Sacrifice Yourself

For the welfare of all humanity

Close-up of red autumn leaves against the sky.
Autumn leaves in sunlight at Evergreen, sacrificing themselves for the sake of the tree.

Christmas Day is a celebration of the birth of Christ. But even as we focus on this moment in the life of this spiritual leader, in the back of our minds is the haunting knowledge that he won’t live long. Although he looks cherubic in his manger lined with straw, we know he’ll experience a cruel death before he turns 34. He is to be a sacrifice. So there is a hint of sadness amidst all the joy.

In the past, a sacrifice required a priest with a strong stomach, a reluctant victim (lamb, goat, person) and an altar upon which to do the bloody deed. The modern meaning of the word is to give up something to achieve something else – for example, to sacrifice going to a party to study for an exam or to sacrifice a lime-green Lamborghini so you can afford to have 1.93 children.

An interesting aspect of the Christ story is that although he experienced difficult moments during the ordeal, he willingly sacrificed himself. He didn’t sacrifice an event (party) or an object (Lamborghini). He decided he could do without himself.

In Jack Hawley’s 2001 translation of the spiritual Hindu classic, The Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains the word sacrifice thus:

Sacrifice . . . means offering, helping, and being dedicated to the welfare of all humanity. It implies a mutuality of existence with all other beings. Sacrifice in this spiritual meaning of the word is a universal rule, a fundamental law of nature; sacrifice as the spirit of giving, which permeates all of creation.

Physical life is full of sacrifice. Lord Krishna talking to Arjuna again: