Saturday, November 17, 2018

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Elections 2019: factors and projections by Edwin Madunagu

http://www.chidoonumah.com/elections-2019-factors-and-projections/




Regards,
Chido Onumah

Coordinator, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL: www.africmil.org)



Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Mystical Journeys in Lagos: Ogboni Mysticism in Urban Space : A Philosophy of Peregrination: Photo Essay

Thanks Cornelius.

Thanks for the links on Ibn Arabi. You have done me a great service.  They point one to further understanding of the inimitable master's perspective on embodied spirituality, possibly suggesting that, like he encountered the Youth at the Kaaba, the geographical heart of Islam, within whose Youth's 'cobblestoned form' he discerned the structure of the cosmos, as described in the Futuhat al Mahakiya, The Meccan Illuminations, one may also approach him as an initiator into the feminine form as a revelator of such sublime architectonics as well as into amorous and erotic relations with the feminine as an entry into the unity of the Ultimate.

What was Ibn Arabi's relationship with the Lady Nizam who inspired the Tajuman Al Ashaq? What was her age? 

The literature on Arabi I have read so far does not indicate their having any relationship nor does it mention her age, instead describing her in terms of an adult. I would like to arrive at the full story. 

Whatever the facts may be, the poetry inspired by her  is unbeatable in my experience of poetry across cultures and temporal periods, the master's imagination and his linguistic wizardry occupying a unique place in the pantheon of word masters. Happily, I stumbled on Nicholson's  translation for 50p in a charity shop in Mill Road, Cambridge, a repository in treasures in cheap second hand books, a priceless text even though there also exist free online versions.

On extremist Islam, I live in SW Nigeria where Muslims dont believe they should attack or kill you in defense of their views, either about Islam, politics or anything else.

thanks

toyin


On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 at 23:53, Cornelius Hamelberg <corneliushamelberg@gmail.com> wrote:

Toyin,

If we are still operating in the realm of words, then hopefully this discussion is not going to go much further.

Ibn Arabi still has his own unique position, not least of all for falling in love with a thirteen year old girl Nizam whilst on pilgrimage in Mecca and possibly in that connection the famous statement in his "The Meccan Revelations" that "sexual union is the highest state of spiritual contemplation"

As you may recall, Peter Lamborn Wilson dilates on this aspect of Arabi in his " The Anti- Caliph : Ibn 'Arabi, Inner Wisdom, and the Heretic Tradition " Needless to say, Ibn Arabi is not universally acclaimed or loved by Islamic legalists.

For those of us who are neither philosophers of the Kalam nor poets stationed in various realms about which or from which they supposedly , usually speak, Claude Addas' Quest for the Red Sulphur was sufficiently insightful about Arabi's world.

Many years ago, accompanied by my comely Iranian lady friend Mitra I went to see an Iranian theatre-dance group from Paris put on Omar Khayyam's The Rubaiyat , mostly to satisfy my curiosity about how they were going to show us some of the wine of astonishment. It was very colourful and opulent display ( reminded me a little about the Purim Festival, people relaxing in their couches...

A word to the wise : Still in the realm of words, in this world of cause and effect, in which no amount of philosophical speculation is likely to save one's ass, I think that you understood me correctly about being circumspect about what you say about the Prophet of Islam ( S.A.W.)


On Friday, 16 November 2018 22:08:18 UTC+1, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju wrote:
Thanks, Cornelius.

I state in the essay that those are the words of Ibn Arabi.

There is a strain  of Islamic mysticism that sees the divine in the human being, as summed up by, among others,   Cyrus Ali Zargar's Sufi Aesthetics : Beauty,  Love, and the Human Form in the Writings of Ibn 'Arabi and 'Iraqi:

"In this study Zargar responds to a long-standing debate in the study of Sufi [ Islamic mysticism]  poetics over the use of erotic language to describe the divine. He argues that such language results from an altered perception of Muslim mystics in which divine beauty and human beauty are seen as one reality".   

Omid Safi, writing in another context in  "On the "Path of Love" Towards the Divine: A Journey with Muslim Mystics" ,  sums up the perceptual world Zagar studies:

"...these Sufis demonstrated a particular fascination, even obsession, with beauty ( jamal ) as the paramount manifestation of the Beloved. This often led them to envisage particular humans as manifestations ( tajalli ) of the Divine, though not in the sense of incarnations, which they dismissed as hulul . They would also see many Divine manifestations in the natural realm: a rose could be a reminder of Divine Glory, the beauty mark on a beloved's face a reminder of Divine Unity. [ They thus explored] the consequences of God being revealed in phenomenal beings, including of course humanity".

One  should note, though, that Ibn Arabi does not equate the beauty of the woman's legs with the Torah. He likens that beauty to that of the Torah, simile, likelihood, metaphoric correlation,  being different from ontological identification.


