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.