Exclusivity... and how it destroys your ability to make Ifa work
As the years slide by I become less and less vexed at those who have differences in practice with what we teach at the ifa Foundation, but more and more frustrated with those that have differences in Principle.
Ultimately, the practice of Ifa, is not dependent upon the type of oil offered an orisa, the color of beads, or the spelling and pronunciation the energies names. Those are differences in practice. But, the very foundation and fundamental principle's that are the glue that hold the philosophy together, cannot be argued.
Identifying what is a principle and what is practice is essential to your success and well-being.and, it is not always easy. Many would confuse their practices with Principles. Or, would simply insist you accept them as such.
This article is not designed to identify all these issues. It is designed to address what, after more than a quarter of a Century of immersing myself in learning, study and practice of this ancient African Philosophy, I consider critical.
First, and foremost, among these is the imperative of the Principle of inclusion.
Over the years I have heard, seen, and been faced with every permutation that seeks to abrogate this most basic principle of Ifa. "It is only for Blacks," "it is only for Africans," " it is only truly practiced by Latin's," " The white man is stealing our religion," " Gays cannot." " Women cannot." and on and on and on.
Over the years I have attempted every conceivable tact (I thought) to point out the fallacy in this thinking. I have pointed out the clear reality of Oludumare's creation, which contains absolute diversity. I have suggested that had He/She/It wanted only one race, gender or nationality to participate He/She/It would certainly have arranged it. I have asked that those promoting exclusivity in a world of total diversity attempt to get the lesson from noticing that the world contains a thousand species of flowers, trees, grasses, animals etc. I have stated that, in approaching Ifa in an exclusionary fashion, you cut yourself off from the energy of the whole. I have emphasized that every act of slavery, war, or restriction of human freedom and dignity throughout history flowed from the process of Exclusivity as a worthwhile principle. Yet, for the most part, the logic fell on deaf ears.
Then, two separate statements I made at our recent American Ifa Workshop came together in a way that awoke me at 2:00AM with the only absolute reason that exclusivity is unacceptable in the practice of Ifa.
This conclusion flowed from the original concept that "people do not do things because they are nice, they only do those things that they believe will benefit from them." I'll be happy to defend that position if you need it, but it is a simple and absolute Truth. I usually state it in regard to Ancestor Worship where I point out that 90% of the world's population has, for 10,000 years, and continues today, to practice Ancestor Worship. And, that they have, and continue to do so, because they perceive (correctly, by the way) that it benefits their lives. Not because they are being nice.
It was that Truth lying in my sub-conscious next to the gnawing aggravation of those that consciously or not cannot accept people of a different color, race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation different from theirs, that allowed me to wake from a sound sleep with the one answer that might shake them from their prejudice, blindness and illogical behavior.
For all of you out there that harbor resentment against anyone or any group, who feel that in some way you are superior, who place unthinking dogma in front of reality, here is the one reason you may finally listen to:
Ifa won't work for you!
Ifa, ultimately, is about the ability to perceive, contact and work with the pure energy forces of the universe. If you are unable to perceive the genuine energy source of an individual, to go beyond the coloring, gender, nationality or sexual orientation of any person or group, you will NEVER be able to go beyond the rock, water, or figure that is the outward representation of a pure energy force you need to connect with in order to change your life and the life of those you love.
Oludumare established the Principle. The choice is yours.
Oluwo Philip Neimark