By Suma Varughese
Moving into surrender empties the mind of all its garbage and frees it from suffering.
As I venture, very gradually, into the zone of surrender, I am wonderstruck at how different things seem in its domain. The outside circumstances have changed not a whit, but where they would have earlier had me in a welter of anger, worry, anxiety and so on, now they don’t concern me much. In fact, this is what I am given to understand. None of this is my stuff. It’s all God’s stuff! My thoughts are God’s stuff. My feelings are God’s stuff. My reactions are God’s stuff. My achievements are God’s stuff. My mistakes are God’s stuff. I simply do not have to tackle the contents of my mind. I can just turn them over, lock and barrel, as is, where is, to God’s custody. Liberation? I should think so.
Ramesh Balsekar, the maverick Advaita guru, used to tell his listeners, ‘Deeds are done. There is no doer thereof.’ He used to say that guilt over our misdeeds and pride over our achievements, were both misplaced, since ‘we’ simply were not there!
That experience is becoming a reality, and although the ego is still very present, I can begin to feel how irrelevant the self is in the scheme of things.
Things are so much better in the absence of the self. Alas, I am still reactive, but at least there is no longer any room for second level reaction – reaction over my reaction. I no longer feel guilt or remorse over my ire. I just hand it over to God. But, relax, this does not make me as heartless as I sound. Instead of kicking myself over the past, I put my attention on what I can do to make amends and to commit myself to being more in control next time. And I move on, unhampered by past luggage.
Without the self, events that would have had me frothing with anxiety – a misunderstanding with someone, for instance – no longer have the power to move me. I do what I can to mend the situation, and move on. The anxiety over consequences and the constant replaying of the event in the mind are slowly leaving me.
Absence of the self heals you at the physical level too. Earlier ill-health of any nature would have me worrying. Now, instead of worrying myself sick every time I eat something that I fear may give me a cold, I resolutely put it out of my mind and into God’s hands. And behold, the impending sore throat leaves me, the unwise food has no ill effects and so on. I am recognizing how completely we create our destiny through our belief systems.
Surrender simplifies life enormously. You no longer worry about how others see you; or why so and so is not talking to you, and so on.
Surrender is entirely different from prayer. Prayer arises out of need, and resistance. We pray for salvation from problems, relief from suffering, for success in ventures and for happiness.
Surrender arises when need and resistance have been transcended substantially. We leave it all to God’s lookout and accept the consequences, good or bad. There is calmness and strength in surrender. A peace and tranquility. An entrenchment in the experience without prejudice, whether good or bad. In surrender, one savors life fully and whole-heartedly. Because we no longer want anything other than what is, we can experience it completely, without wanting to muffle the bad bits or amplify the good ones. We experience the sharp riff of physical pain, the full depth of our anger, the feel of a cat’s fur on our hands, the flow of music within every cell, the tension within our body when someone says something we disagree with. There is a relaxation and a sense of time slowing down.
As we turn over the contents of the mind to the Higher Power, in time it will resemble Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, awesomely empty! As we do so, our focus on the moment and on the happiness of others increases progressively.
Without the self, we are free to focus on the other’s feelings. Empty of the self’s clamoring needs and desires, fears and prejudices, the other can be received fully, their needs met, their fears resolved, and their selves honored. I have yet to get here but I eagerly look forward to finally being there for others without judgment, likes and dislikes, needs and desires.
The best thing about surrender, though, is that suffering slowly mutes down. The Buddha’s promise increasingly manifests: freedom from suffering.
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