Exercise Spiritual Discipline New Priest

Thu, Sep 11, 2008

Elders, Traditional Afrikan

Exercise Spiritual Discipline New Priest

by Ol’Orisa Olokuntogun Ojedele

Spiritual discipline is the ability to control one’s actions, rather than have them controlled by other people and/or unpleasant spiritual entities. Spiritual discipline also applies to the means or techniques that we use to gain control over our actions. Discipline is defined as “Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior; especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.” In this way it is related to the Yoruba concept of ese, which means, struggle or self-help1. Discipline is also described as, “A branch of knowledge or teaching.”2 This explains why most African, Asian and Native American indigenous religions (spiritual systems) are taught within lineages, so that a person may benefit from a process that has been tried and perfected by others before them. This increases the likelihood of success, which in this case improves the ability to make choices that we know to be healthy, moral and uplifting to our community and ourselves.

Sometimes the techniques or tools used to cultivate spiritual discipline are called spiritual sciences. When one dedicates him or her self to a spiritual lineage that has access to genuine and complete spiritual sciences the result is atonement. This atonements is what all people seek, regardless of their religious and spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof). Atonements allows us to take full advantage of our ancestral and karmic Ase (spiritual power), which brings us greater satisfaction in marriage, business, friendships, and cultivating our interests and talents. This is the real success that eludes most people, despite of what it appears they have achieved or acquired in life.

Orisa devotees are encouraged to strive for Iwa-Pele, or good and balanced3 (Iwa) character/personality (Pele). Iwa-pele is the combination of many virtues that include calmness/composure (ifarabale), willingness to be taught (iluti), originality/creativity (oju-ona), patience (suuru), truthfulness (tito), spiritual insight (oju-inu) and what could be interpreted as environmental consciousness (imoju-mora).4 None of these virtues can become second nature without regular practice and hard work, thus the idea of “discipline”. This is captured in the Yoruba proverb,

Ori lo da ni, enikan o ‘ d’Ori o.
It is the Head that created us; nobody created the Head.”

Your Life and your Character is the sum total of your efforts, in this life and those past lives before it. The mastery of these virtues supplies a person with strength and confidence as well as the tools to make sound, divinely inspired choices when faced with life challenges.

When you are spiritually attuned:

  • You make decisions based on the moral teachings of your most ethical family members, spiritual elders and through the divine inspiration that comes from the Orisa, Loa, Abosum, and Neteru or some other expression of God or the Ancestors.
  • You experience happiness that is not dependent on money, food, sex, friendship, popularity, excitement, money or romance. Your happiness is sparked by Divinity and comes from within yourself, as that is the only guarantee that it will be lasting.
  • You can enjoy the “things” of life without becoming addicted, selfish, greedy, deceitful or dangerous to yourself or others.
  • You can joyfully make choices that bring the greatest good for all concerned, even when you have to make a sacrifice in your own comfort or when others do not understand or honor your actions.
  • Your actions build greater spiritual power and more positive karma/repercussions. This offsets any negativity that you have done in the past and earns the spiritual protection and blessings of Deities and your Ancestors.
  • You intuitively choose professions, relationships and social activities that will bring you the greatest success – you are in alignment with your Ori Oponri or Destiny.
  • Your actions match your beliefs, because you know that it is possible to follow your spiritual and ethic teachings and still enjoy life and experience success. You eat what you know to be healthy, you work jobs that support your destiny, you build relationships with people that match your needs – not your desires – and you choose friends and social activities that contribute to, not thwart your spiritual growth. You are not afraid of committing to moral standards.

A person without spiritual atonement is overly emotional, confused and unrealistic about his abilities. He or She identifies with the physical identity rather than their Ori.5 The person that is spiritually misaligned is like laundry on a clothesline, easily led by any and all winds around him. For this reason people without spiritual discipline can be unpredictable (led by their ever-changing emotions), lacking in personal ethics (led by a debilitating desire for control, honor or wealth), gullible (under the direction of anyone with an aggressive sense of self) and unreliable (one moment they are frightened by challenges in life, then overly cocky at other times).

Since ancient times African communities have relied on priests to be examples and teachers of advanced character. This spiritually evolved behavior radiates and bathes others in a positive spiritual energy, as well as teaches a more productive way of living to the non-initiated.

Using a modern example, let’s look at computer technology. There is a vast amount of technology being developed and used daily. Those that discover and master the use of this technology pass down it down to the rest of us in small and controlled amounts, teaching us how to use it over time. This is what priests do. They cultivate spiritual sciences and then them on to the masses, thereby improving the condition of humanity. But we all know there are some computer scientists that are better than others, so it stands to reason that there is great variety and quality in the resulting technology that is shared with the rest of the world. So we must remember that a priestly initiate that possesses poor spiritual discipline becomes a poor student and a worst elder that has little Ase (spiritual power) on tap for healing and teaching others. It is the duty of priestly initiates to fight emotional wavering and the Ajogun6 that plague and hold back the progress of humanity. Self-Mastery among priests results in eventual self-mastery among the masses.

