Reflections on Sacrifice

By George A. Boyd ©2023

Q: What are some of the sacrifices that aspirants have to undergo in order to make this life [the one in which] they unfold all [of] their spiritual potentials, and at what stage do the sacrifices end?

A: Sacrifice is part of all worthy personal endeavors. For example:

  • Children must sacrifice play and games to go to school and obtain an education.
  • Athletes must sacrifice to develop their skills.
  • Young adults must sacrifice going to parties to go to college and do their assignments required to pass their classes.
  • Adults must sacrifice other things they might want to do to work a job to provide livelihood for self and family.
  • Parents must sacrifice their needs and desires to care for their children.
  • Soldiers are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend their country.

It should not be surprising that sacrifice is also a part of your spiritual life:

  • Neophytes must sacrifice their old, comfortable view of the world to experience the inner worlds of consciousness.
  • Aspirants must sacrifice aspects of the life of their ego to become alive to the inner life of the attentional principle, the spirit, and the Soul.
  • Disciples must be able to sacrifice activities that take up time in which they can make progress along the spiritual Path.
  • Initiates sacrifice their personal choices and preferences to be of service to those who are under their watch care and receive their ministry.

When we look at the progression of willingness to give up desires—to sacrifice for something greater—we can visualize seven major levels, ranging from complete self-absorption to complete selflessness:

  1. They only care about their own desires. They use others to achieve what they want, and abandon others, when they are no longer useful.
  2. They mainly care about their own desires, but they are capable of looking after the needs of others for whom they have responsibility.
  3. They continue to care for their own desires, but they begin to have genuine concerns for the welfare of others. They may start to engage in charity or acts of kindness at this stage.
  4. They balance care for self with caring for others. They bring love and thoughtfulness into their relationships with others.
  5. They begin to take care of others and neglect their own needs. They make sure others are taken care of before meeting their own needs. This stage may express as martyrdom or codependency, when they are poignantly aware of the sacrifice they are making, and they resent and resist it.
  6. They forget their own desires and needs and only live to serve others. They completely sacrifice their desires and spend nearly all of their waking hours taking care of others. Saints and other highly advanced disciples on selected spiritual Paths operate from this stage.
  7. Very rare individuals incarnate Divine Love and Grace, and live only to bring the Light of the Divine to others. At this stage, they become an Avatar or Divine Incarnation.

In spiritual life, we see individuals begin to function from levels (4), (5), and (6). They become capable of expressing spiritual emotionality: love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. They become more willing to sacrifice their own desires to help others.

We encourage you to reflect on the ways you have sacrificed personally to obtain an education, to enhance your skills, to work, and to care for your family. If you have embarked upon your spiritual journey, you may wish to reflect upon the ways your spiritual development has required you to sacrifice.

When Does Sacrifice End?

As for when sacrifice will end? If you regard something is more important than simply fulfilling your desires and indulging your fantasies, you will make sacrifices. You make sacrifices in your personal life; you will make sacrifices in your spiritual life. Personal growth requires sacrifice; spiritual development also requires sacrifice.

As long as you aspire to something greater than a life of mediocrity or idleness, you will sacrifice. As long as you work for worthy goals, or to achieve self-transcendence, you will sacrifice.

The parts of you that want their desires fulfilled and resist deferring gratification will fight against you like inner demons when you sacrifice. But if you wish to progress, and not merely stay where you are—or even deteriorate—you have to sacrifice.

It is not comfortable… it is not easy… it is not convenient… it is often unpleasant to sacrifice, but if you want to move forward in your life and mature; if you want to advance on the spiritual Path, you will need to willingly embrace sacrifice.

You need to sacrifice your addictions. You need to sacrifice your ignorance and delusions. You need to sacrifice your selfishness and narcissism. You need to sacrifice your clinging to old patterns that no longer serve you. You need to sacrifice your limitations and embrace your greater life and potential.

Do not regard sacrifice as a burden; you cannot grow and learn without it. Even though it is difficult and challenging, you cannot move from where you are today to the next step in your life or your spiritual development without sacrifice.

