The Sacrifice
Thoughts on Abraham's sacrifice and triumph by Tarun & Celia Cherian


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The other day we read in the paper of a dog that fought off a lion to save a child. A sister who donated a kidney. A teenager who saved a drowning family and lost her life.

Bakrid is being celebrated tomorrow. It celebrates Sacrifice. Patriarch Abraham’s terrifying test and triumph. What it celebrates is part of the heritage of 70% of humanity; of the billions who personally or whose families draw faith, courage, principles, and inspiration from Judaism, Christianity & Islam. But which of us humans or earth creatures, can really insulate ourselves from… the issues that drip from the blade of Sacrifice?   

Now the Abrahamic story enshrined in The Old Testament is a gut-wrenching one. But it is worth recalling. For it demands we think of the price asked of us. Of those who will stand and look God in the eye.

Before you delve into the story, a quick introduction into The Old Testament. As you may know it is a root text of the 3 great religions originating from the Middle East. It is a saga covering 4000 years of life, a testimony that is glorious and harsh, spanning unbelievable hardship, and everything between, raging conquerors, slavery, liberation, murder, adultery, incest… Running through the 4000 years of history is an Untamed God, here he smashes walls of a fort, there he gives his people up to slavery. Here he kills all the first born of slavers, there he raises up a prophet to the heavens.

When you finally get to the story you may think, ‘Oh God how gory. What a terrible God’. Now we do not personally at Creator’s Child buy into Abraham’s choices or actions. But the truth is whatever faith you walk, a blood price will be claimed.

From The Old Testament: Genesis 22: “And it came to pass … that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, “My father”:
And Abraham  said, “Here am I, my son”.
And Isaac said, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
And Abraham said,”My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”: so they went both of them together.

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham”:
And Abraham said, “Here am I”.
And The Angel of the Lord  said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, “By myself have I sworn”, saith the Lord, “for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”

“What a blood-thirsty God”, you may exclaim. Yes, indeed. But consider this, in India, in the 1920’s, one in 5 women died during childbirth. You and I are here because someone has paid a blood price.

But if you think The Old Testament God’s choices rough, we suggest you reread Tickle 47, {}, in sub-section, ‘Death's Impossible Choices. And Old-Style Gods’, we relate the chilling choices of  a deep psychic who in dreams was offered the choice of deciding which of her relatives lived or died, not once, but many times. In comparison to this psychic’s test, we could argue Abraham had it easy.

As we deconstruct the Old Testament Story we realise that ‘His Truth’ asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son. He agrees. Let us first ask ourselves this: Do you think it was easy for Abraham to agree? Do we understand the blood price asked? ‘Yes’, you may say, ‘it is easy to understand just how terrible such a sacrifice is, especially if you have a child you love’.

‘But’, you may say, ‘many parents have in today’s world sold off their children’, while most do so when caught up in terrible straits, a few have done so for trivial reasons.  No we need to understand the sheer extent of the sacrifice.

In Biblical times, a son was an extension of man, many would kill themselves to help their children survive, because their children extended them. To understand what it truly meant, to see how visceral it is, asking a man to kill his only son is like someone asking a Man to take a knife and cut off his genitals. Asking a man to rip out his heart. But that too some may say is doable. We recall the great blood artists like Mao Sugiyama who had his genitals cut off by surgeons. These later starred in a meal that he served his friends. Yes they all ate his cooked genitals.

No, even castrating yourself is hardly the full price that was asked of Abraham. For by killing his son, the father is killing much more. He is also killing his father, his mother, his grandfather. Others in the family pay the price for our stands or failures.

After my {Tarun’s} spiritual awakening I walked away from formal Christianity. Sometimes turning my back on many of its conventions. When I married Celia, my father was threatened by Priests of his tradition with excommunication. A threat of great magnitude, for his is India’s oldest Christian tradition, 2000 years old, and various wings of our family have been stalwarts in it for hundreds, even thousands of years.  His reply gives me strength when I lack courage, “I encourage my children to stand behind their convictions and choices… I know who I am, I know what my family is, I know who stands behind me…” Faced with the choice of excommunication and his principles, he chose principles. It was hard, for he had a deep commitment to his faith, family and tradition, but he would have cast it all aside… for a wayward son’s quixotic choices.

No, but Abraham was doing much more than merely negating all his ancestors… as a Patriarch, the head of a tribe, he was the central pillar an entire nation rested on. If he failed, his entire tribe could fall into disarray and be easily conquered, and enslaved. This was not an idle threat in those times, or ours.

The price a nation has to pay for the vagrance of its prophets is certainly not unique to Middle Eastern Religions. Consider the awful price others paid when Crown Prince Siddartha left his wife, his parents and his kingdom. His horror at Life’s realities sent him stumbling into the forests, this had immense consequences that went far beyond the tragic ones of an oversensitive prince being devoured by wild animals or enslaved. Consider what it would mean to his wife, who in those times became a virtual widow, an outcaste. Add to that the terrible impact on his mother, father, family. Look at it from the point of view of his Father, the king, how the courtiers would have sniggered, how the departure would have led to a political vacuum, battles of succession have ripped dynasties and countries apart. And not just then. Can we forget how but recently in the early 2000’s when The King of Nepal and other royals were gunned down by his son and Crown Prince? Add to all this a far more serious danger, of how the perceived weakness of The King and succession battles would have increased the threat of invasion. As a side note, spare a moment for his personal guard and servants, they would have been downgraded, dismissed, tortured, or put to death. Few spiritualists who place Buddha on their mantelpiece and see his peaceful face realise this, the price of Buddhahood was paid by a nation.

Siddartha’s teenage anguish that drove him out to a path to jungles and suffering, however, is nothing compared to a True Patriarch or Matriarch’s responsibility. No, a leader has to weigh his or her personal feelings in the scale of the tribe’s responsibility. It is not just a Real Man making a stone-cold sober choice. It is a Leader entrusted with a whole tribe knowing that when he placed his child on the rock, thousands were on that rock.  The fate of an entire people was on that black rock.

Let us return to the awful horror of The Sacrifice. Imagine picking up your flesh and blood, tying him up, the harsh ropes biting into disbelieving flesh. Imagine placing placing your child on cold stone, seeing the horror in your child’s eyes. Imagine the sound of the knife being whetted scraping the ear of the child, the father in you, the very wind. Imagine lifting your hand, about to castrate yourself, about to rip your heart out, about to end your family, about to eliminate your entire tribe and culture.

Now many of us know this agony. A child recounted the terrifying choice she had deciding whether to have her aging mother operated on or no. Not operating meant letting gangrene spread. Operating meant inflicting the unbearable on the impossible.

Spiritualist Amita P, once faced exactly such a choice. Let us hear it in her own words "I had climbed a tall ladder to get something from the attic, when I slipped and fell, I instinctively put out my hand to break my fall. As I landed, I heard a snapping sound as though a dry twig broke. You can't imagine what the pain was likewhen the 2 ends of the bones grated against each other. I made my farm workers make a rough splint with a tree branch and tied it with a 'thorthu'. I went to the doctor who set the bones but told me that I needed to do an operation and get a plate put because both bones in the arm had broken and so I may not regain 100% arm function. But the cost of the operation was 30,000/- (in 1997, this may not seem much, but in today's money terms just factoring bank interest terms it is 2,40,000, but if you had invested it land it would be at least half a crore!).... But I had to pay my kids' fees. I could either do the operation and set my arm well, or pay my kid's fees. I chose to pay the fees. The bones in my arm didn't set straight and my arm is slightly bent and I have just 85% arm function."

Just before the descending arm of Abraham bearing a cruel blade rips into his son whom he has bound {And traumatised from today’s perspective} an angel calls out and stops Abraham, promising a glorious future for himself and his sons. Because The Ego is willing to sacrifice its most precious asset, the hope of a future, it is exalted. But Abraham was not obeying God out of hope for any reward. He was promised none. Obeying God, obeying his truth, meant a destruction of everything he valued. The death of his son. The horror of his wife. The death of his line. The reaction of The Tribe. The glee of the tribe's enemies.

Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison, in his fight to end apartheid. Did he think he would ever be released from prison? Did he do fight because he really belived he would win? Did he spend 27 years in jail to get the nobel prize? Or did he stand up against apartheid because it was the right thing to do... and whether he lived to see a new South Africa or died in prison was irrelevant?

Now Abraham could have said ‘Yes’. Or he could have said ‘No’. Both had terrifying consequences. On the one hand he was killing every thing he loved. On the other he was facing a God who could crush nations like ants... or sweep the earth clean of humanity with a flood.

A few years ago when talking to one of my Spirit Guides, Lord EZh, he said, “Many of you have a mistaken notion of us spirit guides and guardian angels, imagining us to be sweet, imagining we will necessarily avert a tragedy or lessen a pain. We are loving, not sweet. In some life choices to help you learn, we may place great suffering or death in your way. We have lived and died in your terms, sometimes, hundreds and even millions of times… We are concerned about lifting you from this grave… helping you graduate… On a personal note he added, Tarun, there was a time when you could have had easy global artistic success, at least in earthly eyes… I blocked it… you needed to struggle and grow…” 

In Abraham’s Place, I would hope I would have had the courage to say “No. I will not kill my child. I will not go feed you. Go hungry. And if this angers you and you will claim me, my family, my race, my earth and my child… Then so be it…”

The issue is not really whether Abraham said Yes or No. The issue is that Abraham said Yes to his truth. Was Abraham willing to place everything on his conviction?

Many of us have glimpsed our truth, seen the divine. But have we placed ourselves behind our truth? Have you or I been willing to put it all on the line? To place our most precious part of our being on the blood rock?

We do not talk about Sacrifice today, but it is imperative that we do. For even if we hide our heads beneath the sand, {or should we say Prozac?}, nothing can protect us from Life.

Most of us would rather skim the surface of life… hide in safe cocoons… But life has weapons to chase us out from the awfulness of mere existing… with  its eternal weapons of lovers, children, parents, beliefs, causes, nations, religions, jihads, crusades, nukes, Armageddon… Death. Yes thanks to these cruelties we are impaled, crucified, forced by hard choices, impossible choices to feel, to live, to rise, to touch the feet of God with bloody hands… We will all find ourselves like Abraham with knife in hand, or Isaac tied up… Life demands All from All of us.

Life isn’t sweet, it is magnificent.