S A C R I F I C E
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, April 11, 2006
Among the fires of the heart the most vivid is the flame of self-sacrifice. Precisely this armor diverts the hostile arrows and creates the renowned invulnerability. The fire of courage is only a part of the flame of self-sacrifice. Of course, self-sacrifice does not mean necessarily to offer oneself as a victim, but it corresponds to the readiness to conquer for the work of the Highest World.
The Teaching about sacrifice was already given to you. Sacrifice is power. Power is possibility. Consequently every sacrifice is first of all a possibility.
It is time to cast aside the hypocrisy that sacrifice is deprivation. We do not accept deprivations, but We give possibilities.
Attainment, synthesis, and vigilance are expressed by the tri-colored flame. Attainment is silver; synthesis is green; vigilance is yellow. This triad is developed by training one’s consciousness in the many conditions of life. One can point to this triad as the sign of one's having mastered the necessary conditions for self-sacrifice.
Agni Yoga, 461.
One may understand self-sacrifice as the most rapid way to gain admittance.
Think about why, for any physical effort, a deep inhalation is needed. Is there not in this a connection to the transmission of energy, of which we have spoken today? Among physical manifestations how can there be anything supernatural?
Agni Yoga, 350.
Wisely is ordained the bliss of him who sacrifices his soul for his neighbor. Often this commandment is applied to the sacrifice of one's life, yet it is not said of life or body, but of the spirit. Thus a most difficult and lengthy task is given. In order to give one's soul one should cultivate, expand, and refine it, then it can be given for the salvation of one's neighbor. Thus the wisdom of the Commandment should be understood and consciously applied.
Self-sacrifice cannot be coaxed. Self-sacrifice cannot be commanded. When the spirit, unmindful of itself, aches for others, it acts by free will. Even a hint of coercion would be improper where sacrifice is freely offered. Is division of the spirit possible where there is coercion?
See, how the ever-ready flame flares up! No pain can divert what has already been sent by the will of a pure spirit!
Agni Yoga, 366.
The Blessed One pointed out to His disciples a fakir who was throwing a ball with great skill. He hit the target every time, and two boys then hurried to pick up the ball and bring it back. The Blessed One said, “This man has attained perfection in passing on the ball; each ball that he throws is at once returned to him. So it is with each act of giving, but only when it is perfect. Therefore learn to sacrifice perfectly, for art should be present in every sacrifice.”
The Blessed One also pointed to a silent man, saying, “Who can define the boundary of silence? A right word is difficult to find, but it is even more difficult to find the beauty of silence.”
Thus did the Blessed One teach silent sacrifice.
Agni Yoga, 385.
There are two kinds of thinking. One is born from feeling, in other words, from the heart, and the other from the mind, which is akin to intellect. Self-sacrifice is born from the heart, and the Brotherhood is built upon this. Our cooperation lives by the heart.
Supermundane I, 13.
There cannot be mercy when the law of Karma must be fulfilled up to the sign. Karma will overtake one, but its quality may be altered by a voluntary sacrifice to unknown people.
Learning about sacrifice, you receive power. Success follows sacrifice. His Teaching is firmly grounded because it is based on sacrifice. Success is nothing else but the counterstroke of sacrifice. The success can be in advance of the sacrifice, as a loan, but inexorable is the fate of the debtor. If today one can pay with little, within a year the payment due will increase. Before the year elapses the debtor becomes stooped with his burden.
Gratitude and devotion flourish joyously in Our Community. If Our conduit brings word to Us that a co-worker thinks he has sacrificed something in the name of the Teaching, this would compel Us to reject his cooperation. Our co-workers know both how to receive and to give.
Agni Yoga, 76.
During my whole life, I have met only two or three people who were really ready to sacrifice everything; but precisely they refrained from giving assurances – they acted. Others came and donated because they had a surplus, or for profit when they heard that each gift is returned a hundredfold. But when this “hundredfold” was not forthcoming as expected, or it was delayed because of their own fault, they turned into the worst enemies and betrayers of the work. Often they would turn away at the final boundary. There were also those who were ready to sacrifice just one half, even when events required that everything be laid at stake. But can one expect success from halfway decisions? Can one expect a cure from medicine given in half doses? Of course, success in these cases was also halved. However, the most remarkable is that the second half, held back because of petty fears, was later taken away either by karma or some unexpected circumstances. There is still a third and most prevalent kind of people, who imagine that their very approach to the Teaching is already the greatest favor on their part. In their conceit, they believe that the Mahatmas are ready to perform a puja to everyone who approaches or even has read their Teaching. Not so! The Great Teachers rejoice and render active help only to those who truly strive. They are sorry for the butterflies, for They know that these butterflies must pass through centuries of difficulties before they can hope to approach the Stronghold of Light.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 15 October 1935.