Do not regard sacrifice as an enemy; it is your friend. It forces you to marshal your resources and summon your strengths, and do something better and more noble than you have done before. And if you persist, sacrifice will open the doors to even greater possibilities than you have even dreamed… if you can let go… if you can have the willingness to face change and undergo transformation… if you can sacrifice, these greater things will also become possible for you.

How Do I Make a Breakthrough?

By George A. Boyd © 2013

People envision different breakthroughs, depending on what they sense is an obstacle to their happiness. This obstacle might be construed as fear; a lack of faith or vision; insufficient money, knowledge, or skill; or a need for personal or spiritual transformation. Here are some examples:

  1. Do something that is scary. Face and conquer your fear.
  2. Do something on faith it will work out. Trust God.
  3. Spend money to enhance your knowledge and your skills; invest in a program that will teach you to make more money.
  4. Make a new courageous choice.
  5. Go beyond your limits. Expand your awareness.
  6. Surrender to God, and let yourself be guided and taught.
  7. Allow yourself to dream big.
  8. Deliver an irresistible product or service that everyone wants to buy.
  9. Make enough money to realize your dreams.
  10. Overcome an inner obstacle that holds you back. Undergo personal transformation.
  11. Learn a key technique that allows you to accelerate your spiritual evolution.
  12. Undergo spiritual transformation.
  13. Complete your spiritual path. Achieve Liberation

We teach specific techniques in our Mudrashram® Course in Meditation and the Accelerated Meditation Program to enable you to work on type 5, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

  • The methods of Raja Yoga show you how to expand beyond your limits, assisting you to achieve a type 5 breakthrough.
  • Techniques from the invocational methods, Jnana Yoga, and Agni Yoga can be applied to help you overcome personal obstacles, enabling you to generate type 10 breakthroughs with selected issues in your life.
  • Learning transformational mantra keyed to the cutting edge of spirituality that we teach empowers you to accelerate your spiritual evolution, to bring about spiritual transformation, and ultimately, complete your spiritual development in Planetary, Transplanetary, Cosmic, Supracosmic, and Transcendental bands of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, and reach Liberation and Mastery—this one key method produces breakthrough types 11, 12, and 13.

We take you even further towards achieving a type 10 breakthrough for three areas in our coaching programs for Dysfunctional Family, Cult Recovery, and Addiction Recovery, which will help you get down to the core of these life issues, and work to overcome them.

For those of you who elect to take our Life Coaching program can begin to work on the fears that hold you back (type 1), make courageous choices (type 4), go beyond your limits (type 5), and get in touch with the larger vision for your life (type 7). Some of you doing this deep inquiry into the wellsprings of your life might also discover an inner talent or gift that will enable you to have more money to invest in your skills (type 3), and realize your dreams (type 9).

Having a breakthrough in one of these areas is not a miracle. It’s not magic. If you do the work required, you can make a breakthrough.

You don’t make a breakthrough by blaming other people, blaming your past, or cursing your fate. You must make new choices. You must make a bridge to where you want to be and walk on that path.

This might be the hardest thing you have ever done. There may be setbacks and disappointments. You might try different methods and not succeed. But, if you persevere; if you don’t give up; and if you will not settle for anything less than achieving that goal: you will attain it. You will make your breakthrough.

Working with Scattered Emotions

By George A. Boyd © 2022

Q: I have been noticing my emotions are becoming scattered after doing meditation. What can I do to remedy this?

A: Scattered emotions occur when you are attempting to reconcile different points of view. They are common when, for example, you may have joined a new spiritual group and it has different morality, cosmology, and spiritual aims than the former group to which you belonged. What has to happen is you need to establish a synthesis that allows you to hold each divergent perception in context, and to discern when each perception is appropriate.

Q: I sense that my emotions have deep roots, but I cannot penetrate to their core. It is like a barrier presents itself to me when I try to get to the bottom of my emotions. Am I blocking or sabotaging myself in some way?

