Yoruba’s ethical and metaphysical perspective is derived from the Yoruba thought as established by Orunmila ‘The Father of Ifa’. The Yoruba believes that creation exists as Binary Complementarity as the predominant worldview, complementary dimensions: the visible world, called Aiye, the physical universe that we inhabit, and the invisible world called Orun, inhabited by the supernatural beings and the “doubles” of everything that is manifested in Aiye.
It is also necessary to understand that Aiye and Orun constitute a unity, and as expressions of two levels of existence, are undivided and complimentary. There is a full identity between them; one is just an inverted image of the other, which can be observed through various Yoruba Proverbs.
“Bi a tin se laye, ni a se lorun”
As we do on earth, so it’s done in heaven
“Aye loja orun ni ile”
Earth is a market place and heaven is home
The theory of Yoruba’s reality can be observed through Ifa — the house of all Yoruba Knowledge and traditions, and it also plays an important role as the guide for the Ori to successfully achieve his/her destiny, as Atona the light and guardian.
Ifa’s shaping of Ori’s perception is created by the practice, Ifa deploys in acquiring knowledge, which is based on experiential knowledge and its awareness of nature, which produces a shift in the consciousness of man and a transformation of human thoughts and psyche.
We can also see the building block of Yoruba’s theory of reality when we see how they qualify the human being, Ori-Apere as the epitome and essence of the Human being and creator of the human mind and reality.
Also In the various establishment of Yoruba societal, and political Institutions. Most Irúnmọlẹ̀s acted as teachers and trainers for early ọmọ ènìyàn in order to transmit knowledge as bestowed on them by Olódùmarè,
Ògún taught people the art of iron forging and smithy. Olókun specialized in the art of bead making and bronze casting; Òrìṣà-Oko taught people agriculture and farming on arable land; Ọ̀ rúnmìlà taught humans the knowledge of Ifá and wisdom; Ọ̀ṣọ́ọ̀sì artistry and draughtsmanship; Olúwẹri was always sought whenever the need for rain and its control arose; Kórì was the Deity of fertility and lover of children; Ọ̀ ṣun too was a lover of children and was always approached by barren women who were looking for the fruit of the womb; Ṣàngó was known for his instant fury and wrath of Olódùmarè; Èṣù was the one that administered justice and sanctions; while Ọbàtálá symbolizes purity and holiness of Olódùmarè. the Irúnmọlẹ̀ in collaboration with some elders in the community,, decided to make some rules and regulations for the peace and harmonious living, when Ifa says —
Kò sí ará ò
Kò sí ìyèkàn
Ẹ sáà jẹ́ a ṣ’ẹbọ àjọgbé
Apart from the rules and regulations, leaders of some of these socio-political institutions were subjected to various forms of oath-taking before they are allowed to assume such a leadership position.
Also, the Orisha reverence and spiritual practices in various Yoruba homes, the natural inclusiveness during naming and marriage ceremonies; and various Yoruba’s deep culture, arts, and music.
The reverence of feminine energy in the Yoruba community due to its spiritual awareness established by Osun a female Irúnmọlẹ̀, hindered their progress and nothing could be achieved without her contribution. When they noticed that all they tried to accomplish wasn’t successful, they went to Olódùmarè, and he made it known to them that nothing could be achieved without the support, and reverence of Osun.
Also, various Odu Ifa corpus states that the Yoruba cosmology says that all things have consciousness, including mountains, rivers, rocks, and trees. Therefore, they must be treated with high respect as most of these natural phenomena are considered Orishas in Yoruba communities.
So it’s evident that the Yoruba worldview is a spiritual worldview, they’re one and the same.
Yorùbá Theory of Perception
We can see the Yoruba theory of perception from the concept of THE HUMAN BEING as ORI which is the origin and creator of thoughts, perception, and knowledge through his senses which is accompanied by ori ode such as ears- sound, eyes- seeing, nose-smell, mouth-speech-taste, skin-touch.
Ori-Inu entails the soul and a mind which possess abilities like, critical thought, imagination- Oju inu, intuition- a form of knowing that’s not based on logic, extra-sensory perception, dreams, visual cognition, .
