Today is Day 6 of a consistent sadhana for me, meaning I’ve added a kriya back into my meditation practice, and instead of jumping around from meditation to meditation, I’ve settled on two that will remain constant for at least the next 40 days and sometimes do other meditations or exercises. Pregnancy has hijacked my consistency, but as of last week, it became abundantly clear that I can’t afford to skip any elements. The kriya has to stay. I need a consistent meditation.
I can already feel the very profound difference. I will still feel pregnant physically and emotionally until this thing is over, and I’ve made peace with that fact, but I am recommitted to my practice because I’m remembering that sadhana carries me through a lot. I’m remembering that sacrifice is required to bring forth the blessings of heaven, and even little sacrifices are recognized. If you’ve been on the fence about starting a daily practice, GET OFF IT! There are 9-minute kriyas and 3-minute meditations. Anyone can make time for that, and this stuff can change your life, mmkay? Take it from this repentant yogini and join me in some grand and lovely rejuvenation ; )
Yogi Bhajan, whom I don’t worship btdubs but who does say a lot of very lovely quotable things, presented seven steps to happiness, which proceed as follows:
I think I’ve talked about these steps before on this blog, but that’s okay. Even the above example illustrates how much trouble you get into when you won’t even hop onto the first step of Commitment. Conversely, just the first step can offer so much. There’s a lot to explore in each of these steps, but right now I want to talk about Sacrifice.
At first it seems so odd that sacrifice would be the final requirement before obtaining real happiness. Sacrifice makes us sad, right? Maybe other people are more spiritually evolved than I am and don’t feel that way, but if something is truly a sacrifice, that’s how I feel about it for at least a little while. Taking pain for others is by definition not fun. Yogi B claims that being able to stand any pain for a person leads to happiness that can’t be taken away from us, and I’m ready to believe that based on the few experiences I’ve had, despite the counterintuitive nature of the statement. After all, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind, and I’d imagine he’s quite happy as the King of Heaven, no?
I’ve been studying the Lectures on Faith intermittently for the last couple months, and they are fascinating. The Doctrine and Covenants used to start with these Lectures, which is actually where the “doctrine” part of the title came from, with the revelations being the “covenants and commandments,” so the seven lectures were originally seen as the theological explanations of our basic doctrine of coming to Christ. For those who haven’t read these before, you definitely should. They’re short and sweet and packed with instruction. They also offer an interesting commentary on why sacrifice leads to happiness, which was a delightful surprise.
First, there is the presupposition that happiness comes as fast as we gain knowledge, because knowledge of things as they really are leads us to become like God. The greatest knowledge is knowing God, and all other knowledge leads to that goal, which is eternal life. The second lecture says, “Let us here observe, that after any portion of the human family are made acquainted with the important fact that there is a God who has created and does uphold all things, the extent of their knowledge, respecting his character and glory, will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they shall obtain faith in God, and power with him to behold him face to face” (v. 55). The next verse goes on to say that “having aroused their minds to enquire after the knowledge of God, the enquiry frequently terminated, indeed, always terminated, when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries, and eternal certainty” (emphasis is mine).
So, basically, we can know God with certainty if we’re willing to pay the price. That’s a guarantee. And that’s the definition of happiness. So what’s the price? Lecture 6 asserts that for those who are seeking, “unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; … Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that man should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God… & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life” (v. 4,7)
I know I’m going quotation-heavy here, so please forgive and stick with me (then go read the whole set and let your yogic mind be blown by Lecture 5), because these concepts are important. What I glean from these passages is that sacrifice is the means by which we gain power, which is what we call faith. That power eventually leads us to the knowledge of God, which is different and greater than faith, and it is impossible to obtain sufficient faith that leads to knowledge without sacrifice. Something about giving up everything we hold in higher regard than God unlocks a barrier to greater communion with deity, and that’s really cool. But we really can’t have anything we consider too much to offer up, and that’s where we can encounter some snags. We all have sacred cows, as they say. Lecture 6 talks about how faith and doubt cannot coexist in the same person at the same time, so it’s safe to assume that if we’re ever experiencing doubts, we still have some cows to sacrifice. I’m in the middle of an excellent opportunity to discover more of mine, and that is my goal.
Lecture 7 concludes the series explaining how faith leads to knowledge. In short, true faith brings miracles without exception, as I’ve written before. These are capital-M Miracles we’re talking about, and they teach us and bring blessings to others. They build upon one another, with the final indicator of one’s obtaining all faith being face-to-face knowledge of God. It is redemption, salvation, and eternal life, and scripture and history teach us that we don’t have to wait for death to experience these blessings. There’s happiness for ya.
I think I wanted to write about this today because I’m in the process of learning better how to sacrifice. Motherhood takes everything for me, and I have resisted giving lately. I have never willingly given absolutely everything, but I hope I can soon. I can’t even begin to explain all I’m learning about sacrifice as I go through whatever this is with my religious endeavors, but it is more than I could’ve anticipated. My physical and emotional craziness of late require more than what I’ve been giving in both self-compassion and good ole-fashioned grit and grace. In essence, I currently have a desperate need to remember these principles, so I write about them. I hope my attempts to figure this stuff out can be helpful to others on some level.
I’d also really like to hear people’s thoughts on sacrifice. How has sacrifice brought you greater faith? Have you experienced resulting miracles? Have you been led to knowledge that brings you joy? I’ve experienced enough to accept this as a true principle, but gathering further evidence is always helpful. Do share!
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.