Step 13: Ifunanya

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“Madụ bụ chi ibe ya”

(Mankind is god to his fellow man)

Welcome to Step 13. If we were to journey back to a traditional compound (ezi) in Igboland, we would observe that a place usually at the center, which was the most important building. This place, known as the obi, was where the owner of the compound lived. And it’s no coincidence that the same word for obi is also used for the heart.  Of all of your organs, the heart is the most critical to life itself. When it stops beating, your life literally comes to an end. The emotion usually associated with the heart is love, which in Igbo is known as ifunanya, and that’s also the name of this final step.

What is love? A whole library could be filled with literature, music and arts about this topic. Whether it’s love between human beings, love of objects, love is something that everyone has an opinion on. For this step, the type of love that we are going to focus on is human love. And  two of the main ways that human love is expressed: in a more selfish way, and a more selfless way.

Those whose expression of love is mostly the selfish type have love of self as their primary (and sometimes sole) motivation. Self centered humans develop a false belief that the world revolves around them. When it comes to anything they do, their main motivation is to satisfy their needs and wants. Even if they are engaged in activities that can be of benefit to others, it’s almost never for the right reasons. 

Overly selfish people often usually care more about ideas and concepts than other people. If they even know what consequences are, they don’t care about them so long as negative ones don’t impact them personally. Humans who are stuck at this level of love have the capacity for the greatest destruction of both themselves and others. 

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed” – Napoleon Hill

Those who operate at a much higher level of love are those who have love of others as their primary motivation. They engage in more selfless thoughts and actions and are usually described as having empathy. If they don’t want something done to them, they try not to do it to others. They try to remember how the consequences of their actions will impact others, even if it doesn’t negatively affect them personally. 

People at this higher love level have realized that the Chi na Eke that resides in them also is connected to the Chi na Eke that resides in others. Therefore, anything that they do to others will have an impact on them, whether they acknowledge it or not. When their Ikenga is in a position of authority, they desire to serve, guide and lead, instead of ruling over. When their Ikenga is one of a fighter, it’s the type of fighter who does it for others, especially those who are unable to fight for themselves. 

The dreams (nro) that they are working into turning into reality are the types that benefit more than just themselves. And the destiny (akaraka) that they have chosen involve them having a positive impact on others.  They always come to the conclusion that they don’t know everything, and that it’s much better to learn from the experience of others than to try to experience everything on their own. And they are happy to share whatever wisdom they have. That makes them lovers of wisdom, which we know as being in the state of Ako bu Ije. 

Those at this higher love level realize that the same air that fills their lungs during their ume ndu practices has been inhaled and exhaled by others; and that increasing the abundance (aku na uba) of others helps them increase their own abundance, rather than diminish it. They recognize those who came before them, as well as those who helped them get to where they are today. And when they engage in any transformative process, they’ll make sure it’s not at the expense of others.  They forgive themselves and also forgive others. They are patient in their own affairs and are also patient with their fellow human beings.

Have you noticed that a fair amount, if not most of the “greatest” things you have done were usually for other people? Those that engage in labors of love are usually operating at the highest level. They are the true elites. Their primary motivation isn’t fame, fortune or even greatness. However it’s not uncommon for them to gain these things anyway. If you truly want to maximize your life, consider what you can do out of the love of other people. Whatever path you choose, do it with the higher level of love. Stay blessed and remain loved. 

Step 13: Above all, love is key. I strive to do things with love. And to love others as I love myself. 

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