Abortion, Sacrifice, and Self-Actualization

A vignette of good versus evil.

Sacrifice has all the hallmarks of an adaptive behavior. It is common in successful cultures, exists for a long time in almost unchanged state, and is often raised to sacred prominence in many traditions. Even Christians, who eschew the practice, hold one as sacred.

I wanted to figure out why. It is tempting to think that sacrifice is merely sacralized culling, but cultures that practice sacrifice also practice culling as routine, and sacrifices are often of the finest, most beautiful, and most fit, not sickly or weak.

Nor is sacrifice just a random quirk of human nature. The most successful cultures in the ancient world frequently practiced sacrifice and dominated those that didn't, and as we'll see later, today sacrifice gives tech moguls a distinct advantage.

Also, (non-human) sacrifices are rarely wasted, usually being divided up and eaten by the community, with only some parts (usually inedible parts like the heads or feet) reserved for the "gods". So it's not about culling, and it's not slavish devotion to a god.

A good attestation of ancient sacrifice can be found in the Old Testament, in which Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This must be taken as historical, at least as much as any source that old with a long oral history may be treated.

I will not recount the story here, familiarize yourself if you're not already. I will begin by asking, what is the point of sacrificing your son? Why did Abraham, the man, believe he needed to do this, and more importantly why did he stop?

This story has been beaten to death, and far overanalyzed. It is usually referenced as an example of God's mercy. However it predates the monotheistic Judaic God, and if we assume it really happened, then the God's mercy explanation doesn't fully explain it.

If the main message is that God is merciful, why did God ask for such a terrible sacrifice in the first place? Doesn't this rather seem like an abusive and mercurial God than a merciful one?

From the atheistic perspective (mine), the story has stood the test of time, but it's a bad theory to say this is coincidence. Why did it survive? It must reveal something about reality, which is the same as God.

"Fear is the mind-killer." The primary driving factor of irrational, maladaptive behavior is fear. Strong, actualized people are able to confront their fears directly, and have the courage to master them and act in a patient, robust way.

For example, hypothetically I may hate my job, I may believe I cannot change my job, for if I tried, I would probably get fired. The fear fuels the complex neurosis about the job, because the mind sees its fear of being fired as a barrier which cannot be crossed.

To overcome this fear, one must get fired. At least at first. Sacrifices are an actualizing behavior where humans give up what is most precious to them - including their children - in order to demolish their fears and free themselves to do what is necessary.

Obviously, sacrifice in the extreme (what God originally asked of Abraham) carries a heavy cost. You lose whatever you sacrificed. Even your children. But, really, sacrifice, is a psychological hack. Understanding why it works can make it unnecessary.

Put simply, in sacrifice material wealth is liquidated to promote psychological health. The good news is that sacrifice is merely the most natural way for humans to do this. It is not the best way, necessarily.

The praxis of sacrifice is more important than the sacrifice itself. Big, dramatic sacrifices appear to be a degeneration of the practice of sacrifice itself. Sacrifices get fewer, and larger over time, until God himself is sacrificed.

Whereas the sacrificing peoples who were most successful sacrificed very frequently - and many of them did not make terrible sacrifices at all. Familiarity with crossing the rubicon of fear seems to be the most important feature of the practice.

Through the psychological lens, one can see how the less and less a society sacrifices, the more terrible those sacrifices become as their fortunes sour, and the terrible sacrifices themselves widen the gulf between sacrifices.

The fear that binds the minds of all members of the society which does not regularly shrug it off through sacrifice causes diseases of the mind that Carl Jung would recognize, and this breeds disaster.

As general fear of the future grows, so too does the magnitude of sacrifice the mind demands, and the fear of it. "Spare us, oh Lord, that we don't have to slaughter three beautiful young girls again!"

We begin to get an idea of what happened with Abraham. He, an old and wisened man, fell on some hard times probably, and sensed a need to overcome his fear (i.e., God spoke to him) through sacrifice.

His attachment to his son, born very late, and seemingly a gift from God, must have been related to this. He takes the child to mountain, and, being an old wise man, psychologically crosses the rubicon of fear before he slays his son.

Being wise, he realizes in inspiration that the sacrifice is therefore unnecessary (God spoke again). In gratitude, he sacrifices a ram because at the end of the day he's an ignorant sheep herder anyway but I bet the ram tasted good.

One final addition to this puzzle is found in the Rgveda. The Vedic peoples are praised in the text for being those who sacrifice. The Dasa, people who do not sacrifice, are condemned and in later Vedas even made into demons, in part because they don't sacrifice.

Sacrifice is considered the key to their favor with the gods. It's notable that in two major Yammaya expansions it appears the cultures they replaced, despite being geographically separated by thousands of miles, did not sacrifice, at least not in the same way.