A: There are seven major layers of emotions. Most people get stuck at the fourth layer, when they hit the wall of their defenses. It’s important to grasp the range of your emotions:

  1. Reactive emotions – At this level, environmental stimuli trigger emotional reactions. For example, you find yourself getting mad at someone who cuts you off when you are driving.
  2. Retrospective emotions – At this level, you are reacting to an event in your lived experience. You commonly experience this level as regret for something you did or said, or getting mad at yourself for doing something stupid. The marker of this level is you are ruminating about something that happened in your past.
  3. Motivational emotions – These are the desire-laden emotions that motivate you to carry out action. These emotions drive you to seek out pleasure, reward, or happiness, or press for successful achievement of something you desire. For example, you might strongly desire to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona: you are counting the days until you can take your trip.
  4. Defensive emotions – These emotions arise when you attempt to hide specific behavior about which you feel ashamed, or when you attempt to fend off attacks on your character or reputation. For example, you might deny that you were at a party where a crime took place, because you are afraid you might be accused of wrong doing and arrested.
  5. Core emotional pain – These emotions reside in your personal unconscious, or Shadow. They contain the core issues of emotional pain that take the form of shame, guilt, rage, desires for revenge, fear, lack of trust (paranoia), self-hatred, and wanting to die (suicidal ideation). For example, you might recognize your alcohol drinking is beginning to spin out of control, but you keep this a secret from others—the defensive layer of emotions may deny, distract, minimize, or rationalize your behavior to keep others from knowing you are an alcoholic.
  6. Altruistic emotions – These emotions come from your deeper nature; they transcend the core emotional pain of the personality. They are founded upon love, kindness, compassion, and caring. These emotions become a part of the expression of virtuous character. For example, you might find an injured dog and nurse it back to health.
  7. Sacred emotions – These emotions connect you with your spirit and your Soul, The emotions that arise from the spirit include devotional love, gratitude, faith, and spiritual longing to return to God. Emotions that arise from the Soul are unconditional love, compassion, mercy, courage, and munificence. Sacred emotions emerge in meditation and prayer. For example, you might worship God when you are in your religious gathering.

Many meditators can readily recognize reactive, retrospective, and motivational emotions arising when they monitor their emotions. When they hit the layer of defensive emotions, however, they may feel like they are hitting a wall or barrier.

This emotional wall aims to protect you from becoming aware of the core issues that make up your emotional pain. Some people experience anxiety, nervousness, and discomfort when they try to move through this layer of the emotions.

If you can transcend this layer of resistance, you can directly encounter your deep wounds, and can begin to heal them. In Mudrashram®, we have our students use Emotional Vipassana, the Mandala Method, Process Meditation, and the Rainbow Technique to work with these issues that dwell in the Shadow. We teach these techniques in our intermediate meditation courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

In many spiritual groups, they teach you methods to assist you to move your attention beyond the Shadow, and they focus you on developing a virtuous character, being of service to others, and expressing your sacred emotions. We teach several of these methods to transcend the issues of your Shadow in our intermediate meditation courses.

Q: What layer do scattered emotions come from?

A: We like to use a different model when explaining scattered emotions. Instead of layers, you may wish to consider the seven postures of emotions, which examines the interface between emotions and how they influence your behavior. These seven emotional postures are:

  1. Focused – When you operate in this posture, you know what you want and you go for it directly.
  2. Scattered – This posture arises when you are in conflict about what is the right thing to believe, or the right thing to do.
  3. Defensive – You adopt this posture when you perceive that you are under attack: you believe that your body, possessions, family or loved ones, your livelihood, or your reputation are threatened.
  4. Playful – You may enter this emotional posture when you are having fun: you engage in playful banter and you may tell jokes and puns.
  5. Dramatic – You slip into this posture when you feel you must strongly advocate or argue for something you believe in. In this posture you may defend your own point of view and attack the viewpoint of others; alternately, you may attempt to persuade others to adopt your point of view. When you are operating in this posture, you speak with urgency and poignancy, as you are protecting what you hold is meaningful and important to you.
  6. Serenity – When your emotions settle down, you move into this posture. Here your emotions are calm and peaceful. You are present and mindful. You experience living in the present moment.
  7. Exultation – You move into this posture when great art or music uplifts you, when you experience the beauty and majesty of Nature, or when you have a spiritual “peak experience,” where you feel that you are one with the Cosmos.

