you think I understand
I can't comprehend
the thoughts in your mind
though I'm sure you know I understand
I can't feel
the emotions you're conjuring
though I'm sure you believe I understand
Your lips move
your eyes flutter
your arms wave
your body shakes
and yet
no matter how right you think you are
you haven't moved me
Perhaps it's because you're talking AT me
instead of TO me
Or maybe I've just shut down
in response to your emotional tirade
of venomous hissing
As you turn my heart to stone
I muster the courage of Perseus
to cut you off
with a polite
"no thanks,
I'm not buying"
You see
a pile of dung
no matter how poetic the euphemism
is still
a pile of dung

Friday, July 26, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Osa Oshe (osa she, osa che, osa oche)

Ifa is not the answer
Ifa is a question
If you are told differently
check your pockets
there is likely something missing

Friday, July 19, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Okanran Osa

Had I known
what I know now
my tomorrow might be different
and my today
filled with a life
of actions
and few regrets,
But too often
it's only in our last hours
that we gain perspective
born of the knowledge
that what we have
will cease to be
and we will dream no longer
Drink my friend
with me
from the river of regret
so that we no longer thirst
for things we once hoped for
but instead
become intoxicated with life
and live the lives we were meant to live

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oshe Otura

I met him on a trail
hand still in the air
he decided it a good place to land
I raised his head to mine
so we could talk
about things
and we decided to take a walk
he and I
contemplating the impermanence of life
the beauty of the forest that surrounded us
and after spending 2 days of his lifetime with me
he decided it was time to leave
the longest 5 minutes I'd spent in many years
I won't forget my companion
who was so giving with his knowledge
a wise old butterfly
you have taught me much

-- Marcos Ifalola Sanchez

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Osa Owonrin

Where there is money
There will be scandal
Where there is power
There will be corruption
Such is the nature of people
Blindly running towards fame and fortune
Across minefields strewn with bodies
Scorning those that failed as simpletons
While believing they have outsmarted chance
Until that last step when
having survived
they realize they've not mastered desire
and found no fulfillment
no matter their accomplishment
but instead
are left standing in the middle of the minefield
with fewer bodies
more untouched mines
and no clear path
-- Marcos Ifalola Sanchez

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oyekun Obara

Spectacular forests
conceal the movement of snakes
Misty mountain tops
hide avalanches in their placid snow
Mighty  oceans
creep inland, a march revealed only by time
Be careful that the beauty of the flower
does not cause you to forget
the poison it contains
nor that the magic trick
that so amazes your mind on the street
does not cost you your wallet
Look here, but not there
is the name of a person who lives amongst us
beware of them
but more importantly
beware they are not you

-- Marcos Ifalola Sanchez --  Inspired while listening to Nils Frahm's "si"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Odi Oyekun

do our minds need to be lead
like puppies being taken out for a walk.
do we follow blindly
words spoken centuries ago
written and re-written
translated and re-translated
a game of spiritual telephone
where letter and spirit are misunderstood.
do we fear change
yet change so rapidly
that we barely keep pace
leaving many behind.
So it is that
we become slaves to messiahs
we become bound by dogma
we close the door.
Is it only after we have lost sight
that we can truly see?
can we simply close our eyes
and look within
to find the truth of love.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Osa Oturupon

I don't know where we'll go
I can't say what will happen
I won't tell you it will be ok
in the end.
Because I don't know.
Even if I'm cradled in the embrace of a religion
I can't say for sure that those arms are real
and not just something I dreamt.
I may someday awaken
to find myself alone in a dark cold room
whose only windows are my imagination.
Regardless, I can tell you this,
no matter what lies ahead
I am here now
as you are
and I will try to make this place better
as should you
Not through the arrogance of presuming
to have found the only path to salvation
but instead by caring for those that are weak
listening to those that are lonely
feeding those whose bellies are empty
and conquering sadness with joy.
Live now
with an eye to tomorrow
and a remembrance of the past
so that you don't walk in circles
but instead towards the infinite

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oshe Okanran ( Oshe Okana )

I made some pasta for your mind
so you could noodle on the complexities of life
It's for you, so I had to make everything from scratch
It began with some flour, ground to a fine powder by hard work
To which I added salt dried from the sweat of your brow
an egg born of the spirit of your creation
and the water from a tear of sadness
after kneading it slowly
I spread this knowledge across a board and carefully cut the noodles that I would share
But far from done, I placed it all in a pot of turbulent and boiling waters
from which emerged a perfect meal, nourishing and rich
Still not done
I added tomatoes ripened sweet with age
Basil for character and complexity
and pepper, for a little heat
Gingerly, I place it in front of you
steam dancing across the air
aroma wafting past your nose
let it melt on your palette
this bowl of life
that it may leave you nourished, satisfied and full

