“Not knowing who you are is very costly,” says Across The King’s River producer, James Weeks. “Imagine putting a dollar figure on wasted time and potential. Would you be able to pay?”
“It’s impossible to maximize your potential without knowing who you are. Unfortunately, many people drift through life without having a strong sense of purpose,” says Weeks, whose upcoming film explores how African spiritual traditions intersect with modern science.
And when it comes to the universal search for meaning, Weeks, firmly believes African spirituality has a lot to teach us.
“In Africa it is believed that we all come to earth with a specific mission but we tend to forget our mission when we arrive on earth,” Weeks explains.
For this reason, parents in Africa often consult diviners shortly before or after the birth of a child in order to get spiritual insight into the newborn’s life purpose and wishes.
Among the Yorubas of Southwest Nigeria, for example, the “esen’taye” is a ceremony to welcome a child to earth. During the esen’taye, parents learn about the life path of their child and their relationship with guardian spirits known as orisas. In essence, the “esen’taye” provides a spiritual “blue-print” for successfully raising one’s child.
The Dagara tribe of Burkina Faso, on the other hand, often determine the life-purpose of a child during pregnancy.
“A few months before birth, when the child is still a fetus, a ritual called a ‘hearing’ is held. For the Dagara, every person is an incarnation, that is, a spirit who has taken on a body. So our true nature is spiritual. The world is where one comes to carry out specific projects. The living must know who is being reborn, where the soul is from, why it chose to come here, and what gender it has chosen,” says Malidoma Some, one of the leading voices of African spirituality in the West.
But knowing your purpose is one thing – accepting it is another.
“Before you were born, your family learned who you were and what your purpose is. But even if they were to tell you these things, would you believe them? Would you trust them enough? You would not, because when we come here and take on human form, we change our opinions like the wind. When you do not know who you are, you follow the knowledge of the wind,” – says Malidoma Some in his best seller, “Of Water And The Spirit.”
And what’s the advice for those who find themselves chasing the knowledge of the wind because they feel as though they have no one to guide them?
“Listen to the inner voice,” says Weeks. “And trust that inner voice as if your life depends on it, because it truly does. That voice and your heart will never lead you wrong. Also, know that your ancestors are always around you and have your best interest at heart. Call on them for guidance.”
For more information about the upcoming documentary film, Across The King’s River, visit www.acrossthekingsriver.com