Embodying a Balanced View

One of the most important things to have is a balanced perspective about the nature of spiritual based practices.

The purpose of any spiritual or life affirming practice is to equip the seeker / practitioner with the needed tools to be or become the highest version of themself that they can possibly be, in this lifetime.

This comes with obtaining the correct view and then coupling it with effective, results-based practices. One of the challenges we face today engaging in old world indigenous traditions is falling into the trappings of fanaticism and religious fundamentalism, which are flawed because this places personal spiritual practice within the cult of personality and man.

Indigenous practices are at their core centered around addressing some important questions. On a personal level, these include: Who am I, How did I get here, and Where am I going? Through generating correct view on a personal level individuals are able to carefully select practices that fit them and their families in a way that affirms the life they currently live regardless of gender, ethnicity, social class, and self-identification.

When individuals begin to impose and insist that their years of study, or religious/spiritual practices authorizes them to legislate how others relate to the world (including their creator, ancestors, nations, friends, family, governments, other religions, etc), this is indicative of attachment – which creates undo suffering. Attachment to the “right way”, the one true way, the best way, the most authentic way… All of this is flawed thinking and creates barriers to peaceful coexistence on this Earth during the short time that we are here.

Most indigenous traditions and cultures at their core never held on to this limiting view because they understood this universal truth, even with shared beliefs; there is evidence many accepted and celebrated diversity, as well as human growth potential and innate divinity. The heavy-handed moralizing that so many Gods, Leaders and Religions seem to have taken on is directly related to the complexity of the society in which they find themselves. In other words – a man-made problem.

I have had the good fortune of traveling throughout West Africa over 27 times now to learn, pray, celebrate, mourn, laugh, cry and share our related human experience. I have met many wonderful people, and was and am able continue to examine what View and Practice looks like in other cultures, while carefully extracting what is useful and applicable to practitioners and devotees living in the Diaspora and abroad.

No one culture or belief system has all the answers, or the absolute best spiritual medicine. So long as we all have a shared human experience, in this human form, there will remain only so many ways of doing things. Luckily, there are more things in common than different with one another. Many traditions have influenced one another in positive and sometimes not so positive ways.

Sometimes we all agree and other times not. Hopefully we can learn to disagree respectfully. That is the mark of a developed soul. No title of authority, crowns, social standing, popular vote, mastery of liturgy, language fluency, memorization of sacred scripture, education, financial affluence, speech and conduct will bestow this, ever.

Rather it is the quality of one’s character that makes it to be so. There is a verse or poem shared with me long ago which I believe speaks accurately to this.

It says,

“To focus on beads
Is to miss the true nature of Orisa
To focus on beautiful containers
Is to miss the true nature of Orisa
To focus on kings and queens
Is to miss the true nature of Orisa
To focus on shells and seeds
Is to miss the true nature of Orisa
It is only by focusing on nature
That we find the true nature of Orisa
To focus on the past
Is to miss the true nature of Ifa
To focus on the future
Is to miss the true nature of Ifa
To focus on the present
Is to miss the true nature of Ifa
To focus on Ifa
Is to miss the true nature of Ifa
It is only by focusing on the nature of things
That we find the true nature of Ifa.”

Beads at market

As a student and practitioner of comparative religious study for over 25 years now. With numerous extended trips to Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and many other remote locations with spiritual importance, being immersed in a great variety of spiritual practices to learn, research and study the interrelated nature of humans and our connection to the divine at a source level beyond the trappings of preference and dogma; this quote above is something I personally keep close by to remember every day. I remain grateful to all my enlightened teachers and great ancestors for laying out a path that has made all things possible.

Remain blessed.

Ire oo