I have the impression that the worst thing about so-called “sacrifice” is that it is in vain. I am very clear that what I am saying can be considered heresy but that doesn’t keep it from being true.
The first thing I’ve been able to glimpse is that sacrifice as a concept and implementation has covered our human history with a dark, fearful and cruel shadow. Neither human, animal, nor psychological sacrifices have been able to make sacrifice interesting and unitive. In the best of cases sacrifice has been glorified to hide the stupidity of wars and other confrontations where the absurdity of death uses sacrifice as a palliative. On the most mental level, sacrifice has been used to justify incoherent thoughts and actions, and on the spiritual level to control, manipulate, and convince the unwary that there is intrinsic value in sacrifice. And it is not surprising that the “maximum sacrifice” is giving one’s life for others. That’s okay. I am not at all interested in discussing the veracity of these claims, nor do I intend to spoil anyone’s belief in such concepts. Everyone believes in what is best for them, and that way we are all OK.
However, looking at my own sacrifices and the way they operate in me, I can’t help seeing their absurdity. To begin with, if I accept that I have to sacrifice something, I automatically become a victim, and that’s something I don’t want to do. If I do not accept the need for sacrifice, I am practically obliged to give a different answer than “acceptance,” and that means an internal and external change that may put me in an unexpected situation. Then a great possibility opens up: I can “deny” the sacrifice. That implies a strong denial, not of the “activity” in which the sacrifice is immersed, but in my internal attitude toward this sacrificial activity…
In simpler words, I can do the same things I used to consider a sacrifice, without “sacrificing anything.” If someone close to me asks for my help – and not for the first or third time – and I see it as a sacrifice, chances are I’m going to do it simply so I don’t feel guilty. But I can give that help from a different perspective and attitude. Then my answer will be the same, but without the basic internal element of all sacrifice, which is expectation: expectation either that I will receive something in return, or that “my effort” will be useful for something or someone. If I eliminate that “illusory utility” in my doing, either by not having expectations or by simply not accepting a situation that is conflictive for me, I free myself from the entire sacrificial family, which includes both sacrifice and his younger sister, guilt.
I’m not quite sure that sacrifice and guilt are the product of religious education, at least not completely; I think the root is deeper and we have to investigate it in ourselves. But I can’t help thinking how important it is to free ourselves from both, especially from mechanical sacrifice.
Without a doubt, however, unless my attitude changes consciously, I will end up in that contradiction, chained to the expectation of doing something “that works,” or simply declaring “I love sacrifice,” which is worse still.
This is a complex subject and has many nuances. I had been “brooding” over it for a long time when I realized that in the Inner Look, in Chapter I, “Meditation”, it says: “Here sacrifices, feelings of guilt and threats from beyond the grave are denied.” And of course my first response to this phrase was: “Obviously.” Then I was able to see more internally how sacrifice, guilt, and the fear of threats from beyond the grave need to be illuminated by the light of a deeper understanding, generator of a new attitude towards this “historical family” that puts us in need of true meditation.
These images / drawings are from a collection called “Weekly Reflection”. Most of the time the text is related to the photo or the drawing and is a “poetic” interpretation of the image. All the images and drawings are made by Rafael Edwards, all the texts are created by Fernando Aránguiz and all the English translations by Trudi Richards.
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