Iwakeri
A Spiritual Quest
by Baba Ifa Karade

Since the dawning, humankind has recorded the desires and the disciplines of spiritual growth and awareness. The elongated rock paintings of prehistoric tribes along with the later developed hieroglyphs of dynastic Egypt provide pictorial and literary evidence supporting the notion that spiritual involvement has, since its inception, been for the enhancement and empowerment of human beings and the communities that we create. Evidence continues to mount as recordings of spirituality are found in traditional societies around the world. From Africa - to Asia - to the Americas, the overall focus of spiritual practices are cited as those of assisting the divine forces of existence to elevate and protect humanity from the ravishing of demonic forces.

The spiritual battles waged between the divine and demonic existed before the evolution of Man, but are encased within the very being of man. The eternal battle between good and evil is ever present in the moment to moment existence of the individual and the community. It has been the prophets and holy people of all cultures that have maintained the directive of divine spirituality as that which keeps humans human. Out of the experiences, religions are born; it is to this realization that the spiritual seeker must submit.

No longer guided by traditional structures and transferred wisdom from ancient masters, modern man now suffers more deeply than his ancestors. Science and technology have not altered the scale in respect to good vs evil, but have simply provided more concrete means of waging it. As a result, there is the following of a natural occurrence to return to traditional values and practices in order to escape violence and predictable annihilation. Even modern day religions seem to have lost spiritual endeavors and the exercises to enhance the human being. Hence, religions, like science, become concrete means of waging war. We may be led to conclude that no matter what, these wars will continue and must therefore be accepted as universal in construct, i.e. "The War of the Worlds." Yet, we do not know for sure what lies ahead. Perhaps, the all is a projection of manís capacity to sense and the project morality to realms outside of his own. Perhaps, it is what man does to and for himself that determines what energies will ripple from his being and what that energy will bring about from the vast regions of his existence.

For seekers embarking upon the journey of inner peace, tranquillity and transcendental meditations, the directive or purpose must be foremost. And lastly, for those attempting to call upon forces and exert their will for the satisfaction of the lower-self, let it be said that they walk in the shadow of light where dwells the demons and not in the illumination where dwells the divine.

The western-world has designated who the foremost of prophets are along with the revelations and the prophecies of the major holy persons therein. Yet, there appears to be little or no inclusion of holy persons outside of the modern world powers --- powers determined more so by military and economic strength than by spiritual maturity and humanitarian motives.

People of pre- "major world religions" have been virtually wiped clean from the slate of human spiritual endeavoring and hence humanity. The result is not the expected slate of pure non-existence, but an impure state-of-existence polluted by oppression, hatred, prejudice, and most of all, the decaying agents of neglect. This impure state is not isolated in any realm or reality. Its decaying essence reeks throughout the traditions and cultures that gave birth to its value, beauty and ethereal ontology. And as a result, the traditional people are shattered. The link with their ancestors is strained and eventually broken casting the nation adrift on the seas of madness, confusion, inferiority, self-hate, and lack of purpose. So, instead of receiving the glory and heavenly states of the conquering religions the people, in overwhelming numbers, suffer from substance abuse, delusion, alcoholism, crime, poverty, and anti-life practices, etc. Political and economical issues begin to take precedence over values, morals, and the nature of humanity itself.

What does all this have to do with the spiritual quest of the individual? The answer is everything. For many who are involving themselves in "spiritual work", the directive must be made clear. For seekers embarking upon the journey of inner peace, tranquillity and transcendental meditations, the directive or purpose must be foremost. And lastly, for those attempting to call upon forces and exert their will for the satisfaction of the lower-self, let it be said that they walk in the shadow of light where dwells the demons and not in the illumination where dwells the divine.

Iwakeri, my spiritual quest, has awakened me to these understandings. After years of traditional study and initiation into the Yoruba cultural system, I have come to realize that all paths must lead to the advancement of humanity. From this religious corpus I have learned of the ultimate value and purpose of my existence and hence the existence of all things. I have connected with the "witness of fate/destiny" and have been reborn. So, the question of what does walking a spiritual path lead to is no longer a question. The question of how to bring others to awareness is also no longer a question.

Seekers must not divorce themselves from the totality of existence. They must not aid the forces of destruction, but become warriors against it. The drum chant is that, "Only humans can ultimately elevate themselves to the realms of humanityís gates." And that, "It is the authentic human being (Eniyan Gidi) who are set to elevate the world to a state of eternal goodness (Ipo Rere). So, instead of an apocalyptic revelation, we find in the blood torn text in of ancient West Africa, an ending which is the beginning of humanity reemerging as victorious over the demonic forces, not over humankind itself."

In the Ifa religious tradition, humans are depicted as omo-Olodumare, "the children of the Creator." We all are human beings by Cosmic Rights --- not just a select few. We are all set to understand our place in the universe and settle as a part of its mastery and not as its master. These teachings are fundamental for novices and the initiated alike.

In gist, we cannot expect to elevate ourselves nor our communities by hanging on to false notions of who we are and who we are destined to be. We cannot allow the forces of destruction to tear away at our humanity leaving conflict, murder, and transgression in its wake. The spiritual quest is one of enlightenment, empowerment and the enhancement of Life. The spiritual warrior is he/she who stands upon the head of the beast and proclaims "I am a human being --- child of the Divine." Our directive as spiritual warriors is to assist others in the process of "fixing or aligning themselves" so that they too may join the ranks of the Eniyan Gidi, the authentic human beings.


Copyright 1999. Chief Priest, Oloye Baba Ifa Karade is the author of three texts: The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts, Ojise - Messenger of the Yoruba Tradition, and Imoye - A Definition of the Ifa Tradition. He is available for lectures, panel discussions and workshops. Chief Karade is also a diviner and initiator of seekers into the Karade Spiritual Order.


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