“Kin ni a bo ru lebo? What is to be offered for the sacrifice? That is the pivotal question the babalawo asks during Ifa Divination. It represents the movement from theory to practice, from ideas to action. That is, once you have defined your problem, it is logical to define what must be done to solve it. Naturally then, your sacrifice must match your circumstances and desired outcomes. Are you willing to sacrifice your anger in order to experience true happiness? Are you willing to sacrifice your fear in order to enjoy true love? Are you willing to sacrifice conformity in order to experience true freedom?
The only true sacrifice is personal sacrifice. It is only through personal sacrifice that you will ever change, develop and grow in your spiritual practice. Of course, the materials you offer are necessary to activate your environment and set the stage for healing, in much the same ways that pharmaceuticals set the stage for physical health. But internal activation is what enables transformation.
Internal activation is what Orunmila teaches us in the Holy Odu IworiMeji. In this instance his disciple went to Olodumare and accused Orunmila of failing to make sacrifice for him. When Olodumare summoned Orunmila and confronted him on his transgression, Orunmila explained how he had always made sacrifices for his disciple, but the latter’s ORI never arrived to accept the offerings. And so, his blessings went unclaimed.
So, whereas prayer is asking for guidance, meditation is listening for instructions. Obedience is making the mental, emotional and spiritual changes necessary to follow the instructions you asked for in the first place. But it’s not as easy as following instructions, is it? Sometimes, the instructions seem unclear. Maybe you know where to go, but you’re not sure about how to behave once you arrive. Other times, you don’t even know where to start! And then, there are those times when you have face yourself, your character flaws, inconsistencies and inabilities.
In all of those instances, you need spiritual support that extends far beyond mere technique. That is, when you’re serious about giving up the emotional, intellectual and spiritual traumas that may have enslaved your family lineage for generations, you need a trusted advisor who is adept at helping you define the problem and create an appropriate plan for addressing it, from the inside out. That is what I call living the medicine.
"Ẹni tó ńlé nǹkan níwájú, ńfi àwọn nǹkan míràn sẹ́yìn." Whoever is pursuing something ahead, is actually leaving some other things behind. The nature of change requires natural sacrifice. If you're a parent who wants to go back to school, you must sacrifice time at home with your family. If you want to start a garden or practice your art, you have to give up some leisure activity, like watching TV or shopping. If you want to heal, you have to sacrifice the attachment to the events or people that harmed you. It means letting go. You can't have it both ways. Decide you want it more than you're inconvenienced by it.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA