Helpless versus hopeless, theoretical versus realized, self-interested versus selfless
Helpless versus hopeless, theoretical versus realized,
self-interested versus selfless
Once upon a time there were three men on a journey through a forest.
A ferocious tiger menacingly threatened them. One of the three shouted,
“This is it. We are finished!”
“Our only hope is to pray to God,” said the second.
“Why should we trouble God,” said the third. “Quickly, let’s climb this tree.”
The first man was hopeless because he did not know that God is our ultimate protector. He was an atheist and fatalist, he resigned himself to his imagined fate because he did not believe in God’s existence nor did he strive for God’s mercy or protection. As an atheist, he believed that man comes on this earth, lives for some time and inevitably disappears. He refused to accept that there is a divine being who creates, maintains and destroys and is the ultimate source and maintainer of life and nature. He rejected the existence of a soul or consciousness that exists apart from the body. For him, the body and consciousness were evolved by a random combination of matter. Thus, he resigned himself to the fate of being a product the accidental development of nature’s self-organizing power that generates life and destroys it without any supernatural being behind it. He disdainfully looked upon belief in a God and the hope that God could redeem him from nature’s cycle of life and death as a fantasy for less intelligent beings.
He would have fared better if he was helpless. Such a person has very few options and realizes that he must receive help from someone to survive. There is a fascinating story of a Somali model, actress and writer named Waris Dirie. When she was a young girl her female genitals were mutilated by her family. Genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Later, her father wanted to give her to a 60 year old man for marriage when she was only thirteen. The old man offered her father five camels to marry Waris. The young girl ran away from home into the Somali desert. Her father pursued her but she was barely able to escape. Exhausted she fell asleep. When she woke up a lion was staring at her. She felt totally helpless. She closed her eyes and prayed that only Allah could save her. When she opened her eyes, the lion was walking away. She escaped her father, the lion, other abusive desert men who tried to molest her and finally reached Mogadishu. She later went to England and was discovered by an English photographer who was fascinated by her looks and physique. She has become a world famous person.
The feeling of helplessness is different than hopelessness. A helpless person knows well that they cannot be saved unless someone helps them. Ultimately, the person who can save them is God as in the case of Waris. There is another dramatic example of a helpless girl who was saved miraculously. A 12 year old Ethiopian girl was kidnapped by a group of men who wanted to force her into marriage. They held her captive for seven days and repeatedly beat her. She was crying almost constantly sue to the trauma of her captivity.
It is possible that her whimpering sounds were mistaken for the mewing sound of a lion cub. A group of lions (probably females) approached the girl. Her kidnappers became frightened and ran away. The lions protected the young girl until the police and her parents found her. They quietly left when they arrived. The lions could have easily killed the girl and eaten her, but they mysteriously watched her until help arrived. Her helplessness saved her.
Hopeless and helpless are different. One is hopeless because they are bereft of faith in a Supreme God. When it seems as if there are no more avenues of success in the material world due to old age, disease, sickness, financial loss, etc., one becomes hopeless and invites what they believe to be the end all. Such a belief is based on the wrong notion that there is no individual soul that exists independent of the material body. For example, Ernest Hemingway went on a trip to Africa in 1952. He was almost killed in a plane crash that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. In 1961, he committed suicide. He was depressed because his body was deteriorating and he was not able to live the kind of life he loved; he was a hunter and sportsman who thrived on challenging experiences. His real life experiences were often the subjects of his writing. He chose to kill himself rather than live like an invalid waiting to die. A life of dissipative behavior (drinking, sex, reckless adventure such as hunting in remote areas of Africa, etc.) eventually leads to a sick and ailing body compounded by frustration at not being able to live an adventurous pace of life. When the frustration became intense and there did not seem to be any way to stop the downward spiral of his health, then suicide seemed more attractive than life. When a person lacks spiritual knowledge and faith, they invariably become frustrated and hopeless.
People feel pain either physically or mentally due to loss. Both the hopeless and the helpless person feel pain. The helpless are able to tolerate the pain because they have faith that that a superior force or being will save them. The hopeless become resigned to death as the end all of their problems when they think that all of their material options are exhausted.
An interesting question to ask is, “What part of one’s existence is it that feels pain? Is this pain localized in a physical place? Or is it somewhere or something else?”
When a person has severe pain, the doctor will prescribe a pain killer. Once the pain killer takes effect, the person does not experience the pain. A toothache is localized in a specific tooth or part of the mouth. It is possible to numb that part of the mouth so that the patient no longer feels the localized pain. Another example is the pain one feels when there is financial or emotional loss. Where is the pain felt? One may say that it is felt in the mind. One becomes pained mentally and experiences anguish, anxiety, longing, despair, etc. The doctor can prescribe a drug that temporarily induces sleep or produces a feeling a well-being or euphoria. It is possible to numb or forget pain for a certain period.
Crisis counselors are another possible means to help people overcome or cope with periods of mental pain due to loss. It is possible to help a person reconcile a loss of a loved one or property by diverting or redirecting the mind from the loss to new avenues of hope. Another technique is to help the grieving person accept the inevitability of life in which there is birth, old age, disease and death. A further consolation is the conviction that the loss of a loved one has promotes the deceased to a better situation like going to heaven or becoming at last free from suffering.
According to the Vedic literature, a person’s eternal identity is the soul and not the material body. Everyone is a combination of spirit and matter. Understanding the real nature of this combination will reveal the location of pain and suffering. The word combination is somewhat misleading. Matter and spirit do not mix. Therefore, how can they combine? Such combination occurs in what is called the false ego. Two individuals are never one. They are distinct and different. Yet, they become combined by mutual attraction. A strong bond develops. They become inseparably attached to each other. They refer to each other as my husband, my wife, my friend, my lover. The sense of possessiveness becomes part of the bond or attachment. As a result of such a strong knot of attachment, the two separate individuals experience happiness and suffering together. Although the two individuals are not physically attached to each other, they develop a tight bond and experience the events of life together. How are they bonded so tightly together?
According to the Vedas, the point of attachment is the false ego. There is the real ego and the false ego. Ego means I am. It is associated with the eternal self or soul that manifests
consciousness and will. In the Vedic literature (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad 1.4.10)it is said, aham brahmasmi: I am Brahman, I am spirit. The “I am,” the sense of self, exists in our conditioned state in the material world and in the liberated stage of self-realization. The sense of “I am” is the ego. When the sense of “I am” is applied to the temporary material body and whatever is associated with it like family, friends, nation, race, etc., it becomes the false ego. When the sense of self is applied to our soul and its eternal relationship with God, it becomes the real ego. Some philosophers say that to attain self-realization, we should give up our ego. But, we cannot give up the ego because ego means identity. What we must give up through a process of self-realization is the false identification with the material body and other material things that are temporary. One becomes bond up with persons and material objects by the false ego, or false identification with temporary things.
Matter and spirit do not mix, but they become combined in the false ego as if tied by a tight knot. For example, I once met a man who was pining in agony due to attachment to a woman. He was suffering mental pain due to anxiety that he may never see her again. I asked him how long he knew the lady. He said, “One week!” I asked him if he was in the same state of mental anguish eight days ago. He looked at me and said, “Of course not, I didn’t know her then!” Such a hard knot of attachment developed to the point that he was suffering great pain due to separation from the lady of his infatuation.
I knew another gentleman who called me one day and tried to convince me to sponsor a Russian lady he met over the internet. He claimed that he loved her and wanted to marry her and spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted me to help her get an entry visa so that she could come to the USA. I refused to do it. Later, I learned he had sent her money and other gifts. He exchanged emails with her everyday and talked with her on the phone. He stopped talking to me because I refused to help him. In fact, he openly became antagonistic toward me. Eventually, the girl cut off her relationship with him and he was devastated. Both men became passionately attached and because of that, they both enjoyed and suffered. The point of attachment was the false ego.
The false ego is more than simply identifying with and becoming attached to something material. False ego has two parts to it: isvaro ham, aham bhogi – I am the owner, controller or lord, and I am the enjoyer and by such enjoyment I become strongly attached to the object of my pleasure. (Bg.16,14) The human mind is the focal point of all the experiences of the senses. When we hear, see, smell, touch or taste sense objects, the mind becomes a reservoir of ideas for sense gratification. By such contemplation, the mind and senses become the seat of lust or the obsessive desire to control and enjoy an object or person. Next, the human intelligence becomes overwhelmed with lusty desires and its ability to discern what is good or not good for the welfare of the person becomes clouded by the obsessive desires. The intelligence is the form-direction vehicle for the soul. Lusty intelligence influences the soul to acquire the false ego and identify itself with matter which includes the mind and senses. The soul becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakes this as true happiness. This false identification of the soul is the cause of entanglement in the material world and repeated birth and death.
