Tuesday, 29 January 2008

One could visualise a void, empty of possibility, as the condition prior to the emergence of being, but if it were empty of possibility, how did the possibilities represented by the being/cosmos emerge? Even the capacity to imagine such a void constitutes that void as evocative/representative of a possibility, the possibility of its being imagined.

Could the ability of the human mind to conceive the idea of the Absolute, even the Unmanifest, imply that even if the Absolute were eventually apprehendable by the mind, at whatever levels of adequacy or inadequacy, the Absolute would not constitute/be the ultimate possibility of human conception, since, perhaps, what the mind can conceive, it can also go beyond, at least in conception, and perhaps in apprehension.

But, beyond the notion of the Absolute, is that of the Unmanifest, which becomes manifest only as it is actualised through realization by the mind. So, in relation to this conception of primordial possibility, the boundaries of possibility recede as they transcended. But then! Does that imply that being could be centred on Something, on That which is fundamentally inconceivable?

Ntafu Entekepe, however, reflecting on the conceptions of Ikentua Refe on the Unmanifest wondered about the implications of the fact that many schools of thought posit a state that is at the ground of being. The Akan maxim affirms Abode santann yi firi tete;obi nte ase ahyease,na obi ntena ase nkosi ne awie,GYE NYAME “This great panorama of creation dates back to time immemorial; no one lives who saw its beginning and no one will live to see its end, EXCEPT NYAME”[1]. Buddhists even speak of a state beyond being and nonbeing as underlying being. But the question remains-all these ideas revolve around the notion of a state or possibility that is anterior to all others. But, what is anterior to that state? Since the style of approaching this question is in terms of conceiving a situation prior to existence as it is known, we could go farther and ask, “What came before the source of existence?” what came before he source of being? Cosmology could state that before the universe as it is known, there was nothing as it is now known. But even the ability to postulate the existence of nothing implies that that nothingness could be seen as a state that a statement can be made about. In a sense, therefore, since it can be the subject of an affirmation of possibility-the possibility of nothing, therefore, it can be said to be something, a postulate, a postulation about the existence of nothing, at the very least. Hermetic Kabbalah speaks of the Unmanifest, out of which existence emerges. But even the notion of the Unmanifest represents a possibility, a possibility anterior to all others and out of which the others emerge.

[1] From Akan Cultural Symbols Project online accessed when?

So, the inspirational capacities of Adinkra could be related to a conjunction between human and Cosmic Mind, if one were so inclined. Or they could simply be related to the evocative power of Adinkra’s conjunction of line, colour and idea, in harmony with the mental configurations of the person contemplating the Adinkra symbol. This harmony of Adinkra’s visual and ideational form with human mental configuration could be seen as shaping the contents of the person’s mind in terms of patterns that are already implicit in that mind, clarifying those patterns and bringing them to the foreground of the mind.

Or could the process be understood as expressive of both human centred and nonhuman activity? Perhaps the human is not simply merely human but also participates in that which is not human or completely human?

How is one to examine how true or false this notion is?

But, perhaps, what is at play here is not the action of Something Beyond Mind but simply the action of the unaided human mind. Why? Because, as Ikentua Refe admitted to herself, she had no apprehension of any such state of being or entity as Something Beyond Mind. True, she was inspired by ideas about That, was compelled by a inalienable commitment to It, but Its existence remained conjectural to her, at best. All her years of contemplation on the Ultimate had not yielded a sense of That, as many schools of thought claimed it could. Why not approach It, then, as a strategy of thought, an imaginative conception which may or may not correspond in any or in all its particulars to reality? The absence of That, therefore, in spite of all efforts to approach it could then be transformed, not into failure but into an enlightenment as to the independence of the mind from notions of what is fundamentally different from what the mind knows itself to be. A kind of freedom, therefore. A freedom from dependence on the unknown and the Other to provide meaning while taking advantage of the inspiring potential of the Other as an expression of the human being’s aspiration to Something that is beyond the quotidian and the everyday.