So there’s an inter-relationship between the ori-ode and ori-inu, we see that in sayings like ‘Òrí inu a-bu-fun-tode’. The biological head and orí inú, the inward head, the centre of the self, the embodiment of the individual’s ultimate potential, a potential grounded in the relationship between the self and ultimate reality represented by the creator of the cosmos. And this dynamics relationship is often appropriated through ibori so as to align and not antagonise each other to disrupt our destiny
Lets look at the Odu Ifa corpus that gives a clear description of the inter-relationship between Ori-Ode and Ori-Inu In Ogbe ‘Yonu — Ogbe ogunda
Orun un mi orun dundun
Ofa a mi ofa tete Tinbataa
Jelenke nii ro
Dia fun Ori inu
Abu fun t’ode
Ori inu o mo sebo
Mo se bo ki o ma bat’ode mi Ije
Ori inu o mo sebo
We can still see this interplay in the ojú òde, the external eye, also known as ojú lásán, the ordinary or naked eye, to ojú inú, the inward eye, also depicted as ojú ọkàn, the mind’s eye. Ojú òde is a basic vision centred in the perception of material realities. Ojú inú is inward discernment which penetrates deeper into the nature of phenomena through a perceptual continuum. This continuum may be seen as ranging from conventional perception represented by visual cognition, thinking, imagination, intuition, memory, and critical analysis to entry into non-conventional forms of knowing demonstrated by dreams, trances, prophecy, divination, extrasensory perception. We can also analysis this perceptual understanding from the ogbon inu phenomena, which suggest a deeper form of knowledge and wisdom of reality. Ogbon inu (intuition) can imply many things such as the ability to construct and deliver words in such a manner that connotes a deeper level of sensitivity and maturity, “ti oro baa su nu, owe ni a maa fi wa” “Owe lesin oro” , proverbs are verbal art not simply a verbal communication, proverbs are words of the elders, it’s the ogbon-inu construct of an elder thats creates proverbs, Ogbon Inu also suggest an inner awareness that understands and organise its inner world within itself, which means the mind is multidimensional and has more potential than rationalising reality. We can also see how the Yoruba derive their perception in a Proverbs that says “I fura ni oogun agba’’ which translates to an extrasensory perception and a deeper kind of awareness that has to do with an intuitive observation of the body, which the elders utilise to navigate reality. What constitutes extra-sensory perception, such as being able to discern another person’s feelings from touching them or listening to them, even when those feelings are not explicitly expressed. A certain sensitivity that can sense others beyond its ori ode capabilities such as when someone is behind you without looking back.
Ori As the Originator of Thoughts and Perceptions and Creator of his reality — Eledaa and Ifa as its guide Atona and Atun òrí eni ti o sunwon sè.
In Yoruba Worldview, Ori is that which we give all praises to, that which we adorn, beautify, cry to, call on to avenge us, that which we honour by seeking to fulfil our destiny. No Orisa can bless us without permission from our Ori.“ Ko si Oosa tii da nii gbe leyin Ori eni”. Also “Ori la ba bo, ka to bo orisha”, ‘ Ori eni l’orisa”.
Orisha — ‘Ẹni-Orí-ṣà-dá’. This means ‘being whose Orí has specially selected and endowed . The alignment of Ori is the most important assignment of one’s life and we are constantly seeking this alignment through Ibori and Ifa divination. Ori is that which emanates the source of all human capabilities and potential so therefore in our currently educational system where rationalistic intelligence to acquire a professional skill to ensure a economic security not concerned with the development of the inner wellbeing and its glorification for material things which has replaced the reverence of inner wealth.In a country torn between the possibility of self-transcendence in the name of the greater good and self-focus at the expense of the larger whole,
Yorùbá philosophy’s emphasis on values that rise above the pervasive and unavoidable degenerative character of mortality could inspire an appreciation of the need to live for principles that surpass immediate and self-centred gratification
Otura Oriire (Otura-Ogbe), Ifa says:
Ata were were ko soje
A difa fun Ori-Ayannyan-tan
O nlo sile Omowunmi
Ebo ni won niko waa sè
O gbebo, o rubo
Nje bi mo ba lowo
Ori mi, iwo ni
Otura Origbemi, Ori mi iwo ni
Bi mo ba l’Aya rere
Ori mi, iwo ni
Otura-Origbemi, Ori mi iwo ni
Bi mo ba l’oko rere
Ori mi, iwo ni
Otura-Origbemi, Ori mi iwo ni
Bi mo ba bi omo rere
Ori mi iwo ni
Otura origbemi, Ori mi iwo ni
Bi mo ba ni ire gbogbo lode Ajalaye Ori mi iwo ni
Otura Origbemi, Ori mi iwo ni o
Ori in contrast to its English meaning as the physical “head”, or its biological description as the seat of the major sensory organs, to the Yoruba connotes the total nature of its bearer.
Lets view how Ori can be perceived as the creator of his world.
Akunleyan is the virtues, potentials, natural qualities, and values chosen in heaven by each individual in preparation for his/her journey to the earth. They are actually those aspects of one’s life freely chosen by one and, most of the time, form one’s likes and dislikes and/or taboo. Akunleyan is chosen out of one’s own free volition. This is where the concept of free will comes into play, which often connotes man’s having free will to be free to choose the life he wants and comes with a confusing aspect where man is faced with many challenges and he’s forced by his society to make certain choices or doesn’t care for his choice. But contrary to this is that free will is able for the inner part of the Ori, which is Ori Inu, to manage its mental states in relation to how it deals with its outside world in order to achieve its destiny. The creation of perception is an act of free will.
