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Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Suffering and Sacrifice

I complain a lot about our language. It's inadequate. We have dozens, scores, even hundreds of words for trivial irrelevancies, and none at all for some of the most important concepts out there. We invent new words, and butcher old ones, to describe ridiculous passing phenomena. Worst of all, we take words and mutilate their meanings into something totally unrelated to the original intent.

Two of the worst cases in point in this regard, from where I stand, are Suffering and Sacrifice.

In it's original iteration, "to suffer" meant "to allow, to permit." What does it mean now? And how does the new meaning intersect with the old?

The irony, to me, is that most of the time, when we "suffer" in the modern sense, we're "suffering" it to happen in the archaic sense. When we suffer, we LET it happen. Many times, dare I even say MOST times, we not only know WHY we are unhappy, but also exactly how to rectify that reality, how to change things so that our pain can end or abate, and our unhappiness can be reversed. Typically, we do no such thing. We refuse to make changes, and allow ourselves to remain miserable. Why?

It's because we fear things we do not know, things we do not fully understand, and we fear change. Stripping another layer off, though, there's another reason buried just below the surface: change requires work, and we've been bred as a culture and as a species to be LAZY. We have so many tools and machines and gadgets to do EVERYTHING for us, from walking to communication to writing to cooking... the whole world has been made so effortless that we grow up not knowing what it's like to have to buckle down and WORK to make something happen. It's easier to just sit there, and.... suffer. The Emerald Tablet tells us, "As Above, So Below," and our conditioned in physical laziness has made us spiritually lazy as well, and as someone who wandered, feeling lost, for decades before he found his Tribe, I can tell you that there is no suffering so great as feeling empty inside.

Sacrifice... there's another term that makes my blood boil. Even as far back as Biblical times, a "sacrifice" was something that cost you, something that was painful or uncomfortable, something you did to curry favor with one diety or another. Sacrifice represented loss.

In it's original sense, though, "to sacrifice" meant "to choose." You can have "this," or "that," but not both... and isn't most of life that way, a lot of the time? To have one, you must sacrifice the other. It's not bad, or painful. It's just one of the side effects of living in a dualistic world. Certainly, it can sometimes be hard to choose between two things, and I don't deny that there are circumstances under which such a choice could be painful... but it's the circumstances that make it so; sacrifice is not, in and of itself, uncomfortable. It's our attachment to things which makes it so... which is ironic, really, since All is One; there's nothing outside yourself to choose. There are no choices to be made, not really- all choices are one choice. It is the illusion of separation that makes it seem like we must give up This to have That. There is no This or That. There only Is.

How many other words can you think of that might have meant something different once that it does now, or that might have had their meaning twisted by circumstance and the flow of culture into something totally... other?

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