Thus, we may have this reworking and expansion  by me of your adaptation of Arabi's lines:

The smooth surface of her legs is like the Quran in brightness

I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were the one met by the angel in the cave, blessed be he

the  luminosities soaring from the rhythm of her feet  configure my brain as the cleft in the rock spoken of by the illumined one

within the cleft a lamp

within the lamp a light 

neither of the East nor of the West  

light upon light


'the one met by the angel in the cave' alludes to Muhammed's visit from the angel Gabriel, who began Muhammed's  writing of the Koran by dictating the opening lines to him.


'the illumined one' is Muhammed, illumined by the divine revelations, including the Koranic  "Sura an-Nur" quoted below,  from which  I have adapted the image of 'the cleft in the rock', an image also alluding to God, in the Bible,  telling Moses, in response to the latter's request to see the face of God, that the divine one would hide him within the cleft of a rock and pass by, so that shielded from the full, destructive blaze of the divine glory, Moses would at least see the divine one's back, a passage thus generating an image employable for a vantage point that enables insight into divine being while protecting the self from the unmediated glory of the transcendent essence, the dangers of such unfiltered revelation dramatised by the Greek god Zeus' appearance, on her request,  to his human lover, in his true form, upon which she was burnt to ashes.


The cleft in the rock in these lines therefore evokes the divine presence in the human self, embodied by that self as the divine presence is encased within a lamp, the lamp within a niche, as the Koranic lines depict,  yet, in terms of the Biblical allusion in the background, this presence is not experienced in its full glory by the self it animates, perhaps because such totalistic revelation is impossible, the essence of the divine identity being best appreciated, according to apophatic religious thought, as an unmanifest  zone of possibility, as put in Dion Fortune's  development of Kabala, the safety of that self in  approaching that ultimacy being best conducted in terms of stages it can readily assimilate.



My expansion of your adaptation of Ibn Arabi's lines adapts  the Quranic  Sura an-Nur quoted below from the Wikipeda page on the Sura and slightly edited by me  :


Allah is  Light 
a niche within which is a lamp,
the lamp within glass

the glass a glittering star,

Lit from the oil of a blessed olive tree,
Neither of the east nor of the west,
Whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire.
Light upon light.
Allah guides to His light whom He wills.
 Allah is Knowing of all things.

the light of the heavens and of the earth

— Translation by Sahih International



Arabi evokes the Torah and Moses, not the Quran and Muhammed, though he is a Muslim, in the spirit represented by other lines in the same text, in which he not only subsumes within his catholicising sensibilities, the Abrahamic tradition, in which the Tora and its writer Moses are primal manifestations of divine dynamism,  but all expressions of quest for the divine: 

"O marvel! a garden amidst fires!

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,

 And a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Ka'ba and the tables of the Tora and the book of the Koran.

I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and my faith".


Those who claim a monopoly of right interpretation and practice in Islam, and particularly those who wish to kill others in the name of this monopoly, or to defend Allah, who is untainted by human belief and action,  by killing in the name of Allah, should learn from their Abrahamic brethren, the  Christians, who left such behavior behind in the European Middle ages of centuries ago.





On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 at 15:31, Cornelius Hamelberg <cornelius...@gmail.com> wrote:

Oluwtoyin Vincent Adepoju

You have to be very careful, especially because you happen to be sitting there, either in the darkness or in the morning light, writing this:

"The smooth surface of her legs is like the Tora in brightness, and I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were Moses"

I strongly advice you to please not get carried with any excess zeal, just because you delight in that kind of metaphor. You should know better than me at least, that in your flight of fancy you cannot re-wire your head to re-word your enthusiasm and achieve an official death sentence thereby via an Islamic fatwa or a warrant for your arrest . I suppose that your best friends ( Northern Hegemony / Innocent Fulani Herdsmen/Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association could also put a contract out on your head for writing ( in the name of comparative whatever) that

"The smooth surface of her legs is like the Quran in brightness, and I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were Muhammad"

I give this good advice bearing in mind a very fundamental reaction experienced in Nigeria and known as The Miss World riots 2002


On Friday, 16 November 2018 09:37:18 UTC+1, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju wrote:
                                                                             Mystical Journeys in Lagos

                                                                         Ogboni Mysticism in Urban Space

                                                                           A Philosophy of Peregrination
                                                                            
                                                                                         Photo Essay


                                                                                Text and Pictures by 
                                                                           Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju

                                                                                                             Compcros

                                                                             Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems

                                                            "Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge"

                                                                                                                 and                                                                                                                  

                                                                             
                                                                       VISUAL10-001.jpg


                                                                                           The Greater Ogboni Fraternity

                                                                                                 Earth, Humanity, Cosmos


                                                                                                  Abstract
An exploration of defining ideas of the Yoruba origin Ogboni esoteric order in terms of sights of Nigeria's commercial and cultural capital, Lagos.
                                                                                      


Ogboni mysticism  consists in adapting the Earth and humanity centred thought of  Ogboni in pursuit of  union with ultimate reality. Ogboni mysticism in urban space is the correlation of Ogboni thought with the human and physical nexus of urban existence, seeking ultimate meaning, aspiring to  ultimate cognitive integration,  the unity of understanding fusing all coordinates of knowledge, what is known and the one who knows, through the most seemingly mundane experiences of urban life.

