Independent social flow…
In a topic one of our members started about Egun practice in our “members only” group “Palaver House”, a signal emerged that I would like to address separately, namely this article. Personally, I’m glad that one of our members stood up for what was being felt, because from my position I sometimes feel a bit awkward, still taking certain traditions in account. I haven’t been studying Ifa for long, little over a year, but I did it very intensely. And though I still have much to learn, I do feel I have found a foundation and got over a bunch of confusions.
Talking this issue over with Jaap, I get answered that a lot of people, how Independent they may feel, are still unawarely instructed by their customs. And I myself have of course observed the social dynamics within several groups; and I often have concluded that there are many gaps that not only go unnoticed but are even causing a reason for animosity. I have a few ideas to share about that. What lays in that gap is waiting for us to discover it.
About how respect is expressed traditionally…
The greatest barrier I have experienced while being amongst an international company of Ifa-Orisha traditions, lies in the way respect is expressed. A fashion I personally feel is obstructing the major part of possibilities and chances. There are two known ways:
• In African tradition the hierarchy is based upon physical age, one respects the one older.
• In Lukumi tradition the hierarchy is based upon initiated age, one respects the one earlier initiated.
If I had to chose between these two ways of hierarchy and respect, then I would without any doubt chose the African way; based upon what I’ve learned through “family constellations-therapy”, natural age is a very natural human way to decide ones position within a community. It gives the most peace. And on top of that, this technique is supposed to derive from ancestral practices from people that still live in a tribal structure. Which makes the therapy as a tool, or technique even more interesting to me. It works great by the way! Not taking into account the natural age, but initiation age, as in some Lukumi environments is customary, would lead to imbalance and trouble within any tradition or family, simply because it doesn’t fit human biology.
The unusual factor
In this specific Independent Practitioners group, however, is a very unusual thing going on. We are not specifically a community, we’re more like a gathering. And within that gathering the expression of respect can be fulfilled in a traditional way, but as we have been witnessing quite a lot of times, in the end it leads to obstruction. Because if nobody does not do what is not allowed within all traditions gathered, nobody actually feels free to speak and is actually very limited, regardless of their experience and talent. To put it the other way around: if you only do what is allowed in all traditions, you finish up doing nothing, because nothing is allowed everywhere… just about everything is forbidden somewhere, somehow, sometime.
Ugh… That’s not what we aim to do here; moreover it’s our aim to see a universal knowledge being unwrapped from a traditional paper and reveal its true essence. When individuals would get to see the true essence, we would not be fighting and discussing about how true essence should be expressed; we’d just be inspired by the many ways to express – and individualize – it.
If I use traditional vocabulary, the group in fact has a Baba and an Iya, namely Jaap and Brenda B., who also are in the role of Elder (teacher) and Omo (student). A situation that in a traditional environment would almost be unthinkable, and most possibly practically undoable. So how to deal with this situation?
About how respect is expressed in this group…
Amongst independent practitioners the hierarchy is based upon having a good time together, one respects the one that deserves to be respected based on who they are and what they have to share (spiritual experience) and not necessarily what they represent (hierarchical status).
There are a few things very different within the social flow between any traditionals and independents like Jaap and I experience it; which within our group is based upon how I and Jaap interact, and thus also how respect is being dealt with within our own culture. I am aware this is so against what most are used to, that I find it hard sometimes to decide where to cross the line and where to let it be. In a way tradition is still dominant.
I can only share this short directive on how we deal with respect. Primarily we respect anybody and everyone; meaning everybody is allowed to express what they feel or mean. Usually by talking about a subject we find out who has the most experience or the wisest view, and then it only seems natural that we let this person have a final say, and be the leader at that moment if the situation needs a leader at that moment anyway. Then we move on. In general, in most cases that would be the oldest, but not in all cases the oldest has the most extensive life experience; life on some places on planet Earth have changed and drifted so far away from a traditional lifestyle.
Inspired by Nature…
Homo Sapiens has got to be so dominantly present in this world due to specialization. Meaning when there is no problem to be solved, the oldest lead, but are informed by the opinion of the younger persons. And when there is a problem, it is determined by the circumstances who should lead and be an initiator in making decisions. This way every person in a community has equal chances to serve themselves and others in the best possible way, and be beneficial to the whole. So everybody has a chance to be respected for what they have to offer.
