“Surrender” is a word that is used often in spiritual teachings. It is one of the most potent concepts and goals of a spiritual path. And yet, it is also one of the most misinterpreted.
Many years ago during one of my groups, I was describing surrender and its relationship to the spiritual path. One of the young men looked at me intently and said, “So, you are telling us to be doormats?” Again, only last week, another young man responded to me and asked, “If I surrender to my life, isn’t that like giving up? Giving up my hopes and dreams and even my ability to take care of myself?”
This is the most common reaction people have when thinking about surrender. This is because we are conditioned to fight and defend. Surrender seems counter-intuitive to our core command of survival. Yet our happiness, our freedom, and our inner peace depend on it.
We put a great deal of time and energy into negative thoughts, judgments, and inner wars and struggles. Imagine if you no longer saw yourself as being attacked and having to protect yourself. You would suddenly not have to use all of your energy to stay safe. Instead, you could use all of your power to solve whatever problem is presenting itself. That is seeking a “solution” with no attachment to the outcome.
When my teacher discussed the concept of surrender at length, I thought I already understood it. I felt I had truly surrendered to the path that life gave me. However, my teacher said no. I did not yet know what surrender meant. Finally one day, I had a collision with that truth. I realized that true surrender meant that I would have to accept my life no matter what was occurring.
In my twenties (and married with two children), I was always irrationally frightened of violence. Every single night I said an elaborate prayer of protection and pleaded with God to keep my family and me safe. I offered in exchange my absolute, dedicated service.
When I faced my non-surrender, I realized that surrender probably did not include negotiation. I realized that it included everything, most of which I truly did not want. Sorting this out became an entirely sleepless night. Coming to the conclusion that I could not surrender (and I did not see how anyone could), I told God that if I were to surrender, it would be because God would help. So I prayed for assistance in surrendering.
Most scenarios that people experience surrender in are sudden and often tragic circumstances, such as a car or other type of accident. In these moments, the parts of our minds that complain about daily life, our jobs, our chores, and our relationships, completely turn off. The entirety of our being goes into action mode to respond to the needs of the moment.
Imagine being in Japan at the time of the 2011 tsunami. It would do no good for people to stand around and say, “Wow, we wish this didn’t happen. We don’t like this situation.” This magnitude of tragedy requires that people act and respond. Energy towards anything else would be counter-productive, perhaps even fatal. This is surrender. There is no way anyone could have stopped this, and no one can turn back the clock.
You do not have to have a tragedy to put into practice the power of surrender. Surrender means you stop fighting the past, stop judging your current situation, stop judging the part of you that is judging, stop dreaming about what could or should be, and face each moment and follow it as far as you can. You act. You act with no attachment to the results. It is that simple.
I love you and see in you. The answers to creating a loving world!