Taking pleasure in walking as recreation, I observe the sphericality of the pellucid blue of the sky as it arcs to form the horizon, seeming to touch the Earth, taking my mind to Babatunde Lawal's image from Yoruba cosmology of sky and Earth as two halves of Igba Iwa, the Calabash of Existence, symbolizing the totality of being in its interpenetration of diverse dimensions,  the interior of this calabash, integrating ideas from Ogboni thought and from Ifa, another Yoruba   knowledge system, consisting of  intersecting lines forming a quadrant, the four sections of which contain mud, chalk, charcoal and dust, natural substances evoking central aspects of human life, each associated with a divine identity over which supervenes the matrix from which these personalities emerge, Iya Agba, the venerable aged woman.

For me, each moment is a revelation of unique beauty at the intersection of consciousness and the world, each sight, each encounter, an embryo of possibility through which the landscape of experience could be suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning in the sky of consciousness, hence I treasure each moment, each exposure to the unevenness of  the Lagos  economy represented by a partially broken wall beside which runs water from what might be a burst pipe, the earthen ground beside the wall strewn with rubbish, but the view into the myriad motions of my fellow humans, in vehicles and on foot, afforded by the gap in the wall, becoming for me like the sight suddenly glimpsed of the ocean beyond as one bends to wash one's hands at a bowl of water before entering the tea room in a Japanese garden, thus reminding the viewer of the relationship between the water in the bowl and the ocean beyond and thus of the connection between oneself and the universe, an image I  celebrate through a line  which quotes one of my favorite writers in Yoruba thought, from Awo Falokun Fatunmbi's translation of "Oríkì Òrúnmìlà : Praising the Spirit of Destiny" [ or The Spirit of Understanding of the Matrix of Possibilities Within a Cosmic Nexus], and in the next line, modeled after the Fatunmbi  translation , an aspiration to the opening of the mind to creatively unconventional vistas.

The second image reflects, in terms of her elegance as evoking an exquisite bird in flight,  on the picture of a woman met by chance on the Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos street where I took the first two pictures on a Sunday morning walk, the avian image complemented by quotes in  the next two lines from the Tarjuman Al-Ashwaq, the Interpreter of Desires,  by the Islamic mystic and thinker Ibn Arabi, as translated by Reynold Nicholson. The beauty and power of Arabi's lines consists in the cognitive shock it delivers through its combination of evocative scope with allusive and structural concentration, qualities amplified through the visual  anchor created by the picture in its concretisation of the poetic lines about a woman walking. 
                                                                                                                                            
                                               
                                                                                                            
                                             20181104_112444 (2).jpg
                    
           
                                                     Ayan ile ni awo egbe ile, ekolo rogodo ni awo ominile
                            Near the crack in the wall where the elders meet, Peace ascended to Heaven and did not return                                                 At the crack in the wall where the elders converge, illumination descended upon me and did not depart
                                

                                                                  
                                                                                                                
                                                             20181104_120334 (2).jpg
                                                                                                          
                                                             

                                                                                          Egret in Flight
 When she walks on the glass pavement thou seest a sun on a celestial sphere in the bosom of Idris

The smooth surface of her legs is like the Tora in brightness, and I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were Moses
     The smooth surface of her legs is like the Quran in brightness

     I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were the one met by the angel in the cave, blessed be he

     the  luminosities soaring from the rhythm of her feet  configure my brain as the cleft in the rock spoken of by the illumined    

     one

     within the cleft a lamp

      within the lamp a light 

       neither of the East nor of the West  

       light upon light




The sphere of superlative beauty is used by Arabi  in another of his works  in evoking the unity of existence. The convergence of images of glass, the sun and the celestial, in relation to the sphere, intensify its transcendent beauty, further reinforced by the sphere being found in the bosom of the exalted human  identity existing within a divine realm that is the ancient philosopher and prophet  Idris, this combination suggesting an apprehension of an ultimate unifying principle represented by the sphere.

The texture of the skin of the legs of the woman referred to in the poetic lines  is likened to the illumination emanating from a primal manifestation of God in the Abrahamic religious tradition, the Tora, better known as "Torah", a text central for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Light, in terms of the colour luminosities of human skin, is conjoined with the spiritual and cognitive illumination emerging from that textual embodiment of divine wisdom.

A material, though non-concrete reality, light and its relationship with colour in the context of the human body, is thus fused with the abstraction represented by the  knowledge and inspiration coming from a holy text. The writer proceeds to amplify this startling conjunction of contraries through presenting himself as walking in the woman's  footsteps, a walk, that, since it is a demonstration of sensitivity to the divine illumination, is akin to the discipleship with the divine demonstrated by one of the central founders of the Abrahamic lineage, Moses, understood as the divinely inspired  writer of the Torah. 

