If we know how to connect with our ancestors all of our problems will be solved, says Dr. Fui-Bunseki, a prominent African scholar. “The ancestors are not dead. They are not gone. Their energy is around you. We are constantly being bombarded by that energy. We can listen to it, and we can call upon it.”
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Fui-Bunseki is the author of numerous books and articles including: Kongo Cosmology, Kumina: A Kongo-based Tradition In The New World, Kindezi: The Kongo Art of Babysitting, and Self-Healing Power and Therapy, Old Teachings From Africa.
I first became aware of Dr. Fui-Bunseki through two great books by historian, Robert Farris Thompson: Flash of the Spirit, and Tango: the Art History of Love. Dr. Bunseki was one of many scholars cited by Thompson in these works.
The You-Tube clip of Bunseki was produced by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Insitute (The entire nine-part lecture can be viewed on line).
Bunseki’s comment about us being constantly bombarded by ancestral energy is consistent with what I’ve heard many mediums say…
That the realm of the ancestors is around us and our loved ones in Spirit attempt to reach us in many ways: dreams, inspiration, memories are common methods of ancestor communication but there really is no limitation.
A sparrow circling in the, a flickering lightbulb, a familiar fragrance could all be signs that your ancestors are near.
As I’ve grown spiritually over the years, I’ve learned that our ancestors can use anything or anyone to get a message through to us; the more you pay attention, the more you’ll start to recognize signs and symbols that your loved ones are around. There is no “right way” to connect with the ancestors. They are aware of your needs, thoughts and prayers.
The Egun (ancestors) will guide you once you take the time to listen. But listening is not enough you must trust. And trust is not enough you must act.
Most of all, know that you are eternal. “You are not of today,” says Bunseki. “You are not of yesterday. You are not of 100 years ago. You are the living, divine energy that has existed since the beginning of time.”
Searching for peace? Happiness? More fulfillment? Well, instead of stressing out about things (or people) beyond your control, ask yourself these questions: “How can I empower myself today? How can I empower or serve others?”
These questions are important because they shift your awareness by directing spiritual power, energy and responsibility back to YOU where they rightfully belong. Too often we give our power away by fuming about how we’ve been wronged by others or how unsupportive others have been.
I’ve had to learn these lessons too. My journey toward the film, Across The King’s River, has been one of peaks and valleys, ups and downs. If I created a list to keep track of the many people that have let me down along the way, the list would be long – and I would be a miserable man.
But I’ve learned to reclaim my power and you can too.
And the more you reclaim your power, well, the more powerful you become. Know that not everyone will see the value in who you are and what you have to offer. Give the best of yourself to those who value you the most. Find out who you can help or encourage today and reach out to them.
Rediscover your source of power; cultivate it; share it!
As a diviner, I answer questions about relationships all the time. It's the number one reason why folks request spiritual readings!
But sadly many clients are not in healthy relationships. Before I even divine it is often clear to me that deep down inside, their own intuition is trying telling them something they refuse to hear – the bitter truth that their current mate or potential mate is not right for them and may never be right for them.
Yet, they cling on, desperately trying to save a relationship that brings no peace and is destined to fail.
As I listen to clients, it is clear that their own Spirit knows the right answers. But what is not clear is why they keep making bad choices. The warning signs are often there: emotional and sometimes physical abuse, constant fighting, fear, insincerity and disrespect.
Why stay in a relationship that is not healthy for you?
And I also counsel clients who recently left one relationship and are anxious to start another one.
Well, until you heal yourself and/or deal with yourself there's really no sound reason to rush into another relationship. Without self-fulfillment, no relationship will ever fill the emptiness you feel inside. The most important relationship to cultivate is the one within, and this is where your focus should be. Learn to love you. Give yourself the respect that you crave from others. Don't settle for anything or anyone.
