Bi-Monthly Community Newsletter Tybi 6254/November 2014 Edition

What is Spirituality?
African Philosophy and African American Precepts
Disclaimer: Reading this requires open mindedness

In terms of the nature of being in the universe, the African belief system understands that all things in the universe are "force" or "spirit". In believing that all things, including humanity, were endowed with the same Supreme Force, the African also believed that all things are "essentially" one, i.e., interdependent and interconnected. For the African, the world view is based on the identification of "being (existence) in the universe" as characterized by a cosmological "participation in the Supreme Force." Parenthetically, it follows that, if ontologically the African believes that the nature of all things is force, the African, accordingly, views the variety of cosmic beings as quantitative alterations of the same Supreme Force (Thomas 1961). That is, the classification of "beings," and the "level of being" becomes a classification of forces or spirits.

For the African, a natural feature of the universe is the multiplicity of forms and moments. That is, the African believes the universe to be alive. Consequently, the African's relation to the universe is characterized by a belief in the paramountcy and primary importance of life. What characterizes African peoples' understanding of the universe is, consequently, a simultaneous respect for the concrete detail in the multiplicity of forms and the rejection of the possibility of an absence or vacuum of forms.

In terms of the primary characteristic of relations within the universe (i.e., axiology), the African conception of the world and phenomena in it amounts to a set of interchanging syntheses (connections) and contradictions (antagonisms) linked to the particular classification of beings as differential quantifications of force. As interchanging syntheses and contradictions, the primary characteristic of universal relations is rhythmic and harmonious. Combined, these "connective" and "antagonistic" participatory sets form the whole of universal relations. Accordingly, Africans traditionally believe that relations in the universe are determined by elements belonging to the same metaphysical plane, "participating by resemblance," or by elements belonging to different metaphysical planes, "participating by difference" (Thomas 1960). 

The dynamic quality of the total universe is, however, thought to be the conciliation of these various "participatory sets" (i.e., connective and antagonistic). Therefore, the African believes that all things are the same or on one level while different, yet interconnected and interdependent, on another level. Thus the African thinks (conceives) of experience as an intense complementary rhythmic connection between the person and reality. In fact, the conciliation of, on the one hand, the unity of the cosmos and, on the other, the diversity of beings within the cosmos, makes for the special features (e.g., dynamism, interdependence, egalitarianism, variety, vitalism, cooperation, synergism, transformation, optimism) of the traditional African worldview. These principles combined represent the core quality and fundamental nature of African and African-American beingness. Some of the most critical traditional African and African-American cultural precepts are the principles of consubstantiation, synergism, vitalism, egalitarianism, humaneness, harmony, interdependence, transformation, and collectivism
by Dr. Wade Nobles and Lawford Goddard

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