 
                                                                                                      
                                                                  20180619_180231 (4).jpg


A snake of traffic, a curvaceous woman buying yams from a wheelbarrow carting seller on the road as a yellow "keke napep" taxi passes, cars climbing from under the Opebi/Oregun link bridge in Lagos. An ordinary day but a day, a moment, in which everything is special, as one's sensitivity to the beauty and miracle of existence expands, one's keenness sharpened to the long evolutionary train that has led us here, awareness inflamed to the complex of cosmological features that makes possible homo sapiens and our existence on Earth, possibilities encapsulated in this moment, a fortunate convergence of actualised potential in the absence of which there would be nothing-non-existence, instead of something-the cosmos, where we live, "ile iwa", the house of being.

                 
                                                                                                                                                 
                         20181107_182306 (3).jpg

All possibilities of existence, in as much as they are engaged through human consciousness in its enablement by Earth,
are subsumed by Ogboni

                                        
                           20181108_071519 (2).jpg


At the intersection of being and becoming, the voices of the night spoke to me.The movement of the clouds and the expanse of the sky are the depths of my mind. At the intersection of what is, what was and what may be, there I stand. The sky : the template of possibilities. The movement of the clouds : the patterns  exploring those possibilities. Look into these  forms and ask your questions, the answers  emerging in whispers  of the mind. 
                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                   

                         20181111_163442 (5).jpg

 Wedding of  Nollywood, Nigerian Film Industry,  Stars Linda Ejiofor and Ibrahim Suleiman on 11th Nov. 2018  at   Jhalobia        Recreation Park and Gardens, 67 Murtala Muhammed  International Airport Road Lagos 

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                  
Various schools of thought  use  a particular vantage point as a pivot in developing an understanding of the unity of being. This could be an idea, a structure of ideas, an image or even a sound, as in the OM of Hinduism. 

An image that serves such a purpose in Ogboni thought is that of the male and female couple, represented in terms of a sculptural pair known as edan ogboni, both understood as "iya", mother, the primal progenitor that is Earth, the enabler and framework of  human existence as it can be universally attested to.

The atmospheric envelope represented by the sky and  central to protecting life on Earth, constitutes, along with the terrestrial form of the Earth,  a unified system understood in classical Yoruba thought as imaging the unity of contraries that constitutes the totality of being.

This terrestrial/ celestial balance is itself made possible by a confluence of cosmological factors, from the nurturing power of the sun to the influence of the moon, along with the laws of space, time and energy that enables the entire configuration within which this cosmological complex exists.

These complementary oppositions are subsumed in terms of  the male and female couple represented by edan ogboni, as these ideas may be developed from Babatunde Lawal's  outline of Ogboni symbolism of the couple in  "

À Yà Gbó, À Yà Tó

: New Perspectives on Edan Ogboni" and of the significance of binary unity in terms of earth/sky conjunction in relation to ultimate being in Yoruba thought in his " Èjìwàpò: The Dialectics of Twoness in Yoruba Culture".




                                                                                               
                             20181111_173850 (2).jpg

Both men and women, taken individually, have also been interpreted as pivots of the unity of existence. I don't recall taking this picture at the Ejiofor and Suleiman wedding, the memory most likely encased in other actions of mine I recall more clearly. The spontaneous pose, foregrounding  the carefully groomed hair and face, her  hands meeting in a composed steeple  as she leans on the table with a look both alluring and contemplative, and which, most likely drew my attention, recalls for me various interpretations of feminine presence in terms of what Abhinavagupta describes in his Tantraloka as a flash of lightning from the dancing body of Bhairava, his words evoking the suddenness in which something visually striking may emerge through human action, all dynamism, in his school of thought within Hinduism, being an expression of the creative activity of the feminine dynamic within the masculine foundation known as Bhairava.

Self-possession,  expressed in outward poise, external stillness dramatizing the vibrance of the mind, consciousness centred in  recognition of itself, of one's identity as an individual existent, in relation to the world outside oneself, these are the qualities expressed for me by the careful composure of the woman centred in this picture, values enhanced by her exquisite grooming and classical features.

The memory of the Hindu correlation of its central version of the masculine and feminine couple as the pivot of existence, the deities, Siva and Sakti,  with psychological qualities, consciousness and the self recognition of consciousness, helps me appreciate the psychological values of  this image from the wedding.

Ogboni iconography also blends the masculine and feminine in terms of the feminine, thereby subsuming, to a degree, both polarities within one polarity, in terms of fully bearded women holding ripe breasts or suckling infants.

Beautiful as the lady in the picture is, who can say what the range of her personality is? Along with the sensual feminine grace she so carefully cultivates and projects, what other kinds of power could she also demonstrate?


Returning home after my peregrinations within Lagos, I withdrew into my study and composed myself to explore the meaning of my experience, explorations  from which this essay has emerged. 

