The difference between the words forfeit and
sacrifice is telling and instructive:
The words can be used as nouns or verbs. Here are the respective definitions of the verbs from Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition:
For example, a forfeit, daydreaming, gives us the illusion but deprives us of the reality of that which is imagined, while the sacrifice of daydreaming allows for the possibility of the real. In particular, the sacrifice of daydreaming makes it possible to see that we do not possess what we imagine, thus making possible the actual acquisition of what was formerly only imagined.
For another example, we might take our ordinary emotional state and higher emotions. Our ordinary emotional state is characterized by identification and negative emotion and uses what little emotional energy we have. To gain higher emotions, we must sacrifice our current emotions, sacrifice our negativity and identification. That sacrifice saves the energy normally expended and makes room for the higher emotional center to appear, and, in the ensuing quiet, for it to be heard.
Let's take the definitions singly:
If we were to substitute the word "forfeit" for the word "sin" in New Testament writings, we would get a much better picture of what is being said. The word translated as sin, as Maurice Nicoll has pointed out, is actually an archery term meaning having missed the mark, missed the target that one was aiming for. This does not have the judgmental connotation of sin, and more exactly indicates our loss of something we want or are trying for, not something that others tell us we should want.
The definition of sacrifice is even more pregnant with meaning:
The second definition of sacrifice, though, is even more interesting, more exact. We must give up our imagination, our inner-considering, and so on. We must destroy our illusions about who we are, what our value is. We must be able to permit injury to our idea of ourselves. We must forego our valued illusions about ourself, for the sake of acquiring something greater—a real objective picture of who and what we are.
We make the sacrifice of our illusions simply by seeing them for what they are. Simple, but difficult. It requires sustained attention without identification. That is the effort, the willing, required of us.
Rather than forfeiting our life in an illusion of attainment, let us work to sacrifice our illusions for a real gain in consciousness.
Forfeit is effortless. Sacrifice is work. Forfeit is easy, automatic, mechanical, it is our habit of taking the path of least resistance. Sacrifice requires that we stop to think, take a different course than we would normally take, even if only for the sake of doing just that.
External considering has a different effect. First, we must refrain from inner-considering or any other mechanical reaction if we are going to externally consider. We must be aware of, and to some extent able to control, what is happening within us. Second, we must deliberately consider the other person or the situation we are in; consider, for example, whether they might not have acted with the intent to affront us. Consider whether they might, in fact, have been quite unaware of their actions. Consider what really matters to us anyway, we who are trying to struggle with imagination, with inner-considering, with negative emotions. Consider that we are in fact reminded of this now thanks to this situation. Consider whether reprimanding them or feeling sorry for ourselves could really help the situation in any way, or if in fact we might be able instead to say or do something that can relieve tensions, put the situation in a realistic perspective or comic light, and so on. Act in such a way as to help the other. Invisibly, or we'll just feed the worst parts of ourself in the process.
The sacrifice of inner-considering can result in a multitude of creative and energy-saving situations. Externally considering another person can unveil to us a new understanding of that person and others, and can help us chip away some of the awful baggage of selfishness and misunderstanding that we carry. Internal considering is a forfeit of our freedom to act, our freedom to choose, so we are left with the habitual, mechanical reactions that we are seeking to be rid of. External considering is a sacrifice of our habitual, comfortable sleep, requiring sustained effort and experiment, but opening us to new possibilities in our life. Opening us to new possibilities.
All pages © Copyright John Raithel