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Odi Irosun ( Odi Iroso )

Close your eyes my love
and open your heart
so that it might spill upon
the canvas laid bare before you
revealing with each stroke
answers to questions not yet asked
hoping to make sense of it all
through fantastical visions
of the impossible and possible
intertwined like lovers in a tryst
hoping that tomorrow
will bring solutions
to the problems of yesterday
only to awaken to the potential
that a new day brings.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Iwori Ogunda ( Iwori Aweda ) inspired by Bibo Bo Aozora (Ryuichi

I stared at idols
hoping to see my soul
I wore shiny trinkets
hoping to be protected from the world
I spent my savings
hoping to attain knowledge
I listened to blind adoration
hoping to feel humility
I watched celebrations
hoping to find joy
I sang songs of praise
hoping to reach the heavens
I observed states of ecstasy
hoping to feel a spark
I prayed for enlightenment
in the midst of all this activity
and found myself alone
in a crowd of believers
only to realize
the futility of the search.
Enlightenment is simply
the peace we find
appreciating every moment

Monday, February 25, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Odi Irete

disillusion can either
break your spirit
or set you free
whether person, religion or ideal
the crumbling tower upon which it was built
will either crush you under the weight of its broken promises
or if you can run fast enough to avoid the collapse
free your eyes to see the beautiful vistas
once hidden by the ideals built like stone temples
casting shadows over your eyes and shielding you from the light
Pick up your wings and fly
so that you might see beyond
and decide for yourself
which temple to worship at

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Ogbe Otura

We are in an eternal battle to find balance
in a world where adding or subtracting
always results in odd numbers
Master sometimes rejects human nature
to abdicate the thrown
and submit to another
Slave sometimes gives in to human nature
and when given power
becomes the master previously reviled
our eternal struggle to find balance
belies our inability to actually find it
is balance not about equality at all
but the search for that point at which
the powerful are not so powerful that
the powerless slip off the scales
balance is about not allowing the scales to tip wildy
making only small shifts this way and that
slowly creating a sustainable middle way

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Osa Ogbe ( osa lofogbeyo )

delusional charismatic leader
Is tomorrow's
Divinely inspired child of God
Our collective unconscious creates religion where it didn't exist
History gives form to God where there was none
We give faith to impossible attempts to explain the unknowable
When power and knowledge is promised to us
What started with one person
flowered into an army
with a rank and file
all attempting to justify their existence
in the name of one
lunatic or ascetic
zealot or prophet
delusional or divine
faith is in the eye of the beholder
truth is unattainable
or is it?

-- Marcos Ifalola Sanchez --

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oturupon Ogunda (otrupon ogunda)

if I cradled your heart
and rocked it to sleep
with the song of my life
we'd have a revolution
if I reached into your mind
and pulled the tears out
one by one
we'd have a revolution
if I held your soul
and squeezed it gently
until it stopped shaking
we'd have a revolution
if I made you stop
and showed you how
the world is cruel
we'd have a revolution
so why have we not yet
begun the movement
that turned into a revolution
forever changing the world
into a place where
our children
and their children
will all live the life they should?
need to believe in each other
and realize we're all in this together
for better
or worse
in sickness
or in health
we are all married
in a place
where even death
can't divorce us
start a revolution of kindness

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Osa Ika (osa ka)

A sweet embrace of words
wrap around my ears
winding their way down my spine
to my heart
from your lips spill
a flood of sounds
staining my skin with emotion
that can not be washed clean
only faded into the soft lived in feel
of my favorite jeans
whose stains and frayed edges tell a story
of places and people and moments
so close to my skin
that at times, I forget they are on
recording the best and worst moments of my life
faded but not forgotten

-- Marcos Ifalola Sanchez --

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Odi Ofun

Not everything is an apple... Sometimes to eat the fruit, you have to peel the skin off.

