"When the mind and heart are concentrated deeply upon that which is totally right, one no longer desires anything for oneself." — The Aquarian Almanac"

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October 3, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

” O Divine Maker! Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled, as to console.

To be understood, as to understand.

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.” – Francis of Assisi

Here is the entire prayer/meditation.   It is extremely beautiful.


October 4, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

” The entire creation issues from sacrifice and sacrifice issues from creation.”

— Mahabharata

“Yajna having come to us with our birth, we are debtors all our lives, and thus forever bound to serve the universe.”

— M.K. Gandhi

Gandhi thought it was just as important to stress human responsibility as it was to talk about human rights.

'The Human Kingdom on earth is a hierarchy- God-men, with fully illuminated minds at one end, animal-men, almost mindless, at the other, and a vast range of differing intelligences between.  It is one family, with its self-sacrificing helpers, its good learners, its bad boys, its innocent babes....
...The functions of the human kingdom, affecting us who have dual natures, divine and animal, is to enable us to subdue and transform the animal with the aid of the divine, so that God is all in all. This alchemical process takes place, to a very considerable extent, in the crucible called Home.'

B.P. Wadia "The Grhastha Ashrama."

Wadia is wonderful for looking at the Indian culture through the eyes of theosophy.

Though typically the Grhastha Asrama is generally understood as relating to those who have taken up the family life, i.e. raising a family with children, is it possible to enter into this Grhastha position without a physical family?

If one were to consider the complex nature of the Human Tabernacle as the dwelling for theGodling, the home for the Divine Self, might one understand the duties of the householder to be a universal duty for all students of Ancient Wisdom?

Good point, Kristan.  Why should sacrifice be limited only to householders and to the householder stage of life - if indeed it is?  HPB's life is an excellent example of one of sacrifice.  I've no doubt we could find examples of many non-householders who dedicate their lives to helping others.  I suspect there are people of all ages (young and old) in many walks of life who from day to day put the needs of others above their own.

The householder stage might also be thought of as a period of life where one contributes to the goods and services of the community.  The next stage is one of renunciation and devoting all of ones energies to the spiritual.  So marriage and children are not the only elements of the householder stage I believe.

Can there be self-sacrifice without love?

Good question, Grace.  

Let us see what love is, and its source before an answer is given.  Can one love a criminal and a wicked person just the same as ones child? If the answer be no, then I cannot say that a self-sacrifice is remotely possible for the one who entertains a difference.  Separation, I've recently heard, is an act of violence.  Entertain this idea, and one will be guilty of a violent crime. 

I do not consider love as being synonymous with Compassion, though, the former is defiantly a reflection of it.  I believe one is Universal and Impersonal, while the other is most commonly seen in regards to an object fit to be loved; therefore it is an act of the personality and has limitations.  Krsna distinctly states that one should cast aside and be free from both love and hatred, yet perform all actions as it were a sacrifice to and for the Self.

We may use love, or at least try to widely diffuse this feeling of love into all creatures, both wicked and divine.  The Wise Adepts look upon the two with equanimity, they do not discriminate upon this quality, just like the ever radiating Sun shines in all places- pure and impure alike.

That is an interesting question.  I vote no.  Sacrifice is not sacrifice unless it is wholehearted.  The love might be for a principle and not necessarily a person.  But the motive power behind sacrifice would need to be something akin to love for it to be sincere.   What do others think?

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Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on October 5, 2015 at 8:42pm

Of course we must define love here too.  But if love is impersonal and universal and devoid of any taint of self, then yes real sacrifice is possible.

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 7, 2015 at 10:20am

"Can there be self-sacrifice without love?"

Good question, Grace.  What do we mean by "sacrifice" and is there only one kind of sacrifice?  An old definition was 'something given up for the sake of another.'  Presumably the 'another' could have been a more desirable object, a person, a community, or a cause.  'We all have to make sacrifices along the way' is a phrase the good person and the ignoble person alike might make.

Love and compassion are likely to be some of the factors in 'self-sacrifice', but what about justice and fairness, or simply common decency - might not these play a part?  Justice and fairness often appeal to us to make sacrifices for those we may not love, to those towards whom we feel no compassion.  

Most of us would tend to make sacrifices for those we cared for, but often not for our neighbours, strangers, or those whom we dislike.

On the other hand, little moments of sacrifice can be found in our everyday life, such as when we let someone go ahead of us in the queue without even thinking about it, or in the person who gives up their seat (their own comfort) on a bus to another person just because the other person might need to sit down, or when we put a coin in a beggars hat & so on.  Perhaps with our talk of love and compassion we need to be careful not to create a notion of sacrifice which will remain out of our reach.  There may be levels, stages, and different degrees of sacrifice.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on October 8, 2015 at 7:34pm

"Can there be self-sacrifice without love?"

We do it all the time.  We make sacrifices frequently because we feel responsible for a situation or for others.  Love may not play any role.  The sense of duty is a pivotal driving force behind many things we do.   

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 5, 2015 at 2:06pm

October 5, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

” Their bliss they find in others’ bliss alone:

And all unknowingly

They hand to other men the draught immortal.”

— Tukaram

” Familiar acts are beautiful through love.”

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on October 5, 2015 at 7:58pm

Could we say that for effort to be truly right it needs to be sacrificial........ unselfish?

