Read the first part of this article here.

This world is based on sacrifice. The Sun gains nothing from shining its life-giving rays on us and on this earth every day. The planets gain nothing from their regular movements. There’s no benefit for water to be on earth which keeps every creature alive, and for the rain to regularly fall to keep the water level of the earth.

As long as we reflect this divine order, this perfect non-selfish system sustaining every creature on this earth, everything goes well with us. It is told in Bhagavad Gita that divine beings rejoice when we take an unselfish action. Because this makes them pleased, they will wish us only well (I’m paraphrasing here).

Then we are protected and provided for. We are established in our divine natures, seeing this divinity in every person and creature. From this divine nature, our unselfish action flows to benefit the world. Some of such persons benefit the world in a small way, some – in a great way.

The Indian culture is based on this sacrifice, though people largely departed from it and they sacrifice for gain. But the original meaning of giving something up was not to get something back, but because that’s the nature of this existence, and it’s natural to sacrifice out of gratitude of this Universe sustaining us.

So sacrifices were made so that you remember who you are through reflecting the divine order of this Universe.

In Bhagavad Gita, many types of sacrifice are explained. People can sacrifice by giving something physical away. In the western culture, this can manifest through donating something of value. In the Hindu culture, this could be a food offering for the gods and its donation to others after the offering.

Another type of sacrifice is through giving your time or effort in some service to humanity, expecting nothing in return. This is again very popular in the Indian culture. Many ashrams accept volunteers in exchange for a place to stay.

Meditation is also called a sacrifice in Bhagavad Gita, and so is seeking knowledge. But this is only the case if it’s done out of devotion to God and not for some selfish gain. Many people gain little from meditation because they practice it with some personal end in mind.

Why would anyone want to live a life of sacrifice?

By living your life this way, you get into the alignment with the Universe, as you mimic how it acts. You rise above the things changeable and corruptible through your service dedicated to God, because your focus is on that which is permanent and which is the source of everything. So through an unselfish action, you can still live in this busy world yet not be too much affected by it as you find your divine center.

What’s the point of living a selfish, empty life where each success or failure makes you emotional? That’s suffering. It’s better to stop allowing feelings and desires to control you, and start being of real service to the world because it’s the right thing to do.

It is told in Bhagavad Gita that if you act this way, you cannot help but reach the Divine. And when you see the divinity in you, and you firmly know your nature, you’ve passed the test for this school called the earth; because then the ups and downs of life no longer influence you, because you’ve found in yourself that which is divine, that which is immortal, that which is not of this world.