Sacrifice is a word often associated with something dogmatic, dark or something painful. But like many other spiritual concepts, that too is not fully understood. The problem with this is that when spiritual concepts are misunderstood, for one reason or another, they can even become dangerous. It is true that sacrifice has been used throughout history and cultures for dark rituals of ill intentions, however, to understand the darker or lighter manifestation of something, we must first understand its neutral form. Through gaining deeper understanding, we will make more conscious decisions and have more awareness.
In its neutral spiritual form, sacrifice is just an energy exchange to gain access to the spiritual realms and retreat higher information that you don’t currently have in your being, such as divine love or “ascension”; it is to forge and initiate a new path; it is an inner alchemy process to bring forth new energy in your life. For example, sacrifice is when we are letting go of a bad habit or when we are releasing patterns that no longer serve us; so it is an ego death, or something that we identified with, to initiate or rebirth new energy of higher consciousness. In a way, sacrifice is about releasing a shadow aspect of self to regain or reclaim a part of our soul, or life force energy. In its pure or holy nature, this is what sacrifice is.
However, when a person refuses to change internally, they choose to perform darker rituals in which they would sacrifice someone or something else, using its life force energy, so they are basically externalizing the alchemical process. Truly powerful people know how to transmute their own energy and life force rather than using someone else’s. Oftentimes, generations are defined not by what they do, but by what they don’t do. People who engage in such darker doings are basically inverting true power and are manifesting weakness; they are taking something pure and inverting it for their own selfish reasons, while harming others, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
By doing this, they are essentially dissolving their own life force energy in this life and they are reducing themselves. This is because a person cannot heal and align themselves externally; to advance spiritually, one must earn this and walk their own path by delving into their inner alchemical process, and then become aligned to higher values, principles and consciousness.
The heart is the initiatory pathway to higher consciousness, and only through its pure light we can enter these portals of evolving spiritually.
There are no easy fixes and no shortcuts – spirituality is an expansion of perceptions and it can only be reached from within. When it is artificially built, a person is only opening up to lower vibrational energies. In the short term, they will experience feelings of power, confidence and euphoria, and yet in the long run, they will be reducing and negating their own self. This is what is commonly known as “selling your soul”. When we externalize the spiritual process, in any shape or form, we will only be able to advance to the highest level of what was achieved in our past lives – not anything higher than that; and once this peak is reached, the soul will then begin to descend, ultimately becoming in a state of perpetual depletion of life force energy.
The only way to advance beyond our level of consciousness is through our heart connection and through inner work; only then we will be able to create and generate more energy within us, reaching higher states of consciousness; only then we’ll be able to access authentic creative information and essentially channel divine energy. The positive aspect of sacrifice is that it is about giving up our ego, or a part of our ego that no longer selves us, or releasing our shadow to build more light and pure power, such as divine or true love. We all might have heard the statement that love often times requires sacrifice.
Love and sacrifice
In the story “Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry, Jim and Della are a young poor couple who are deeply in love. Christmas is coming and both of them want to buy something for the other, but they just don’t have any money. Their only possessions are Jim’s golden watch given to him by his father, and Della’s long beautiful hair. As such, Jim dreams of buying her a beautiful brush, and Della dreams of buying him a new watch chain because his is broken. And so, keeping it all a secret from one another, Della goes to cut her hair and then sell it to buy the chain, while in the same afternoon, Jim goes to sell his watch, and then buys Della the most beautiful set of shell combs.
Both of their gifts are very high value and very dear to their hearts – it is not easy for either of them to sacrifice them so selflessly. In the evening, when Jim comes home and sees her for the first time with her short hair, Della, feeling a little self-conscious, says, “‘Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,’ she went on with sudden serious sweetness, ‘but nobody could ever count my love for you.’” Her hair is unimportant because she feels joy for the sacrifice she made for the one she truly loves. Jim returns the essence of her feelings and his love in a most gentle way, “ ‘Don’t make any mistake, Dell,’ he said, ‘about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less.’” He then holds her in his arms understanding how true their love is; they are united in their willingness to make sacrifices for one another, with purity of heart and intention. While their gifts may not be “used”, what will remain of this day, possibly until the rest of their lives, is the meaning of their gesture; they share true love of selflessness.
Sacred love is selfless. And this selflessness is what makes love divine. With their sacrifice, two people can transcend their love beyond the physical love – to maybe become a love that would never change and would never vary.