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 6, 2015 at 2:01pm

October 6, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

” The right life is a power of joy, a perpetual well-being and pleasing delight.”

— Jacob Boehme

“Self-sacrifice is the real miracle out of which all the reported miracles grew.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

” Life is built up by the sacrifice of the individual to the whole.”

— Aquarian Axiom

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 8, 2015 at 3:36am

” The right life is a power of joy, a perpetual well-being and pleasing delight.”  Jacob Boehme

Is Boehme speaking for all people or just for himself?  The corollary to his statement is that if you don’t feel the power of joy along with a perpetual well-being and pleasing delight then you are not leading the right life.  Is that necessarily the case?  Might there be instances of people making sacrifices, leading the right life - or at least trying to - and who don’t have the same experience as Boehme?

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 7, 2015 at 5:04pm

October 7, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

“He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way — it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.”

— Henry Drummond

“When Duty comes a-knocking at your gate,

Welcome him in; for if you bid him wait,

He will depart only to come once more

And bring seven other duties to your door.”

— Edwin Markham

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 8, 2015 at 3:37am

“He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way — it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.”    Henry Drummond

If that’s the case, I wonder why so many people don’t feel happy or blessed when it comes to giving?  Given that we all seek to feel happy why have we missed out on this opportunity for so long?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on October 8, 2015 at 3:30pm

I believe we should really think about this quote by Henry Drummond.  To me, it appears to be very deceiving.

Important it is to give, foolish it is to give in hopes for happiness.  Looking for happiness by way of external actions is a fruitless quest that will most positively end with despair and grief.  

Selfishness might very well masquerade as a kind act of giving.  We see it in others, but it goes almost undetected in ourselves.  To give is something very important... One, I believe, first must be left empty handed before they can truly give.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 8, 2015 at 5:07pm

Giving to establish one's reputation, or giving to stay out of trouble, or giving to do what is expected of them, or other such examples are not real giving at all.  To give and not expect anything in return, to give unconditionally is rare perhaps but every parent has a sense of it.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on October 8, 2015 at 6:12pm

I believe every parent would have a sense of this unconditional giving.  I would think it would go hand in hand with unconditional love. 

What you had mentioned about giving without expecting anything in return is what I was alluring to when I mentioned that "one must be left empty handed before they can truly give."

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 9, 2015 at 9:30am

Gandhi said the secret of life is selfless service.   I think Henry Drummond has the same sentiment here using different words.  When we participate in something larger than ourselves there is a joy, we are uplifted, we have the cooperation of the Universe you might say.  True happiness, I think Drummond is saying, comes from giving of oneself.  In theosophy we call it Altruism.

Permalink Reply by Peter on October 10, 2015 at 2:55pm

Many people who make genuine sacrifices don't have any sense they are participating in something larger than themselves, nor do they feel particularly happy or joyful or uplifted but just get on with what needs to be done.

Perhaps some people do have that experience. But I think Kristan is raising a question mark over the notion of giving in order to feel true happiness etc.

Of course, the other question I raised earlier is -  given that we all appear to seek happiness, if giving is what brings true happiness why have we not learned this by now?  Why do we not feel happy about giving to others?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on October 10, 2015 at 3:21pm
One cannot fool the Self. Conscious cannot be bought over by quasi-selfless acts of well intended charity or goodwill.

We are always deeply aware of our intentions, no matter how obscured or esoteric they may be. Perhaps this is one reason.

How kind and heartfelt are actions of kindness tainted with the hopes of self interest?
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 10, 2015 at 3:23pm

I suppose you could just call this a try it and see proposition.  It does not need to be a big philosophical debate. Just test the idea.  Give something of oneself to another person unconditionally and see what happens.  The key is it must be unconditionally, nothing wanted or expected in return.  And see what happens. One thing we discover is that it is hard to do. Most of what goes by giving is really filled with ulterior motives.  But we can try.

I once thanked my Mother for all the sacrifices she had made on my behalf.  Her reply, "What sacrifice? it was my joy!"

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on October 10, 2015 at 3:38pm
We may test this all our lives and come to find an answer. However, I personally know those who will constantly give and serve for no other reason other than it makes them feel better about themselves.

I'm not saying one shouldn't give, but as far as self-study goes, it is very important to keep that watchful eye, or at least try and make the self as objective as one can.
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on October 12, 2015 at 1:42pm

We have to start where we are at.  True, unless we are enlightened, then our actions are to some degree self-interested in some measure.  What is important is the effort and the direction. Disinterested action, as discussed in the Gita, is a master skill that will take lifetimes to perfect. So if we make an effort in the right direction we become better for the practice.  Krishna warns about inaction in fear of making mistakes.  So does the Voice.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 8, 2015 at 9:43am

October 8, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

” No man does right who gives up the unmistakable duties of life resting on Divine Command.”

— H.P Blavatsky

“Self-knowledge is of loving deeds the child.”

— The Voice of the Silence

“Life becomes sacred because all its acts and events are looked upon as sacraments.”

— B.P. Wadia 1881

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on October 9, 2015 at 9:42am

October 9, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Second Ashrama: Self-Sacrifice

“Great persons are able to do great kindnesses.”

— Miguel de Cervantes

“This is the hardest of all; to close the open hand out of love, and keep modest as a giver.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche