It’s a question that mankind has long struggled to answer. We’ve built philosophies and religions around it, gone to war over it, and debated it for centur
Ayanmo-ipin The Ifa Concept of Destiny by Awo Falokun
At the core of Ifa spiritual discipline is the belief that each person chooses their destiny as preparation for coming to the world between stages of reincarnation (atunwa). The Yoruba word ayanmo-ipin is usually translated to mean destiny. This translation misses the deeper exoteric implications of the elision ayan mo ipin meaning my sacred ancestral tree is divided. I interpret this as a poetic reference to the interconnection of all of Creation. The word ipin may mean either division or can be a reference to the spiritual power that flows from the eyes when a person is in possession. When possession occurs there is a distinct physical transformation that manifests in the eyes. It is taboo to look directly into the eyes of a medium because the eyes have the ability to cause possession in the uninitiated. Because the word for destiny is associated with these phenomena, there is a clear suggestion that destiny includes some level of direct alignment with the Orisa that incarnates a particular person’s ori.
Ifa teaches that when a child is born, the journey down the birth cannel causes the ori to forget the details of their chosen destiny. The purpose of initiation is to place the initiate in perfect alignment with their higher self in an effort to re-awaken the memory of the original agreement between self and Creation. Each stage of the initiation; process is analogous to the stages of physical birth and the initiation itself is a form of atunde meaning rebirth. Initiation can give the initiate a clear vision of personal destiny. Ipin is the spiritual substance that carries this vision, when this transformation occurs the initiate experiences oju-ase meaning power to the eyes. The connotation of oju ase can potentially elevate the consciousness of the medium to a point known as iweju meaning mystic vision. Those who experience iweju are believed to be guided towards a deeper appreciate of self and World through the gift of seeing the hidden influences at play in the world.
Ifa is based on the observation that Creation is inherently benevolent. Those who have access to iweju are in a position to receive guidance and inspiration for the development of iwa-pele based on a very real experience that everything in the world is inter-connected. Experiencing this truth is different from understanding the idea. Experience brings a deep sense of knowing that makes it possible to constantly remain in an open ended state of transformation and change. Little time is wasted with regret, shame or jealousy. Problems are handled in the moment with focus and intention.
The ori and the iponri move towards longer and longer periods of alignment giving easier access to the altered state of consciousness called ini. The literal translation of ini is I am. This suggests that possession, rather than being an intrusion from the outside is an enhancement of something from within. This suggestion is a little misleading because after the individual connects with the inner self, the ori-inu forms a bond with similar expressions of consciousness throughout Creation. For example the ori-inu of a passionate person might be incarnated by the same Odu that incarnates fire (Iwori Meji). Such a person will be mesmerized by fire and will constantly give off body heat, often described as charisma. An ori-inu incarnated by the same Odu as the Spirit the Ocean (Odi Meji) would feel the need to nurture others. It is this bound that empowers the experience of ini by infusing the ori with the awareness of that which transcends personal experience.
In East Indian Mystical tradition there is a belief that all history, past, present and future is recorded in the Invisible Realm known as the Akashic Record in Vedanta tradition and known as Olorun in Ifa. Traditionally there have been two dominant views regarding the nature of destiny. One is that destiny is totally pre-ordained and unalterable. The other is that it is undetermined and completely regulated by laws of cause and effect. Ifa takes the middle view. Destiny in Ifa cosmology is based on the agreement between ori and Olorun. In simple terms, this means every individual chooses their range of potential in the time between each incarnation (atunwa). Ifa teaches that these choices are forgotten at the movement of birth and the process of personal transformation reveals portions of that agreement as life progresses.
There is a Yoruba proverb that says; “Igbala kuro inu ese at iku anipekun” meaning; “initiation into the Mystery of Light places my foot where death ceases to exist.” The place where death ceases to exist is the eternal center of Orun called lai-lai. The word lai-lai refers to a pre-existential state where all that comes into Being exists in an Ideal State of Perfection and Unity. This is a place the human ori can touch. An experience of lai-lai is a glimpse at the Source of Creation.