And make sure your life does not revolve around your relationship. Discover your passions and pursue them. Where you find passion, you will also find Spirit. I believe that passion is closely connected to vision, and if you follow your vision you will never go wrong. It's not always easy, but at least your vision will lead you on the road to self-fullfillment and the source of your own power.
Another key to happiness is to shift your focus. Instead of focusing on things you cannot control, focus on what you can control and how you can be of service to others. Sometimes we make ourselves miserable by focusing too much on ourselves and how others have let us down. Even as you go through your challenges, try to be there for others.
Know that healing is possible. Be committed to your own healing. Be a vessel for the healing of others.
The door suddenly blew open while conversing with Ade Kunle in my living room. Thinking it was merely the wind, I arose and shut it again.
But it wasn’t the wind, Ade Kunle explained.
It was a Spirit. A powerful, familiar one. It was Baba Aseda, a man we both revere as a father because he’s always been there for us. Through the power of orisa, he has guided us through many challenges over the years.
Aseda is one of the 16 major Ifa diviners in the world, and in the spring of 2003, he initiated both of us into the orisa tradition.
He is without doubt one of the driving force behind what I do – and what my ancestors insist I must become.
According to Ade Kunle, the front door swinging open was Aseda’s way of making sure his presence is felt, proof that he’s listening to our conversation and monitoring every word.
I don’t doubt this but why was the old man visiting now?
Because I had just inquired about a secret, a mysterious, spiritual power that both Aseda and Ade Kunle have knowledge of. I know nothing about this power and was hoping, once again, that Ade Kunle would tell me about it, or at the very least, give me a hint.
Opening the door and entering in Spirit was Aseda’s gentle way of saying certain secrets must remain secrets. However, I’ve been told that eventually I will understand this mysterious power on my own.
I love mysteries and the Yorubas safeguard many of them. In Yoruba culture, just because an elder knows your destiny, don’t think that he/she will reveal it to you all at once. You’ll be waiting for a long time.
A little information now and a bit more information later, perhaps. I’ve learned to be patient. If the seers reveal everything to you how can there be room for self-discovery and self-mastery? It’s similar to wanting to be buff without going to the gym.
I was grateful for Aseda’s surprise visit in Spirit and was happy to finally see Ade Kunle in person again. It’s been more than a year since the brutal U.S. recession forced him to leave Oakland, CA and move back to Nigeria.
I looked younger, he told me, better than I looked when we last saw each other. I was happy to hear that. Who knows? Perhaps leaving Corporate America to work on my film miraculously restored my youth.
Ade Kunle looked good, too. A lot more gray flecks in his beard, though. And a lot more pensive than I’ve ever seen him before.
“I’m not the same Ade Kunle as before,” he tells me. The elders have taken him to deeper places, he explained. And he’s been exposed to strong rituals. Rituals far beyond the understanding of many in the Diaspora.
And he hinted at other mysteries: powerful medicines and soaps that he brought from Nigeria, powerful people that I will meet during my next trip to Nigeria, spiritual things that the elders are doing to support the upcoming film.
How he managed to get strong medicine into the U.S. was fascinating. At the airport in Nigeria and at each layover on his way back to Oakland, he uttered powerful incantations in Yoruba each time security personnel reached into his carry-on bag to try to take the bottled-liauids per airline regulations.
My conversation with Ade has inspired me all over again. There are many things that I dislike about Nigeria: corruption, mismanagement at every level, grinding poverty and pollution, hostility in high and low places.
Yet the more I journey into his culture, the more I realize I am a Yoruba at heart and have the backing of powerful souls that have a lot to say to the world. My task is to humbly step aside and allow these souls to speak.
For the first time in a very long time, I look forward to returning home.
The poetic elegance of the Yoruba creation story moved me.
And I thought about it for days. It made me reflect on spirituality as well as what science says about the birth of humanity and the origins of the universe.
