In the penultimate message I hinted on reincarnation and entreated us to attempt to solve the riddle of Abiku/Ogbanje. We were to individually make recourse to the forebears to shed some light on the issue, if need be. Rather than being part of the inquisition, few response I got was that some scriptures didn’t support the idea, while some would rather I explain the mystery.
With this mindset, we would prefer information on it from someone else. Thus, we miss the vital point that information and knowledge are not synonymous. Information is an experience of the other person that we are trying hard to believe, while knowledge comes from direct experience. It elevates us beyond the level of assumption, which belief is.
Whatever information we receive is not our experience and so it is possible for us to be swayed by any other person on the same subject, particularly if such is sweet-mouthed. Because of this uncertainty, we are encouraged to do our own findings by experiencing what we are trying to understand and with direct experience, the whole world wouldn’t be able to change our perception of what we have experienced.
Man really knows not for being told. For a man to truly know he must be part of what he knows. Further to this, nothing or no word in the physical world can adequately explain some of the earthly phenomena talk less the inner world.
In 1 Corinthians 2 vs 9, it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard and neither enter into the heart of man what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him.”
The chapter plainly states how limited the spoken words are about inner spiritual occurrence. Without attempting to be vulgar, someone who never had experience of sex, what can anyone use to relate the experience to the fellow? Similarly, to someone who has been blind from birth, how do we explain colour to such?
The purpose of all these similes is for us to make attempt to elevate ourselves beyond information and go for direct experience, as only experience yields us true knowledge.
In the meantime, those who seek information on Abiku or Ogbanje are not alone. From time immemorial, there comes a time for every right thinking person, when the transient nature of worldly existence, with its manifold sufferings and sorrows capture our attention and we are compelled to seek answers to them. Least of them is Abiku or Ogbanje.
The truth is, mere reasoning and speculations have not helped much. It is obvious that our thought faculty cannot supply us a satisfactory answer when faced with perplexing questions about life.
Countless posers about the phenomenal world have baffled minds as profound as that of Socrates, Galileo, Aristotle, Alexander the Great and a host of others that had transversed the world. In this part of the world the list includes the Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who stood tall, head and shoulders, above his peers by devoting all his life to making life more abundant for his people. Yet, at the twilight of his lifespan, he was seeking for a book on life after death.
As we go on, attempt shall be made to explain Abiku or Ogbanje. They both pale among tougher questions of life such as:
How and why was the world created?
Why is the world so imperfect and open to criticism and abuse?
Where is so much misery and poverty across the land?
If God is good and all mercy, where did evil come from?
Why do we frequently have wars among Nations?
Is there a Satan?
Is everything managed by God?
Has man any say in his destiny?
Is there a soul and what happens to it before and after death?
Is this our present life, the beginning of our sojourning in this material world?
Is death the end of it all?
Or is there life after death?
Added to these are puzzles of free will, fate, predestination, volition and other knotty and complex questions that confound us daily, at the dawn of consciousness.
Furthermore, the concepts of God presented to man have been so contradictory and ill-defined. Due to these half-baked ideas, many rational individuals are beginning to revolt in disgust.
Sterile rituals, ceremonial prayers, parroting of scriptures, trekking to holy places and holy baths have ceased to satisfy our pining for Truth and Reality. To the man who uses a bit of intelligence, superficial worship has never appealed to him.
How can he, when Christ taught over 2000 years past in John 4 vs 20: “Our Fathers worshipped in this mountain, ye think Jerusalem is where to worship. Woman, the hour cometh when you need not go to any mountain, even to Jerusalem, for the true worshippers shall worship God in Spirit and in Truth.”
Despite this exhortation, have we stopped going to those “holy” places when affixing of JP to our names is deemed a religious achievement? Only in Nigeria though.
The crux of the matter as emphasised by Jesus is the ability to worship God in Spirit. In Truth could easily be realised through MORALITY.
This worship in Spirit is a different kettle of fish. It represents the only way for Redemption. In effect, any worship beside the worship of the Lord in Spirit is superficial, a scratch on the surface that takes us to no where.
The Bible contains a lot of spiritual gems and it takes highly evolved souls to identify them. To correlate the essence of worship in Spirit, the Messiah again declared in 1 Corinthians 3 vs 16 -17 that: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that’s what you are.”
We read this in the Bible but it seems we don’t really believe what Jesus said. If we did, we wouldn’t appreciate any man made temple than the temple of God Himself: The human body. In defence of man made temples, we are ready to kill humans – the temple of God for desecrating our brick and mortar temples.
In another vein, Jesus said: “Pull down this temple in three days I will put it up, but defile not your body, for ye are the temple of the living God.”
This underscores how sacred the temple of God – the body of man that we regard less than we do the stones, sand and cement we mixed together and refer to as Churches, Mosques, Gurdwara, Sanghats and by other names in different climates.
Also in concurrence, we read in Psalm 139: “Man is fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is either we equally don’t believe this statement or we haven’t really considered its true meaning. If we had, we would have inquired as to how man has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
Yet, without understanding the truth of this statement, we wouldn’t be able to know how to truly worship the Lord in Spirit. The Bible is replete with lessons on worshipping in Spirit. Chiefly among them would be found in Matthew 6 vs 22: “Your eye is the lamp of the body, let your eye be single and your body will be full of light.”
How do we make our eye single? We will continue with this in the next series.
For now, it is meet I make it unequivocal that not until we understand and practice how to make our eye single, all our penances, holy birth, night vigils, payment of tithe and all our other external rituals and ceremonies will not avail. They all sum up to the pouring of water off a duck’s back and we wouldn’t fare better than the average social reformers.
. Aare Oyefeso, a businessman and philosopher, writes from Lagos.