Tag Archives: surrender

Surrender

I wanted to write about what seems to me is the most important spiritual practice – surrender. Although the word is used to imply “giving up” or “giving in,” I use it differently in the context of the journey toward union with the Divine.

Surrender is the opposite of holding on to a lack of authenticity. It is the opposite of gripping tightly to personal, religious, and cultural biases. Surrender is a process of letting go into something greater than the one or the many, while retaining a sense of “I”-presence.

Muscles grip tightly in a stressed body – they ache and cause discomfort. Relaxing muscles surrenders the pain. It feels so good to let go into a more expansive feeling than to hold onto tension. Spiritual surrender is very similar.

One sage has termed the ego as “a constricted self.” People get used to discomfort and find new thresholds of tolerance. However, when the pain is relieved, there is a sense of “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Or “I didn’t know such a feeling was possible!”

Letting go of tension and stress of being alive is a relief. The expanded awareness that is free of minutiae is a gift. Our presence becomes holy when we surrender to that holiness and release the chains that bind us.

Those who felt chronic pain know that this feeling changes your outlook on life. It is only in the past few years that I am finally free of this pain. Until that point, I needed to consciously practice moving my attention to release the physical tension that resulted from being in pain. Today I remembered that I had been surrendering that pain to the light – not to be “taken away,” but to be transformed.

There is no “taking away” in this life. Nothing really gets taken away, in the greater sense. Things just get rearranged, recirculated, and possibly elevated. When I leave this world, I want to leave it slightly better as a result of being here. “Better” means to me free-er from illusion, more awake, less bogged down in habitual patterns of relating to life.

My students at school often act unmotivated, uncurious, angry, and disinterested. I tell them that this behavior is not original. Most people are doing that. It’s basic and been done before – over and over. Something about being here – probably lack of development and fear – causes most to sleepwalk from one task to the next, from one distraction to another, from one satisfied craving to another craving. All of it has been endlessly repeated. There is no wish to surrender in such living, but hoarding of absolutely everything becomes the norm – including a negative outlook on life.

A woman told me about some events in her life and then added: “I just give it all up to God.” In truth, she was holding on to all of it and repeating a mantra – probably from her childhood. She looked angry and with tears just beneath the surface. That is not surrender. She said “If you want my advice…” I stopped her and responded that I didn’t want any advice and that I wished her well. This is true for most of us – advice is useless. We all want to discover for ourselves where our lives will lead us.

People say that older people come with “more baggage,” which is mostly true. However, it is possible to live life such that most baggage is unloaded with age – and way before being too frail to move about. Life challenges us to see beyond the things we grip tightly and to feel freedom in any situation – not because we are ignorant or naive, but because we choose to surrender our very being into our source.

The action of surrender is far from doing nothing. Perhaps, it is the most challenging spiritual act that is also hidden from public view. There is an internal battle that takes place, which requires utmost courage to see oneself with fresh eyes and examine one’s life from a new perspective. We can always choose to keep doing what we already do. Perhaps, we will flower and open to new ways to relate to what is already here.

When I am uncomfortable, I put my attention on the light and let go into That. I pay attention to what comes “with me,” and release what stays behind.

Fearless people are the most frightening of all to those prone to fear. The fearless go through life without clinging to what didn’t go their way. I guess that can seem pretty scary to many who bow to feeling afraid.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in my life has been learning to deal with uncertainty. I’ve been through a series of life-changing circumstances that left me feeling that there is nothing to hang onto. When life got pulled out from my feet over and over, I saw surrender as the only door open. I was lucky to be nudged in this direction. Although I’ve had intuition about the results of my key decisions, I made my decisions anyway. I know I am responsible for my life. Now I know that the past “me” was incapable of choosing differently, and that realizing this is growth I may not have had if I didn’t go through my experiences as I did. I surrender all of this too.

My ongoing meditation is my relationship to the light and all that is manifested here. When I leave, I hope to be completely innocent – free from undercurrent biases and deeply-ingrained patterns. This is my prayer – to surrender to the degree that I am innocent throughout my body and mind. Here innocent means free, and not the opposite of guilty.

My children will grow up, friends will come and go, and money will ebb and flow. Through it all, I will surrender. We transitioned from generation X to generation Z – it’s only fitting that the next one will restart the cycle at generation A. And through this too, I will surrender.

Surrender is ongoing for those who bring baggage into the enlightened state. It is a core practice that can be done anywhere and at any time – no candles or incense or crystals are required. It is a practice until it become automatic.

Surrender can be a natural part of daily rhythm to free us from the emotions, thoughts, and stuff we no longer need – no matter how deeply buried in the unconscious and bonded to our being. That of which we can let go is not who we are.

Confusing Enlightenment With Being A Better You

Most people market enlightenment as becoming the best one can be – a nice, calm person that says extremely wise things and is adept at living life to the max.