Here’s an excerpt of the sacred story as related by Ifa priest, Chief Solagbade Popoola
“In the beginning that signified the end. It was the beginning of the beginning and the beginning of the end. It was the beginning of existence and the end of nothingness. It started in a sporadic but gradual manner. It started at a time that was timeless. It began in a form that was in itself without form. It started with a Being that cannot be described with any adequacy. This Being is neither a ‘he’ nor a ‘she’. The Being is neither human nor superhuman. It has neither flesh nor blood. It has no water. It exists in a body that is in itself without body. It is the universal spirit of the universe. That is the Being which started the universe from nothingness. It is not from the void as some people say, because void itself is something. The universe started from nothing, absolutely nothing. This universal spirit that began the universe is known as Akamara.”
According Popoola, who has authored several books about Ifa, our sacred teachings insist there were five stages of creation. In the first stage, the universal spirit, Akamara, created a grain of sand, “blew its mighty breath into it and transformed this grain into a basket of sand from which hot gases and dews began oozing out.
Then, a mighty explosion ensued for an “uncountable period of time and the whole universe was engulfed in gases and dews.”
Ifa says, “the mightiness of the whole universe today is just the breath of Akamara.”
Here’s my question. Could the mighty explosion be a reference to the Big Bang that science refers to?
In stage two, “the solidification of gases and dews into stars and other heavenly bodies brought about another development. It was discovered that the stars and other heavenly bodies were too hot and would not be able to accomplish the mission which Akamara created them for. These stars needed to cool down from their ultra high temperature to a normal temperature.” Hence, Akamara created another being called Olu-Iwaye who successfully cooled down the stars and made it possible for them to solidify quickly.”
In stage three, a super being, or Irunmole, called Baba Asemuegun Sunwon was created because “it was discovered that the stars and other heavenly bodies had no orderly movement and were crashing into each another, causing mighty explosions. The mission of Baba Asemuegun Sunwon was to make all the heavenly bodies to rotate in an anti-clockwise orbit in order to stop what Ifa calls “The War of the Stars”. When this was done, the stars and other heavenly bodies stopped crashing into each other.
I was fascinated by the poetic imagery of stars streaking across the heavens against a darkened sky colliding into each other. In fact, I love it so much I’m toying with the idea of incorporating some of this imagery in my film, Across The King’s River.
But let’s move on.
In stage four, life was created on earth. The teachings of Ifa insist we are still in stage four but most evolve if we hope to survive and save the planet.
“We need to stop wasting and using up all our natural resources in an ignorant and arrogant manner. We need to stop the abuse of our fellow man in all parts of the world. We need to stop using technology that destroys the environment. We need to stop wars. We have to relearn to live in harmony with all that exist on the planet,” Popoola says.
Very few would disagree with this, I’m sure. But can we summon the will? Time will tell.
I began this post by saying how the Yoruba creation story made me reflect on science and spirituality.
The creation story also made me reflect on one of my favorite books of all time: Vanishing Voices: the Extinction of the World’s Languages. (To hear my interview with Daniel Nettle, co-author of Vanishing Voices, visit:http://www.acrossthekingsriver.com/press/
You see, the sacred stories (and traditions) of the world are important not only because they allow us to glimpse into other cultures, but because they may help unlock scientific mysteries and provide answers to some of the most vexing challenges of our times.
But as the authors of Vanishing Voices point out: more than 90 percent of the world’s languages may die out in the next century, and when these languages die, we lose ancient knowledge, centuries and centuries of indigenous science and wisdom because the accumulated knowledge of humanity is encoded in language.
“We do not even know what exactly we stand to lose – for science, for posteriority – when languages die,” says linguist K. David Harrison in the book, When Languages Die. “An immense edifice of human knowledge, painstakingly assembled over millennia by countless minds, is eroding, vanishing into oblivion.”
Because Ifa is a vast body of ancient oral knowledge, surely it has a role to play in this crucial debate about vanishing languages and cultures.
May the ancestors grant us the wisdom and the fortitude to keep our sacred traditions alive.