Western society will not admit that education by itself cannot bring success in life. But in reality, without spiritual discipline the average person is powerless to balance their urges with what they know to be correct. Consequently, people fabricate complicated and faulty reasoning to protect their reckless behavior. As a result of this rationalizing craze that has beset humanity; a common argument is that society must protect individual rights to choose over the community’s greater duty to protect life. There are many examples of this conflict between desire and knowledge.

Let’s look at a few examples in the areas of health:

(A) Smokers are aware that cigarettes are addictive and cause lung cancer (which has no cure) and contain chemicals like nicotine, fiberglass, and ammonia, yet they continue to smoke. Some fight for the right to smoke in public places and around children and pregnant women because this is easier than gaining control over their actions, although they are aware their activity places others at risk. They also expect their employers to give them time and space to so they can smoke throughout their workday.

(B) While it is common knowledge among meat producers, doctors and governments that eating too much red meat can be harmful to ones health, corporate-owned mega-farms and medical associations purposely mislead people to believe that meat is their safest and most reliable source of protein (which is untrue) and hide the role that heavy meat eating plays in making people sick.7 Renegade doctors are threatened with legal action and professional sabotage when they speak out publicly about meat consumption. Although the people that run and support the meat industry were probably taught as children to be kind to others, they were socialized as adults to put money before values if they want to achieve success in business. Somehow these businessmen, farmers, doctors and government officials do not see the subtle evil in such actions, but choose instead to focus on the short-term economic and political benefits of protecting the meat industry.

(C) Although every major health organization in the world has declared the spread of HIV/AIDS to be a worldwide emergency, most people continue to use sex as a recreational activity, explaining away their sex behavior as an “uncontrollable urge of nature” that cannot be suppressed, even in the face of death! Music, movies and television are permitted to encourage sexual behavior outside of long-term relationships. These mediums also mock people that choose to save themselves for marriage. Even so-called religious leaders lack the courage to explain the urgency of celibacy and the dangers of promiscuity8 in the midst of one of most deadly diseases of our time. Instead they opt to join secular groups in teaching children about “safe sex”, although there is no form of contraception that can guarantee full protection from sexually transmitted diseases! In this way society has stated that even if it means dieing it will continue to condone “sexual freedom” and the right to individual choice.

In each of these three examples we see that people knowingly taking part in activities that will hurt them or others. Yet, if we asked anyone what he or she wanted most in life they would probably respond: happiness. They would tell us that they want to be free of disease, stress, poverty, violence and depression. But what else can their actions guaranteed them but all the things they wish to avoid most? We can logically assume that a lack of discipline, an overly lenient society and ignorance of spiritual law leads them astray.

In contrast, every priestly initiate should strive to master and pass on the art of spiritual discipline to others. Many of the practices that form, build and strengthen our discipline can be summarized in the following list.

  • Service to Mind – Meditation & the Creative Arts
  • Service to Spirit – Worship & Prayer
  • Service to Community – Social Services
  • Service to Earth – Conservation, Horticulture & Agriculture
  • Service to Body – Medicine, Nutrition, Exercise, Physical Conditioning

By reintroducing and compelling our fellow Ab’Orisa to be serious about spiritual discipline we take one small step in introducing modern society to true civilization, which can only be honestly measured by the values that society upholds, the condition of our environment, the health of our bodies and relationships and how much emphasis it places on mastery of the person and elevation of the true Self.

This was an excerpt from upcoming book: Iyaworaje: Ensuring that the Newness and Vibrancy of Orisa’Ifa Priesthood Initiation Remains Strong


  1. Building Bridges and Barricades, Afe Adogame, Marburg Journal of Religion 1998
  2. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
  3. One might argue that balance and attunement are the same concept.
  4. Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, pg 46
  5. Your physical identity is a temporary condition that is only true for the moment. Your spiritual identity is everlasting and when in control chooses with emotions and behavior are appropriate for a chosen moment.
  6. Also known as igbaa ‘mole ojukosi (two hundred supernatural forces of the left) these entities are regarded as the Warriors against Man. These spiritual entities are known by modern people simply as emotions or actions like Iku (death), Arun (disease), Ofo (loss), Egba (paralysis), Oran (big trouble/ catastrophe), Epe (curse), Ewon (imprisonment), and Ese (human afflictions). But they are real Spiritual Beings with identity and are capable of the intent to harm or hold back humans.
  7. Meat eating is linked to obesity, cancer, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and aggressive behavior.
  8. A spiritual cord is created between people that have sexual intercourse; this cord is lengthened to include all of their prior partners. These individuals share both negative and positive energy through this web of connections, in the same way that they risk being exposed to every sexually transmitted disease contracted by their partner or any of their previous partners. These complex connections create confusion, jealousy, increased lust and the rapid spread of disease.

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Oshun Banke' Says:

    I’m not a priestess this excerpt is so true and amazing and hits me like a ton of bricks…

    Is the book available yet??

  2. Norman Says:

    I will like to know if there’s any traditional African Spiritual or yoruba centers in Los Angeles area.

    Thank you.

  3. Admin Says:

    There are. Please check the Temple Directory. But, be advised there are plenty more than what’s listed. You may need to ask around a bit.

  4. Admin Says:

    Not yet. Working on hard on it though. lol

  5. Olori Oyadele Says:

    Ase Baba…PREACH! It is about time the truth is told. Ase to your wisdom and adupe for sharing o! ire o……

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