Our Word is Our Character

iwa-pele-trustIn the Yoruba tradition of Ifa, words are what bring to us the messages of Orunmila and the orisa. Words are the vehicle to impart wisdom and the means to alleviate our life struggles. By following the word of Ifa, we are guided to solutions. Looking beyond all the other parts that make up a successful outcome, words, and our faith and trust in those words, stand alone as the most important glue that holds together a sacrifice. They are ASE in action, power in action, containing all of the knowledge, desire and information needed to complete the sacred pact of Olodumare with Orunmila when he gave the Ifa Divination Corpus-handed down divinely in order to make man’s life on earth sweet.

Prayer, incantations (ofo), are part of ritual life of a Babalawo or Iyanifa, and a person puts their utmost trust and faith in those words spoken on their behalf, but what about in daily life? What about the power of words in our dealings with other people in “normal” day to day circumstances? Where does the power of words begin and end?

While there is much written and studied in academics about iwa pele (good character) in Yoruba culture, there is an area of what should constitute “good character”  where I feel most all of us can improve, and that is in the power of our own spoken word. If you have read my other posts I talk about the importance of prayer, the importance of putting positive thoughts in place of negative, and that prayer is the basis for a sound mind and life. But the inner spiritual life of a person is not just a little box or room, separate from others, hidden, personal and private. Our spoken words broadcast much louder who we really are, what we really stand for, and are a true measure of our good character.

My father raised me to speak the truth, and this was imparted not because I was a liar or difficult child, but because that is the honor that my family stands upon. He taught me by his example, that people who do not speak the truth can not be trusted in other areas of life (and why would you want to keep a relationship with that person anyway since you cannot trust them), and that there is no area more sacred between two human beings than the bond of a spoken promise or pact. Family shame would be to agree/accept/promise to do something and then not follow through and complete that spoken promise. Does speaking the truth mean that one must spill everything out into the public? No. And when dealing with others who do not have your own best interest at heart, you must use your discretion as to what you reveal, but when you have judged anothers character as worthy and then agreed to do something for/with them, than you must be responsible for upholding that.

I could say on the one hand this has been a burden to me, as it seems most people in the world do not share the same beliefs and ethics. I learned that the word of others can many times not be trusted, and even the word of those who are sworn and initiated to uphold,be pillars of trust in their communities, is many times hollow. There are many deceitful and duplicitous persons in the world, even in the guise of Babalawo or community leader. Politicians are a good example of “do as I say, not as I do”, and they allow themselves to be corrupted for material gain, they go back on promises to their constituents. On the other hand, I can at least go to bed at night and lift my head in the morning with pride knowing that I stand by my word. What you hear from me is what you get.

I believe that if we want to be in good standing with God, with our fellow human beings, that we must walk and talk a Godly life. If we are reaching out to others and offering help in the form of promises, than we must do our utmost to make that come about. If not, then we must offer a solution, at the very least ask for forgiveness for breaking our sacred word, just as much to make things right with ourselves, as to make them right between Us and God. Ifa priests and priestesses are especially in need of watching what they say and to whom they say it. The spoken word sets into motion many things, and one must be mindful at all times of that power.

As a person grows in age, they should be growing in wisdom. There are proverbs in Yoruba which state that an elder need only speak a few words to have his weight felt in any issue, and so should it be for each one of us in our daily life. When we are honest with ourselves, we are honest with others. Does this mean we will only encounter good people in our daily dealings? No. We will come across others who are not very spiritually developed, with no sense of urgency to better themselves. That does not mean they are any less or more than any other, and yes, we can be disappointed when others make promises and then let them lie idle or do the opposite of what they professed and promised. Just know that what matters in this lifetime is ultimately between you and God, doing what is right, only offering and speaking what you can assure or guarantee. Do not exaggerate, only claim what you know you are capable of, or make clear you will try your best to do right by the person.

The other night I manifested Esu for a client who had some issues surrounding a supposed friendship that had deteriorated into a situation of blatant and outright blackmail on many fronts: emotionally, spiritually and materially. What was most hurtful to my client is that not only had the one time friend threatened by use of lies to bring him down, but had spoken words that cut him, not only because they were lies, but because their gross negative energy was aimed straight at the very sacred spiritual core he holds dear, and setting into motion a far reaching and ugly scenario.

Esu had a few words of wisdom that my helper wrote down, which got me to thinking about my own life; how I interact with people, how I view the spoken word and issues of trust between people and led me to write this post in the first place.

“When you reach a certain age you need to measure very well your strengths and weakness, your abilities to withstand stress, financial hard times. You have to calibrate, measure any possible pitfalls or problems that could arise and there’s a point where what could be called the youthful folly of friendships; a wise man does not extend his hand in friendship to the whole world.

When you’re young you have the grace to make mistakes and learn and move on, but as you get older you see friendship as a treasure, which means that you, as a human being, are offering (to others) the sum totality of everything that you have learned up to that point. It’s a treasure. You don’t just go offering people that willy nilly, you offer it to the people that will benefit you. Old men learn something; older men in whichever society, whether it’s a traditional, third world so to speak country, or first world, a wise old man learns if you can trust someone with your money, you can trust them with your life, because money is life. You might not give a fig for their religious affiliation but a man who deals fair and square in business is worth gold. Business is a litmus test, financial transactions, and you find out who is who. And if you do repeated dealings with people who repeatedly do well, follow through, well, you can count on that man. That’s why you find older men in these business leagues, these clubs. They love money, there’s nothing wrong with that. They love people who know how to do an honest deal, there’s a give and take but there should never be force or extortion. You don’t rape your business partner. I don’t begrudge anyone the love of money; it buys food, sustenance, opportunity. A great man with a lot of money, he surrounds himself with trusted advisers, who understand in order to keep the pathways open, there has to be transparency, honesty, ethics. You don’t reward somebody for behaving badly.”

Mo dupe O Esu, for those words of wisdom. Even the Yoruba know that money came before child in order of importance to earth, and this is in the verses of Ifa. Without money, a child cannot be fed, clothed, there is no money to buy a bar of soap to wash the child, there is nothing one can do to raise that child to success without Money. The verse of Ifa is trying to show young couples that one must have money in place before embarking upon raising a family and I believe Esu in his manifested talks was also trying to show that as we get older, friendships can boil down to “who can you trust your money with”! Whoever that person is, they are your true friend…

May Olodumare, Ifa, Esu and the irunmole guide and protect each one of us in our day, May we all come together in peace and development of a better life here on Earth, Ase Ase Ase Amen O!

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