Itaniji Okanran Ajangbile (Ifa discourse based on Okanran Oworin).
Holy Odu Ifa Okanran Oworin:
‘Whether You Do Good Or Not Is For Your Own Benefit, (this was the name of the awo) who consulted Ifa for the Liar, the son of Alara. Whether You Do Good Or Not Is For Your Own Benefit, consulted Ifa for the Wicked, the son of Ajaro. The Inner Truth (truthfulness) Brings More Satisfaction Than Lies (is the name of the awo) who consulted Ifa for Ifarinu (Ifa sees and knows your heart), who is the son of Orunmila. Only Ifarinu followed the injunctions of Ifa. Ifa knows your heart. The earth knows the wicked. Olorun (God) knows those who do good.’
The three friends, Eke (the liar) son of Alara, Ika (the wicked) son of Ajero and Ifarinu (Ifa knows your inner heart condition) the son of Orunmila visited the set of babalawos mentioned above to consult Ifa. Their mission was to inquire about their intended traveling to another town for the discharge of religious activities and spiritual responsibilities. These three friends were also qualified babalawos. Since it is a wise saying that a ‘physician cannot heal themselves’ they decided to be checked spiritually by colleague babalawos. The three young babalawo friends were told the same thing by their respective babalawos: Do good, be truthful; avoid inordate ambition to get rich quickly, be obedient, do not say what you do not know, do not be treacherous and do not betray the trust of those who repose trust in you.
The first two young babalawo Eke and Ika believed that they did not need to perform the sacrifice if they have to follow the injunctions. Only Ifarinu performed the sacrifice (and obeyed the injunctions). The three babalawo friends set off on their journey. When they got to their destination in another town they decided to visit the elders of the town for guidance and counseling. They had received previous information that for anyone to survive and succeed in this town the involvement of the elders was essential. The three powerful elders were Esu, Ogun and Obatala. When they met with the elders they stated their mission. They told the elders that they can came to this town to perform their professional duties as Ifa priests and as traditional practioners of herbal medicine. The three young babalawo friends expressed to the elders their desire to have their support and protection in times of war or invasion by territorial enemies.
The elders said that they would have nothing to worry about as long as they were HONEST AND TRUTHFUL AT ALL TIMES. This was the condition they received from the elders so as to secure the guarantee of their support and protection. If they practiced truthfulness at all times they would surely succeed and thrive as babalawo and they would also be granted complete protection and survive in times of war or invasion. If they commited themselves to being honest and truthful at all times Ogun promised to save them in times of war or invasion. If they commited themselves to being honest and truthful at all times Esu promised to supply them with a strong medicine by which they would be safeguarded and protected from harm and injury in the event of war or invasion. If they committed themselves to be honest and truthful at all times Obatala gave his unfailing promise that he would shield them. Obatala promised that he himself would be their shield. After receiving these encouraging and assuring words of counsel and promise from the elders the three of them went their different ways to look for accommodation. They could have stayed together as suggested by Ifarinu but the other two insisted on establishing themselves in different localities in this town because they wanted to work independently from each other. They all settled down to do their work.
One day Esu visited Eke (the liar) son of Alara. Esu approached Eke so that Eke could prepare a special medicine. The preparation called for ingredients like leaves of Segunsete and Atare (alligator pepper) which needed to be put in a pot together with 10,000 cowries (the money used at that time) and put on a fire which will eventually turn into black ashes, the medicine. Esu at the time did not have the Segunsete leaves or atare but he turned over the 10,000 cowries to Eke together with some additional funds so as to be able to procure the Segunsete leaves and atare. Esu wanted Eke Omo Alara to perform this task for him. So after Esu gave Eke the large amount of money and instructions for the medicinal preparation he left.
After Esu had gone, Eke thought: This man must be crazy! How could Esu expect him to put all this money in a pot to burn it. Surely this man must be foolish or think that Eke is a fool. Along these lines was the thinking of Eke. Eke thought to himself, anything you put in a pot a burn is going to turn into black ashes, so how is Esu going to know whether I burned the 10,000 cowries or not? Eke thought there was no way for the elder to know whether he burned the money up or not. Eke said to himself, I did not come to this land to be stupid. I came here to make money.