We say that aspirants and disciples commonly work on reactive emotions (layer one), retrospective emotions (layer two), defensive emotions (layer four), and core emotional pain (layer five). They aspire to increase the amount of time they can devote to developing good character (layer six) and to channel their sacred emotions (layer seven) through ministry and service.

They strive to work out and transcend the conflict of scattered emotions (posture two) and the stress of defensive emotions (posture three), and spend more time in the emotional outlook of serenity (posture six) and experience the ecstasy of exultation (posture seven).

Q: Are there specific things I might do to work with these layers and postures?

A: For working with the troublesome layers of emotions, there are some things you can do:

  • Reactive emotions – Monitor your behavior, and notice what triggers you. Dialog with the part of you that reacts and get to the bottom of its concern—Rainbow Technique is helpful for this.
  • Retrospective emotions – Use Process Meditation to work out these issues; identify what you could have done better, and forgive yourself for any mistakes you made.
  • Defensive emotions – Identify what is under attack. Take steps to lower you risk and get out of harm’s way when this is possible. Diffuse your reactions of anger and revenge through Process Meditation and Mandala Method.
  • Core emotional pain – You can use Emotional Vipassana, Mandala Method, Process Meditation, and Rainbow Technique to engage each specific issue. If these core emotions are too overwhelming to work with using these self-help methods, you may wish to seek out psychotherapy.

For difficult emotional postures, you can use the following approaches:

  • Scattered – Identify what are the conflicting beliefs, values, desires, and perspectives. Use dialog methods like Voice Dialog, Gestalt two-chair methods, Psychodrama, or the Synthesis Method to identify both polarities of the conflict. Use the Synthesis Method to identify what transcendent synthesis satisfies the conflict and finds a way to honor both perspectives—this creates, as it were, a win-win scenario, where the conflict is resolved.
  • Defensive – Identify a course of action that allows you to navigate out of the threatening position in which you find yourself. It is important to find ways to resolve your situation that do not involve lying, deceptive, violent, or criminal behavior. Working with a trained counselor can help you identify workable solutions that do not make your situation worse.

Realize that the immortal core of your nature—your attentional principle, spirit, and Soul—transcend your emotional pain and conflict. When you can shift into operating from these higher perspectives, you can work on your emotional issues, and you can express the deeper levels of altruistic and sacred emotions—and you can function more often from the emotional posture of serenity and commune with the inner wellspring of bliss and joy through exultation.

The Gentle Art of Getting a Life

By George A. Boyd © 2022

Aspirants who learn to live in an altered state of consciousness in religious or spiritual cults often withdraw from their lives. For them to recover, they have to re-own their lives.

The embodied ego, which is an aspect of what we call Life Consciousness, consists of the following layers:

  1. Behavior – These are the actions you do.
  2. Assumed identity – These are the roles or functions you perform that drive your behavior.
  3. Motivation – These are the desires or dreams that underlie your behavior and drive you to inhabit the different roles you play in your life.
  4. Beliefs – These are the reasons you give about why you pursue your desires or dreams.
  5. Meaning and purpose – This is the core meta-motivation that animates your dreams and desires—this is the reason you tell yourself you are alive. [For some, this might be to take care of their family. For others, it might be to serve their country in the military. For others, it might be the expression of their creative gifts. For others, it might be to pursue a spiritual Path.]
  6. Decision – This is the choice to enact your dreams and pursue your worthy desires.
  7. Core identity – At this level, you discover the embodied ego, which is the actor in your life. Uniting your attention with this center grants the perception of where you are in your life right now.