We enjoy and suffer in the material world due to the false ego that prompts us to make decisions based on the identification with the temporary body rather than the ultimate good for our eternal soul. The Bhagavad-gita explains the sources of misery in life.
“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.” (Bg 5.22)
When our material senses come in contact with the objects of the senses, we experience material sense pleasures. Our body and senses and the objects of the senses are all temporary. An intelligent person avoids temporary sense pleasures, which cause us to become entangled in material life. In fact, the more one is addicted to material pleasures the more one is entrapped by material miseries. The example of teen pregnancy demonstrates this vividly. A teen mother recounts her awakening to the reality of her pregnancy and its implications for her life.
“TAMPA — I love you.”
I remember uttering those words for the first time to the guy I was with. I was 15, in love, doing well in school, had an after-school job and not a care in the world.
I was also sexually active; I had been since I was a freshman in high school. I vividly recall the first guy I slept with — tall, strapping and popular with the ladies, and for some reason, he liked me! Or so I thought. Even when he told me, “If you get pregnant, you will have to deal with it,” I looked at him starry-eyed and did not utter a single word.
I hated the way I looked. I lived in a home with eight other people, and the idea that this tall, good-looking guy wanted me instead of the other girls, well, that was worth anything. I equated his touch with specialness, his kisses with love. When I was with him, all the loathing I felt about my appearance and the sadness I felt at home disappeared. I wasn’t just one of those other girls. After all, he said he loved me, and he wouldn’t have sex with me if he didn’t, right?
Well, I did have to deal with it. I became pregnant by that first guy, and family pressures led me to have an abortion. Lesson learned right then and there, huh?
Guess again. Next was the guy I really thought I was in love with. This “first true love” dumped me for a cheerleader in my class about three weeks after we slept together. About nine months later, I was a junior in high school, with straight A’s and in honors classes. I still had my after-school job and yes, I still was sexually active. My latest boyfriend was this guy I had met about two months before through a friend of a friend.
Lesson still not learned. Here I was once more. Kisses, touching, words of love. One day I don’t get my period. No big deal, I think; I am very physically active. I’m just late, is all. One day turns into a week, and then two and then three. I had now officially known my “boyfriend” nine weeks. Do I tell him? Do I go to the doctor? What if my family finds out? I finally break down and ask a friend to go with me to the drugstore, too terrified to ask my very old-fashioned grandparents for help. Our house was a house where you didn’t ask and you weren’t told. After all, they were raised that way, so why not raise us that way too?
We went to Eckerd’s under the guise of needing a pair of pantyhose, and with great embarrassment, I asked the pharmacist for a test. I ran home with the sacred box hidden under my shirt and locked myself in the bathroom. Those three minutes were the longest, most painfully anxious moments in my young life. I couldn’t bear to look at first and then, slowly; I turned my head and saw the bright pink “X” staring me right in the face.
At first I was disbelieving. I think I sat in that bathroom for an hour, just staring at this white stick with the big pink “X.” My heart was in my throat, my pulse was racing, my stomach was doing flip-flops. Instinctively, my hand went toward my belly. I removed my top and stared at my flat stomach in the mirror and tried to fathom its getting big and round.
Eventually my sense of hopeless romanticism took over and I began to imagine myself and my boyfriend taking long walks with “our child” in the stroller, “our child” lying in a soft bed next to his/her parents, “the proud mom and dad” sitting side by side as “their child” grew up in utter bliss. By the time I left that bathroom with the little white stick in my hand, those childish fantasies were real in my mind.
Never once did it occur to me that my unborn child’s father might not want this. After all, he loved me; he had told me so. In my naivete, I had made myself believe that sex was love. After all, I was a good girl and good girls didn’t sleep around. They “made love” to the person they were in a relationship with.
