Does God expect sacrifice or suffering?

Photo by Emiliano Arano on

Fasting, waking up at certain times to pray, eating only ‘morally admissible’ foods, pilgrimage, practising rituals, and, it’s all done with one thought in mind – To feel to have ‘done’ something nice towards god.
Let’s dive deeper into such thought pattern to recognise the real reason for such acts/rituals/karma.
First, all these actions have a common denominator- sacrificing something- be it food, or time, or certain social indulgences. All these sacrifices are bonded with strict personal discipline. And yes, there’s an ulterior motive behind any such sacrifice, i.e. a divine reward in the end. To discover that the human race which generally finds it challenging to unite on most aspects of life, would unite in such quirks is a pleasant surprise; I would even call it a celestial miracle.
However, as with every sacrifice, there’s an element of pain involved, and pain can’t be positive. The concept raises serious questions- Why would one think that a negative act would appease Gods? In fact, who in the right mind feels contented by inflicting pain on oneself?
Well, having gone through moderate sacrificial rituals and self-imposed discipline on myself during my own spiritual voyage, I can say with some degree of authority that any amount of calculated self-denial does induce a weird rush through the veins, however temporarily. It stems from the basic human psychology of not valuing something which is availed too easily in life – It’s a disorder of the mind. On the other hand, anything that is difficult to reach stirs excitement in the heart to conquer it. I too felt that quirk, in the beginning, but as I progressed through my spiritual journey, I began to question the logic of the whole ‘no pain, no gain’ ideology.
I realised that we all love to be victims, to a certain extent, in order to justify our needs. This is the only way we feel ‘deserving’ or ‘worthy’ of a reward, in the name of being moralistic. The extent of self-pity varies from being excessively more diligent than others to earn the same wages to denying oneself of one thing to receive the other. So, it implies that unless one becomes a victim in the eyes of god, one doesn’t feel qualified for god’s charity. Hence, the more sacrificial pain one inflicts on self, the bigger the reward could be anticipated – Therefore, ‘No pain, no gain’. While going through self-growth, even I felt that I almost desired the Universe to feel sorry for me by seeing how much I was suffering by waking up at that ridiculously early hour to pray, when every fiber of my body actually craved to curl up in the cosy lap of sleep, or when the target of ‘tenth of a day’ to spend worshipping interfered with a lot of social fun I could have had instead, or when I endured stomach pangs while denying myself the food I loved so much in order to impress god, and I hoped the lord had seen my suffering in all the rituals I had endured, through the fine lens. I also wished that Almighty would be extremely generous in his appreciation of my performance. I didn’t receive what I expected from my precious sacrifices, but I was rewarded with something beyond. When my hopes crashed to fall flat on the ground, it compelled me towards some soul-searching. I sought the truth about my own weaknesses which triggered an anomaly in my thinking pattern. I wasn’t much proud of what was divulged to me about me. I realised that to exert all my energy to be a victim was pathetic, not spiritual. This was not devotion to my Nirankar, but self-absorption, inflating my own importance by over-valuing my superficial karmas and inflicting pain on myself that God certainly didn’t intend. My focus was digressive and my belief had no gravity at this stage. I eventually discovered that God doesn’t want to see me suffer or in pain. Isn’t the whole point of praying is to ease the pains in life and lessen the sufferings that fate has already deposited in our account? Then why self-inflict more pain voluntarily? There is a difference between sacrifice and suffering. Suffering is painful, and pain is negative. God would like a positive sacrifice, but not see his children suffering. Ever since God blessed me with new vision, I began to strive to sacrifice greed, sacrifice laziness, sacrifice self-loathing, sacrifice self-obsession, sacrifice doubts in self and the Lord. Sacrifice is to give up fairly, and the rewards are showered by default – Leave greed and receive contentment, leave self-loathing and receive self-respect, leave ego and receive peace, leave lethargy and receive health, leave doubts and receive belief. So, fast by all means when one can grow above material cravings, wake up early to pray when you’ve conquered sleep, perform any ritual if it motivates you, painlessly. One won’t need to calculate the 10th of 24 hours if one could remember God all the time, consciously or subconsciously. To sacrifice effectively needs learning, practice, and self-growth. But do it happily, willingly, and without suffering.