Here are some examples of these life layers:

You normally do not perform random behavior, or act upon a whim: you perform actions for a reason. For example, you take out the trash, because you don’t want to attract insects or rodents. You brush your hair before going out of the house, because you want to present a good appearance when you leave your home.

You subsume a group of associated behavior under the rubric of a role you assume. The role, “I am a homeowner,” contains sets of related behavior. This might include cleaning, repair, and maintenance of your home; paying bills and taxes for your home; and selecting furniture, appliances, and design elements to furnish and beautify your home.

Something motivates you to want to own a home and take care of it. There are motivations that underlie each of your roles.

You tell yourself a story as to why you want to own a home: this is the layer of beliefs.

Underlying these stories you tell yourself as to why you are motivated to pursue the objectives you consider important, there is a core element of meta-motivation—the purpose why you are alive. [When people don’t discover this for themselves, political and religious leaders, spiritual cults, hate and terrorist groups are only to happy to tell you what your purpose is, so you can follow them and serve their agendas.]

Your life is founded upon the decisions and choices your make. This determines the direction your life takes. [When you own your choices, you are capable of being responsible and accountable.]

The core identity of the ego perceives the results your choices have made in your life, and judges whether you are successful and happy—you have achieved what you have desired—or you are a miserable failure, because you have not achieved what you want or been able to define and act upon what gives your life meaning. This core ego identity has been called your self-image.

The art of re-owing your life

When your attention is fixed in an altered state of consciousness, you dissociate from your life experience. Dissociation leads to:

  • Not feeling your feelings (emotional numbness or deadness)
  • A sense your life is not real (depersonalization)
  • A perception that the world is not real (derealization)
  • A loss of desire for personal objectives (demotivation)
  • A belief that your identity and your life no longer exist (ego death)

In order to restore normalized functioning, you need to bring your attention, awareness, and energy out of the altered state of consciousness and return them to the fully grounded state—what we call the waking state of awareness. Some ways you can do this are:

  • Bring your attention back to the waking state of consciousness and keep it there until your awareness returns to this state.
  • Visualize the energy that is fixing you in an altered state of consciousness is moving down a tube, and is becoming fixed in the center of the earth.
  • Do activities that activate the centers of the Conscious mind, such as walking and exercise; paying attention to your immediate sensory experience of the environment; relating to others as human beings, not a spiritual essence; solving problems that require analytical thinking; performing an inventory of your life’s goals and defining your purpose for being alive.

When you function in the Conscious mind, your ego’s integration re-emerges, and you regain the sense of having a unique human life. Getting your attention, awareness, and energy back to the ego and the Conscious mind can help you restore normalized functioning and again experience that you have a life.

These dissociative states are commonly experienced during Kundalini syndromes and after sustained periods of deep meditation. You will also find them in groups that admonish their followers to demonize their personality and their ego, casting them as illusory (Maya), as an agency of the evil world mind (the Matrix), or as the embodiment of evil (the carnal man, the man of sin, or the spawn of Satan)—and urge them to remain in an altered state of awareness.

We have written in greater depth on the consequences of remaining in altered states of awareness in our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing? Those who are struggling with the aftermath of being involved for an extended time in a religious cult—or other group that has kept you in a altered state of consciousness for a sustained period—may find our Cult Recovery Coaching Program helpful.

Intensity of Identity

By George A. Boyd © 2022

We can characterize the state of identification as having different levels of intensity. At greater intensity, the state of identification is strongly defended and anchored; at lesser intensity, there is a greater ability to detach or dissociate from that state of identity.

We can describe seven orders of identity:

  1. Egoic role, such as a job title or life function [like being a parent]
  2. Unconscious personification of a life issue, or subpersonality
  3. Personal integration center, such as the ego or the Self
  4. Archetypal identification center, such as a spiritual seed atom or form
  5. Superconscious integration center, such as a nucleus of identity
  6. Immortal spiritual essence, such as the attentional principle, spirit, or ensouling entity
  7. Empowered spiritual essence, such as found in Initiates, who gain Mastery and the Divine empowers them to guide, teach, and initiate others

These orders of identity can be assumed with different degrees of intensity, as we explain below.

