Friday, December 2, 2016

About spiritual sacrifice


Expulsion of merchants from the Temple
Medieval Art, British Library Arundel

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17 ESV).

This is without any doubt one of the most profound verses in the Scripture, for it contains secrets we can hardly fathom with words.

What is really a broken contrite heart? An afflicted, repented, dejected heart or something more?

True spiritual sacrifice begins with the collapse of all inner idols, including the idea of a separate God that demands our servitude, sacrifice and suffering. 

The Supreme only gives Goodness without expecting anything in return, except the sacrifice of what keeps us from receiving plenitude.

Who´s then demanding? What is really required from us?

Before going deep into these questions we may begin with the following:

...the Ebionites [also known as the Poor (Evyonym), Essenes from South Israel] were very critical with the possibility of restarting a religion that prescribed animal sacrifices. Hence they argued that Jesus had come to abolish, with the help of his own death, cruel sacrifices. Together with the rejection of sacrifices they had preference for a vegetarian diet, which implied the absolute opposition to the consumption of meat. Both attitudes respond to the fact that in Antiquity the consumption of meat was many times linked to sacrifices in the temples, whose sacrified victims were later sold in markets. Meat was eaten when there were sacrifices, otherwise, the diet was different (Los Cristianismos Derrotados, Antonio Piñero, p.75).

Regardless of the fact the Head of Christ/Mashiaj incarnated before the appointed time for more reasons than the elimination of sacrifices, it is obvious that Yeshua/Jesus, was against all rigid norms and ritual sacrifices, as it is clearly seen in the expulsion of merchants that commerced with animals destined for sacrifice and consumption:

In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen (John 2:13-16 ESV).

This is very much in accord with the view of previous Biblical prophets, who pointed out the great mistake of carnal sacrifices:

He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog´s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig´s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and  their soul delights in their abominations (Isaiah 66:3).

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the Knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me (Jeremiah 6:20)

For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices (Jeremiah 7:21).

(See also Isaiah 1:11-16; Amos 5:21-44; Proverbs 21:3; Hosea 8:13)

Now, if the prophets held this view, what originated the custom of sacrificing animals as an offering for Jehova? Did they copy it from other tribes?

The wild custom of sacrificing in order to appease the wrath of the gods was spread all over the earth and came to be part of Judaic religion, which degenerated beyond limits, as the other religions.


Moloch

In the last article we saw how the spiritual teachings were rejected by a majority of Hebrews, which preferred a more carnal-literal cult. 

This made them incapable of receiving the truth about a reality higher than the elements of the flesh, and thus they had to be left in the hands of astral intelligences that rule in accord to Laws of Nature, which demand energies mercilessly. And if those energies are not obtained from spiritual labors performed by conscious humans, other severe works are imposed by Nature, even painful events, such as catastrophes.

This is how ritual sacrifice came to be, as a shadow of a true inner sacrifice that humans did not want to make.

The Book of Splendour or Zohar explains that the word sacrifice, korban, derives from karob, to come close. Sacrifice makes one close to the divine. And to be more specific, a broken heart is the highest sacrifice, as we hear in David´s  Psalm, for when pride collapses, the heart is open to receive. And that is, by the way, the true meaning of Kabbalah, reception. 

The inner reading of Scripture teaches that the Creator and some angelic beings delight on receiving loving energies emanated by those who work with true mystic fire: the silent loving Presence during meditation, intense self-exam, compassion for those who offend us...

What´s more, inner work pacifies Nature, as we can notice in our own bodies when spiritual activities are performed.

Awakening the spiritual fire involves feeling with body, heart and higher mind together.

But only the Light of Grace can forgive sins and burn inner dross gradually, making divine perfection shine increasingly, but only as long as one is able to receive and cultivate the Mind of Christ.

On a lower level, the burning of impurities and emanation of spiritual loving energy was symbolized by the "smoke" that came out of burning fat:

And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the YHVH: is is a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto YHVH (Exodus 29:18 ESV).

The ram that charges with his horns represents the stubborn ego, the inner Satan or first born of the flesh, which is precisely what Abraham and his offspring were asked to sacrifice, but very few understood.

This explain why the Old Testament speaks constantly of the sacrifice of the "first born".

As Paul pointed, first comes the carnal-natural, and then the spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:14). Unfortunately, we seem to be still unable to go beyond the carnal.

Precisely, the rejection of the "inner meanings" of the Torah made Israel and other cultures externalize the sacrifices, even with infants, becoming thus prey for lower forces, which the Judeo-Christian tradition knows as principalities, powers, dominions, and the wicked spirits of the air (Ephesians 6:12), moon demons known as shedim in Hebrew, and which inspire all sorts of self-mortifications, cult to images, material offerings, and of course, bloody sacrifices, like those of Moloch, which liberate energies that feed the magnetic field of the moon, from which some creatures are nurtured.

This is the context of passages such as:

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch...according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:20 ESV).

Therefore, we see that sacrifice must also be aimed at the own prejudices and false beliefs.

The loving sacrifice of the proud carnality by means of a constant self-study and permanent meditation/prayer, is the only living energy that can pay all debt. 

By eliminating the idols of the heart and mind, we stop seeing the Divine One as something external or far away, feeling how S/He lives even in our own conscious suffering:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17 ESV).


This is a hint to a deeper aspect of the Teaching that has to do with the supreme sacrifice that turns us into vessels for the divine, preparing us for a second birth, growth and higher marriage. But we will continue in the next post.

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