What if you have never really suffered at all?
This is a very curious question, and I challenge you to consider it as if it were totally true.
Have you been a victim of stubborn negative feelings that won’t budge… for instance, if you are out with friends after a rough day or you are not feeling the best because of something that has happened, do you have a tendency of dwelling on that feeling for long periods of time?
Some people have a family history of similar situations and they sometimes feel like they are no longer in control about how they feel, and this gets them down. So what can you do to reverse this feeling?
Everyone has something that’s guaranteed to put a smile on their face. Playing with your dog. Watching re-runs of Friends. Jumping rope to bad eighties music. It’s helpful to have this “Ace in your pocket” to pull out when you need a smile.
For instance; Yoga always enhances my mood. I also know when I feel bad I’m less motivated to go to Yoga. So I have a little talk with self and say that it will be worth it in the end if I push through my discomfort, because Yoga always helps, at least a little.
Try to remember that there is always a way that you can make yourself feel better, when you do this little mental gymnastics you mind all of sudden will feel that little bit more positive. This is something that I believe we all need to find, and practice, and practice and practice…
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick
What if that’s just a story you’re telling yourself?
Listen to the stories we tell ourselves everyday to see how we are either creating a life of suffering or a life of passion and purpose.
One common form of suffering involves the feeling of shriveling up inside from allegedly being bad, unworthy, flawed, and defective. Such people can go through life anticipating being seen by others in a negative light. They expect that they might, at any moment, be exposed as a fake or a phony.
Some of us feel this nauseating sense of self every day, and others only occasionally. The disagreeable feeling is often a lingering shame associated with one’s fear that some embarrassing fact about us will become public knowledge or that we’ll appear foolish or inept in a public situation.
We can be convinced mentally and emotionally that this pain, which originates in our psyche, signifies some wretched, hidden flaw or loathsome defect at the core of our existence. Hence, we might be unable to establish friendships and intimate relationships because we don’t feel worthy of being admired and loved. As Groucho Marx put it, “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”
There is much that Ifa teaches us about fear. the Odu Ifa Oyeku Meji says:
Constantly shifting is a boat on water.
And so are human beings.
This was the teachings of Ifa for Ona Ishokan
Who was a child of the King of Oyo.
One who is brave
Should not assume the voice of the timid.
And one who is timid
Should not talk like one who is brave.
The king dose not allow us to make war on a town of women
So that we may go with them.
Let us conduct ourselves with gentleness, so that we may pass peacefully,
And so that our children can stretch forth their hands fully
On us in burial.
This is a teaching on the virtues of genuineness, gentleness and truthful self-presentation. It begins by recognizing that human beings are in a constant process of change, i.e., “constantly shifting” from one place, position, level of development, etc., to another. The implicit challenge here, then, becomes one of always being one’s real self in the midst of the demands of change.
This Odu also teaches that a person should neither hide one’s courage nor pretend to have a courage which one does not have. The courageous are compelled to step forward and the timid are counseled to be modest in their claims.
This teaching is important in stressing the need for those who are capable to always show moral courage as well as courage of heart and mind in difficult situations when it would be easy to step back, remain silent or “assume the voice of the timid.”
The counsel here is to not disguise oneself and by extension to stand up and step forward in the service of good (ire). On the other hand, the verse counsels the timid not to pretend courage but to strengthen themselves through self-development and practice which leads to the acquisition of courage.
Likewise, the Odu suggests that the example of the coward posing as a courageous is found in men who would “make war on” or attack women in various ways to have access to and control of them.
The teaching is that in a group situation, a real ruler or leader would not permit it and that the moral path to access and exchange is through gentleness.
“We are to behave gently then” to achieve our ends in the world”.
The last part of this Odu then, is a teaching on gentleness of behavior.
It advises us to be gentle in all we do. And although there are numerous other reasons given in the Odu for being gentle, this ese Ifa gives two main ones.
The first reason this verse gives for our need to be gentle is so “that we might leave life peacefully,” that is to say, so that we may die at peace and in peace.
