It seems almost sacrilegious to say so, but money can heal the human soul. Of course, you cannot pray to it, worship it, or even believe in it, but money can definitely heal the soul. This is particularly the case when we consider the collective soul of a people. Yoruba elders of West Africa will sometimes say, Charity is the father of sacrifice. It means that charity is a practice that transforms the otherwise ordinary act of giving into something sacred. In a more practical sense, this proverb reflects the communal support that is built into the Yoruba spiritual tradition, which is governed by Ifa Divination. That is, when Yoruba people make important decisions, they traditionally visit the Babalawo (Ifa priest) in order to consult the Ifa oracle. Each divination is activated through sacrifice, which typically includes goats, chickens, yams and other foods. And while a small portion of the sacrifice is offered at the altar, the vast majority is prepared and shared with the family and local community. And so it is that, the community is continuously being nourished by the spiritual pursuits of its members, whose sacrifices are not considered complete until they have been shared with the people.
Thus, Yoruba tradition demonstrates both secular and sacred ways in which giving and receiving go together. You cannot have one without the other. More importantly, when you give, and someone receives, both parties are elevated a little closer to the highest aspirations of humanity. Recall, for example, a time when you freely gave someone a gift. As the giver, your spirit was elevated through your generosity. When you give something away as a gift, you experience a unique mix of freedom, combined with a sense of hope. Likewise, think of a time when you received a gift or love offering. Maybe it was something you received from a small child, a dear friend or an elderly grandparent. When you are the recipient of a gift, your spirit is elevated by accepting the love expressed in the offering, as well as the implicit obligation to make good on the gift. In this way, the Good Condition manifests through the act of giving and receiving.
Now, let's give some consideration to what happens when people give and receive money as a form of offering or sacrifice. In the same way that the community is fed each time someone consults Ifa, the community can also be increased by monetary offerings. That is, in exactly the same ways that the human body is healed through the circulation of blood - which is enriched by healthy foods - the collective body can be healed through the circulation of money. This is what we call the adugbo, or commonwealth. Libraries, parks, schools, temples, streams, air, forests, gardens, language, arts, folklore and tradition are all features of the commonwealth. They belong to everyone. Most significantly, when the commonwealth is made financially strong, even individuals who lack money are enriched, their spirits are perpetually lifted.
Enriching the Adugbo
The heart of the adugbo is the Agbole, which represents the most basic social and political unit of the commonwealth. Stated another way, the Agbole organizes a network of social institutions that provide a range of human services. In this way, the adugbo cultivates village culture, which is commonly expressed as good character. Of this, the Holy Odu ObaraIwori teaches the following:
Orobanta-awuwobi-owu divined Ifa for the world
on the day all the world’s people
declared that money is the most important thing in the world.
They would give up everything and continue to run after money.
Orunmila said: Your thoughts about money are right
and your thoughts about money are wrong.
Ifa is what we should honor.
We should continue to adore both of them.
Money exalts a person; money can spoil a person’s character.
If anyone has too much love for money, his character will be spoiled.
Good character is the essence of beauty.
If you have money, it does not prevent you from becoming blind, mad, lame, and sick.
You can be infected by diseases.
You should go and increase your wisdom, readjust your thinking.
Cultivate good character, acquire wisdom, go and perform sacrifice
in order that you may be at ease.
They asked, “What is the sacrifice?
The sacrifice included rats, fish, goats, a calabash of cornmeal, a calabash of bean meal, and twenty thousand cowries.
They refused to sacrifice.
They insulted and ridiculed the babalawos and other practitioners of traditional medicine. After a while, they began to be sick.
They were ill and sad and had nobody to attend them.
They were dying daily.
They were faced with the problems of decaying bodies
and could not ask the babalawos and others for help.
When they could no longer bear the burden,
they went and apologized to the babalawos.
Since that day, the babalawos have been treated with honor in the world.
- Holy Odu ObaraIwori
And so, it is through our spiritual discipline that we can use money to bring about the Good Condition. Learn more about how you can get involved. Act Now!