Now excited about the idea of being a mom (me, a mom!), I called the father-to-be, expecting, I guess, for him to share my enthusiasm, for him to come right over, scoop me in his arms, profess his undying devotion and propose to me on the spot! Well, as I eventually learned the hard way, fairy tales only exist in those beautifully drawn books in the libraries. This was no library and he was no Prince Charming.
He was a 17-year-old kid, getting a phone call from a girl he barely knew, telling him he was going to be a dad. “Are you sure?” was his first question. “Are you sure it’s mine?” was the next. That should have been warning enough for what was to come, but I had always been a romantic and I wanted — no, I needed — to believe in love so badly that I didn’t process his doubts. To me, they were just a reaction to major news; he would come around. We went to the doctor several weeks later to confirm what I already knew. Soon, at 16, I would be a mom. Soon this tiny life would be in my arms.
The doctor confirmed my pregnancy, and this time I decided I not to have an abortion. I moved in with my boyfriend and his family. I was to learn, years later, that both of our families felt it was the right thing to do. I simply thought at the time that it was a sign of his love for me and his excitement about becoming a father.
I continued to go to school and study hard. Around my fifth month of pregnancy, when my belly started to get a little bigger and my breasts started to get a little heavier, the father-to-be and I started to drift apart. I don’t think it hit either of us, until I started to show, how permanent this was. Once there was the “proof” that we would soon be parents, it dawned on him that soon he would be a dad and a parent with someone he neither really knew nor ever truly loved. By the time the baby was born, we had separate bedrooms and when we spoke, it was through his parents.
On a rush of hormones, adrenaline and fantasy, I still clung to the ever-persistent notion that it had to work. We had to be a family. We had created a life together, another human being, and that had to mean something. If it didn’t, then all of those careful fantasies, all of those sweet little stories I had let myself believe, were wrong. It meant I would have to face reality — that I was going to be a mom and I was going to have a child who would depend on me, alone. Me! For the rest of my life.
I just had not had the maturity or the strength to allow myself to see the truth. In reality, we never loved one another. How could we? Our relationship was based on a sexual attraction. I think in our secret hearts we both knew that when you date someone as a teenager, even if sex is involved, somewhere deep down you know that it is temporary. You are young with the world at your feet — everything to explore and learn, and there is plenty of time to settle down and get serious. But girls and guys like me — so desperate to feel love, never realizing that the love starts from within — girls and guys like me cling to every word, every touch, every kiss, and make it into something much more than it is.
By the time our child, a beautiful girl named Christina, had been born, things were irretrievably broken between her father and me. Several months later, I left his home and moved back to my grandparents’. I was lucky to be able to continue high school, but like most young parents in my situation, I needed to seek government assistance to help with the insurmountable bills I never expected.
Reality came crashing down on me. I never had realized the demands and pressures that parenthood would bring. I was lucky to have supportive teachers, friends and family members, who, although sometimes overbearing, were always there for me. My daughter’s father came by occasionally, although by the time I moved back home he and I had become quite volatile toward one another. We rarely spoke and when we did, it was never nice. He felt I had trapped him, and I, still clinging to my childish fantasies, felt he had betrayed my love, my trust. I laid a lot of the blame and guilt that I felt in his direction. It was much easier to feel less guilty myself by making him the bad guy.
Now I realize how he must have felt seven years ago, when I called him late at night to tell him of his impending fatherhood. Scared, alone, disbelieving. I don’t absolve him for not taking part in his child’s life, but I guess I can understand him a little better.
First published December 7, 1999
Â© St. Petersburg Times About the Author Rebecca Roach
is now 25 and a director of marketing for a technology firm.
She is the proud mother of a charming little girl.
She and her family currently reside in Tampa, Florida.
This true story illustrates dramatically the truths given by Lord Krishna 5000 years ago in the Bhagavad-gita. The fifteen year old girl was not happy with her physical appearance. She lived in a large family of eight. She was charmed by a handsome boy who seemed interested in her instead of the other girls in school. She felt special when he kissed her and showed his affection. In his company, she felt relieved of her sense of sadness at home and self-loathing. He said he loved her and she was confident of it because they engaged in sexual activity together. She became pregnant. The boy broke off his relationship with her and she had an abortion. The same thing happened a second time with another boy, but this time the girl decided to give birth to the baby. The father broke up with her, but not before she had fantasies of false hopes that gradually turned to the brutal reality that she would have to raise the child as a single mother. She was robbed of her own childhood by becoming sexually active at a young age. She thought that she would find true love. What she found was the opposite, deception and frustration. The words of the Bhagavad-gita commentary by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada become poignantly clear, “In fact, the more one is addicted to material pleasures the more one is entrapped by material miseries.”