Self-help movements are packaging “basic-sanity” life skills under Growth Mindset, “Grit,” Habits of Mind, Social Emotional Competence (SEC), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Mindfulness. When properly engaged, everyone can benefit from greater self-awareness, self-management, resilience, perseverance, and empathy. The qualities of the hero are as relevant now as they were thousands of years ago. These qualities are excellent at helping us discover and build an identity that skillfully moves through our societal structures and experiences meaning in life. But, this is not enlightenment.

Enlightenment is the dissolution of the mechanism we use to build, refine, and maintain an identity – a sense of “I am this” or “I did that.” As long as there is still someone there, that consciousness is not free and remains limited by the boundaries that define the “I.” Unfortunately, the mechanism of the ego is impossible to understand while being an ego. At some later point in our evolution, the definition of enlightenment will change.

But, in the here and now, why would anyone want to get rid of the sense of self? Isn’t the whole point of being here to become a strong person that can successfully navigate life’s challenges, feel confident, and influence others? To most people at this time, that is the point. In most cases, there must be a strong identity before that identity can be dissolved.

However, some people are born feeling like they’ve been there and done that, so to speak. They usually have a number of natural talents and a strong personality from a very young age. But, they also feel like they are missing something critical in life no matter what activity they engage or what they try to accomplish. There is this constant tone of emptiness in nearly every experience, no matter how “peak.” The process of enlightenment can culminate for such people in this life. They are ready to let go because they have something to let go of.

Currently, the most certain way to transcend the entire dilemma of being an “I” is to be connected to a being who is free of ego. The reason this connection is necessary is because such a being serves as the bridge to help an ego-bound person see that which they need to let go. Without the bridge, ego perpetuates more ego. The connection happens rather mysteriously and beyond space and time – the “connected” being deepens and grows even while no in-person communication takes place.

When the path of self-dissolution is engaged prematurely, it can damage the delicate psyche that is still in the process of forming. In fact, most people are equipped with a natural protection that rejects the enlightened being. They find something wrong or suspect with such a “person,” project their fears and perceptions onto that “person,” and walk away.

Of course, an enlightened being never takes this defensiveness personally and feels no pain at the apparent rejection of the state of awareness he or she represents. The free being recognizes when a cookie needs more time in the oven and continues shining his or her presence as a beacon without any efforting. This being is there for all, but specifically and directly for those who are ready to release something that no longer serves them. For the rest, the enlightened character remains a blank screen onto which they project their doubts, fears, and beliefs – there is literally no one there.

What does life become after one is a no one? Well, something else kicks in. The enlightened consciousness is no longer looking for ways to fortify its value in life and, instead, engages in a deeper level of empathy – relationship – with existence. Information is continually pouring in, and pure awareness receives it and feels it in ways that are free of mental processing and emotional residue. There is never a feeling of boredom. There is constant creativity. Brain patterns are nonlinear and hyperlinked, rather than storyboarded.

The ability to be fully at rest and at peace is always available, regardless of whatever life presents. The brain is no longer bogged down by endless, looping thoughts. Furthermore, rather than trying to cultivate and control one’s presentation, there is a wild freedom to be whatever in any given moment. Perfection, poise, grace – these are the characteristics defined out of the need to control, but the enlightened being lives immersed in the uncontrollable in complete surrender.

To most people, an enlightened presence is irritating and confusing. You cannot really explain such a presence to others to sway them from their projections. The situation is what it is. In fact, most enlightened souls stay away from society because their very presence is a threat to what the majority need at this time. Living with an enlightened being is impossible for most adults whose consciousness has reached a certain level of rigidity.

Children are more open to the flexible nature of enlightenment – they are naturally available to humor, changing the rules of the game, or spontaneous decisions. But even then, not all kids.

Eventually, we will all be free. Right now, humanity must go through what it is going through. Advanced beings have always been available to those who needed them – existence is intelligent and interconnected. Such beings evolved over lifetimes because, at the right time, someone else was there for them.

How Resilient Can One Be?

How many times in one lifetime can one completely start over? Can one just pick up and move forward with minimal support after each dramatic change – with little money, no caretakers, and no elder family? Can one start over – and over again – while still honing empathy, compassion, and care for all Life?

I’ve come to understand that I am such an experiment. After my transformation, I’ve noticed a gradual surrender of my life to the overall Life process – the invisible web of interconnections that is all of us. It became impossible to hold on to my life as someone who needed to get something to feel whole. I am already whole. Each time I am in a situation of significant change, I am forced to give up more comfort and more outside support. I am alive to show that complete resilience through surrender to Life is possible while still participating in everyday life.

I came to this country from the poverty of another – only to land in poverty again. I have survived rape as a child. I graduated high school two years earlier than my peers. I chose an extremely challenging technical major in college and went on to get a graduate degree in this field as a woman – when few women ventured into such fields. I’ve played classical piano competively. I’ve lived through 3 marriages, and lost almost everything in the first two. I know what it feels like to lose a child and to get him back – the instincts and love of a mother. I’ve had emotionally distant parents, with whom I’ve lost touch. I’ve had intense jobs, where I worked 60-80 hour weeks for sustained periods of time. I made and lost large sums of money. I’ve had challenges feeling like any place was home, that any group could be family, and that anything can feel “secure.” The few people with whom I shared my life think that I’ve lived many lives, did too many things – they get tired just imagining what I’ve pushed through.

When the transformation occurred about a decade ago, after a brief few months of bliss, there were still dramatic changes to my being. And then – relocation, change of career, challenges finding work, illness, challenges of putting my family on a stable financial track, and more transformation. I have often found myself feeling like living was unbearable.

Each time the rug was pulled from under my feet, I had a choice to give up or to get up again. And that became my life.

To say that I am an experiment sounds sterile and clinical, but it is not. I can feel and understand what Life is trying to discover through my existence. It wants to know if enlightenment can coexist with the nonenlightened beings so that more and more enlightened people can walk the world and spark transformation. We are entering an era when enlightened beings can no longer afford to hide in the mountains.

The only way for me to fail is to stop, but I cannot do that. It is no longer possible for me to even make that choice. I must complete this life to carve a path for others. Each of us does that – carves a path – when we embrace our unique experiment fully and surrender to living it completely.

When life situations are constantly unstable in basic human terms, it is a kind of trauma on the psyche. The challenge then becomes to adjust to being constant change without balking or breaking, without shutting down the ability to feel everything, and still continuing to love life.

The enlightened state turns up the volume on everything going on in the world. The stream of input of people’s experiences pouring in and through is neverending. However, the gift is that nothing “sticks” to drag one down to a place of no return. Laughter, humor, and joy are not only possible – they are prevalent. There is no cynicism or sarcasm. There is no making light of challenging situations. All of this is a flow that is endlessly surrendered to the Life Stream.

Am I perfect and flawless in my execution? Not at all. I stumble a lot, and fall even more. I learn from every interaction and untangle from life’s dysfunctional and impacted blueprints that have been established by countless generations. I suppose it helps that I am no longer capable of hating myself as I face obstacles.

Perhaps self-love and transformation are two sides of the same coin – one is not possible without the other. I am not talking about adoring oneself or artificially propping one’s self up to feel good. Instead, I am describing a fundamental care and the valuing of oneself that can only come from giving up a sense of investment in life to get something from it. Paradoxically, self-love comes by erasing the need to fulfill and fortify an identity, and instead reorienting the being to embrace the messy and dynamic life process as it is. Learning without judgement. Loving without neediness. Letting go without giving up.

What does it mean to be a mystic?

The world has so many spiritual movements and teachers. Although I have had teachers, I do not have a lineage. My path has led me through a transformation, and I was then on my own to integrate what had happened. Often I would receive insights, but the primary insight was to trust the wisdom of the Heart and to rely fully on the Light. And this keeps me continuously accountable. I cannot plan or know, but only listen with the Heart and respond.

It was very challenging for me to accept that I have no formal lineage. However, I’ve since learned that strong yearning and love for the Divine opens other avenues for us to continue learning and surrendering to the process of life.

At this time, my love for the Divine is All-consuming. There is not a moment when I am not in the Light’s embrace. I feel my Heart flood with love, and there is spontaneous expression of that love – as called by the moment.

I am literally drunk on this love, intoxicated by the delight of knowing who I am. The union of the body and the infinite is a play of life and fire, and everything else is kindling.

Flashes of debris in the body are quickly thrown into the everburning Spiritual Fire, and consumed as quickly as they arise. I know that I am this Fire, and thus I am nothing to speak of.

I suppose one would call me a mystic because the Union of the Divine is ever unfolding and I know that is all there is. Interestingly, my bithplace – Azerbaidjan –  was a place of the Sufi mystics.

There is also a practical side to this way of being – I attend to daily responsibilities with a wildly burning heart. What I notice is that it is very clear which are my responsibilities, and which are my choices. The Fire of Love in my heart is ever there to ignite my relationship with any task.

I find it interesting that some people find this Love, which requires nothing less than complete surrender to the Divine, frightening… If they felt it even once, they would know that all other love falls short….They would taste this love and never stop longing for it. However, the initial turmoil that comes with the longing is not a joke. And, for those who do not want this, perhaps it is better to never take that first drink from the cup of Love…

I’ve also learned that the craving for Divine Union must come from an individual after their awakening is ignited. While a teacher can stoke the Fire, the individual must choose via his or her free will to surrender to the flame – to the dissolution of separation. This process can be frightening until one crosses the point of no return. Then, the fear is simply drowned by the yearning.

Ultimately, the only thing that matters is – do you know who you are. I know that I am no longer anything to speak of…