Beyond these concrete images, I reflected, is it possible to concisely encapsulate these insights of the conjunction between Ogboni or Ogboni related thought and encounters within the streets and venues of Lagos? What image, for example, could subsume my experience, feeding on the sensory data taking shape before my eyes but also processing it in terms of abstract knowledge, facts experienced and lived through, but also transmuted though the fire of mind in search of the unity of all coordinates in terms of the calabash of totality where the poles are united with the equator, all axes conjoined, knowledge travelling between human and spatial dynamisms and my physical and cognitive mobilities, integrating the expressions quoted here from German Jewish thinker Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project as presented at a depiction of a concept made famous by the French writer Charles Baudelaire,  "Flâneur-A Person Who Walks the City in Order to Experience It" in correlation with Mazisisi Kunene's summation of classical Zulu philosophy in his Anthem of the Decades,  something I can meditate on in my aspirations to seek a platform from which to unify my own quest for the unity of existence, something possibly more basic, requiring less effort to recall and visualize than the rich modelling of edan ogboni?








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Friday, November 16, 2018

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Mystical Journeys in Lagos: Ogboni Mysticism in Urban Space : A Philosophy of Peregrination: Photo Essay

Toyin,

If we are still operating in the realm of words, then hopefully this discussion is not going to go much further.

Ibn Arabi still has his own unique position, not least of all for falling in love with a thirteen year old girl Nizam whilst on pilgrimage in Mecca and possibly in that connection the famous statement in his "The Meccan Revelations" that "sexual union is the highest state of spiritual contemplation"

As you may recall, Peter Lamborn Wilson dilates on this aspect of Arabi in his " The Anti- Caliph : Ibn 'Arabi, Inner Wisdom, and the Heretic Tradition " Needless to say, Ibn Arabi is not universally acclaimed or loved by Islamic legalists.

For those of us who are neither philosophers of the Kalam nor poets stationed in various realms about which or from which they supposedly , usually speak, Claude Addas' Quest for the Red Sulphur was sufficiently insightful about Arabi's world.

Many years ago, accompanied by my comely Iranian lady friend Mitra I went to see an Iranian theatre-dance group from Paris put on Omar Khayyam's The Rubaiyat , mostly to satisfy my curiosity about how they were going to show us some of the wine of astonishment. It was very colourful and opulent display ( reminded me a little about the Purim Festival, people relaxing in their couches...

A word to the wise : Still in the realm of words, in this world of cause and effect, in which no amount of philosophical speculation is likely to save one's ass, I think that you understood me correctly about being circumspect about what you say about the Prophet of Islam ( S.A.W.)


On Friday, 16 November 2018 22:08:18 UTC+1, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju wrote:
Thanks, Cornelius.

I state in the essay that those are the words of Ibn Arabi.

There is a strain  of Islamic mysticism that sees the divine in the human being, as summed up by, among others,   Cyrus Ali Zargar's Sufi Aesthetics : Beauty,  Love, and the Human Form in the Writings of Ibn 'Arabi and 'Iraqi:

"In this study Zargar responds to a long-standing debate in the study of Sufi [ Islamic mysticism]  poetics over the use of erotic language to describe the divine. He argues that such language results from an altered perception of Muslim mystics in which divine beauty and human beauty are seen as one reality".   

Omid Safi, writing in another context in  "On the "Path of Love" Towards the Divine: A Journey with Muslim Mystics" ,  sums up the perceptual world Zagar studies:

"...these Sufis demonstrated a particular fascination, even obsession, with beauty ( jamal ) as the paramount manifestation of the Beloved. This often led them to envisage particular humans as manifestations ( tajalli ) of the Divine, though not in the sense of incarnations, which they dismissed as hulul . They would also see many Divine manifestations in the natural realm: a rose could be a reminder of Divine Glory, the beauty mark on a beloved's face a reminder of Divine Unity. [ They thus explored] the consequences of God being revealed in phenomenal beings, including of course humanity".

One  should note, though, that Ibn Arabi does not equate the beauty of the woman's legs with the Torah. He likens that beauty to that of the Torah, simile, likelihood, metaphoric correlation,  being different from ontological identification.


Thus, we may have this reworking and expansion  by me of your adaptation of Arabi's lines:

The smooth surface of her legs is like the Quran in brightness

I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were the one met by the angel in the cave, blessed be he

the  luminosities soaring from the rhythm of her feet  configure my brain as the cleft in the rock spoken of by the illumined one

within the cleft a lamp

within the lamp a light 

neither of the East nor of the West  

light upon light


'the one met by the angel in the cave' alludes to Muhammed's visit from the angel Gabriel, who began Muhammed's  writing of the Koran by dictating the opening lines to him.


'the illumined one' is Muhammed, illumined by the divine revelations, including the Koranic  "Sura an-Nur" quoted below,  from which  I have adapted the image of 'the cleft in the rock', an image also alluding to God, in the Bible,  telling Moses, in response to the latter's request to see the face of God, that the divine one would hide him within the cleft of a rock and pass by, so that shielded from the full, destructive blaze of the divine glory, Moses would at least see the divine one's back, a passage thus generating an image employable for a vantage point that enables insight into divine being while protecting the self from the unmediated glory of the transcendent essence, the dangers of such unfiltered revelation dramatised by the Greek god Zeus' appearance, on her request,  to his human lover, in his true form, upon which she was burnt to ashes.


