I have been a seeker and I still am,
But I have stopped asking the books and the stars,
And I started listening to the teaching of my soul.
Who do you look to for spiritual guidance and comfort?
In the wake of global tragedies resulting from religious extremists who are willing to become suicide bombers, I have been contemplating how one achieves the appropriate balance between spiritual surrender and self-empowerment. Both are necessary elements along the spiritual path, and they require a healthy dose of discernment.
My deep desire for spiritual liberation and peace, and a child-like openness brought me to some amazing master teachers, and also drew me into some situations that were inherently disempowering. However, these experiences were fertile ground for me to acknowledge that allowing my own students to give over their power in any form, including critical thinking, is not the path I wish to emulate.
If I am to be brutally honest, there was an aspect within me that must have allowed this to occur…the part of me that wanted to feel safe, secure and perhaps not totally responsible for my path and choices. The part of me that was feeling small and immature spiritually, feeling that others had more awareness than I, more seniority and detachment to see the bigger picture. I took great comfort in this, and willingly followed advice and choices that though very difficult at times, felt really right. Until they didn’t…
Two stories really spoke to me of this dilemma early on. I read that one aspirant asked of his teacher, “What do you do when the outer guru says one thing, and the inner guru says another?” He answered: “You follow the outer guru, who is in the flesh, he is wiser and more detached.” When I read this, it didn’t feel like the whole story. Of note was the timing; it was in the early 1970s, and many of the seekers were of the hippie persuasion, so perhaps this new spiritual path was requiring them to balance out their fierce independence, drug explorations and lack of discipline.
The second story that my teacher shared some 20 years later, was the exact opposite teaching. As she was leaving India, a man wanted to come to the main ashram in the U.S. and she said flat out, “No.” Two weeks later she saw him in her New York ashram and queried “Why are you here?” The devotee replied, “While the outer guru said no, the inner guru said ‘come to America.” My teacher beamed, and said: “Ahhh, very good!” Somehow I knew this was going to be one of my biggest teachings – to learn to trust the inner guru, even if the outer guru is disagreeing.
But how do we know the difference? Let’s explore some of the concepts that arise when balancing the need to surrender spiritually in order to open to new and ultimately liberating practices and ideas, and release the egoic indoctrination that we must always be in control, with the challenge of knowing when to empower ourselves and listen to our inner knowing.
What is Spiritual Surrender?
There is a solution to our disappointments, our anxieties, and our struggles.
The solution we crave is spiritual surrender. For most of us, the word surrender has a negative connotation. We think surrendering means waving the white flag and giving up.
Our dictionaries give the word the same negative spin. Webster defines surrender as “To give (oneself) up to the power of another especially as a prisoner.” A further definition begins more positively, even passionately: “Abandon or devote (as oneself) entirely to something without restraint, reservation or further resistance.” But it quickly adds the cautionary example, “The individual has surrendered himself to destructive ideologies.”
True surrender is about ending the struggle in our lives and beginning our journey on a path more amazing than we could imagine.
Surrender teaches us to live in love instead of fear, and advises us to surrender to God rather than pursuing the path of our own misguided egos.
Spiritual surrender is not about defeat; it is about true acceptance, joy, and faith. Surrender means making the decision to stop fighting and resisting the world and what is, and to start consciously loving it instead. This state of allowing brings great peace.
Simple Steps to Surrender
You don’t even have to believe in God to experience spiritual surrender. You must only believe that there is some Higher Power or Consciousness than your rational mind, and trust that this power only reflects or mirrors our own conscious and unconscious creations. You can call that power your intuition, the Universe, the vortex, quantum field, the Divine Essence—whatever makes you feel comfortable.
You don’t have to go through these steps to experience spiritual surrender, but they can streamline the process and help you avoid a lot of pain and struggle. The steps are:
- Every time you think something negative or are in fear, surrender or release that thought or feeling consciously. Find a positive perspective to what is going on. There is always something beneficial to your growth and understanding, even if it is to decide what you really don’t wish to experience.
- Believe in a positive outcome, until you can really feel it. Ask others to envision the positive outcome as well. Intend for the outcome you want, not the outcome you fear. Expect a miracle.
- Let go of any attachment to the how, why, where or when. Surrender to the infinite wisdom of the Universe to match your vibration of the positive outcome. Let go of efforting.
- Become quite and listen – to any guidance, action steps, or awareness that will support your process. Surrender is not just a passive state, waiting for God to bless you. It is more a releasing your resistance to what is, then shifting your vibration to a better feeling state. Once you find the flow, move with it.
Spiritual surrender is not about declaring defeat; it is about true acceptance, joy, and faith. Surrender means making the decision to stop fighting and resisting the world and what is, and to start consciously loving it instead. This state of allowing brings great peace.
Contemplation: What is your life showing you right now that you are resisting or judging? How can you apply a stance of spiritual surrender to this situation right now? Accepting something as it is is the first step to healing and transformation. Just by being more fully present to the sensations or emotions you are wishing to avoid can begin to dissipate their “charge” and begin the release process. By sending love you are actively transmuting a lower energy and state to a higher vibration. Happy surrendering!