Eke went to the bush and cut down herbs that Esu did not prescibe and put them in the pot to burn. Eke pocketed (stole and kept) the 10,000 cowries for himself. After Eke prepared this pseudo medicine, Esu returned. Esu asked Eke whether the medicine he asked for was prepared with the materials and instructions Esu provided. Eke said (lied) that he did. Esu told him to keep the medicine for now to be collected by Esu at a later time when necessary. Esu then left.
The following day, Esu visited Ika (the wicked) son of Ajero. He gave to him the same assignment. Ika too kept the 10,000 cowries and produced useless medicine. You see how wicked, unscrupulous and untruthful people think alike! Esu told Ika to save the medicine until he asked for it at a later time.
On the third day, Esu visited Ifarinu (Ifa knows the quality of your heart), the son of Agboniregun. He gave him the same task and left.
Immediately after Esu left the home of Ifarinu, Eke and Ika came knocking at his door. Ifarinu opened the door for them and invited them into his home. Ifarinu was very surprised and happy to see them since they hardly visited him. Eke and Ika told Ifarinu that they were aware that Esu had visited him also. Eke and Ika advised Ifarinu to not be foolish. They had kept the money to themselves and they were sure that Ifarinu would do the same. Ifarinu was surprised to hear them telling him to keep the money and to prepare some fake, bogus and useless medicine. They told Ifarinu that they came to this town to make money quickly even by hook or crook. Ifarinu thought to himself, Have Eke and Ika forgotten the injunction they received from Ifa before they came to this town? Have they also forgotten the counsel and promises they received from the three elders? Ifarinu advised them that they should reconsider and correct themselves. Ifarinu told advised them further that they should go back and prepare the proper medicine according to the instructions of Esu since they still had time to change their minds, attitudes and had time to prepare the genuine medicine. Needless to say Eke and Ika called Ifarinu many unprintable names and left for their own homes.
Ifarinu went to the forest, cut the ewe (herb) Segunsete, put them in the pot with atare (alligator pepper) and added the 10,000 cowries, put fire on it and produced the original black medicine. When Esu returned for the medicine he told Ifarinu to keep the medicine until it was needed.
Unexpectedly the territorial enemies attacked the town and everyone was running about helmet skelter finding nowhere to find safety. Everybody was looking for refuge including the three friends, Eke, Ika and Ifarinu. They then suddenly remembered the assurance given to them by the elders that they would be protected in times of war or invasion. The three young babalawo ran to the elders and said to them, ‘Please protect us from this war’. Esu responded that they already possessed the medicinal charm to be saved against attack. Esu told them further that the medicine he told them to prepare was the antidote against attack. Esu told them to go home and mix the medicine with water and drink it and they would surely survive and be kept in safety. When you do this you will return to thank us, said Esu to the three young babalawo. They all rushed home as directed but Eke and Ika knew their days were numbered since they had prepared what was useless and incapable of giving them relief. Nonetheless they still drank the fake concoctions in the hopes that they would be spared. Even though Eke and Ika drank the medicines they prepared they were killed in the war. Ifarinu took the medicinal charm (of truth, integrity and honesty), drank it (internalized it) and survived. Ifarinu prospered and thrived as a babalawo, a true son of Orunmila and as a true and noble human being.
The foundation of our Ifa religion is based on truth. It was the truth and adherence to the truth that made Orunmila excel over all others. It is with with the power of truth that Olodumare creates, guides, guards and upholds all things in existence. You cannot be a succesful human being, priest, father, mother, devotee, friend or citizen without imbibing truthfulness, honesty and integrity as the foundation of your life. Divine power, grace and authority or ase is inseparable from truthfulness, honesty and integrity. Truthfulness is the vehicle which receives, carries and dispenses ase. Truthfulness is in itself the heart, essence, source and center of ase. Truthfulness, uprightness and integrity is the supreme ase.