Iwa — Iwa which is character or inward being is beauty, inner creation of existence of character which is beyond virtues abstractions as intellectual objects that creates distance from knowing the self which rest in a mystical awareness in perfect harmony with his environment and challenges “ti bi Tire lada ile aye” and this self can also be seen in the buddhist concept of Nirvana the end of all suffering, where the emptiness of self is realised when the attachment to this world is ceased because the buddha says “attachment is the root of suffering’ and also from the Upanishads, there exists the eternal Self-ātman, which is the internal absolute in conscious beings.
àìkú parí ìwà, which may be translated as “death- lessness consummates existence or being, the consummation of being in deathlessness, this can also be in aligned with “Atunwa” that suggest the immortality of Ori as he comes back to start another journey of a different aspect of his destiny.
Lets look at this Odu Oyeku-Pake-Ose
Ka ma tete ku, Awo ile Alayo
Aitete ku ise Awo Ibanuje
Bi iku ba de ka yin Olorun logo Awo olooto
Dia fun Agba sonko sonko marun-un
Ti won lo ree difa Iku lodo Orunmila
Eese ti omo araye fi nku?
Orunmila ni oore ni Olodumare fi iku se fun omo araye
Odo ti ko san si iwaju
Ti ko san seyin
Iyen ti di ogodo
Ogodo ree, omi egbin ni
Omi n gbe won lo rere
Omi n gbe won bo rere
Olokunrun wa kalo ree gb’awo tuntun pada waye
Ori phenomena can also be seen in the Modern Scientific studies that claims Consciousness as the most fundamental nature of reality, the limited set of facts upon which all other facts depend upon. An awareness of mental states and processes and other state consciousness.
Consciousness plus the activities of the mind is awareness, Consciousness reveals the activities of the mind, so we can see that we switch Consciousness from waking, dreaming and deep state and we can somehow recall these experiences. This phenomena has been known by the ancient Yoruba people in the metaphysical concept of ORI.
This is a clear indication of how if we choose to go to the past and recollect our treasures and ancestral wisdom we can be far ahead in our discoveries of the mysteries of the world.
Self Reflection : As Consciousness who can be aware of its mental states, one of the powers Ori has to shape and perceive its reality is to engage in serious reflections to remove the seeds of confusion. This power of reflection is utilised to gain clarity of the mind in order to view the world more harmoniously and to gain the tranquillity and peace of mind which brings deeper comprehension of reality.
Let’s take a look at Òṣá Ìwòrí
Ohun a bá jọ wò
Gég̣é ̣ níí gún
Díá fún Ìmòṛàn
Tíí ṣ’èg̣ bóṇ Èḍú
Ìmòṛàn mo dá ọ téḷẹ̀
Kí ntó dá Ikin.
In this Odu, Imoran was reverence as a senior brother to divining which is the Ikin the sacred palm nuts and also the seeking of advice from various Ori is emphasised before going to meet Ifa. Yoruba people also appreciate critical analysis which is from a place of self-reflection to gain higher clarity.
IN the constant struggles and challenges of life, imbalances between our mental, emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual journey of life, we forget our true essence as we are faced with so many challenges and tests for our true character that lies within us. Ifa serves as an ancestral guide, knowledge, wisdom, cosmic assistance through divination using natural elements to tap into the vibratory energies in order to solve our various solutions. Orunmila as Eleri Ipin, Odudu ti n du Ori-Ilemere ki Ori Ilemere ma baafo -orunmila /Ifa , Okinkin tii meyin erin fo who was present when we choose our destiny will guide and reveal the secrets to adjust our steps and ori, Ifa as Atun òrí eni ti o sunwon se, the voice of OLODUMARE will speak to us through the revelations of ODU and through performing our rituals delivered through various orishas, we can solve our problems. The epistemological concept of Ifa utilises deep spiritual and cosmic principles which can be adopted in our educational system, Ifa teaches various life lessons and principle but we will talk about NATURAL INCLUSIVITY in its art, traditions, rituals, tools and everything, Nature is considered and included. In world where nature is treated like an object and only to satisfy our economic, social, medicine , food and every other aspect of our lives, Nature is involved but not reverenced enough, especially with the new Western religions that don’t really emphasis on the importance of nature, Ifa teaches you how to reverence, value and understand from an harmonious and inclusive way.
Various Ways by which Ifa reverence the importance of Nature
The reverence to the society of animals, plants, birds, water, moon sun , rainbow, mountains and many uncountable phenomena. Ifa teaches us that they also consult Ifa for help, Ifa speaks of how they’ve been of help to mankind and the important roles they have played in the development of our community. Ifa also speaks of them being an Orisha. In their own community and their roles too in their community, plays a huge role in the natural evolution of things. In western education we are taught how Man is On top of the food chain but Ifa teaches us of how everyone works together, and how we can’t survive without one another, how we must seek to live in harmony with them. Various communities make different animals their communal animals that they don’t kill.
