The elders of Oyo were asked to sacrifice
But they refused
I was asked to make a similar sacrifice
I listened and made the sacrifice
I missed my step, and survived
Others missed their step and died
Because they failed to sacrifice
Those who sacrifice
Unfailingly receive salvation
- Holy Odu OwonrinMeji
Good people tend to focus on good things. They seem to understand the fact that positive thinking promotes peak performance, which produces favorable outcomes, which generate more positive energy. Stated differently, when you feel good it’s easier to do well. And when you do good work, the people you serve are happy with your contribution. It’s a virtuous cycle. So it makes sense that good people tend to focus on good things. After all, this is the meaning of the Ifa teaching that says “When you do good you do good for yourself.”
At the same time, however, what’s good for one is oftentimes bad for another. For example, when poor people agitate for redistribution of the world’s wealth and resources, it’s good for the poor, but bad for the rich. Even more importantly, perhaps, when you – as an individual – assert your own personal power, there are many instances in which your achievement of peak performance inadvertently overshadows the efforts of others. And if you’ve ever been outdone, you know it can be hard to accept graciously.
So it was with Orunmila when he travelled to Oyo kingdom. In this instance, he was practicing the art of divination, combined with trading. As it were, Orunmila was very successful at both practices, which evoked the envy of the elder priests of Oyo. So, they started to plot against him, but to no avail. When they reached the depths of their jealousy and frustration, the elders of Oyo even went so far as to visit Orunmila himself and ask him to divine for them – secretly they were asking Ifa how they could destroy him! With Esu’s help, Orunmila saw through their plot and sacrificed a goat to protect himself.
Later on, the elders of Oyo conjured another plan to eliminate Orunmila. They invited him to officiate the ceremonies for an annual orisa festival, on the premise that it was the local custom that any visiting priest must perform the honors. In reality, however, they had dug a massive pit in the road leading form the bush shrine into the city shrine. When Orunmila had completed his duties at the bush shrine and was on his way back into the city, he was about to step into the pit dug for him by the jealous elder priests. But just then, Esu caused the skull of Orunmila’s sacrificial goat to emerge in the path like a large stone. Orunmila tripped on the skull and it made him jump over the pit instead of falling into it. And so, even though he stumbled, he did not fall. And so he continued his journey to the town without further incident.
Now, the jealous elders approached the same pit one by one and Esu caused the skull of the goat to emerge in the path. But the effect was the exact opposite of what it was for Orunmila. Instead of jumping OVER the pit, each of the elder priests fell INTO the pit. By nightfall, the people of Oyo were deeply concerned about the whereabouts of the elder priests. Invariably, they were forced to pay Orunmila a visit, as he was the only priest who remained. Orunmila consulted Ifa and advised the community members of the sacrifice that was required to rescue the elder priests. It was then that Esu released them from the pit, allowing them to return to the city without further harm.
Here, the teaching emphasizes the importance of approaching the holy shrine with a clean heart and good intentions. Those who fail to do so may not survive the ordeal. But even more importantly, for the good people, who tend to focus exclusively on positivity, it is important not to be naive about the significance of who you are and what you do. Do not underestimate the VALUE of your work by failing to properly protect yourself. To learn more about how spiritual protection promotes sustainable excellence, ask Ifa.