Good Vibrations

Sometimes it’s hard to see the good in the world — until we look a bit deeper and realize that it’s actually all around us. You may have heard (or even used) expressions like “no worries” and “it’s all good” to reflect some of this attitude that the world is what we make of it, and that even the things that challenge or trouble us can be part of a larger sense of the “good” if we look at them differently. Living can be hard on numerous levels, no doubt, but (as the saying goes) it’s better than the alternative.

So here’s a nod to the positive vibrations in our midst, the ones that can help bring us a feeling of peace, purpose, and possibility. Rastafarian culture actually has a word for this: IRIE. It means “to be at total peace with your current state of being. The way you feel when you have no worries.” In the Jamaican parlance, you might hear it said as in: “Everyting is irie mon.” This is a nice caricature of the concept, and sometimes that superficial rendering is the limit of what gets transmitted outside of the cultural frame.

Yet the concept actually goes much further, connoting an “ultimate positive, powerful, pleasing, all-encompassing quality.” It is indeed synonymous with “hello, all right, good, fine, I’m alright” but “on deeper examination the findings indicate that its origins are far more spiritual.” This more nuanced and impactful vision is worth considering in more detail, to help grow the good and increase the peace:

“I” is so important that Rastafarians use it each time they refer to themselves by saying “I and I,” this is done to include the presence and divinity of the Almighty with themselves each time they speak. Also by saying “I and I” when talking about themselves, Rastas are indicating that they belong to the world and are not separated from it…. The use of “I and I” is not only limited to Rastas but, when a Rastafarian meets a stranger, he/she does away with the superficial greetings common to polite society and instead tests the “vibration” of the person. If the vibration is positive, it does not matter if one is a member of the movement or not; he or she will immediately be addressed in conversation as “I and I.” An “I” also makes any word become more spiritual and sacred and “irie” is a great example of this. Irie is the ultimate positive….

Maybe you know this already through the world of reggae music, especially the iconic vision of Bob Marley as he sees the duality of the human experience through “irie eyes” and “positive vibrations”: If you get down and you quarrel everyday | You’re saying prayers to the devils, I say. Wo-oh-ooh! | Why not help one another on the way? | Make it much easier (just a little bit easier) | Say you just can’t live that negative way | If you know what I mean | Make way for the positive day…. Like the man said, it’s all good: IRIE!

There’s a wider cultural embrace going on here, in the eternal search for “good vibrations” and positive energy. The Beach Boys (1966) have sung about it in their surf-pop sun-soaked style; so too has Marky Mark (1991) with a more urban-electronic sensibility. The quest to achieve the “good” has been a mainstay of philosophy and theology alike, and may well be the eventual purpose of human life. However we get there, having a way to think about and cultivate the “ultimate positive” in our midst is more important now than ever. In a world of increasing alienation, may we find deeper connections.

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