Surrender is at the foundation of all transformative spiritual practice. But it seems so difficult because we are used to being in charge—or at least trying to be. And perhaps this is why surrender is at the core of spiritual practice. It’s very foreign to our way of living today.
It is easier to describe what surrender is not, than to describe what it is.
It is not giving your power of choice over to another person or an organization or a doctrine. It is not resignation. It is not “giving up” in despair and hopelessness. It is not an apathetic drifting through life.
Surrender is an attitude of nonresistance. It is the practice of nonattachment to the outcome of your actions. It is letting go of unnecessary efforting or striving.
The Chinese might say that it is “Living in the Tao.”
This is the heart of all true spiritual practice because it melts the ego structure and allows true nature to express itself more in your life; it allows you to fully be who you really are.
With this practice you may discover that your life has a Life of its own.
How to surrender? Difficult to answer because it is not something you can “do.” It is the opposite of doing.
This dilemma is perhaps best illustrated with a story.
A traveler from the city became hopelessly lost in the countryside. After fruitless wandering he discovered a farmhouse and a gentleman sitting on the porch. Turning his car up into the driveway, the stranger stuck his head out the window and said, “I am trying to get to Jonesville, but I’ve lost my way. Can you give me directions to Jonesville?” The farmer sauntered over to the car and stood there with a puzzled look on his face. He looked in every direction several times. Then he looked at the man in the car and replied, “Well sir, I don’t believe that you can get there from here. If I were you I would start from somewhere else.” e might respond to the question of “how to surrender” in much the same way. Ironically, the best way seems to be setting the intention to surrender and then observing all the parts of yourself that don’t want to surrender.
Create the intention to surrender and then observe all internal resistance to that intention as it arises. The resistance might be an aversion to your present experience or that of craving some experience that’s not here. Either way, it’s insisting that you’re here and now experience be other than what it is.
Essentially, surrender means that you accept each moment’s experience no matter what it is. This teaching refers primarily to your personal, subjective experiences. If you find it necessary to change the conditions of your life then do so if it’s helpful or necessary--but always allow your internal experience to be just as it is.
For example if you do not feel well, and if you believe you might be ill, then take whatever steps you can to facilitate healing and relief, but as you do that, continue to accept each internal experience as it is.
Or if not; then simply notice the nature of your resistance and accept that without creating some kind of story about it. Just note “resistance” or “craving” and let it be—and then be present to whatever arises next.
Do not try to surrender, just notice when and how you are not practicing it—and then surrender any attempt to change anything in the field of you experience. Go ahead and make whatever changes you deem necessary in your life, but stay present to your moment-by-moment experience as you do so--whether you get what you want or not.
A by-product of surrender is a deep peace and a sense of being at ease in any situation. But don’t chase that experience of peace. Remember, “You can’t get there from here.”