Heretical treatise on the creation of Odu Ifa

The question of the expansion of the corpus of Ese Ifa is one that often comes up, and with unusual extremism and indignation (at certain ideas, which I’ll talk about here).  I did write a piece on the fact that traditional Yoruba not only believe Ifa is constantly growing, but have a theology around it (read here). Let’s look at this problem from a few directions:

First, what is Ifa? Let’s agree that it is all knowledge of the world past, present and future, or thought of in another way, Ifa is the codification of the human condition.  If we think of Ifa in this way, there is certainly nothing in the world, no possible situation, that Ifa doesn’t talk about. And if that’s the case, then we can safely assume that on some levels, every piece of written material that talks about the human condition is a manifestation of Ifa.

Whether that’s the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, with its themes about the hollowness of the upper class, violence in society, or honesty, or Native Son by Richard Wright, with its themes on the effects of racism in society and the hypocrisy of justice, they all are Ifa. I would go further to say that there are two levels of the stories of Ifa: First there are the culturally contextual stories that help us better relate to the themes like the above books, or like the way that Patakins have been modified by the Afro-carribeans to be more relevant/understandable (Palo certainly didn’t exist in Nigeria, so it’s clearly an addition to many stories).  Secondly, the more transcendent ese Ifa that speak of the big themes like love, hate, existence, etc, without necessarily placing them into cultural context.

In this second way, we could for instance say that the great Sufi poet Rumi must have been a true “father of the secrets” (babalawo), that created some of the worlds greatest ese Ifa. Rumi said:

“Indulging our pride, we run after every fleeting image.
How odd that being so unimportant we cultivate such grand illusions.”

If that is not Ifa, I don’t know what is!  In fact, it might be easily argued that the great poets like Neruda, Shakespeare, Whitman, etc were just manifesting Ifa when they wrote of the world. Further great religious scholars like Lao Tzu the taoist, Hafiz the Sufi and Augustine the Christian also sit in this camp.  Philosophers like Plato, Confuscious and Descartes clearly fit in to this camp as well. They were all people who manifested Ifa, and their works fit into Ifa’s deepest and most profound places.

So how can you modify something that is manifest everywhere and encompasses everything?  You can’t, because there is nothing to modify! Only to discover… The Lucumi are some of the most inflexible when it comes to this conversation of the expansion of Ifa, and yet, they have probably done the most modification of Ifa. This is not only because they translated it, which immediately changes the original meaning, if only slightly at times, but also with mentions of Palo, espiritismo, homosexuality, guns, drugs, etc.

So what does this all mean?  It means that Ifa is everywhere, and there is no human story that is not a part of it.

What does this mean for the expansion of Ifa?  Simply this, it is up to the Babalawo to interpret and make Ifa understandable to the person being consulted. Ese Ifa are there as a mnemonic device, meant to assist the Babalawo in remembering the key themes of a given Odu Ifa, and they have already transformed over time. They have not been added to, but have been adapted to help the Babalawo remember the key problems, issues and themes prevalent in a particular Odu.  If one were to take the Diccionario de Ifa already in print with the lucumi Odu Ifa and their Ese and Ebo, we would see this.  The lucumi call them the “refranes” or refrains. Instead of memorizing word for word, long stanzas of Ifa in Yoruba, which need to be translated, one can memorize the pithy maxim, restate it, and then go into interpretation for the devotee seeking Ifa’s advice.

Where this gets complicated, is you don’t want people running around just making things up. Creating Odu Ifa is not for the layity, in fact, it’s not even for most of the priesthood. Creating Odu Ifa lies in two places: with the priests who’s life and ashe are focused on the deep esoteric study and understanding of Ifa, and for those Babalawo who have the epiphanies, flashes or divine inspiration when on the mat, in understanding how they can explain what they’ve learned better.

You can’t expand the all encompassing, it’s like saying think of the highest number you can think of, then add one. But, you can think of a better way of getting your point across.

As Ogbe Ate tells us:
I had been initiated
I will re-initiate myself, by myself

 -- Marcos Ifalola Sanchez

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Oturupon Odi

Despair not for lack of joy
Like the waves of the ocean
though it may recede
it will come again
even darkness smiles
when a ray of light is cast
through unbearable pain
joy can be found
in the laughter of a child
or an unexpected kindness
If you stop and listen
joy can be heard
talking to each and every one of us
in a secret language
unlocked by even the most broken heart
made whole again
even if just for an instant
by life

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Contemplation on the Odu Iwori Otura

When entering the realm of the tiger
even if well armed
never underestimate the quiet cat whose grounds you enter
there is nothing more foolish than a boisterous hunter
who over estimates the power of his weapon
against the element of surprise