To die or pass at peace is to pass into the next world without undue worry about what will be left behind or what will be met ahead.
And to die or pass in peace is to lie down to make the transition to the realm of our ancestors and be received in harmony, love, calmness, contentment and trouble free. In a words, it is to leave life in a moral community we ourselves have helped create.
The second reason the Odu gives us for behaving gently in life is so that our children who experience this loving kindness will reciprocate and respond to our passing in a loving and respectful manner.
The teaching of this Odu tells us that we must live our lives in a manner which causes love and respect from our children which in turn causes them to “stretch forth their hands fully upon us,” tha is to say, to embrace us fully in death as they did in life.
In summary; to leave life peacefully is to act in life with such gentle kindness that we leave a legacy of goodness in this world which is the basis for respectful memory in this world and eternal life in the next.
But what do we do about Adversity?
In this Isorun Iwori says:
“If we continually taste sweetness without tasting a little bitterness also, life would be dull.
One who has never experienced the hardship of adversity, does not really know the pleasure of prosperity.
This was the teachings of Ifa for a group of farmers, who said that if all seasons were just the rainy season, the world would be immeasurably pleasant.
They said they would offer sacrifice so that Orunmila might graciously help them.
Orunmila said that they should instead sacrifice because of their foolishness.
And that the world should remain as Oduduwa has created it.”
Orunmila might as well have told them that if they wanted to change their world to take a good look at the man in the mirror.” ~ Michael Jackson
Therefore; many of our problems are the result of bad choices taken by us. So the more we blame others for our lack luster life, the less empowered we feel about our lives.
Do good people suffer needlessly?
Yes they do, and I submit to you that their suffering is also due to bad choices.
Do people suffer at the hands of others who prefer to be narcissistic instead of achieving their success through their own honest efforts? Yes they do, yet again I submit to you that this too is the result of bad choices.
The Odu Ifa Osa Ofun teaches us:
“We avoid the snake so that the snake might not bit us…. We avoid fire so that fire might not burn us “
Therefore; if you enter a pit of rattle snakes, and one bites you, don’t cry about your bad luck.
So How Do We Stop Suffering?
Ifa tells us exactly what we need to do to stop suffering in the Odu Ifa Irete Ose:
“Even in these opulent surroundings, which I have acquired and maintained by diligent efforts, I am restless.
I can hear my future and the world beyond my domain calling for me to do something more.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this restlessness too.
I represent the aspect of divine energy that infuses you with the desire to express yourself through your creations.
I motivate you to find new outlets for your abilities and ideas.
You may need to clarify your own spiritual direction at this time, or turn onto a different path, perhaps by combining divergent philosophies.
I have succeeded in the past, and will again.
There are always more ideas and worlds to explore.
I want to inspire you to pursue your won enterprises with courage and determination as well as compassion, truth, and authenticity.
Your intuition will tell you what is needed to proceed.
I bring you the confidence to make the choices that are best for you”.
The Odu Ifa Irete Ose promotes preparation. It suggests that there are always two different aspects, or point of views to any given situation, and makes a suggestion to consider other possibilities before taking action. Irete Ose calls our attention to the seeming polarity between the physical and the spiritual world. It teaches us that we must learn to live with both.
Irete Ose inspire us to analyze our situation and evaluate our progress. It awakens memories of past successes, stimulates optimism about further endeavors, and helps us build self confidence. Irete Ose urges us to do our homework.
Find a balance that will help you complete your spiritual tasks. You must respond to wake-up calls for new or changed action. If you don’t you will become a mere dreamer, trapped by your possessions and unable to venture beyond the walls of your insecurity except in our memory and imagination.
If you what to eliminate your;
- Spiritual stagnation
- Being mired in discontent or dissatisfaction, unable to move forward
- Failure to recognize your fear of the unknown
- Remaining in the fantasy world of success without gaining the necessary training or experience to make your dreams come true
Then I suggest you consult Ifa through a competent Babalawo in order to get to the root of your problem, and find a permanent solution.