These last couple of weeks seem to be carrying the theme of sacrifice in them. First with Easter, a week in remembering the ultimate sacrifice Jesus gave, supposedly for our (so called) sins. I haven’t bothered to think about that for many many years, but for some reason, this year I have been drawn to remember and contemplate it. Then this week we have Anzac Day here in Australia where we take a moment of remembrance for all those that gave their lives in Gallipoli during the first world war. 8,000 men lost their lives. Many men and women over the years have lost their lives fighting for freedom and democracy. The word sacrifice often conjures up these ideas.
This is however, an extreme version of sacrifice. And in that extremeness we may have forgotten that the act of sacrifice doesn’t necessarily have a bad outcome. Sacrifice has played an important role in the history of humans and our own evolution. The many sacrifices that have been made for the greater good of mankind or womenkind (think of the Suffragettes here) has been happening for 1000s of years.
I have wondered though whether we, in our rather comfortable state of living, have forgotten the important of sacrifice. We might now consider it a dirty word, something that sounds too hard, too harsh. Or maybe we think of it as only a pagan or religious offering, an act of killing.
But sacrificing comes in many different forms and it doesn’t have to mean the ending of life ! To sacrifice can be to surrender, go without or give up something, usually for a greater cause or outcome. Or for the good of another. This is noble indeed.
Have you ever considered all the things in your life you have given up for a greater cause, goal or person? All you parents out there will certainly know what I’m talking about! For those of you that have had a dream or a goal and work hard towards it, you have definitely had to sacrifice for it. When we take up study, we take up the practice of sacrifice.
Making More Decisions Based On The Greater Good
I find the times we are living in so completely fascinating and believe that we are at the cliff’s edge of massive change, even perhaps evolution. We here in the West have had a cosy life for sometime now, and a generation or 3 that haven’t had to think too seriously about this. But now it seems we need to start thinking again about sacrifice and making more decisions based on the greater good. Not a popular thought I’m sure, but one we can’t ignore for too much longer.
Let’s start off small. Take a look at your own life as it stands now. Or maybe what has been happening in the last few years. How much have you had to sacrifice in order to make the necessary changes in your life that will take you forward in a positive direction? What goals and dreams do you have right now? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve them? Do others also have to make sacrifices in order for you to achieve them? Or is there something you need to sacrifice in order for another to achieve something?
Sacrifice in this sense is related to discipline or Tapas as it’s called in Yoga. Without it you can’t achieve much.
Now think of some of the people you admire. Whether they be someone in your family or some accomplished figure in history. Either way, if you admire them, I bet there is something amazing they have achieved in life. If you read or know their life story then you will know of some of the sacrifices both them, and those closest to them, have had to make to be where they are.
When We Sacrifice Something Within Our Lives, Those Closest Also Sacrifice. This Can Be Called Karma.
Karma means action. To act, to work, to do. But it also incorporates the meaning of reaction. The effect that your action has on the future outcome. On your future or the future of another. It’s the outcome of your action. Karma, is not only for those that believe in rebirth, as it is sometimes thought. That is, your good or bad actions and deeds will be dealt with, if not in this life, then in your next.
Working with the principle of Karma regardless of your believes can be very helpful in choosing the actions we take. Beginning to wake up to the ripple effect our decisions have on other aspects of our lives as well as the effect they have on others or the whole of life, is important.
Make Decisions Based On Your Values
We live in an increasingly complex world. The smaller our world becomes, its seems the harder is it to make a choice on something without it effecting another, more often in a negative way. For example, we might think we are doing a good thing to fill our car up with E10 petrol, only to find that this is having a tangible effect on our food security and food security boils down to whether there is civil war, world unrest or whether there is peace.
Or prehaps it’s buying a particular brand of clothing that is trendy, only to find that it has been made by a company that underpays its workers and uses child labor. Or buying a favourite treat only to realise it has unsustainable palm oil in it, effecting the survival of orang-utans in Indonesia. Wow. Karma.
It may feel like you can’t win no matter what decision you make these days. But the point here is that we need to start getting more comfortable within ourselves with our relationship to sacrifice. Lining up our beliefs or values with our actions, our Karma. Learning to happily sacrifice for the greater good is going to play an important role in a sustainable, diverse and karma free future.
So let’s come back to the small picture again – YOU. What goals or dreams do you have at the moment, either for yourself, others, your family or even work or business? What can you willingly, happily sacrifice in order to make those goals a reality? Learn to work in it your own life for positive outcome. Learn to feel good about sacrificing.
Once you begin to see how sacrifice can actually improve things for yourself, then you can begin to apply it into the bigger picture. Some of you may even like to try it the other way around! Some people are naturally drawn to defend others first, so some you might like let’s say, becoming a vegetarian or 3 or 4 days a week, or buy sustainable local products more often.
Enjoy the act of sacrifice and enjoy a karma free life while improving the world we live it!