Divine love is like the eternal virgin energy
The eternal virgin isn’t “someone” who’s never had sexual relations, she is the energy of that which is complete in itself and doesn’t need to be with “anyone” to know who it is. She is someone who interacts with external energies but she never allows herself to be fundamentally changed, shifted, or transmuted by any forces that come from without. In other words, the eternal virgin energy remains true to herself and her essence within, and does not allow anything or anyone other than her self to shift her. She always seeks the higher connection to God, or to higher consciousness, and she does this by way of service, surrender, humbleness, selflessness and compassion. And each time there is a transformational experience, instead of allowing herself to be changed from without, she renews herself from within completely, like a phoenix.
In other words, “Love stays true to its inner state, incapable of being swayed from without.”
Often times couples share that while they still love their partner, they are no longer in love with them; there is a common belief that it is normal for love to go away in time. Well, sometimes the love is still there, but it needs a shift of perception from us, a shift of energy, to be seen in its “new” shape. For example, it can be finding ways to communicate more deeply, or paying attention to one another more, or re-discovering one another because the truth is our inner worlds change even if we’ve lived together under the same roof for many years.
The divine love that mystics and philosophers talk about is a sense of being that we all strive to reach within ourselves; just think of all the times our inner peace and joy are disturbed by what happens outside of us, whether someone’s opinion or a life’s situation, and how we wished we wouldn’t sway like that because of these external things. It’s like an orange. No matter how much we squeeze it or pressure it, an orange is an orange and only orange juice will come of it. This inner state is what people call “awakening”. For example, Buddhist teachings on love rarely have to do with ordinary relationships or receiving love from others; they are about cultivating the capacity to be able to love, which depends on our inner state of being.
When love is given freely and fully, it is not even by us, it is by the divine, for it is the divine that flows through the heart of the giver. We often can’t love until we are ready to give love. Because love carries the seed of sacrifice. Sometimes the person to whom we give love will not appreciate it, and then we’ll be left with the divine, with God, alone inside us. Still, God, or the universe, or however you feel comfortable calling this higher love consciousness, will always find a way to send to us the people who will reciprocate.
In the context of love, sacrifice means you are willing to be for that person, to put their needs before yours, and to do what is right for them. It is like trust. Love without trust isn’t love at all. Trust is the feeling that you can rely on someone who will act in your best interest.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to be martyrs. We do have to emphasize that it is only to be done for something or someone who truly matters to our heart. In my article on “Tenderness” I talked about how we must protect our tenderness; how it is not meant to be shared with anyone. In the same way, we must protect our love, our sensitivity, our vulnerability, our humbleness, our devotion, our empathy – these are holy qualities and are not meant to be shared with just anyone. We must be discerning because unfortunately many people do not know how to receive, appreciate and respect such gifts. This is why they destroy and attack kindness in this world – because what is not understood becomes a threat to those of the ignorant eyes and empty hearts.
Our love, tenderness, trust, empathy, humbleness, sensitivity, and vulnerability are meant to be shared with a select few who know how to respect it, appreciate it, and understand it. These are godly qualities that must be blessed, and to bless something is to protect it. In this protected space, we will open ourselves in all of our divine nature with the one we love. In true love, there will be mutual generosity and mutual selflessness.
Oftentimes we think of sacrifice as painful, but does sacrifice even feel painful when we are in love?
Because if we come to the realization that we are one with another, then anything we’ve “sacrificed” will only take on another form or shape, in their life, in their hands, as a brush or watch’s chain perhaps. It isn’t lost. It is a gift of love. It fulfills our entire being. It gives us immense pleasure. And we love in this giving.And we love in this losing. Love doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, like pain, like losing – it feels good to give of ourself to another when it is true and pure. It is actually something we long for once we are truly in love.
Think of the times when you’ve wanted to give your children all you have – this is sacrifice. And we do the same when we love a person unconditionally. In our wholeheartedness is the selflessness. In other words, in true love, what may seem as sacrifice is no sacrifice at all, it is pure enjoyment because there is no resistance. To sacrifice is to give up one’s own interests for another – yet it is the greatest pleasure to see their happiness, and theirs is yours, and there is mutual gratitude, and there is mutual generosity, and there is mutual appreciation.
O. Henry ends the story with the following: “The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.”
We often talk about how fate brings two souls together to meet in this life – and yet it is our everyday actions that may or may not sustain our love ever after. And it is in our ordinary gestures, throughout the years, circling the wooden stairways of life, time and age, where we will find that true miracles begin with human moments.