The cleft in the rock in these lines therefore evokes the divine presence in the human self, embodied by that self as the divine presence is encased within a lamp, the lamp within a niche, as the Koranic lines depict,  yet, in terms of the Biblical allusion in the background, this presence is not experienced in its full glory by the self it animates, perhaps because such totalistic revelation is impossible, the essence of the divine identity being best appreciated, according to apophatic religious thought, as an unmanifest  zone of possibility, as put in Dion Fortune's  development of Kabala, the safety of that self in  approaching that ultimacy being best conducted in terms of stages it can readily assimilate.



My expansion of your adaptation of Ibn Arabi's lines adapts  the Quranic  Sura an-Nur quoted below from the Wikipeda page on the Sura and slightly edited by me  :


Allah is  Light 
a niche within which is a lamp,
the lamp within glass

the glass a glittering star,

Lit from the oil of a blessed olive tree,
Neither of the east nor of the west,
Whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire.
Light upon light.
Allah guides to His light whom He wills.
 Allah is Knowing of all things.

the light of the heavens and of the earth

— Translation by Sahih International



Arabi evokes the Torah and Moses, not the Quran and Muhammed, though he is a Muslim, in the spirit represented by other lines in the same text, in which he not only subsumes within his catholicising sensibilities, the Abrahamic tradition, in which the Tora and its writer Moses are primal manifestations of divine dynamism,  but all expressions of quest for the divine: 

"O marvel! a garden amidst fires!

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,

 And a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Ka'ba and the tables of the Tora and the book of the Koran.

I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and my faith".


Those who claim a monopoly of right interpretation and practice in Islam, and particularly those who wish to kill others in the name of this monopoly, or to defend Allah, who is untainted by human belief and action,  by killing in the name of Allah, should learn from their Abrahamic brethren, the  Christians, who left such behavior behind in the European Middle ages of centuries ago.





On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 at 15:31, Cornelius Hamelberg <cornelius...@gmail.com> wrote:

Oluwtoyin Vincent Adepoju

You have to be very careful, especially because you happen to be sitting there, either in the darkness or in the morning light, writing this:

"The smooth surface of her legs is like the Tora in brightness, and I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were Moses"

I strongly advice you to please not get carried with any excess zeal, just because you delight in that kind of metaphor. You should know better than me at least, that in your flight of fancy you cannot re-wire your head to re-word your enthusiasm and achieve an official death sentence thereby via an Islamic fatwa or a warrant for your arrest . I suppose that your best friends ( Northern Hegemony / Innocent Fulani Herdsmen/Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association could also put a contract out on your head for writing ( in the name of comparative whatever) that

"The smooth surface of her legs is like the Quran in brightness, and I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were Muhammad"

I give this good advice bearing in mind a very fundamental reaction experienced in Nigeria and known as The Miss World riots 2002


On Friday, 16 November 2018 09:37:18 UTC+1, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju wrote:
                                                                             Mystical Journeys in Lagos

                                                                         Ogboni Mysticism in Urban Space

                                                                           A Philosophy of Peregrination
                                                                            
                                                                                         Photo Essay


                                                                                Text and Pictures by 
                                                                           Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju

                                                                                                             Compcros

                                                                             Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems

                                                            "Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge"

                                                                                                                 and                                                                                                                  

                                                                             
                                                                       VISUAL10-001.jpg


                                                                                           The Greater Ogboni Fraternity

                                                                                                 Earth, Humanity, Cosmos


                                                                                                  Abstract
An exploration of defining ideas of the Yoruba origin Ogboni esoteric order in terms of sights of Nigeria's commercial and cultural capital, Lagos.
                                                                                      


Ogboni mysticism  consists in adapting the Earth and humanity centred thought of  Ogboni in pursuit of  union with ultimate reality. Ogboni mysticism in urban space is the correlation of Ogboni thought with the human and physical nexus of urban existence, seeking ultimate meaning, aspiring to  ultimate cognitive integration,  the unity of understanding fusing all coordinates of knowledge, what is known and the one who knows, through the most seemingly mundane experiences of urban life.

Taking pleasure in walking as recreation, I observe the sphericality of the pellucid blue of the sky as it arcs to form the horizon, seeming to touch the Earth, taking my mind to Babatunde Lawal's image from Yoruba cosmology of sky and Earth as two halves of Igba Iwa, the Calabash of Existence, symbolizing the totality of being in its interpenetration of diverse dimensions,  the interior of this calabash, integrating ideas from Ogboni thought and from Ifa, another Yoruba   knowledge system, consisting of  intersecting lines forming a quadrant, the four sections of which contain mud, chalk, charcoal and dust, natural substances evoking central aspects of human life, each associated with a divine identity over which supervenes the matrix from which these personalities emerge, Iya Agba, the venerable aged woman.