The situation with the two babalawo Eke and Ika had been faulty from the beginning. Why did they fail to offer the sacrifice? Even the injunctions they claimed were more important than the sacrifice they also failed to practice, cultivate and obey. The three elders reiterated to Eka and Ika what Ifa had already told them and they did not listen. They also failed to listen to the correcting words and timely rebuke of Ifarinu. Ifarinu demonstrated himself a true friend by offering them the advice he gave them and they only payed him back with words of abuse, anger, hate, envy and indifference and that to their own detriment! Had they listened to the repeated advice they received from Ifa, from the elders, from Ifarinu and from their own conscience (ori) they would have survived and been able to live an upright and honorable life. In addition they would have established themselves as authentic and godly babalawo of good repute.
This Odu teaches a great many lessons. We should meditate upon it and personally apply those things that our Ori highlights for us. Eke and Ika allowed themselves to be consumed with greed and an inordate desire for money. They forgot that a good and well earned reputation is better than riches. They were given many opportunities and time to reflect and correct themselves but they were stubborn, prideful and recalcitrant to the very end. The power of truth (otito) is the mysterious invisible power which guides, protects and sustains the creation. Otito is also the source and center of our lives. When we go against otito it is like slowly disconnecting ourselves and distancing ourselves from the source of life, health, peace and happiness. When Eko and Ika abandoned otito and pushed otito out of their hearts, minds and lives they were commiting spiritual-moral and physical suicide. From otito springs ase, joy, intelligence, health, peace and optimism. We should very carefully remember this teaching of Ifa and ensure that we internalize it in our own lives irrespective of whether others do so or not. Ifarinu was exemplary. He possessed a genuine faith. He was fully rooted in otito. He pursued otito out of his personal love and commitment to do, honor and live the truth. He cultivated and practice otito out of his own initiative, love for and commitment to truthfulness, integrity, uprightness and honor. Ifarinu was not fake nor a pretender. His piety, devotion and commitment to integrity was not fake or pretend but genuine like 24 karat gold. When you sustain otito then otito sustains you! Ifarinu did not have a morality-spirituality that was born out convenience, social pressure or pretense. He did not have a morality-spirituality which changed with circumstances, locations, people, places or things. Ifarinu was not like the chameleon which changes its color to suit its environment. There are chameleon human beings! This refers to people whose morality-spirituality and commitment to integrity and excellence does not go higher than what surrounds them. If what surrounds them is of high order they adjust to appear to have reached that level. If what surrounds them is low they easily and with great willingness become lax and lower their supposed standards of uprightness, truthfulness and integrity. People like this are trees without a root, which are easily toppled over by the faintest wind and who suffer from lack of genuine character and sense of divine identity and personal wholesome honor. Let us continue on in our consideration and let us apply this Ifa teaching to priests, babalorisas, iyalorisas, aworo and babalawo.
When any human being practices and pursues what is contrary to truthfulness, honesty, benevolence and compassion, negative repercussions are sure to be experienced due to the operation of the divine laws of Olodumare within us. This is the divine law of causality or cause and effect. This applies to everyone but in regard to professed babalawo, aworo, babalorisa and iyalorisa there are other things, principles, laws and realities to consider in addition to the operation of the natural laws of justice, law and causality. A priest, olorisha, babalawo, awo etc. is supposed to be a representative of Olodumare and the Irunmole. In other words that person in good measure must have developed within himself or herself the divine character and qualities of the Irunmole that he or she is representing, serving and collaborating with. We are not talking about perfection but about an acceptable, genuine and above average level of virtue, morality-spirituality and ethical conduct and behavior. The Irunmole/Orisa are very specific about what kind of people they want to represent them before others especially in regard to the exercise of priesthood. When we wrongly represent the Irunmole/Orisa and in their name practice deception, manipulation, fear-mongering and looting we can be sure that when all corrective, proper and enlightening measures have been exhausted, if we do not cease such shameful and dishonoring conduct and behavior the Irunmole/Orisa will have to apply severe and unsavory discipline consistent with the nefarious and injurious activity. Representative of Olodumare, Ifa and Irunmole/Orisa have to exercise their priesthoods with honesty, cleanliness, truthfulness, humility, good will, compassion and good faith. To use the