Another way Ifa shows its reverence is through its world view and practices of rituals and sacrifices are built on the law of reciprocity. This experiential concept of reciprocity keeps us from having an exploitative relationship with Nature and treating Nature like a mere object, we give Orogbo when we ask for long life, we give the earth water to nourish the earth and our lives.
In Ifa, there are also some situations whereby Orisanla (Obatala), specifically endowed some trees with special characteristics which transformed them into respected and sacred beings among other trees. Due to their extraordinary characteristics, human beings chose them for specific purposes and occasions such as prayer, naming ceremony, religious rites and rituals, etc. Some of these trees include Obi (cola acuminata); ogede (Musa sapientum sp.) banana; and Ireke (Saccharum offcinarum) sugarcane.
Also through a communal system of keeping a forest called Igbo oro where they preserve all natural creatures living there and it’s forbidden to kill or plant there, everything is left to grow and function freely without the interference of humans. Also including the rivers and lakes that people are not allowed to fish. But the only problem is the manner of approval and beliefs surrounding these practices, such as naming the forest an evil forest or mystifying the river so as to scare people away instead of making people understand the meanings of these actions.
The systematic storage of the Odu Ifa Verses in relation to their Irunmoles and various Orishas, should also be studied and copied. It’s not just a religious text or historical records, Ifa recognizes that everything that exists consists of rays of light and their vibrations, So each has its own vibrations in sync with the energy of each Irunmole. It’s important to understand that this changes how we view words and information, words begin to move from an intellectual understanding to vibratory meaning. This can reveal to us how we process information and the underlying secrets of the universe in relation to sound energy, vibration, and frequency. In fact in ifa there’re various incantations that can be said in a certain speech and with a certain tone and rhythm of voice to invoke the desired effects called Ofo.
Ifa also speaks in Parables that require deep thinking abilities to decipher what western education calls philosophy.
Ifa can provide us with the necessary abilities and direction on how to view the world from the physical and materialistic view into a more deeper and conscious perspective. Ifa can help Ori during his/her time of challenges and trials, Ifa is one’s friend, companion, and healer.
What is the value of the Yoruba worldview in modern times (Imitating the principle of Sankofa)?
HOLISTIC UNDERSTANDING OF REALITY
As Ori is the Eledaa and we’ve seen the various ways in which Ori creates its internal world, whether consciously or unconsciously. Previously, we saw that the fundamental nature of reality is that which all sets of facts or I’ll say awareness rests upon, and Ori is that in which man’s nature rests. It’s only through Ori as the one consciousness that pervades the universe and links everything together is the only source powerful to gain clarity and an understanding of the cosmos and beyond.
The liberalism of the Yoruba people can also be seen as an understanding of the mysteries of Òrí, no òrí is the same and as òrí the eledaa possesses the divine power and free will to create its world, it allows liberal expression both individually, within the family, communally and ethnically.
This valuable insight developed by the Yoruba people can help us as the descendants of our ancestors and have much deeper views and ways to defeat our enemies. The good thing about the western form of education is their ability to study the outside world, but if we can merge this potential, this can help us understand how the Yorubas can contribute to unifying these three aspects of education, the metaphysical, the liberal, and the professional.
COLLECTIVE MENTAL POWER
One of Africa’s greatest defeats is mental defeat. The source is the lack of self-knowledge and cultural identity. If we embrace the Yoruba worldview, we can take charge of our Ori and become our Eledaa the creator of our world. The difference in what we have now Vs then is the ori ode is more active due to its promotion of intellectualism than the ori inu- the inner wealth.
The mind and the intellect are not the same, the intellect is just a section of the mind. So let’s talk a bit about the mind and how its functions so we can understand why we need to adopt the way Yoruba people think. We have three levels of the mind: the conscious, the subconscious, and the unconscious.
Now ori ode has qualities of the conscious and ori inu has the deep qualities of the subconscious and unconscious. We see why the ori inu is powerful. It has the ability to program the conscious in its own creation of reality whether consciously or unconsciously. So we see that we are not protecting what comes into our subconscious as we continue to adopt and rely on other nations’ mental processes.
This is to enlighten us to think deeply, ask questions and listen more to our ancestors when we begin to follow in their footsteps.
This also helps us understand better how we are going to survive as a people and the essential necessities we will need to move forward. We must think of changing the thought process of our children and enlighten them in the right way.
Lastly, I would like to say we should all try to contribute to looking for solutions to our communal challenges.
Ori a gbe wa o Ire!
Olori Ashabi is a frontend developer and a Yoruba nationalist