Does Love Require Sacrifice?

This is an essay about sacrifice.

Yesterday, I posted two raiku (rhyming haiku) about sacrifice. You can view the original post here. Since I have received some questions about the meaning of my poems, I decided to write an essay about sacrifice. First, here are the poems again:

if love has a price
only complete sacrifice
for love will suffice

if love’s always free
sacrifice could never be
to any degree

I wrote these poems after reading a couple of sections about sacrifice in the book A Course in Miracles.

If God is love, love is union, and God is everywhere, then love is everywhere and “all is one” from a spiritual perspective. If only what God creates is real, then our eternal reality is love, which we have and are. However, we are currently unaware of God’s love (and of our own identity as love) because we associate love with sacrifice and are thus afraid of the pain that love seems to require.

If all is one, then sacrifice is impossible. Sacrifice requires that one entity gain from the pain of another. This might be possible if the entities were separate from each other and were only connected by the “gift” of sacrifice from one to the other, but if the entities were united by spiritual oneness, then what happens to the reality of one entity happens to both, and one entity cannot benefit from the pain of another. In union, if one entity suffers, how can that buy something good for another entity? Likewise, if one entity is happy, all of the other united entities can share in this happiness.

The first poem above means that if love requires sacrifice then complete love demands complete sacrifice, or the complete destruction of all that we value. If we believe that sacrifice is love, then we might seek pain in order to purchase love, surely an obvious contradiction when we look at it plainly.

What we need to learn is that sacrifice is attack and not love. If we relinquish the idea that sacrifice is love, we will no longer fear love, and we will welcome the love of God, which we are currently not aware of in this world.

But sacrifice still has some attraction for us. We believe that if we attack ourselves we can make another person feel guilty and thus keep that other person near us through guilt. In essence, we say, “Look at all I’ve done for you and sacrificed for you. You should feel guilty for even thinking about leaving me.” But it is only the nearness of bodies that this type of thinking has as its goal. It doesn’t care in the least about the nearness or union of minds, which is our reality. As long as we are afraid to lose the nearness of another body, we might associate sacrifice or self-attack with something good—with love—and guilt will be the way that we keep another person in our “possession.” This, however, is a very ineffectual way to prevent loneliness, for it doesn’t deal with the apparent isolation of minds, which is the real cause of loneliness.

The solution to all of this is to recognize that sacrifice is attack and not love, and to realize that love is not bondage but freedom. We can never really be apart from others, in a spiritual sense, and if we accept the union of minds, our loneliness will disappear. If we desire to know our own reality of love, we will not find it through sacrifice, pain, guilt, fear, or bondage. However, we might not be able to easily give up the attraction of guilt, or our idea that we need the presence of another body to prevent loneliness. We might experience fear when considering the ideas of love and freedom. Giving up the attraction of sacrifice and guilt can be a slow process, for if it happens too quickly, fear and panic can temporarily increase rather than decrease.

In conclusion, as long as we believe that love requires sacrifice, attack, and pain, we will fear love and not accept it into our reality. On the other hand, when we realize that the only thing that God wants us to “sacrifice” is pain and fear, we will gradually learn to give up the idea of sacrifice entirely and welcome God’s love, the love that he freely extended to us when he created us.

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