published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 5, pages 191-206 Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2004
Throughout the many talks that 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave to all types of audiences
in His travels, He consistently interspersed the subjects of service and sacrifice.
These presuppose basic choices that one must make in changing one's life from
predominately self interest to one of sharing. Moreover, such sharing and service
must occur well beyond an individual's 'comfort zone' to have any significance.
This essay deals with the human resistance to such change and the unexpected but
uplifting rewards that follow. It further emphasizes the fact of our spiritual
nature and the challenge we face in recognizing that fact. In the process of shifting
a personal paradigm from self-interest to concern for others, a spiritual transformation
will often follow.
'Abdu'l-Bahá describes four significant levels of sacrifice and identifies
physical/spiritual types. The ultimate goal is to attain the 'station of sacrifice'.
Within this context, 'Abdu'l-Bahá provides a supreme example of a life
of service to God and to humankind. He expounds upon the meaning of suffering
and the mystery of sacrifice.
References are made to the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation
and the extraordinary sacrifices by the early believers. Early centuries of Christianity
are also mentioned. The unconditional faith that the many heroes of religion expressed
provides tremendous inspiration for today. 'Abdu'l-Bahá brings all of this
into focus in His unique style, a style that connects us to our own deep purposes