The desire to dominate and control material nature and then the attempt to exploit matter or people for sense gratification exposes us to entanglement by the karmic laws of nature. In the process, we become attached very intimately with the objects of our sense gratification. We identify with something that is not really our property and often completely foreign to our real nature. Eventually we become hopelessly trapped by the karmic reactions and live in a state of painful frustration. Like the first man in the story, we are prone to easily give up to our unfortunate fate that we created ourselves by wrong choices. The real misfortune of the first man is that he does not believe in God, nor does he have faith that the mercy of the Supreme Being could save him from the most calamitous danger. Such a life of an atheist becomes unbearable and like Hemingway, we may seek solace in intoxication, risky behavior, intemperate habits and, as in his case, suicide.
The second man in the story is a believer, but his faith is based on theoretical knowledge and not practical realization. He knew God as the Protector. He resorted to praying to God for protection. This is very good because it is a sign of faith and dependence on the mercy of God. There are situations where the only thing we can do is pray to God in a helpless state as we saw above in the case of the African girls who were both saved miraculously. Sometimes, however, we have the capability to act decisively, but we are not trained or prepared to do so. This is the difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. Without putting knowledge into practice, there is every chance of missed opportunities because of a lack of understanding how to most effectively apply the knowledge to specific situations. For example, a medical student must do three or more years of internship after graduating in order to gain the experience diagnosing treating patients. The practical training or internship period also puts a real face of a patient to the treatment protocols learned from books. Similarly, there are situations where faith in God is tested. We are called to act as a servant or representative of God.
The interaction with the Personal God to whom we offer our devotion and the people we may share that devotion with transforms our theoretical understanding to the reality of interpersonal relationship with God and all his creatures: humans, animals, plants and nature. We no longer see an impersonal universe that is faceless and nameless or a universe that is full of false designations of race, ethnicity, nationality, etc. We see that God is present in His personal form in everything and everyone and that everything is also within God’s universal personal presence. Nothing has a separate existence from God in the creation. Nothing is smaller than God and nothing is greater than God and He is the ultimate proprietor of everything. He is the Supreme Intelligent Person who guides everything in nature to work perfectly. This understanding is a result of engaging in practical service where one depends on God’s help and protection at every moment of life.
By entering into a personal relationship with God, we become very sensitive to the ways and means of pleasing Him. This is the nature of a personal relationship as opposed to impersonal dealings. Therefore, the third man in the story above said, “Why should we trouble God. Quickly, let’s climb this tree.’ A lover wants only to serve the beloved and please. Obliging the beloved to serve the needs of the lover would be unacceptable. Rather than ask for something from God, the third man, out of his love, did not ask for service from God. He chose to climb a tree and fend for himself so that he wouldn’t trouble his beloved. This might seem incomprehensible. Usually, we ask many things of God. But the genuine devotee only desires to please God and never asks for anything in return.
Over five hundred years ago in India, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, an avatar of Lord Krishna, appeared in Bengal. He demonstrated pure love and devotion to God by His own example. Although an avatar Himself, he came in the guise of a devotee or servant of God to show by example how to serve. He taught, “One should think oneself to be more humble than the blade of grass, more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name of the Lord constantly.” The continual contemplation and glorification of God was emphasized by Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the sure means to attain pure love and devotion. Keeping the mind focused on this end was achieved by accepting humility, tolerance and respect for all others by becoming free of false ego
as explained above. Lord Caitanya had a personal servant named Govinda who cared for his daily needs. After His lunch, Govinda would massage the Lord’s body gently until He fell asleep. Caitanya lived in a small room. His lifestyle was very simple and humble. His body was over seven feet tall so He could barely fit into the small room. The Lord laid down on the floor inside His room in front of the only door. Govinda massaged one side of His body by sitting just outside the door. Caitanya fell asleep after fifteen minutes. Govinda was obliged to step over the body of Caitanya to continue the massage because the Lordâ€™s body blocked the entrance of the small room. Later, when the Lord woke up, he noticed that Govinda was sitting inside His room. He remembered that his servant was sitting just outside the room massaging Him before He fell asleep. He asked His servant why he was patiently waiting for Him to wake up. Why didn’t he step over His body to exit the room after he completed the massage. Govinda replied, “My Lord, to complete the massage I stepped over your body which is an offense. One should never step over the body of a saint like You. I did it to serve You. However, when I finished the massage, I did not want to cross over Your body because such an act would be to serve myself. I am ready to commit an offense to serve You, but not to serve myself.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very pleased by the attitude of service and love of Govinda, whose action and statement exemplify the sensitive purity of a genuine servant and lover of God. He was ready to risk his own well-being if he could better serve the Lord. But, he dared not act in any inappropriate way to serve himself.
