Human virtues -- Forgiveness and sacrifice
by Aart Jurriaanse

To be able to forgive is surely one of man’s most winning traits. It is
the willingness to surrender one’s self and one’s convictions, for the
sake of others, and is therefore closely associated with both sacrifice
and goodwill. Forgiveness is ever the attribute of the greater who is
willing to make some sacrifice or concession on behalf of the lesser, in
order that the lesser may be enabled to continue towards its objective.
Achievement of the greater is typically characterized by some form of
concession to the lesser.

Forgiveness must really be regarded as a divine attribute, and that is
why its degree of manifestation keeps pace with man’s development on
the Path of Life; the highly evolved will therefore reveal this
characteristic to a far greater extent than the unevolved savage. It
symbolizes a forgetting of the bad and unpleasant of the past, and a
passing forward to the better that is visualized for the future.


By sacrifice should be understood that joyful rendering of what one
has, in service of others; it therefore implies spontaneous giving from
the heart, and is thus a gesture of love and goodwill, leaving no after
effects of pain or regret. Should sacrifice, however, be regarded as an
obligation or liability, only reluctantly made under some form of
duress, resulting in regrets, pain and suffering, then from the spiritual
point of view it becomes meaningless and should rather be avoided.
Sacrifice therefore should be a spontaneous inner urge, and is not
something that can be taught and, moreover, should never be
demanded of disciples. If exacted, and grudgingly granted, it actually
may have a negative effect by causing a feeling of antipathy or even of
animosity. Similarly, if too much stress is applied in teaching the
principle of sacrifice, the disciple -- rightly or wrongly -- may develop
a feeling of guilt because of non-sacrifice, and although this may then
lead to so-called sacrifice, it will no longer be the genuine article -- it
will be of a forced, unwilling, and therefore of an undesirable nature.

To the disciple there should therefore be no such thing as ‘sacrifice’ in
the ordinary sense of the word. What the average man might regard as
an act of sacrifice, will be nothing of the kind to the dedicated disciple;
to him the relevant action may merely represent an opportunity for
giving or serving, without even for a moment considering the cost. To
the materially minded the effect of such a deed might vary between
self-pity and self-admiration, being an indication of the selfish-emotional
reaction of the personality. The spiritually focused individual
will, however, regard his so-called sacrifice as an opportunity that has
been granted him to serve, for which he is sincerely grateful and which
might provide that inner joy of the soul, but without reflecting any
emotional repercussions.

‘Spiritual sacrifice’ is therefore that divine urge to give and surrender
that which in the past was of importance, but which subsequently has
been superseded by other and higher values. It means the impulse
towards giving, which usually has been triggered unconsciously by a
change in life values because of the ascendancy of soul influence. That
which in the past was deemed of such importance has lost its allure and
is gladly relinquished.

The spirit of sacrifice will also be evinced through an inclination
towards sharing. Such sharing will be an indication that selfishness is
being superseded, and is being sacrificed on the altar of altruism.
World stability will ultimately be achieved only when founded on the
sublimation of selfishness in general, and when a greater willingness is
revealed by the nations of the world to share freely both their natural
resources and the products of their technical and intellectual
proficiency with those who are less fortunately endowed.

Spirituality can of course never be bought by tendering a sacrificial
offering. When man is, however, approaching spiritual life and spiritual
consciousness, his sense of values also changes and, step by step, the
old material and emotional merits are ‘sacrificed’ and surrendered, to
be superseded by that which is spiritual.

No individual ever exists entirely on his own -- he always forms an
inseparable part of mankind, even though he may be leading some
cloistered existence. The majority of men have their family ties and
responsibilities, and beyond that they usually fulfil some role in their
surrounding community. Their attitude, or any change of approach to
life, must therefore invariably also affect those who surround them. The
extent of this influence will depend on the strength of the forces which
they are radiating. Therefore when some sacrifice is contemplated, this
should not solely be determined by personal considerations, as its
effect on others is just as important and should be carefully weighed.

On the other hand, no sacrifice, when purely inspired by spiritual
considerations, could ever be really detrimental to others; effects which
might appear to be harmful will only be apparently so, because of
man’s limited perspective and inaccurate discernment and evaluation of
circumstances. When there is any doubt whether the impulse to
sacrifice springs from astral levels, and is therefore prompted by selfish
desire or emotion, or whether it is of spiritual origin, then the final
decision must be left to the guidance of the soul.

Different meanings will therefore be attached to the concept of
‘sacrifice’, depending on the level and aspect from which it is being
considered, and the motivating incentives:
(a) The motive may be selfish and for personal advantage, by
surrendering some possession, whether material or subjective, with the
hope of exchanging this for something which is regarded of greater
value. This indicates an orientation towards either material acquisition,
or the satisfying of emotional desires. It therefore more resembles a
form of bartering than what esoterically would be regarded as sacrifice.
(b) It may be the instinct to be of help to others, which in its turn may
arise from either (1) a basically selfish motive in trying to avoid
personal distress at the sight of suffering, but this is already an
indication of the unfoldment of compassion; or (2) it may purely arise
as an urge towards impersonal service, in which case it must be
regarded as soul inspired.
(c) The stage is finally reached where there is a total revaluation of the
qualities and purposes of life. The disciple becomes spiritually
oriented, and material values fade away and are ‘sacrificed’ for that
which is higher, resulting in what may be termed ‘the exquisite agony
of sacrifice’. This eventually leads to the stage where all forms of pain
are transcended, and where neither sorrow, rebellion or suffering are
experienced, and ecstasy and exaltation are attained.

Aart Jurriaanse, wrote a number of compilations from the books of Alice A. Bailey. Among these are: Of Life and other worlds; Prophecies; Ponder on this; Serving Humanity; The Soul; The Quality of Life; and he is also the author of Bridges which is a Commentary on these teachings.   

Directory of articles by Aart Jurriaanse

"If you want permanent peace, you will want to lead a dedicated life, constantly living for the sake of others. Then nobody  can disturb your peace. That sacrifice is the key to peace,  and without peace there is no joy or happiness."  Swami Satchidananda



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