Ikentua Refe chewed on these ideas of That which is Beyond Mind, but, to her, the NonMind can be Adinkra. Adinkra, became, for her, a magnet that pulled together all the contents of her own mind into particular configurations. If, Beyond the Mind, moves That which the mind cannot perceive, perhaps It can choose to irrupt into mind through forms which it projects from Itself, thereby rendering aspects of its Indivisible Self apprehensible by mind. These forms may be chosen by mind and offered to It as shapes which It may energise into life. The forms are thereby inseminated through energies that gather fuel not simply from That whose abode is unknown, but from the very mind that wishes to explore the Absolute. It is the conjunction, at a point undetermined and unpredictable, where the human mind intersects with The Sound that does not impinge on the ears, that the forms thereby become both material and nonmaterial, both within the cosmos and outside it, thereby enabling the person contemplating them to walk into That which heretofore was as invisible as a dream undreamed

The Twi proverb Nyame nwu na m’awu expresses the confidence that “If Nyame-That Which falls in the rain,flashes in lightning,upholds the earth,and is the Source of All-could die,I would die”.The proverb derives from a small,trailing plant that is impossible to completely wipe out.The character of the plant expresses both its biological constitution and the being of That which makes its existence possible,That which shares with the human person a flame that burns perpetually,a flame whose origin is in an Unknown Depth,where the Source of both the human person and the Ground of Being conjoin in a depth BeyondMind.That is Hye Anyha,the Unburnable,a flame from Whom is the centre around which the human being is formed.Onyankopon nkum wo na odasani kum woa,wunwu da “Unless you die of Onyankopon,let living man kill you, and you will not perish”.Onyankopon- the One who is Nameless,whose ancestry does not exist,the Unimaginable One,to whom there is no altar beceause can an altar be made to the ever mobile but invisble wind or to the Hole in the mind which the mind does not know?

Onyankopon,Which stretches from NonTime into NoTime.


Meditation on Nyamenwunam’awu led Adinkrahen Ikentua Refe to identify with Adinkra as Nyame, as Nyakokpon. She argued that she saw Adinkra not as symbols of Ultimate Reality, but as Ultimate Reality Itself. When asked how that could be, she replied that the Ultimate is whatever we want it to be. It is Kaidara of the Fulani, ever near and ever distant, as distant as the farthest reaches of the cosmos, as the impossibility of a dimension that is unperceived, but as intimate as the most intimate self. Distant because formless. Subtle as air but not sensed by those who because they cannot see it think it is not there. Very near because there exists no obstacle or distance between others and Itself. It assumes any form It likes, causes veils to fall-revealing Itself - eliminating distances as It chooses[1].

So, she reasoned, it’s a matter of choice what we want It to be, since it is everything and Nothing. It is nothing in that it can not be exclusively identified with anything. It is Nothing in that its essential being is so beyond the grasp of human understanding that to that understanding, that being is a Nothing. It is Everything in that it is the ground of all, it constitutes the condition of possibility that makes everything possible.

[1] Adapted from Kaidara by Hamadou Hampate Ba.


The Unburnable


Symbol of the IMPERISHABILITY OF THE SELF, PERMANENCE OF THE HUMAN SOUL and TOUGHNESS This represents the idea that GOD, the SPIRIT, never dies, or GOD lives forever.The Akan belief is that the human soul, an image of God, the Spirit, lives in perpetuity. Thus, there is life after the death of the physical part of the human being.

From the Akan Cultural Symbols Project at

May be related to the Akan proverb Nyame Nwu Na M'Awu or Nyame Bewu Na M'Awu "Could God die,I woud die".

The name of a samll,inextirbable,trailing plant(Christaller).

The plant is Commelina Nudiflora or Benghalensis.


The Akan Doctrine of God by J B Danquah


may be related to the Adinkra symbol named


"God never dies, therefore I cannot die"

symbol of God's omnipresence and the perpetual existence of man's spirit

This signifies the immortality of man's soul, believed to be a part of God. Because the soul rests with God after death, it cannot die.


Adinkra Symbols of West Africa at



Symbol of imperishability and endurance

This symbol gets its meaning from traditional priests that were able to walk on fire without burning their feet, an inspiration to others to endure and overcome difficulties.


Adinkra Symbols of West Africa at http://www.welltempered.net/adinkra/htmls/adinkra/hyew.htm




From the house of powerful jewellry at


Hye wo Nyhe

The One who Burns You be not Burned

Symbol of forgiveness. Turn the other cheek.

From the Ghana portal at