Tuesday, January 9, 2018

~ The Principal Of Ibi ~

The following © information is courtesy of Awo Falokun and shared with his permission

Agbo Ato,

In my previous blog I stated that the foundation of Ifa is the development of iwa pele and the foundation of iwa pele is the taboo against judging others. The second principle to consider is a taboo against taking anything personally. There are very specific reasons for this taboo. Most odu are focused on the issue of personal development. The process of personal development involves letting go of old concepts of self and world. This process is the hardest and scariest thing we do as humans. Letting go of old ideas is often perceived as a form of personal death. The Ifa view of spiritual growth the ability to move through the cycle of life, death, transformation and rebirth is the hero’s journey and the hero’s journey is the blue print for transforming old concepts of self and world.

Resistance to spiritual elevation is called ibi in the Yoruba language. In some styles of divination ibi is confused with the Catholic idea of God being mad at you. This idea has absolutely nothing to do with the traditional metaphysical principle of ibi. The principle of ibi is rooted in the idea of resistance to change. The problem with resistance to change is that everyone sees themselves as the hero in their own story. The only way to transform resistance is the ability to engage in critical self-examination. A person who sees themselves as the hero of their own journey and who refuses to engage in critical self-examination will engage in what psychologists call transference. The idea of transference is based on blaming others as a way of avoiding looking at internal contradictions. In simple terms if a diviner identifies a problem that a person refuses to acknowledge they will typically blame the messenger. Blaming the messenger is the root cause of almost all forms of ibi. 

Transference is referred to in psychological terms as projection. In simple terms transference means a person is projecting their problem on to someone else. The process of projection can involve scapegoating, denigration, shaming, shunning, ex-communication and the creation of martyrs. None of these mechanisms are consistent with the spiritual discipline created by the prophet Orunmila. These various forms of projection are in fact the foundation for the various forms of ibi as used in traditional Ifa divination.

Here is the problem for the diviner; if the diviner reacts to the projection the door is closed to future healing. In traditional Yoruba culture there is little tolerance for projection. If a person blames an elder for anything the accusations are rarely taken seriously. Unfortunately in the Diaspora if someone projects a problem on to an elder, there are self-styled diviners who will support the projection and claim they have the magical powers needed to solve a particular problem. The support for projections is at the core of dysfunction in many of our communities in the Diaspora. When a diviner identifies a personal problem and the persons refuses to engage in critical self-evaluation and another diviner claims to have the magic formula to solve the problem and in order to generate business, the other diviner supports the denigration of the original diviner and we have a formula that makes it almost impossible to create healthy extended family.

The way I embrace this taboo against taking things personally is to say; “Your opinion of me is none of my business.” A lot of folks disagree with me about a lot of things. In the scheme of things that is normal and natural. What does not make sense is to use those differences as a basis for character assassination. Character assassination is a violation of the taboo against making judgements and responding to the character assassination is a violation of the taboo against taking anything personally. The tendency is engage in character assassination is I believe a result of the kind of character assassination that fuels reality TV and that fuels the idea that the star of a reality TV show would make a good president. If anyone doubts the efficacy of Ifa spiritual discipline simply look at the inability of our President to admit to every having made a mistake, look at the way he scapegoats others and consider the question do those actions help or hinder the quality of life in America.

The most common way this taboo is violated in our communities in the process of the endless and pointless arguments over disrespect. Ifa teaches that we respect ourselves and that if others do not honor that idea it is their problem not ours. Raising the issue of respect is the way street gangs start feuds. An elder who understands the concept of suuru or inner peace will never raise the issue of being disrespected.  Never, ever.

We can talk about disagreements, but the only a disagreement leads to the idea that a particular human deserves denigration is to assume the person who denigrates another has a directly line to God over the question of who is good and who is evil. That is question might be addressed by the Immortals in Heaven on the day of our transition. It is not a judgment that has any foundation in Ifa Spiritual discipline. Ifa teaches that everyone is born omo rere from the elision omo ire ire meaning a child of innocence or more correctly a child born in eternal good fortune.

There are those who argue; what about the verses that say some folks are born with bad heads. All right what about those verses? Do they this gives anyone the right to pass judgement? I would argue they do not. It is as always just my opinion.

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