For me, each moment is a revelation of unique beauty at the intersection of consciousness and the world, each sight, each encounter, an embryo of possibility through which the landscape of experience could be suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning in the sky of consciousness, hence I treasure each moment, each exposure to the unevenness of  the Lagos  economy represented by a partially broken wall beside which runs water from what might be a burst pipe, the earthen ground beside the wall strewn with rubbish, but the view into the myriad motions of my fellow humans, in vehicles and on foot, afforded by the gap in the wall, becoming for me like the sight suddenly glimpsed of the ocean beyond as one bends to wash one's hands at a bowl of water before entering the tea room in a Japanese garden, thus reminding the viewer of the relationship between the water in the bowl and the ocean beyond and thus of the connection between oneself and the universe, an image I  celebrate through a line  which quotes one of my favorite writers in Yoruba thought, from Awo Falokun Fatunmbi's translation of "Oríkì Òrúnmìlà : Praising the Spirit of Destiny" [ or The Spirit of Understanding of the Matrix of Possibilities Within a Cosmic Nexus], and in the next line, modeled after the Fatunmbi  translation , an aspiration to the opening of the mind to creatively unconventional vistas.

The second image reflects, in terms of her elegance as evoking an exquisite bird in flight,  on the picture of a woman met by chance on the Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos street where I took the first two pictures on a Sunday morning walk, the avian image complemented by quotes in  the next two lines from the Tarjuman Al-Ashwaq, the Interpreter of Desires,  by the Islamic mystic and thinker Ibn Arabi, as translated by Reynold Nicholson. The beauty and power of Arabi's lines consists in the cognitive shock it delivers through its combination of evocative scope with allusive and structural concentration, qualities amplified through the visual  anchor created by the picture in its concretisation of the poetic lines about a woman walking. 
                                                                                                                                            
                                               
                                                                                                            
                                             20181104_112444 (2).jpg
                    
           
                                                     Ayan ile ni awo egbe ile, ekolo rogodo ni awo ominile
                            Near the crack in the wall where the elders meet, Peace ascended to Heaven and did not return                                                 At the crack in the wall where the elders converge, illumination descended upon me and did not depart
                                

                                                                  
                                                                                                                
                                                             20181104_120334 (2).jpg
                                                                                                          
                                                             

                                                                                          Egret in Flight
 When she walks on the glass pavement thou seest a sun on a celestial sphere in the bosom of Idris

The smooth surface of her legs is like the Tora in brightness, and I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were Moses
     The smooth surface of her legs is like the Quran in brightness

     I follow it and tread in its footsteps as though I were the one met by the angel in the cave, blessed be he

     the  luminosities soaring from the rhythm of her feet  configure my brain as the cleft in the rock spoken of by the illumined    

     one

     within the cleft a lamp

      within the lamp a light 

       neither of the East nor of the West  

       light upon light




The sphere of superlative beauty is used by Arabi  in another of his works  in evoking the unity of existence. The convergence of images of glass, the sun and the celestial, in relation to the sphere, intensify its transcendent beauty, further reinforced by the sphere being found in the bosom of the exalted human  identity existing within a divine realm that is the ancient philosopher and prophet  Idris, this combination suggesting an apprehension of an ultimate unifying principle represented by the sphere.

The texture of the skin of the legs of the woman referred to in the poetic lines  is likened to the illumination emanating from a primal manifestation of God in the Abrahamic religious tradition, the Tora, better known as "Torah", a text central for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Light, in terms of the colour luminosities of human skin, is conjoined with the spiritual and cognitive illumination emerging from that textual embodiment of divine wisdom.

A material, though non-concrete reality, light and its relationship with colour in the context of the human body, is thus fused with the abstraction represented by the  knowledge and inspiration coming from a holy text. The writer proceeds to amplify this startling conjunction of contraries through presenting himself as walking in the woman's  footsteps, a walk, that, since it is a demonstration of sensitivity to the divine illumination, is akin to the discipleship with the divine demonstrated by one of the central founders of the Abrahamic lineage, Moses, understood as the divinely inspired  writer of the Torah. 

 
                                                                                                      
                                                                  20180619_180231 (4).jpg


A snake of traffic, a curvaceous woman buying yams from a wheelbarrow carting seller on the road as a yellow "keke napep" taxi passes, cars climbing from under the Opebi/Oregun link bridge in Lagos. An ordinary day but a day, a moment, in which everything is special, as one's sensitivity to the beauty and miracle of existence expands, one's keenness sharpened to the long evolutionary train that has led us here, awareness inflamed to the complex of cosmological features that makes possible homo sapiens and our existence on Earth, possibilities encapsulated in this moment, a fortunate convergence of actualised potential in the absence of which there would be nothing-non-existence, instead of something-the cosmos, where we live, "ile iwa", the house of being.

