In our yoga we use the term sacrifice. First of all, let us take sacrifice in our ordinary day-to-day lives. Suppose you are a student. You want to study in the evening at seven o'clock for your examination. You want to prepare yourself to pass the examination, but exactly at seven o'clock there is a wonderful movie playing. If you go to the movie, then naturally you will be sacrificing your studies. In the ordinary life you will say that this is not a sacrifice; you feel like going to a movie and you just go. But not! If you become sincere, you will see that your ideas have changed. You feel that the movie will give you more satisfaction than your studies, so you go to the movie. When you are sincere, you will see that you have made a sacrifice of the time that you were going to use for your studies. And instead of going to the movie, if you study at home seriously and devotedly, you sacrifice your so-called pleasure for two hours in order to prepare for your examination.

In the ordinary world we see that sacrifice is of two types: the superior makes a sacrifice for the inferior, or the inferior makes a sacrifice for the superior. The inferior ones feel that by making their sacrifice for the superior, they are pleasing the superior. In their heart of hearts they feel that the superior will have a very secret, sacred corner for them in his heart. A labourer makes countless sacrifices to please his master. Again, in terms of his time, the master or boss can also make a very high, grand or sublime sacrifice for the labourer, his inferior.

The Lord Buddha wanted to sacrifice his own life when he saw that a goat was bleeding and suffering. His heart's compassion bled even for an animal. There have been spiritual saints in India who have wanted to give their lives to save a bird or some other animal. We see that their sacrifice is for the so-called inferior object, but their heart is so big that they want to make the tremendous sacrifice in order to save, protect and illumine the inferior one.

At every moment we get the opportunity to sacrifice. What are we going to sacrifice? We do not have to sacrifice our body, our home, our parents, our children and family. No! Sacrifice does not mean that. Sacrifice means that we have to give up the things which are not opening to the light. There are many things wrong with us; we have darkness, imperfection and limitation inside us. So we have to sacrifice them consciously to the light within us. From the spiritual point of view, sacrifice means the renunciation of our ignorance, our bondage. When we are unconscious, we cherish our ignorance and feel that it is something most necessary in our day-to-day life. But when we are conscious of ignorance-play and how it tortures us and binds us, we try to free ourselves from its meshes. And in order to free ourselves, we have to sacrifice our ignorance.

Sacrifice involves the total being: the body, the vital, the mind, the heart and the soul. In the spiritual life, sacrifice means that all that we have and all that we are in our entire being must be dedicated to the highest and deepest in us. At that time, the body will not have its own individuality; it will be the conscious play of the Divine in us. The mind will not have its own individuality. No! The mind will be a conscious instrument of the Divine, like the heart and the soul. The vital also will be a conscious instrument of the Divine.

Sacrifice does not mean that, by giving, we lose something. We sacrifice our limited self to our highest and largest Self, and at that time we immediately become the largest and the highest Self. Sacrifice does not mean that we will lose something and then be repaid. No! Sacrifice is something that enters into its origin. God started His creation with Love, and Love is oneness. Sacrifice is the feeling of oneness. When my disciples enter into my highest consciousness, at that time they become one with their own highest being and consciousness. When we offer something to the Divine with our mind, heart and soul, we actually become the Divine in our entire being. When we can sacrifice our entire being, we feel the Divine in ourselves. It is easy to do. In sacrifice we become the entire Divinity. We sacrifice the hunger of our body and the demands of our mind to our heart and soul. This sacrifice is not something mental. It is not something that someone can impose on us; at the same time, it is something that we can never avoid. It is the very breath of our existence. If we want to exist in God's world, then sacrifice is the only key to our human existence. It is the Breath of the Supreme. In sacrifice we come to know that we are all Divine.

When an aspirant wants to reach God, he cries inwardly day in and day out. At the end of his journey, he realises that he has made many so-called sacrifices. He did not get pleasure from any place he visited, he did not get joy from his friends or from his relatives. He went through so much hard, arduous, austere self-discipline. He felt that there were many things on earth which could have given him pleasure, joy and comfort, but he avoided them. He went to the Highest, the Goal. He made sacrifices.

Then, after reaching the Goal, perhaps he is told by the Supreme, "I won't allow you to stay always in the perpetual Delight. I want you to go down once again to earth and work for your brothers." If he listens to God, which he must do, then he is making a greater sacrifice. He wanted to come out of ignorance, the ignorant world, and he wanted to reach the highest abode of Wisdom-Light. He made many sacrifices and with greatest difficulty he realised God. Now, after reaching the Highest, God says that again he has to go back to the ignorant earth and work with the unlit, obscure imperfect, unaspiring mankind. This sacrifice is undoubtedly superior to the previous sacrifices that he made along his journey to realisation.

When we look at it from a human point of view, the very act of coming down into the world is a tremendous sacrifice. When one comes into the world after achieving full realisation, he must take on the burden of a human body and work in the physical consciousness. He has to bear all suffering, pain and, what is worse, the obstruction and imperfection of humanity. He has to work for the ignorant world and stay in ignorance. This ignorance is constantly ignoring him or biting and pinching him; the ignorant world is barking at him even while he is trying to transform it. He is offering his achievement to the world which is mostly ungrateful, mostly unaccepting, mostly callous. In Indian scripture this is called the supreme sacrifice because he could have remained in his highest Liberation-Realisation in the soul's world. He rejects his own Immortality in order to help mankind and free it from the meshes of ignorance. Then he carries humanity towards the infinite Light. His very act of carrying the suffering yet unwilling humanity is a tremendous sacrifice for him, in spite of his great inner achievement.

Again, when we go deep, very deep into the inmost recesses of our soul, we feel there is no such thing as sacrifice. We say that the mother makes a thousand and one sacrifices for her son. True, in the beginning the mother nourishes and takes care of the son. The mother sends the son to school. All kinds of sacrifices the mother makes. If she is poor, the mother herself won't eat; she will offer the child her own food. But all the time there is something that the mother cherishes and that thing is hope. Inside that hope is the future fulfilment of the son. And inside the future fulfilment of the son, the mother sees the expansion of her own light and consciousness, her own creation. These things the mother unconsciously feels. But a spiritual person consciously feels the ultimate result of his so-called sacrifice. When he enters into the Highest, he feels that there is no sacrifice, because the Highest embodies the lowest; it embodies the absolutely imperfect, the absolutely unaspiring.

When we say we are making sacrifices, from the ordinary point of view it is true. But from the highest point of view it is not true. If we say we are making the supreme sacrifice, where is our feeling of oneness? I don't make any sacrifice for myself. Whatever I do for myself, I feel that it is legitimate, it is right, it is my obligation to myself. It is I who want to make my life successful. I cannot separate my conscious will from my future achievement; my conscious will and my future achievement go together. Similarly, when we use the term 'sacrifice', we must see that in our sacrifice is the fulfilment of our conscious will. Unconsciously we call it sacrifice, but consciously we call it what is necessary to do, in order that we may sing and fulfil the song of oneness inside us and around us. Sacrifice, in the purest sense of the term, is a conscious way of becoming one with one's own highest, with the all-pervading Consciousness of the Absolute Supreme.