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Exploring the Outer Self

Updated: 2 days ago

Yoruba cosmology offers a holistic perspective on the human experience, emphasizing the intricate interplay between the inner and outer self. While the inner self, represented by ori, holds the essence of one's being, the outer self encompasses the physical body, personality, and interactions with the external world. In this article, we delve into the Yoruba understanding of the outer self, exploring its significance, dynamics, and implications within spiritual practice.

The Physical Manifestation:

In Yoruba cosmology, the outer self is seen as the physical manifestation of the inner self. It encompasses the body, appearance, and mannerisms that individuals present to the world. While the inner self reflects one's divine essence and destiny, the outer self serves as a vessel through which the inner self interacts with the material world. As such, maintaining the well-being and integrity of the outer self is essential for spiritual growth and alignment with one's destiny.

Harmony and Balance:

Central to Yoruba cosmology is the concept of balance and harmony between the inner and outer self. Just as ori guides individuals on their spiritual journey, the outer self must reflect the values and principles of the inner self. This entails aligning one's actions, behaviors, and intentions with the divine wisdom and guidance received from ori. By cultivating harmony between the inner and outer self, individuals can lead lives of authenticity, integrity, and purpose.

Reflection of Character:

The outer self also serves as a reflection of one's character and moral virtues. In Yoruba culture, the concept of "iwa pele" emphasizes the importance of cultivating good character and displaying virtuous behavior in all aspects of life. This includes honesty, kindness, humility, and integrity, which are essential qualities for spiritual growth and societal harmony. By embodying these virtues in their interactions with others, individuals honor their inner self and contribute to the collective well-being of their community.

Expression of Spirituality:

In Yoruba tradition, the outer self is not separate from one's spiritual practice but is deeply intertwined with it. Through rituals, ceremonies, and devotional practices, individuals express their reverence for the divine and strengthen their connection to the spiritual realm. Adornments, such as clothing, jewelry, and body art, also play a symbolic role in spiritual expression, reflecting one's affiliation with specific orisa or spiritual traditions.

Protection and Empowerment:

The outer self is not only a vessel for spiritual expression but also a vehicle for protection and empowerment. In Yoruba tradition, rituals and ceremonies are often performed to cleanse and fortify the physical body, warding off negative influences and promoting well-being. Through offerings, prayers, and invocations, individuals seek divine protection for themselves and their loved ones, ensuring the preservation of their outer self and alignment with their spiritual path.


In conclusion, the understanding of the outer self in Yoruba tradition is integral to the holistic development and alignment of the individual with their divine destiny. By cultivating harmony between the inner and outer self, embodying virtuous qualities, and expressing reverence for the divine through rituals and ceremonies, individuals can lead lives of spiritual fulfillment, integrity, and empowerment.


Alaje Fadesiye

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