At age 14, when I wrote the poem, Soul Fire, it was the beginning of the revelation which in a period of 50 years matured into Mareism Faith. The last stanza of the poem is: “I will not die/Nobody does/Who believes in Soul Fire”
At that point in time, my inner Mind told me that the Soul/Spirit of Man merely resides in the body, or put in another way, the body is merely the garment, the shell, the building, the box or whatever enclosure or encasement that accommodates the Soul/Spirit. It is the Breath of Life which feeds both the body and the soul. And wherever the breath of life goes, the soul/spirit goes with it. In other words, if the breath of life departs the body, the body reverts immediately to its original form, a carcass.
When a body, be it the body of an animal, a fish, snake, tree or whatever body that requires nourishment from the breath of life to live and grow becomes weak, tired, weary, diseased or seriously damaged beyond repairs, it withers and dies. That dead body minus the soul/spirit and the breath of life is then buried in the ground where it remains permanently forever in its various degrees of decay.
Soul/spirit automatically goes back to its Maker who lives in eternity. Eternity is the void which envelopes all the universes and the stars and planets that are carried in suspension thereat. Should there be dwellers on Mass, Jupiter or the Moon, when they look up, they would be pointing to the sky that separates their view from the next terrestrial object as heaven, which the Yoruba call orun. The sky is the face of the heavens (oju orun).
The thought on my mind a few days ago at the commendation/tributes service for the recently transited journalist, Joe Abiola, who commenced his journey in the continuum at age 76, was that the physical demise of the human box that accommodated his spirit/soul for that long should not be mourned. In a very simple language, the body that carried the ‘he’ in him had exhausted its services, got weak or weakened by age and could no longer hold Joe’s essence. His Maker, satisfied that Joe had completed the assignment known only to the Maker, unquestionably decided to call him to the space of eternal living, called, for want of better explanation, orun, by the Yoruba-speaking people of the world.
Really and truly, the space of eternal life is actually the orun alaaye or orun ayeraye (celestial space of the living) which does not harbour or accommodate the dead, while earth where we are currently massed is just Ile (ground). When the body withers, it is simply put underneath the ground and remains there forever. There is, therefore, no ‘oku orun,’ the dead in heaven. Anybody looking for the body of his deceased father or mother should go find it in the ground where it was interred or if the body had been burnt and turned to ashes, it is finished.
It is anomalous to be praying to oku orun.
It may not be unconnected that it was at the same age 14 that inspiration put it in my pen which I then rendered in oral poetry the emphasis between the heavens and the earth. In the said poem, entitled ‘Osupa’ (the moon) in Aye Ode Oni (my first published book of poetry in Yoruba), ‘Osupa’ (the moon) is: Amororo bi ojo (As bright as the day)/Abi’na tutu bi omi amu (With fire as cold as water in porcelain pot)/Oju kansoso ti n’ mo’le l’aye (One eye that illuminates the earth)/Ti n’ mo’le l’orun (And the heavens!
This may explain the symbolic transition of Jesus Christ. This writer as man of faith does not interrogate any religious dogma. What is known to metaphysical science from beginning without a beginning is transfiguration. Some Islamic authorities claim that Prophet Mohammed (PBOH), like a few other prophets before him, ascended to heaven. Possibly true. What is certain and indisputable is that his grave where his earthly body was interred is conspicuous in Medina. Till date, those who have mastered the science or have the science applied on them can appear and disappear at will and can enter any building, structure or space undetected by ‘ordinary eyes.’ The body of a person must die, but in very rare circumstances may refuse to die immediately and, therefore, resurface miraculously. The classical example was the case of the two Musafaus in my town.
The spirit/soul of Musafau 1, believed to be an abiku, exited the body and the body was buried. A neighbour who lived half a kilometre away and came to sympathise with the parents of the abiku child was so enraged that he exhumed the tinny body, mangled it and burnt part of it as punishment so that the recurring abiku would not come back again. The wife of the neighbour in question was six-months pregnant. Just about three months after the mangling of the dead body of a neighbour’s child, the cruel neighbour’s wife put to bed. And lo and Behold! It was the same mangled child that was born to the consternation of the entire neighbourhood and the strange (to the uninitiated) news spread like fire. That neighbour named the strange child Musafau 2. And when the mother of Musafau 1 got pregnant, it was a very normal Musafau 1 that reappeared. Musafau 1 and Musafau 2 both lived to ripe rage, with Musafau 2 carrying a crutch to support his mangled foot!
There are wandering spirits/souls: Spirits/souls that have just exited their earthly bodies and are still hovering round the premises of the living bodies or souls/spirits that are yet to reunite with the Supreme Essence, or souls/spirits that temporarily come out of their earthly compartment on a mission, like the soul/spirit of witches/wizards.
But dead bodies or physical bodies dead or alive do not reside in heaven. No other prophet underscored this fact better than the Jewish Messiah named Yeoshua. He emphasised that: “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Hosea 2:19. Angels, of course, are spirits.
Death, in Islam, according to the Arab Prophet Mohammed (PBOH) is the termination of worldly life and the beginning of afterlife in celestial sphere. Death is seen as “the separation of the soul from the body.”
The Yoruba, in their classical mythology, emphasised this difference even in the celebration of afterlife. To celebrate and, perhaps, eulogise their dead, they display a shrouded spirit and give it life in their egungun which speaks in guttural tone to depict its spiritual heavenliness.
The Yoruba egungun is, therefore, not a masquerade as erroneously conceived. The Japanese kabuki that adorns colourful masks and the Chinese Noh are the real masquerades. The motif for their being is very different from that of the shrouded spirit of the Yoruba mythology (“Aruku-Aruku, Aruku-Aruku; oku ti aa gbee r’oja ta ‘o ta l’a d’aso bo l’ori t’a n pe l’eegun.”) Joel Adedeji .
The human body which lives only when there is the spirit/soul (emi) dwelling in it ceases to enjoy the breath of life the very moment it loses capacity and capability of accommodation. And it is put under the ground or disposed off in whatever is conventional to locality and remains permanently there.
There is no dead body in celestial sphere.
Chief Adeniyi is a former media executive.
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