Self-sacrifice is one of the true paths to Brotherhood. But why then is it enjoined, “Guard your strength?” There is no contradiction in this. The Golden Path, the combining path, affirms both qualities – achievement and caution. Otherwise all would be driven to suicide. Achievement is created in full consciousness and responsibility. Again someone may suspect a contradiction; but a higher devotion, an all conquering love, can teach the combining of higher qualities. Madness does not bring achievement. Faint-heartedness cannot answer for true cautiousness. The conscious realization of duty prompts the right use of energy. Let people reflect about the concordance of qualities.
Madness and faint-heartedness are not suitable for the Path.
I recall a case told to me: In an American school a teacher suggested discussing the following topic: A factory owner – a great benefactor – walked on a road; in front of him walked, reeling, a drunken beggar; suddenly, from around a corner came a car and ran over the drunkard. The question was, Should the factory owner have rushed to save the beggar and risked his own life, or was he right to hold back from the possibility of being killed? The teacher – an American – insisted that the factory owner, who carried a responsibility for the lives of many workers, acted correctly in preserving his life. But a storm of indignation arose, and public opinion insisted that a man should not reason, but is obliged to sacrifice himself for the sake of his neighbor (forgetting that they themselves daily crucify their neighbors in every way). Truly, such consciousnesses have not yet left the first grade and cannot understand that each sacrifice must be sensible, otherwise only evil will result.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 8 March 1938.
Therefore let us say that man should, wherever possible, help his fellow man, but he can only risk his life in a case where he does not bear great responsibility. It would be a tremendous lack of co-measurement and a heavy loss for all humanity if people who benefit all mankind were to senselessly risk their lives. But if we talk to the masses, we must say that man should always and in everything hasten to help his fellow man. Verily, that man is a hero who risks his life for the salvation of his fellow man. But there are different kinds of risks and sacrifices. How important is the sacrifice of a physician or a research scientist, who works self-sacrificingly with terrible destructive substances in order to discover a remedy for pernicious ailments! But these conscious martyrs and benefactors of humanity are seldom remembered.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 8 March 1938.
Urusvati knows that the Yogi can be called the one who sacrifices. What can be sacrificed by him, who has already renounced all earthly riches? But the treasure of the Yogi is always with him: his labor, his thought, his will and all his great energy. From these sources he can draw untiringly, and what is given is replenished by the supermundane prana.
The Yogi serves as a living link with the Supermundane World; this honorable cooperation is not easy. Chaotic earthly accumulations cause pain and exhaustion beyond measure. But the Yogi is a true sacrificer and knows that the Common Good is not achieved easily. As a sensible manager of his resources, he does not allow overfatigue. He knows that all extremes should be avoided. He will immediately inhale the prana and give rest to his organism. This rest will not be a lengthy one, for the Supermundane World hastens to replenish the loss of energy.
The Thinker said, “We give and thus receive. We sacrifice and thus enrich ourselves.”
Supermundane IV, 949.
All preceding Yogas, given from the highest Sources, took as their basis a particular aspect of life. Now, at the dawn of the age of Maitreya, there is needed a Yoga comprising the essence of the whole of life, all-embracing, evading nought. One remembers the example of those unignitible youths in the biblical legend who valiantly sacrificed themselves to the fiery furnace and thereby acquired power.
You may call this the Yoga of Life. But the most precise name will be Agni Yoga. It is precisely the element of fire that gives its name to this Yoga of self-sacrifice. While in other Yogas the dangers are diminished through practices, in the Yoga of Fire the perils are increased, because fire, as an all-binding element, manifests itself everywhere. But it also permits mastery of the subtlest energies. Fire will not lead away from life; it will act as a trustworthy guide to the far-off worlds. For what but fire saturates immeasurable space?
Thus, with a smile of joy, greet the fiery life.
Agni Yoga, 158.