Level one – The identity state is assumed casually and has little importance to you. You might be a member of a club or social group, but have no great interest or allegiance to being a part of the events they hold or places they visit.

Level two – The identity state takes on an enhanced significance or importance to you. You consider yourself a member of the group and you want to contribute: you may donate money, volunteer your time, or participate in planning.

Level three – The identity state becomes linked to your core sense of identity or status, and you cling to it and defend it. You become a parent: you defend and protect your spouse and children. You establish a company: you pay special attention to your reputation and the way your brand is perceived.

Level four – The identity state becomes strongly linked to your sense of personal survival, and you develop several layers of defense mechanisms to not allow anyone to threaten what you consider to be of the highest importance in your life. When this identity state becomes distorted, this intensity level appears in personality disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Level five – The identity state becomes linked with your spiritual survival or salvation. At this level, you may identify with an archetypal identification center, a Superconscious integration center, or an immortal spiritual essence, and cling to it to make sure that it does not become sullied with karma or sin. When this level awakens in you, you may find yourself dissociating from personal identification and keeping your attention focused on essences within your Superconscious mind.

Level six – You assume the identity state in an ecstatic mystic trance and you gain union and identification with a form of the Divine. The Yogi who unites cosmic consciousness with Brahman experiences this state as the highest enlightenment and bliss, and is fully convinced that he or she has reached the summit of spiritual attainment.

Level seven – The essence with which you identify is liberated into its origin, and you glimpse Satchitananda, the source of the mighty force that animates each spiritual essence that is sent into Creation. At this level, you experience your ultimate state of identification.

Intensity levels one through four are associated with the personal identification orders one to four. Intensity levels five through seven derive from spiritual identification orders five through seven.

The energy and focus required to maintain union with a state of spiritual identification are much greater than that which is necessary to assume states of personal identification. For this reason, when people draw upon elements of their spiritual and religious identity, the intensity with which hold their sense of who they are is much stronger that their personal forms of identification.

Archetypal identity, when it embraces racism and hatred, creates turmoil in the society through the beliefs and actions those who identify with these numinous ideas of the collective unconscious. When religion guides the hand of politics, it may impose an intolerant and authoritarian regime upon those it governs. When mystic trance influences group behavior, it may spawn fanaticism and create dangerous spiritual cults.

Examining your identity states

We invite you to explore your identity states with some questions designed to have you look at these aspects of your mind and spiritual nature:

  • Which of the orders of identification have you experienced?
  • Which of these orders of identification are core to the way you know yourself in your current life?
  • Have the orders of identification with which you most strongly identify today changed over time? How did you experience these orders of identification differently in earlier periods of your life?
  • What identity states do you currently hold within intensity level one?
  • What identity states do you currently hold within intensity level two?
  • What identity states do you currently hold within intensity level three?
  • What identity states do you currently hold within intensity level four?
  • Do you embrace any spiritual identity states with intensity levels five, six, or seven? What are these identity states?
  • Do you experience any distortions at intensity level four that are contributing to personal stress, conflict, and misery? What are these patterns that arise? What are they trying to tell you? How do they impact your ability to function in your adult roles?
  • Do you experience any distortions that stem from archetypal or spiritual identification? How do these influence your values, beliefs, emotions, and behavior?
  • Which identity states bring undue stress and unhappiness in your life or waste your time? Which could you jettison?
  • Which identity states contribute most to your sense of meaning and purpose?
  • Which identity states seem fleeting and ephemeral? Which are lasting—an identity state you will maintain for your entire life?

As you gain greater understanding of your identity states and the intensity with which you hold them, you will intuit what is most important to you and who you are at every level of your mind, personal and transpersonal. We encourage you to study your identity states to gain the insights that will support your positive change and growth.