Most of us were raised with the idea of sacrifice being critical to our attainment of success and happiness. Unless we sacrificed ourselves, we could not expect to succeed; in scholastic pursuits, in athletics, in relationships, in freedom. Sacrifice has been a crucial part of most religious systems, especially in our history of Judaic Christianity along with our sisters and brothers of the Muslim faith. We have sacrificed children in ancient times (the root of the word “sacrifice”) and indeed, central to Christianity’s idea of salvation is God himself sacrificing his son Jesus. We have been taught to emulate sacrifice in our lives. Today it continues on in most churches which practice the “Holy Supper,” repeating again the idea of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We see it in people sacrificing themselves to “serve God” by never taking time out to renew, relax, and have fun. We see it in the daily reports of “suicide bombings” in which people kill themselves in order to destroy others. We see it in thousands of soldiers willing to sacrifice their lives to save freedoms. Every time a first responder is killed, their life is honored for its sacrifice. Do such acts of sacrifice truly make us freer, happier, and feeling more connected? Perhaps in the sort term, but in the long term, I think not.
Sacrifice is based on the idea that bodies and forms are real. In order for our bodies and forms to survive, someone must lose in order that we gain. If I sacrifice, I sacrifice my body in order to give freedom to another, to you. Yes, in our divided appearances, it seems to work, at least for a while in time, then we all perish and return to dust. “I have died for you; what will you now do for me?” Indeed, the whole world we see with human eyes is based on the sacrifice of oneness, the eternal oneness of being Spirit. Few in this world are willing to sacrifice their ideas which threaten form and substance but they will sacrifice a sense of Divine Oneness in order to keep their separateness. So we continue on with the insanity of nations fighting nations, people within nations fighting each other, even with sport events sacrificing players in order to keep a unique specialness, and hanging on to the little piece of nothingness.
If it be true that our essence is Spirit, and this Spirit is everywhere in everybody alike, then how can anything destroy or retain that which is eternal and non-physical anyway? We don’t have our little corners on the Spirit separate from anyone else; it’s either universal for all or it’s nothing but illusion. Awakening to this Spirit, this Mind as the Buddha called it, or the Oneness that Jesus sought to live and teach, is the key to ending needless and senseless sacrifice. Awakening can frighten us at first, because we fear losing our individuality, our uniqueness and specialness. We fear losing our national, family, and religious identities. Many would rather die fighting to save the illusion of separateness than to embrace the idea of Spiritual Oneness. And so wars rage, people choose to end lives and enter their special paradise, and families split into several pieces, but in the big picture, all for naught.
How then do I live without sacrifice? I begin by awakening to the Eternal Essence within. But how can I feel it, how can I sense it, know it, you ask? It’s all just theory, right? Well, what isn’t? But if you begin to think of yourself as Everything, One with Everything, and begin to forgive yourself for those illusions of separateness, you will begin to feel it. And it’s wonderful! And when we forgive and let go another who we feel has taken something from us, it deepens the awareness even more. Think of one or ones who have hurt and abused you, your body, your body-ego. Then seek to understand that you and that other are not really bodies but Spirit, and can begin to forgive them, to let it go. You will move toward that wonderful attitude of “Whatever!” And you will begin to sense a Presence that is beyond description in joy, peace, and ecstasy! How much happiness can you handle? How much can you forgive?
Years ago, a young man I knew was away in college supposedly working and sacrifice to be his best and make his parents proud. Whenever I met him, he said how much fun college was, with the parties he enjoyed and the video games he played. He spoke of how he felt bored in many classes so he had fun challenging teachers and ideas. Once he told of students sacrificing nights preparing for finals and projects. He chose to do what he really wanted to do in learning and having fun along the way. In the end, he became very successful in his business, still doing what he loves, his passion. It reminds me of a book I read years ago with the title, “Do What You Want, and the Money Will Follow!”
Someone once asked Tiger Woods how he could practice golf so much and he said, “It’s my passion!” It isn’t sacrifice to practice and hone his skills; it’s music, excitement, fun. Someone once asked the Dalai Lama’s followers how they could exist with such disciplines of meditation, eating bland foods, wearing silly clothes, and living without sex with women. One answered, “Well, when you are having orgasms all the time, you don’t think much about it!”
In the ancient Hebrew scriptures, permeated with sacrifices of blood, burnt offerings, and incense, there’s a passage which portrays God as saying, “I’ve had enough! They make me sick to my stomach!” In another place God cries out, “Rend your hearts and not your garments!” Even then, before the further evolution of the uselessness of sacrifice, God had had enough of it!
Awaken then to yourself not as body, but as Eternal Spirit, one with all the Universe, and you will begin to allow body grudges and losses to fade. You will find a wonderful freedom from feeling separate, lost, alone, with that false specialness. Move past the senselessness of living with sacrifice and martyrdom and feel the unspeakable joy of being One with all, forgiving, allowing, and blessing whoever, wherever you are. Sit and ponder; breathe it in daily, hourly, and be One with Everything!