What is the “karma” concept of African spirituality?

There are many, so I will give an overview of some of the best known and understandable without the necessity of being raised in that specific culture. Even so, please understand that if you are pursuing a specific stream or official initiations, you will need to ask adepts and elders in that stream to fully understand.

In the Yoruba branch of Vodun, Ifa, the concept of Karma is contained in the concept of Ayanmo, which is something like the somewhat fixed aspect of destiny. There are some differences though, between karma as it is usually explained in Asian systems, and how it is explained in African systems.

Though one is responsible for their individual part in it, one shares destiny with others because the soul is not a strictly contained item once it is separated from the body unless something has gone wrong, or there is a special reason for it.

A person may improve their situation through Iwa Pele or good character according to one’s Ori or the personal aspect of one’s non solid energy. However, some things are not in one’s postnatal conscious control, such as received trauma or strife, or history prior to being born or inherited obligation. Despite this, a fact of Nature is that by how well or badly they handle the things they do not control, they still affect others. The easiest example is someone’s choice to have or not to have children. If they have children and raise them badly, they add to that child’s strife and make it more difficult for them to later fulfill their obligation to care for their aging parents.

In some streams, this level of responsibility extends globally in that it is impossible for humans to ascend until everyone does. We rise or fall into a higher level of existence together. So if anyone in our village is starving, we are all guilty. If anyone in our world is starving, we are all guilty. If anyone is abused, we are all guilty for allowing it to happen. As a result, bad things can happen to someone who thinks they have nothing to do with that because they are part of a world that allows atrocities to happen.

So the Vodun/African spirituality equivalent of karma, depending on the stream, is pretty harsh.

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About K. Sis. Nicole T.N. Lasher

Sis. Nicole T. Lasher (Sheloya) is the female king of Ile Baalat Teva, an African diaspora spirituality group in northern Israel.

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