What do we sacrifice?

There is a very common pattern of experience in group retreats: after spending some days away from our usual environment, and focusing on the spiritual side of life, tuning ourselves through various practices, prayers and disciplines, we feel uplifted and hopeful. We think, wouldn’t it be good to live in this state all the time?  And then, the retreat concluded, we return to our usual lives, and within a few days the feelings start to fade.   As a result we may feel frustrated and discouraged: why can’t we hold on to what seemed so real and precious at the time?  Was it only an illusion?

A retreat gives us a glimpse of the possible, but to make it a constant reality requires something of us.  Among other things, it requires us to develop more concentration.  Often in our daily life we are in a very scattered condition, and unable to hold our gaze steadily on what we truly desire.  We may blame circumstances for this–the family, the career, the schooling, the demands of friends and various kinds of commitments–but pointing outside of ourselves is letting the reins fall from our hands and saying, ‘well, I can’t control this–I hope someday the horse goes where I want to go.’  To reach our desired destination, we must keep our concentration on the goal, and not let ourselves be distracted.

We must also be prepared to make sacrifices, for neither in the outer world nor in the inner realms can anything be accomplished without sacrifice.  Hazrat Inayat Khan discusses this in his talk on the Path of Attainment posted here, and tells us that there are two kinds of sacrifices.  The first is of a material kind; if our goal is to start a business, for example, we must sacrifice some of our money to get it started.  The other form of sacrifice is more difficult, for that is the sacrifice of ourself.

Most people are attached to certain thoughts or opinions or ways of being because, they will say, ‘that is me–that’s who I am.’  Letting go of those thoughts or attitudes is like letting go of a piece of the self, and this is very difficult.  We might remember the man who spoke to Hazrat Inayat Khan after a lecture, saying, “Master, I find your thought wonderful, and I would like to become your student–but on one condition, and that is that you do not use the word God.’

To allow the light of a retreat to shine more steadily in our life, then, we need stronger concentration, but we must also be willing to sacrifice some of the ‘me’ that stands before us on the path, casting a dense shadow.  With the help of those two changes, it is possible to discover the happiness which was always waiting for us, the birthright which never left us.

One Reply to “What do we sacrifice?”

  1. chris

    Dear Nawab,
    Inayat aproaches this issue also from another angle, he speaks of being at tune with the music of the spheres. He also says: “being at one with the Absolute, manifests as the music of the spheres.”
    Can you tell more about this ?


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