The Secret of Sacrifice
What is this great breath that strips the flower of the soul down to white spirit bones? Eight shafts of jewel-song in praise of the One.
True spiritual freedom lies on the far side of a door labelled ‘sacrifice’. It is a door that many approach at some stage upon their spiritual journey but one which few people try the handle of and even fewer generate the strength to push open against the weight of their own fears and doubts. In my experience of watching those who do try the fateful handle, there are three types of motivation which seem to be at work in some combination.
The first arises out of desperation, despair or disgust. This motivation tends to arise in the life when all else has been tried and has failed. The individual comes to the door as a last resort and they are not happy about it. They are only sure of one thing – they cannot go back. If they are conscious they will have burned their own bridges behind them. If not they may find that the circumstances of their lives seem to have conspired to leave them no option. In the latter instances they often have self pity as well as desperation and the self pity is baggage which must be let go off before they can pass through. They need to experience more ‘decentralisation’ which takes the focus off themselves. The motivation of desperation is sufficient to get them to try the door and perhaps even pass through it. Unfortunately they find that it is not a single door but a ‘way’ that requires the continuous practise of ‘giving up’. Once the original pressure has eased then the motivation to continue subsides and progress forward is made in bursts that coincide with the reawakening of the experience of desperation interspersed with occasional experiences of the second motivating energy.
The second motivation arises out of ‘love’ or the recognition of the deep connection between human beings. It lies behind the sacrifices parents make for their children or soldiers for their country. Individuals who approach the door out of this motivation have a greater sense of joy which sustains them more than the first group. The joy comes from the experience of conscious participation in an expanded sense of ‘self’. They are motivated by the benefit to others that arises out of their sacrifice and in the higher sense this develops into true service – ‘the spontaneous outflow of a loving heart’.
The challenges for those who walk the path of sacrifice this way centre around the development of wisdom as a result of disillusionment. Joy at the benefits derived by others from their sacrifices can be interspersed with feelings of ‘burn out’ and ‘grief’ that their sacrifices sometimes are for nothing and even on occasion are counter productive and hinder the growth of others.
As their wisdom develops they are likely to experience more of the third motivating energy. It is difficult to describe this third energy as it is the secret of the true nature of sacrifice – and must be experienced to be understood. It is not a ‘motivation’ in the sense of the first two – motivation requires a ‘self’ to be motivated to acquire some benefit from the direction it takes.
The secret of sacrifice is that it leads, not to the development of the ‘self’ through the growth of some quality like compassion or wisdom, but to the annihilation of the ‘self’ whether that be the personal self or indeed the transpersonal self. In the first two cases, sacrifice is viewed as a ‘loss’. Something is always being ‘given up’ albeit for a higher purpose or in alignment with a greater principle.
Those motivated by the secret of sacrifice do not experience this sense of ‘giving up’ and therefore need no other motive to help them overcome the natural human tendency to want to ‘hold on’. The sacrifice itself is the motivation and it is experienced as ‘gain’ and not ‘loss’. They let go of their ‘selves’ like a man takes off a heavy cloak when the sun comes out. They require no recognition and no benefit, perceived or otherwise to the collective. Of course such a benefit inevitably does occur but it is as a byproduct of their sacrifice and not the cause of it and often remains unrecognised by them. They are experiencing the ‘bliss’ that is the jewel hidden in the heart of sacrifice and a taste of spiritual freedom – not freedom for the self but freedom FROM the illusion of ‘self’. They walk upon the way of sacrifice needing no encouragement to do so and grateful for the opportunity – opening door after door, each one leading to greater and greater annihilations of the very ‘self’ that is journeying until ‘nothing remains but bliss’.