Sacrifice, in a deeper, more profound level, is to give up an object or idea’s original purpose to serve a better one. To abstain from certain actions and emotions, to burn certain object or to engage in bloodletting without getting something out of it is simply a dangerous act of waste.
Take for example, animal sacrifice in the traditions of the Asatru and the Hebrews. Both are great example of ritual sacrifice. In the Asatru, the liturgical faith of the Nordic Tribes, sacrificial animals are killed “in the name of the gods” by a trained practitioner. The blood, meat and bones of the offering would then be consecrate for ritual use. And the word “Consecrate”, is a very interesting term.
The word “consecrate” came from the Latin “con sacra”, which meant “to bring into holiness”. This illustrates an essential aspect of sacrifice which meant that the consecrated objects, the blood, meat and bones of the offering, have become more than just regular foodstuffs, its initial purpose as food has been “sacrificed” for something greater. That greater purpose, in this example,would be to use the blood as an anointing fluid for the celebrants, talismans and that of the temple, the meat for their feasts in celebration of the gods, and the bones for talismanic use.
On the other hand, the Hebrews would burn the entire offering and leave none for themselves. This practice would seem to go against the definition of proper sacrifice as mentioned at the beginning of this article, doesn’t it? Not exactly, as the rites of sacrifice would release the energies contained in the offering, which could then be directed towards the purpose of the working. In the case of the Hebrews, it would be to feed their national egregore, the one they know to be God.
This would reveal another important aspect of sacrifice, that of Release.
Destroying the vessel to release the potential held within is a very powerful technique, but should be used with much caution and premeditation beforehand as the released energy will always feed something.
The danger from this technique comes in two ways:
An Ill-chosen purpose,usually coming from a lack of insight into the working’s underlying intent, or,
A lack of concentration and skill in directing the released energy.
In the first situation, it’s a matter of “Be Careful of What You Wish For”, because it was born out of a false identification of a need. In the even of a success, the results will be hollow as the want is satisfied and the need is left wanting. This type of type of dysfunctional energy dynamic will result in to feeding of and/or the formation of demons (neuroses), and lead to eventual disaster.
The second would present a very similar outcome, but would stem from energy getting lead astray from the original purpose of the sacrifice. Instead of the sacrifice becoming a suitable offering to the gods (one’s higher nature cosplaying as universal forces), it would become perverted and nourish the unbound demons residing at the depths of one’s soul.
The vigilant must keep an eye on both, as to avoid creating and feeding the demons of pyromania, cruelty and loathing, among others.
Apart from the physical offerings mentioned, there is also a more refined form of it, which is expressed as moral sacrifice.
In pursuit of some higher order or state of being, major religions and philosophies have forbidden their adherents from performing certain actions, emotions and the like, condemning at times those who knowingly partake of “sinful” acts. Most notable among these are the Catholic and Buddhist prohibition about sexuality.
Both have strict prohibitions about engaging in sexual actions, especially when it came to their priesthood. It has been in Catholic tradition that lust or anything sexual is inherently wrong, with it becoming a distraction to holy life only one out of the countless condemnations against it. This type of sexual morality has proven to be disastrous, if society’s double-standard towards it is any indication.
Buddhist moral sacrifice, however, is closer to the point more than anything else, especially when it came to the morality of sex. Sex in itself is not inherently evil, the same way everything else in this world of illusions is neither good nor evil. It is our tendency to get caught up in the sensations of the perceived physical and emotional gratification lies the danger.
Armed with this piece of understanding do Buddhist monks take up vows of celibacy and poverty, just so they don’t have any distractions on their way to Nirvana.
It is also very possible, however difficult, to attain freedom even as laity who still enjoy a healthy sex and family life. That is, so long as they “sacrifice” the resulting craving for gratification in sex and in mundane matters by realizing the inherent hollowness in all of it. It’s something not so easy to accomplish, and only by intense and faithful training could one achieve such a frame of mind.
But, with such a disciplined frame of mind one could perform the greatest miracles. The Masters of both the Western and Eastern schools of thought both engaged in powerful sexual rites, where they call up and sacrifice lust in the heat of the at, not even the blinding light of orgasm could sway their iron will.
A master once said that craving is the only thing we have to renounce and the discipline of one’s mind is the only monastery one needs.