Irunmole/Orisa and one’s priesthood authority to intimidate, control, manipulate or coerce others to do our selfish requests is to incur the displeasure and punishment of Irunmole! Look at the end of Eke and Ika! They were given more than ample consideration, time, opportunities and occasions to acknowledge their errors and reform themselves. There punishment did not come immediately but it unfailingly found them. When you with impunity and deliberateness break the laws of nature; the laws of nature will break you. Their own actions caught up with them. The divine law of causality caught up with them. The Irunmole adjudicated them in council and decided to withdraw their pledge of protection and safety because Eke and Ika did not keep their side of the reasonable agreement! Remember this well. Ifa does not ask of us what is beyond our personal ability to do. To obey Ifa is not a strenuous activity but something that is pleasant, sweet, simple and within the range of our possibilities. Consider this lesson as if it were being sent to you alone and no one else. Consider it as if this is the first and last time you will receive this teachings and its favorable benefits if you honor it or unfavorable results if you neglect it. Consider you attitude, disposition and actions following the reception of this divine teaching and understand than to the pursuer of good comes a good life and a good end, but to the pursuer of deceit, robbery, greed and manipulation their lives will be bad and their end will be bad, shameful and regrettable. Priests especially should care for the people who come to see them. They should have love, consideration and sympathy for the people. They should feel honored that they have a roll as collaborators, friends and instruments of the Irunmole/Orisa. Priests should remember that the people are not coming to consult them but to consult the Irunmole/Orisa whom they are supposed to honorably represent, worship and honestly serve. Priests should consider whether this is truly their vocation. Priests should consider whether they really love the Irunmole/Orisa and the community of devotee’s. Eke and Ika did not display love to Ifa, the Irunmole and to the people they were supposed to serve. Eke and Ika had a fake piety. Ifa, Esin Ibile and devotion to je Irunmole/Orisa was nothing more than a cash business to Eke and Ika. If there were no money to be made Eke and Ika would have had nothing to do with Ifa, Esin Ibile and Irunmole/Orisa worship. Eke and Ika wanted vain glory born out of corrosive pride and vanity and not the true divine glory born out of humility, honesty, loving service to the people and genuine devotion to Ifa and Irunmole/Orisa. It is better to do absolutely nothing than to cheat and take advantage of sincere and genuine aspirants and devotee’s in the name of the Irunmole/Orisa. One should feel self shame and embarrassment to even think about cheating and robbing others in the name of Esin Ibile. May Olodumare and Ori safeguard us from pursuing such a fruitless, sad and sorrowful path. All devotee’s of Ifa, Esin Ibile and Irunmole/Orisa should never go beyond the limits of propriety, truthfulness, fairness and uprightness. We should not allow people like Eke and Ika to lure us into bad, dishonest and disreputable practices. We should allow no one to stain our white spiritual garments with palm oil (do not allow people to persuade you to lower your good, honest and upright standards). The people should see the values, character and wholesome personality of the Irunmole/Orisa we honor and worship in us. If we cannot and will not honor our Irunmole/Orisa and Ifa with our honesty, character, truthfulness, gentleness, behavior and actions then we should cease from exercising priesthood functions until we are able to meet the moral-spiritual and ethical requirements. Ceasing from exercising priesthood functions for the above reasons out of respect and love for the Irunmole/Orisa will draw the strength, blessings and gentle corrective/healing power of the Irunmole/Orisa into our lives. Let us be genuine, honest, straightforward and fair in our dealing with people. Let us behave like Ifarinu. Remember that Ifa sees and knows the condition or quality of your heart. The earth (divine earth mother Onile Ogboduora) sees and knows the wicked. Olodumare sees and knows those who do what is right and he will impartially and fairly compensate the good doer with greater good and he will impartially and fairly compensate the evil doer according to his unfruitful and unwholesome labors. Let not pursue the lying and wicked way of Eke and Ika. Let us be noble, trustworthy, reliable and consistently honest like Ifarinu. Let us in our words, in our thoughts and in our actions prove ourselves to be the real children, sons and daughters of Orunmila Awimilogbon Oba Atayese.
(((***The above teaching of Odu Ifa is here reproduced for the benefit of the reader. This Odu and commentary were obtained from the book, Ifa: Ohun Ijinle Aye or Ifa: Philosophy of Life by Awodiran Agboola. In addition to the Odu citation and commentary I also added and worked into the text some of my own original considerations. To read and consider the complete original material with the full commentary of Awodiran Agboola please see the above mentioned book pages 122-127***)))