The Universal Law
A person could live the life she wants only if she sacrifices something for it. Such is the nature of existence. Something for something has long been the norm. Central to our purpose of existence is pleasing God to gain His Paradise. Paradise cannot be attained without sacrificing our desire for instant gratification. Delayed gratification is thus what sacrifice entails.
One could choose to live a life with fewer rules and fewer constraints and enjoy the amusements such kind of life comes with. Strange enough is the fact that whosoever makes such a choice is mostly never truly happy. Such is the abode of the individual that chooses the ‘easy way out’ or the ‘expedient’ – an empty life disguised by a mask of a ‘free’ individual who is not constrained under any set of rules.
We may not fully understand why exactly God wants His servants to sacrifice for Him, but we know that we have to. This is simply because over the years, we have seen the fruitful benefits of delayed gratification. The promise of a life in Paradise for a life of restrained desires here on earth is no simple promise- it has to be analyzed, at the least.
So many faiths have long based their pleasing of God on making sacrifices. It is inherently difficult to argue against such truth. To merely assume that such a law does not exist is to run away from the truth- willful blindness I would say. To run away from responsibility. A simple concept yet so powerful; to get a better life, one has to sacrifice something for that.
The ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ of this world
The same principle applies in the life of this world. There is hell and heaven on this earth. The hell is living a life of nihilism- believing that you are merely existential and without purpose. Not unless one sacrifices such a belief and ventures into a life of meaning and responsibility, one suffers by default. The heaven is living a life of meaning and responsibility and it is only lived by sacrificing petty and mindless things.
Imagine a person who wakes up to do nothing; to just idle around all day and get to sleep when the night comes. One cannot simply argue with the fact that such a person is suffering. We are not on this earth as mere existential beings. We are here to do something and that something has to be meaningful if we are to have heaven on earth. To merely exist and not live a meaningful life is against every fiber of our being. Not unless one sacrifices her nihilistic beliefs, her laziness, her ego, her desire to instant gratification one will most definitely have hell on earth.
Earth’s hell is the emptiness of one’s soul and the running after non-fulfilling desires. It is the denial of truth of oneself and truth of living- that we are here for a purpose. It is failing to sacrifice the negative now for the positive future. It is failing to sacrifice one’s own meaningless pursuits for the greater good of one’s family. It is suffering because of not sacrificing instant gratification to build one’s character. Earth’s hell is earth’s suffering. Failing to sacrifice plays a huge part in such suffering.
Earth’s heaven is being able to deal with earth’s suffering (because life, outside our control, can be suffering). It is delaying gratification for better rewards; a better character, a better life, a better future, a better family and most definitely, a better world. Not unless one sacrifices the things needed to be sacrificed, one cannot have heaven on earth. Earth’s heaven is to be able to suppress our so called animalistic instincts for the promise of a meaningful outcome. No human being that has succeeded in this life has lived according to his desires. We only remember the great individuals that have revolutionized the way of life because of the sacrifices they have made to achieve that they have achieved. Earth’s heaven requires sacrifice, just like God’s Paradise does. After all, it is the universal law.
‘To be disciplined means to be free”
I remember failing to understand the notion of discipline meaning freedom every time it came up. I remember thinking to myself how a life of constraint can mean freedom. Is one not commanded and instructed by the requirements of being disciplined? Is that then not the opposite of freedom? Is freedom not the notion of being able to do whatever you want whenever you want to? How am I truly free if I am to do what being disciplined requires? How can chains around my wrists and ankles mean freedom at all? These questions used to nag me every now and then I took a walk or stared at the usually empty ceiling.
Then I came across the Marshmallow Experiment. The experiment was on delayed gratification. A piece of marshmallow was put in front of every child set for the experiment. Each child was told that if they did not eat the marshmallow for the next fifteen minutes, they would be rewarded another piece of marshmallow. Each child was then left alone in a room. As expected, some ate their marshmallow and some did not. After several years, it was observed that the people, who chose to wait for fifteen minutes for another marshmallow as children, were generally more successful than those that chose not to wait.
“The higher the tree has to grow, the deeper its roots have to be or it will inevitably be fallen off even by a whiff of the wind.” I eventually reached to such a realization that for me to be able to do what I want to do (especially in the future) I had to be disciplined and constrain my desire for instant gratification- I had to sacrifice instant rewards [which are nothing in magnitude compared to those in the future] to future rewards. That for me to get heaven on earth, I have to sacrifice the things I want now for those I want in the future.
It is not such a mystery anymore that people think having a schedule means being constrained or being in a prison. A schedule means delayed gratification; it means discipline, and it means not rewarding yourself instantly because there are important things to be done with delayed gratification. It most definitely means sacrificing listening and following of one’s desire of instant gratification. Desires are strong on the first instance but they can be trained overtime with the proper amount of sacrifice. Even though most of us know this truth, most of us are not courageous enough to act it out.
A good life is sacrifice; the greater the sacrifice the better one’s life.