                 
                                                                                                                                                 
                         20181107_182306 (3).jpg

All possibilities of existence, in as much as they are engaged through human consciousness in its enablement by Earth,
are subsumed by Ogboni

                                        
                           20181108_071519 (2).jpg


At the intersection of being and becoming, the voices of the night spoke to me.The movement of the clouds and the expanse of the sky are the depths of my mind. At the intersection of what is, what was and what may be, there I stand. The sky : the template of possibilities. The movement of the clouds : the patterns  exploring those possibilities. Look into these  forms and ask your questions, the answers  emerging in whispers  of the mind. 
                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                   

                         20181111_163442 (5).jpg

 Wedding of  Nollywood, Nigerian Film Industry,  Stars Linda Ejiofor and Ibrahim Suleiman on 11th Nov. 2018  at   Jhalobia        Recreation Park and Gardens, 67 Murtala Muhammed  International Airport Road Lagos 

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                  
Various schools of thought  use  a particular vantage point as a pivot in developing an understanding of the unity of being. This could be an idea, a structure of ideas, an image or even a sound, as in the OM of Hinduism. 

An image that serves such a purpose in Ogboni thought is that of the male and female couple, represented in terms of a sculptural pair known as edan ogboni, both understood as "iya", mother, the primal progenitor that is Earth, the enabler and framework of  human existence as it can be universally attested to.

The atmospheric envelope represented by the sky and  central to protecting life on Earth, constitutes, along with the terrestrial form of the Earth,  a unified system understood in classical Yoruba thought as imaging the unity of contraries that constitutes the totality of being.

This terrestrial/ celestial balance is itself made possible by a confluence of cosmological factors, from the nurturing power of the sun to the influence of the moon, along with the laws of space, time and energy that enables the entire configuration within which this cosmological complex exists.

These complementary oppositions are subsumed in terms of  the male and female couple represented by edan ogboni, as these ideas may be developed from Babatunde Lawal's  outline of Ogboni symbolism of the couple in  "

À Yà Gbó, À Yà Tó

: New Perspectives on Edan Ogboni" and of the significance of binary unity in terms of earth/sky conjunction in relation to ultimate being in Yoruba thought in his " Èjìwàpò: The Dialectics of Twoness in Yoruba Culture".




                                                                                               
                             20181111_173850 (2).jpg

Both men and women, taken individually, have also been interpreted as pivots of the unity of existence. I don't recall taking this picture at the Ejiofor and Suleiman wedding, the memory most likely encased in other actions of mine I recall more clearly. The spontaneous pose, foregrounding  the carefully groomed hair and face, her  hands meeting in a composed steeple  as she leans on the table with a look both alluring and contemplative, and which, most likely drew my attention, recalls for me various interpretations of feminine presence in terms of what Abhinavagupta describes in his Tantraloka as a flash of lightning from the dancing body of Bhairava, his words evoking the suddenness in which something visually striking may emerge through human action, all dynamism, in his school of thought within Hinduism, being an expression of the creative activity of the feminine dynamic within the masculine foundation known as Bhairava.

Self-possession,  expressed in outward poise, external stillness dramatizing the vibrance of the mind, consciousness centred in  recognition of itself, of one's identity as an individual existent, in relation to the world outside oneself, these are the qualities expressed for me by the careful composure of the woman centred in this picture, values enhanced by her exquisite grooming and classical features.

The memory of the Hindu correlation of its central version of the masculine and feminine couple as the pivot of existence, the deities, Siva and Sakti,  with psychological qualities, consciousness and the self recognition of consciousness, helps me appreciate the psychological values of  this image from the wedding.

Ogboni iconography also blends the masculine and feminine in terms of the feminine, thereby subsuming, to a degree, both polarities within one polarity, in terms of fully bearded women holding ripe breasts or suckling infants.

Beautiful as the lady in the picture is, who can say what the range of her personality is? Along with the sensual feminine grace she so carefully cultivates and projects, what other kinds of power could she also demonstrate?


Returning home after my peregrinations within Lagos, I withdrew into my study and composed myself to explore the meaning of my experience, explorations  from which this essay has emerged. 

Beyond these concrete images, I reflected, is it possible to concisely encapsulate these insights of the conjunction between Ogboni or Ogboni related thought and encounters within the streets and venues of Lagos? What image, for example, could subsume my experience, feeding on the sensory data taking shape before my eyes but also processing it in terms of abstract knowledge, facts experienced and lived through, but also transmuted though the fire of mind in search of the unity of all coordinates in terms of the calabash of totality where the poles are united with the equator, all axes conjoined, knowledge travelling between human and spatial dynamisms and my physical and cognitive mobilities, integrating the expressions quoted here from German Jewish thinker Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project as presented at a depiction of a concept made famous by the French writer Charles Baudelaire,  "Flâneur-A Person Who Walks the City in Order to Experience It" in correlation with Mazisisi Kunene's summation of classical Zulu philosophy in his Anthem of the Decades,  something I can meditate on in my aspirations to seek a platform from which to unify my own quest for the unity of existence, something possibly more basic, requiring less effort to recall and visualize than the rich modelling of edan ogboni?








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