The most noble sacrifice is self-sacrifice: to dedicate one's body, mind, and spirit in the service of God and humanity. In time of persecution and oppression, self-sacrifice may mean to willingly give up one's life as a martyr--see the following section. In times of relative ease, self-sacrifice means to be a living sacrifice, dedicating everything to the divine purpose. Self-sacrifice is also the supreme expression of love for others: see Sacrifical Love, pp. 978-81.
Man, in truth, is himself a sacrifice.
Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 3.16.1
In accepting the true Dharma, may I abandon body, life, and property, and uphold the true Dharma.
Buddhism. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 3
Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life from my sake will find it."
Christianity. Matthew 16.24-25
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Christianity. Romans 12.1
With whatever Thou dost provide, am I content; No other door is there for me to knock. Nanak this supplication makes, May my life and body ever to Thee be dedicated!
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.1, p. 25
To Thee as a sacrifice Zarathustra offers the very life and being of his self; He dedicates the first fruits of his loving thoughts to Ahura Mazda; He offers the best of his words and deeds and willing obedience to the Divine Law.
Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 33.14
Let us all carry in ourselves the heart of parents and the body of a servant, and let us shed sweat for the sake of earth, tears for the sake of mankind, and blood for the sake of heaven. Let us never forget that we carry on our shoulders the historical cross: the responsibility to remove the grief and heartache of our Parent, the Great Lord of all creation. Let us all move forward to the way of salvation of the world.
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 3-30-90
The wind was churning by his side and pounding what was hard to bend, when Kesin from the poison cup drank in Rudra's company.
Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.136.7
Isaac willingly and gladly went with his father to Mount Moriah, to offer up his young life to the God whom he adored. As they were wending their way to perform the will of God, Isaac said to his father, "O father, I am yet young, and I am fearful lest my body tremble at the sight of the knife, causing you grief; I am fearful lest the offering shall not be a perfect one, perfect as I should like it to be."
Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 56.11
It is better to suffer for doing right, if that is God's will, than for doing wrong.
Christianity. 1 Peter 3.17
It is not only physical bravery that counts. One must have the courage to face life as it is, to go through sorrows, and always sacrifice oneself for the sake of others.
African Traditional Religions. Kipsignis Saying (Kenya)
The Master said, "The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete."
Confucianism. Analects 15.8
Mencius said, "Fish is what I want; bear's palm is also what I want. If I cannot have both, I would rather take the bear's palm than fish. Life is what I want; dutifulness is also what I want. If I cannot have both, I would rather take dutifulness than life. On the one hand, though life is what I want, there is something I want more than life. That is why I do not cling to life at all costs. On the other hand, though death is what I loathe, there is something I loathe more than death. That is why there are troubles I do not avoid. If there is nothing a man wants more than life, then why should he have scruples about any means, so long as it will serve to keep him alive? If there is nothing a man loathes more than death, then why should he have scruples about any means, so long as it helps him to avoid trouble? Yet there are ways of remaining alive and ways of avoiding death to which a man will not resort. In other words, there are things a man wants more than life and there are also things he loathes more than death. This is an attitude not confined to the moral man but common to all men. The moral man simply never loses it."
Confucianism. Mencius VI.A.10
Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 3: See Lotus Sutra 13, pp. 882f.; Mahaparinirvana Sutra 13.19, pp 654-55; Lotus Sutra 12, p. 818; cf. Kularnava Tantra 2, p. 879. Matthew 16.24-25: This saying, so central to Jesus' message, describes the essence of Christian discipleship. Each person should 'take up his cross,' enduring suffering and all difficulties for the sake of others, just as Jesus offered himself on the cross for the salvation of all mankind. The saying is repeated in several different forms throughout the gospels; see Mark 8.34-35, p. 771; John 12.24-25, p. 897. Cf. Romans 8.35-39, p. 880; Isaiah 53.1-12, pp. 639f.; Hadith of Muslim, p. 878. Romans 12.1: Cf. Romans 6.13, p. 771; Suhi Chhant, M.5, p. 772. Yasna 33.14: Cf. Yasna 34.12, p. 771; Suhi Chhant, M.5, p. 898. Sun Myung Moon 3-30-90: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-72, p. 744; 9-11-72, p. 979; 2-3-87, p. 619. Rig Veda 10.136.7: Here the sacrifices of the Kesin, the long-haired ascetic, are likened to the draught of poison first drunk by Shiva (Rudra) by which he saved the world from calamity. According to a frequently reported tradition, when the gods and demons first churned the primeval ocean in order to create the universe and the ambrosial Soma, they also churned up a virulent poison which covered the universe with smoke and fumes. Shiva, for the sake of protecting all beings, swallowed the poison, whence, it is said, his throat became blue. The sage, by his self-sacrifice, finds God Shiva standing beside him. Cf. Sioux Sun Dance, p. 982. Genesis Rabbah 56.11: See Genesis 22.1-13, pp. 614f.; Genesis Rabbah 56, pp. 621f. 1 Peter 3.17: Suffering and hardships come to all people, hence one might as well suffer for a godly purpose. Kipsignis Saying: On sacrifice for the sake of others, see John 15.13, p. 979, Garland Sutra 23, p. 980. Analects 15.8: Cf. I Ching 50, p. 771; Analects 5.22 and 16.12, p. 889; Gittin 57b, p. 886. Mencius VI.A.10: cf. Chuang Tzu 4, p. 616.