Similarly, Lord Jesus Christ healed the sick on the Jewish Sabbath to serve His Father’s will. In the Gospel of Luke (6:6-11), a man enters the synagogue with a withered right hand, and in spite of the Sabbath, Jesus cures him. The Jewish scribes and Pharisees criticize Him. They consider His acts as a violation of Jewish law of refraining from work on the holy Sabbath. Jesus answers them by saying that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath regardless of legalisms of Jewish law. His curing the sick on the Sabbath points to His mission of giving the opportunity of eternal life and salvation to those who have faith in Him as the Son of God, the Messiah sent by His Father for the redemption of humanity. Jesus gives the example of total surrender to the will of God the Father even to the point of personal sacrifice of His life. Such an example defied the mundane logic of the Jewish priesthood’s legalistic understanding of the word of God.
One can only enter in the mysteries of pure love of God by following the example of great servants of God who sacrificed worldly pleasures for the higher purpose of serving Him. The sacrifice of worldly pleasures seems incomprehensible to most people and the sacrifice of one’s life is unacceptable. Yet, the foundation of Armenian Christianity was established by the sacrificial blood of not only Jesus but of Hripsime and Gayane, two virgin nuns of Roman descent who were brutally murdered in Armenia by King Drtad. The following description from Wikipedia describes the origin of the Saint Hripsime Church in Armenia.
“Saint Hripsime Church sits on the remains of a pagan structure and also the site where the aforementioned saint was martyred during the time of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the year 301 AD. The fifth century Armenian historian Agathangelos wrote that the young and beautiful Hripsime who at the time was a Christian nun in Rome, was to be forcefully married to the Roman emperor Diocletian. She and the abbess GayanÃ© among other nuns fled the tyrant emperor and left to Armenia. The pagan Armenian King Trdat received a letter from Diocletian in which he described her beauty. Trdat discovered where the nuns were hiding, and fell in love with Hripsime and later Gayane. After her refusal of his advances, Hripsime was tortured and martyred at the location of this church, while Gayane was tortured and martyred at a separate location where the church in her name was later built. A third unnamed nun was martyred at the location of Shoghakat. During the time that Hripsime was being tortured, Gayane told her to “be of good cheer, and stand firm” in her faith. King Trdat was to be later converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of the kingdom.
In the early 4th century, Saint Gregory the Illuminator saw a vision in which Christ descended from the heavens, and struck the ground with a golden hammer to level it. In its place he saw the site where Hripsime was martyred, with a red base symbolizing blood below “columns of clouds, capitals of fire, and on top, a cross of light.” In the vision, Christ tells him to erect a memorial to Hripsme in the given place. Saint Gregory was designated to set out the foundations at the location where Hripsime had been martyred.”
It is said that one should die to live. This little phrase has a deep meaning. Gayane comforted Hripsime with the words, “be of good cheer, and stand firm” in her faith. What was her faith? She accepted Jesus Christ as her savior and redeemer. She refused to accept the temporary worldly pleasures offered by Kind Drtad or the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Based on her faith and determination, she welcomed her fate as did Jesus and many other Christians. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They died materially to live eternally.
To die materially means voluntarily giving up temporary worldly pleasures and working for a higher goal of serving God without any false pretensions of being the controller and enjoyer (false ego). By serving God in this way, one really serves humanity also without selfish motives.