Post number 10 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

Sacrifice rings with me, as a theme today.

In sacrifice, we take a hardship for ourselves so that we can provide benefit somewhere else. Training, non-attachment, letting go: these can all be forms of sacrifice. We bear the brunt of something so that we can make the world better in some way. Sacrifice is compassionate, in that in sacrifice we recognise the needs of “the other” before the needs of ourselves. However sacrifice should be applied wisely, with a view to the future; it is no good for the person who needs help tomorrow, if I die in sacrifice today.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately looking after my girlfriend. She’s a capable, wonderful human being who would get by quite well without me, of course, but at the same time she is facing some choices and hardships we have generated as a couple, but which she must bear the brunt of. So I have been making some sacrifices in things I would personally enjoy doing in order to support and care for her.

Why do I do these things? On the surface it seems it would be easy to be selfish. To let her suffer these hardships alone, and to deal with their consequences while I’m off enjoying myself. Is it because of some sense of “future reward”? I do hope that she’ll one day marry me, that we’ll have children together, that we’ll grow old together. So maybe it’s a little bit of that. I also feel it’s the “right thing to do” to support someone you love; to build them up, to look after them, to face things together. Not least because these hardships were created together. And in part, it’s simply this: it is right for a Jedi to make sacrifices for the benefit of those around them.

Jedi commit to supporting and aiding all those who can benefit from their energies. They recognise the oneness of all in the Force, and so they know that to help one, is to help all. To decrease the net total of imbalance in the world is to promote balance in the world – quite a simple equation. On a personal level, I love my girlfriend and I want very much for her to feel better. For the hardships she endures to take as small a toll as possible on her.

As I mentioned in the previous essay, I believe it’s wise for Jedi to act appropriately, at the opportune moment. To conserve energy in order to create the greatest possible benefit when they do apply it. But there is also space for sacrifice. Sacrifice of that energy, for something one really cares about. It might make sense that we would hope to provide 1 unit’s effort to create 10 units of benefit; in the former example of my girlfriend, if my 10 units of effort can produce a 5 unit, 3 unit, hell a 1 unit drop in her level of suffering, it’s a sacrifice worth making.

Sacrifice is about foregoing things which might be tempting, or easy. Sacrifice is therefore a commitment to the better nature in ourselves, rather than the more primal, selfish impulses we all have. All of us can be lazy, spiteful, mean. All of us have the capacity for it. In sacrifice we can be none of those things; instead, we lay ourselves bare and suffer the consequences of doing so.

What jumps to mind when I think of sacrifice is the old trope of someone rushing onto the road, pushing another person out of the way of an oncoming bus, only to be hit by the bus themselves. Do I believe I could make a sacrifice like that? I don’t know. I’ve happily never had to. For me, sacrifice is something to be honoured, respected. I would be quite happy if my eventual death did some good for someone else, but at the same time I wouldn’t want my children to grow up without a loving, supportive father. As I said, there’s a trade-off to be made between a short-term gain, and a long-term one. In sacrifice, as in everything, we can’t always know what the best course of action is. But we continue to make sacrifices, accepting those consequences, because we know that for all the hurt and suffering we endure, we take it away from another.

I have a high pain threshold. I’ve been told it a few times, by people who would know – tattoo artists, doctors. I have a high capacity for tolerating that which others cannot endure. I think of the consequences under which I ended my marriage. it was a sacrifice. I put an end to the relationship I’d wanted to stand as my legacy so that my children wouldn’t have to see their parents fight anymore. It was tough and I believe for some, it wouldn’t have been possible. Many marriages continue in that vein forever (I think again of my parents). The sacrifice I made there has caused enormous pain to me, and I have grown from it. I have taken it as a lesson in survival, in fatherhood, and in sacrifice.

And now, in my new relationship I am far happier, but there is still work to do, sacrifice to be made. I make these sacrifices gladly.

For it is in giving that we receive…