(We don't know as much about Old European cultures, but from my somewhat limited knowledge there's much less evidence of sacrifice in them - something for me to look more into, perhaps.)

It's not hard to imagine a culture of Yamnaya peoples who regularly sacrifice and therefore are capable of much more unpredictable and dynamic behavior sweeping through farming communities like locusts,

and indeed we even see some evidence that their conquest was in some cases so swift and complete that there was hardly a conflict at all.

One imagines scenes of Yamnaya heroes entering enormous farming settlements and daring to challenge a chief to a duel, or something equally insane. Then, of course, there was all the actual war.

This may all seem very fantastical, but you can watch the same thing at work at SpaceX. Elon Musk is unafraid to sacrifice his projects, sacrifice his wealth, destroy prototypes that were labors of love, etc.

As a result, he's achieved the impossible over and over again. You look at his competitors and it's obvious that fear rules the roost.

Now, to circle back, why is abortion a perversion of this? The goal of sacrifice is to overcome and master fear. Abortions are almost always performed out of and in service to fear.

The material consequence is identical to child sacrifice, the most terrible and extreme form of sacrifice, and the psychological consequence is trauma and a deepened fealty to your fear. The more you try to placate your fears, the more they own your ass.

With a sacrifice, the idea is to master the fear and free you to own your own behavior. (Owning your life is common rhetoric for abortionists but I doubt anybody reading is naive enough to think this honest.) Abortion is about submitting to fear.

In fact abortion is designed to eliminate as much of the psychological process of sacrifice as possible. The person in question does not perform the deed themselves, and they are encouraged to think that they gave up nothing.

I should probably point out that while I think sacrifice can be helpful, human sacrifice is obviously evil. But, I would argue, abortion is worse.

A really degenerate form of sacrifice was practiced by the Aztecs, who basically had no idea why they were cutting people's hearts out. But that's very normal in urbanized cultures.

The Aztecs slaughtered humans atop stepped pyramids to make the Sun rise, and I can think of no more vestigial form of sacrifice. It is difficult to think of a psychological benefit to sacrifice of this type.

Yet, abortion is a process designed to neotenize. It aims to reset the clock on human second puberty, child bearing, which causes profound psychological changes to both new mothers and fathers.

Abortion's purpose is not to actualize the practitioner, but to deactualize them. Not to overcome fear, but to reinforce it. All the language of abortion advocacy is language of fear.

Infanticide in another context could perhaps be argued as adaptive*. Spartan mothers apocryphally would dash the brains of weak offspring on the rocks. It doesn't seem to have done them disfavor.

*(You will probably never convince me infanticide is not monstrous.)

The modern practice of abortion, therefore, is especially monstrous, and maladaptive besides. It does not produce fit offspring, mentally stable mothers, or any other advantage.

But far beyond that, the harm it does is almost incalculable. Besides the, you know, dead babies, it's well established that abortion causes trauma, tears apart families, and can damage the uterus.

Therefore, abortion is really a foil to sacrifice. I prefer to think of it as a perversion. Many such cases in this world of ours, seemingly ruled by Moloch, and managed by Azathoth.

It remains though that the modern man (I am one) rankles his nose at slitting a bull's throat in a proper vedic sacrifice. Can we do better? I think so.

Sacrifices work upon the mind. An especially lucid mind can work sacrifices upon themselves entirely within the mind, by way of a sort of meditative daydream.

One must understand the preconditions for a sacrifice. They must know themselves well enough to detect their fear, to isolate its cause, and to identify an attachment they have in the real world.

Not any attachment will do. It must be an attachment which holds one back from action. For example, a soldier afraid to leave his family to go off to war must choose them.

In the Bronze Age, perhaps then a sacrifice of a bull would be performed. For the Silicon Age spiritual psychologist, instead the mind should be cleared, and focused upon the object of attachment.

Held in the mind, one must then imagine the worst possible consequences of the action to be undertaken. The soldier leaves for war, and his family is brutally killed while he is away.

This vision of tragedy must be held in the mind and replayed until emotional release comes. Then, in the brain, sacrifice has already been performed. The practitioner is now freed to do what is necessary.

In most cases, sacrifices of the mind are not this dire. Standing up to your boss is facilitated by imagining getting fired until it has no effect. Huge moon rockets are developed by imagining them exploding, and carrying on anyway.

Sacrifice is a lost art in this modern age. Those that practice holy sacrifice stand out like blinding lights, they seem capable of the impossible, and they effortlessly run rings around their enemies.

They may also fail, and even crash and burn completely. The path of actualization is not a safe one. But it is the only way to truly live.

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