29 Nov
Posted in: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Editorial, On This Day, Promulgation of Universal Peace, Spiritual Qualities, Talk
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The Meaning of Sacrifice

On 29 November 1912 the Master spoke at the home of the Kinneys about the mystery of sacrifice.  He gave His audience, through the example of Christ, indicators as to how we may understand and embody sacrifice in the true spiritual sense.  It does one well to revisit this talk as it reminds us of the meaning of “sacrifice” other than the definition of a priest’s offering or of plain and utter loss:

Sacrifice means that one offers up something, even one’s life, for that which is of a higher good:

Notwithstanding His [Christ’s] knowledge of what would befall Him, He arose to proclaim His message, suffered all tribulation and hardships from the people and finally offered His life as a sacrifice in order to illumine humanity — gave His blood in order to guide the world of mankind. … There was no doubt that His blessed blood would be shed and His body broken. Nevertheless, that Holy Soul accepted calamity and death in His love for mankind.

Sacrifice also means – and this is closely linked to “giving up for a higher good”- the assimilation of divine perfections and therefore “to live eternally”.  By giving up one’s identity or characteristics, one’s perfections become manifest – this is our ultimate spiritual mission:

If you plant a seed in the ground, a tree will become manifest from that seed. The seed sacrifices itself to the tree that will come from it. The seed is outwardly lost, destroyed; but the same seed which is sacrificed will be absorbed and embodied in the tree, its blossoms, fruit and branches. If the identity of that seed had not been sacrificed to the tree which became manifest from it, no branches, blossoms or fruits would have been forthcoming.

Sacrifice is not something to deplore or avoid.  It is a natural, and desired, part of the transformations that make up one’s spiritual journey:

… man must acquire heavenly qualities and attain divine attributes. He must become the image and likeness of God. He must seek the bounty of the eternal, become the manifestor of the love of God, the light of guidance, the tree of life and the depository of the bounties of God. That is to say, man must sacrifice the qualities and attributes of the world of nature for the qualities and attributes of the world of God. …man, when separated and severed from the attributes of the world of nature, sacrifices the qualities and exigencies of that mortal realm and manifests the perfections of the Kingdom…



Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp.449-452. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-132.html

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sacrifice and http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sacrifice [accessed 23 November 2012]

Photo by Dean Kalyan, www.nineteenmonths.com

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