As relationship is the state of relating and to relate means to tell or recount, therefore the more the two sides have to communicate, the higher will be the quality of the relationship existing between them.
From this we can speculate when a relationship will endure and when it will most probably end. It will endure if the two sides grow with similar interests, curiosities, quests, pursuits and it will end when they have no more to communicate and share.
On the other hand, it appears that the most instinctive behavior still dominant in human beings is the one based on the sensation of pain-pleasure. And this is from another perspective that we can speculate the quality and the probability of endurance of a relationship. When pleasure exceeds pain we say we are in love or we have found a good friend. When the degree of pain and pleasure become equal, the foundation of the relationship starts to tremble and finally when the pain exceeds pleasure it will collapse. However, there is also another form of relationship that endures and that is when it is the pain that produces pleasure. So here the less the two sides have to tell and recount and share the longer it may endure! Such a relationship is then called sadistic-masochistic (which to me includes any relationship in which suffering and grief is prominent). But biologically there is no difference between this destructive form of relationship and love as they both last as long as the pleasure exceeds pain.
Thus if one wills a relationship to last lovingly, one must decrease the amount of pain one produces for the other. This is where the idea of sacrifice comes into play so much so that if one is not careful, one may even mistake or confuse it with love and it is here that the relationship will automatically transform into the sadistic-masochistic form. And the idea of sacrifice seems to be as old as Man. It started with animal sacrifice - with Abraham going as far as nearly sacrificing his beloved son - and developed into self-sacrifice - initiated by Christ.
What we need to consider in relation to sacrifice is the intention, the goal. No matter whether we look at Man materialistically - biologically- or spiritually, this living organism consists of an animal and a human part. In biology, the frontal lobes and the faculty of Mind make up that human-ness and in spiritualism the breath of God. These two aspects basically determine the origin and motivation of all our actions. And the psychological manifestation of these two aspects is called selfish- and selfless-ness although it is sometimes extremely difficult to distinguish between them. For example, we may say that the motivation hidden behind the idea of offering animal sacrifices to gods was to gain and maintain their support and good-will. In other words, the act was out of 'selfishness' arising from our survival instinct. And selfishness looks for one's pleasure regardless of other beings. However, taken as a symbol, animal sacrifice may have implied killing one's animalistic side in favor of one's humanness as well. In other words, by sacrificing an animal we like to express our willingness to go beyond our animal-ness. From this perspective it is no longer coming from our selfishness. On the other hand, it is said that Christ sacrificed his life on the cross for the sins of other human beings; a purely self-less act. However, his deed could have had a purely selfish motivation as well!? For it is also said that no man alone can reach godliness; in other words, either all humans attain Redemption or Enlightenment, or no one. And if we take Christ as the Son of God, then we may say that even God is doing the same and that is He is looking for His Redemption or Enlightenment through mediation of His Creation; in Hafez words, "What is wrong with the shadow of the beloved casting over the lover/ we are in need of Him and He longs for us." It seems when there is One, it essentially demands another One to relate. To relate what? That one Exists?
Going back to the idea of sacrifice and its probable origins (selfishness and the will to humanness), we can say sacrifice is 'acceptable' only when it is carried out with the goal of overcoming one's animalistic side - selfishness- in order to speed up the development of one's humanness or as spiritualists say, godliness. With this meaning of sacrifice, love or the will to life, in contrast to the ordinary meaning of sacrifice which is the will to death, may assume a more human form.
Now considering the fact that we are not enlightened beings and therefore our animalistic side - selfishness - is still quite powerful, in all our acts including self-sacrifice, our goal, no matter how much we deceive ourselves, is attainment of pleasure and avoidance of pain. And we sacrifice in order to gain something from our object of love, the most honorable 'something' would be love itself. And God forbids if he/she refuses to give us that which we want so much that we are even sacrificing ourselves for it! What will happen then? Pain will arise and Pleasure will fall correspondingly. And God forbids if we learn to derive pleasure out of pain! What will happen then? We fall sick mentally, psychologically, physiologically, or in one word psychosomatically. That is why it is important to become aware of our true intention in our acts of self-sacrifice. And in order to become aware of our intention and avoid the powerful human characteristic of self-deception, each time that we make a sacrifice we should ask ourselves why are we making sacrifice or serving our object of love?
Are we sacrificing because we feel our life is dependent on the life of the other - in which case we are sacrificing out of pure selfishness - or are we serving the other because this is the most accessible way to overcome one's selfish part with the purpose of developing one's humanness or godly side? But this still does not give us a practical objective way to find the true answer. The evidence is all the crimes that governments are committing against humanity in the name of humanity. And all the crimes that Religious Men are committing against God, in the name of God. And we all do the same, we lie.
We serve our lover because deep down we are scared of losing him/her, we serve our God because we are scared of losing His support and love, we serve our children because they are the fruit of our lives and we serve our employers because we are scared of losing our source of subsistence and why do we do that? Because our main motivation in life as a living organism is to 'avoid pain and gain pleasure.' But we are supposed to go beyond this animalistic way of life and develop our humanness. For that we need to re-define the above motivation or define it from our human position and that would be 'gain pleasure in other people's pleasure, seek joy in the joy of others and avoid pain by not producing pain.'
And how would we know whether this is what we are actually doing? It is easy. Everybody can distinguish between a joyful and a depressed person. We just need to ask, "Are our mates, our children, our fellow country men and women, the inhabitants of this world joyful? Have I done my share in creating a joyous space for such a phenomenon to take place?" And whether this is selfishness or selflessness, we can create such a space ONLY when we are filled with joy.
So let's do things that can make us happy. The world is badly in need of JOY.
1. As explained in the Dichotomy of Love & Reason, the root meaning of the word Man is 'I think.'
... Payvand News - 1/8/03 ... --