My personal experience is that although we are an Independent group, I still feel I have to respect and take in account traditional ways not to offend people sometimes. And yes, very few times I feel tradition pressing upon me, especially when the subject is formalities, and truth and essence are being made part of rituals. Because in a true essence, on Ori level, my consciousness could outage your consciousness for over a thousand of lives… If you understand what I’m trying to say?
What is the meaning of rituals. All moving organisms show ritualistic behavior, both humans and animals, because this helps them survive somehow, someway; to me that is the only valid essence of rituals.
So how do these obstructions manifest?
• People got used to customs and just stick to that, not because they specifically want to, but they are just used to the allocation of roles.
• People got used to accustom to customs just not to insult or offend people, or simply not to be bullied upon.
Since I feel that nobody really likes to be disrespectful, I can imagine that any hurting behavior to one or both sides may emerge from good will to walking on egg-shells.
As a moderator of the Palaver House forum, and as Jaap’s right hand here in Ile Dafa of which the palaver House is a part, I feel that our member was right to say something about what was taking place. I also feel that the people giving advice (wether it was asked for or not) was done solely with good intentions. Nobody was wrong, but still there was a bit of harm visible there. Honestly I have been waiting for something like this to happen to address you all about how I, with Jaap’s consent, feel about this. In fact how we feel about this together.
What is expected?
I also can imagine that a few people don’t really know what is expected from them in a behavioral way within this group. Well I generally answered to that in what I’ve already written. To specifically answer to it, I have the following to mention:
Whether it is a gathering or a community there is an individual aspect to anybody within a structure. Some people like to teach, some people like to explore. It would be beneficial to all of us when we try to find or express what we are and how we can offer what we have to offer, and above all be clear. That would give a lot of freedom and create a lot of space for good things to happen. Being clear is to ask what you want to ask, how you want to ask it, in a way that feels respectful to you.
What roles do we have?
It is clear that Jaap teaches how to perform divination; that is his thing. He is not too much dedicated to how to perform rituals properly, not a big secret. As his student I understand that does not derive from disrespect but is based on a view with a metaphysical matrix. Meaning that he has a view and way to experience reality from an Ori-point of view, thus consciousness; and not solely from flesh and blood.
So what is my role? First I’m Jaap’s student, I happen to experience reality from a similar point of view. So I do understand, not just by brain, but also by heart why Jaap does see Ifa the way he sees it. Second, it has everything to do with my destiny of which I want to say this about: What connects Jaap and me is that we are part of the same soul group, to be precisely we are the core of a certain subdivision of that soul group. We have been reincarnating on this planet since we were one-cell beings and we met and lived millions of lives together. We seem to incarnate very quickly after croaking, and perhaps therefor we only have to return a few more times to finalize the stage of being Earth-dwellers and move on to the next event horizon. So… I don’t know about your destinies and how that destiny perhaps is related to being a member of this group?
Teaching or sharing
Some members have expressed several times they like to teach. Feel free to teach… Or in Independent vocabulary: “Share what you know”, and with that find out who wants to know what you are sharing? So teachers step in the role of sharers instead of teachers, this way I hope that it will help to step out of traditional role-play, at least within this group. I at least would appreciate it a lot.
So, don’t sit and wait for Jaap or me to give you food for thought, and keep asking questions when you feel you need to know more. We’re not traditional in the way that we keep certain strict rules towards superiors in title. Until we open our mouths and start sharing, it will become clear who is superior in his own unique way or specialization, this way we could all benefit from one another in a positive way.
For your own challenge people, as a starting point you could attempt to reveal the essence that is expressed with any ritual whatsoever. This has as much more value than just stick to the rules, I think then we’re entering the gap that needs to be lightened up.
A way to spiritually grow…
So, flesh and blood clearly have other needs than consciousness. And if we answer the question “How do we spiritually grow?”, the answer most likely would be: “By following our consciousness.” Consciousness is our essence. Metaphysics as the science of consciousness, thus includes the essence of Ifa’s teachings. So what is the essence of our practice? Knowledge of rituals? Or knowledge of consciousness? Personally I stick to the latter, rituals may help, but are not the essence. The thing with rituals is that along the passing of time they often start to replace the essence that is expressed, and whilst becoming a replacement, they tend to cover the essence up…
For those who haven’t read the Rules of the House yet… to remind you it exists .