I understand that one path of enlightenment is devotion, and I have certainly experienced the exquisite beauty of that path. I’m not saying that it is wrong for someone to be devoted to his or her teacher. But at this stage of my life, devotion or worshiping another person seems to also invite disempowerment.
This can be true for any powerful influence in our lives—teachers, mentors, coaches, healers, therapists, even bosses and spouses. We give over power in so many ways and, conversely, we refuse to surrender when that is the path to peace.
On some paths, a powerful teacher insists that the devotees must constantly worship his name, form, and directives as the fastest and safest way to salvation and liberation from the pain and suffering of life now and in the hereafter. But when seekers can only project divinity onto the spiritual teacher, how can they retain or discover their own worth? In these scenarios, even though one of the main teachings can be that we are all God, and all One, it is consequently incredibly difficult and contrary to find or recognize any “God within.”
Very simply put, I have noticed two types of ego responses to surrender:
The tough piece for some is surrendering their will. They are so used to controlling every aspect of their life that they fear that if they don’t attempt to control things their life will be total chaos.
Then there are those who are oh so happy NOT to be in charge of their lives—to relinquish control so that someone else is navigating and ultimately, responsible for them Although I have both types of responses myself, I lean toward the second category. I longed to get out of my incessant mental chatter and self-doubt and sincerely find peace. And I received, appropriately, an extremely harrowing teaching to help me redefine my personal definition of what it meant to surrender to God.
“Take your hands off the steering wheel. Be able to say to the universe, ‘Thy will be done’ . . . and allow your life to go into the hands of the universe completely.” —Gary Zukov, The Seat of the Soul
Zukov echoes my deeply held belief that this was the way to achieve the highest spiritual state. Apparently, I had to learn some discernment here. At the beginning of my spiritual journey, I had a really hairy encounter that is pretty embarrassing to admit. I was experiencing some unusually ecstatic states, which included an opening up to what I call “divine wisdom” downloads. It felt like I was having conversations with God or at the very least a very high-level emissary. I was able to tap into wisdom and information that I clearly did not have any prior access to, and when I shared this with others they were clearly having some wondrous experiences as well, smelling scents of roses and incense, visions, etc.
I was at times being asked to share things with others that felt like a test of my faith. (CAUTION: Do not attempt this yourself!) One day, while driving on the Washington, D.C. beltway, I was in the left lane and I was instructed to let go of the steering wheel. I obeyed, nervously. Then I was asked to shut my eyes. Mind you I was going nearly 80 mph in heavy traffic! I broke out in an instant sweat and I made it about a minute or two till I couldn’t take it. I pulled over in the shoulder in the left lane, my whole body shaking in fear that I would hurt someone.
I blurted out between sobs: “If I am to follow orders, I will not take the risk that if I fail to do it right, I could kill someone, myself included. This is too much!”
Then came the revelation that these rigid beliefs of testing my faith were within me! I needed to mature in my relationship to God/Spirit. I did not have to act like a child waiting for directives from a judging parent; I had a keen mind and healthy sense of morals and would participate as a conscious co-creative partner with the Divine from that point on. I was no longer “tested” or asked to do reckless and dangerous tasks to prove my worthiness and loyalty, which had been my limited perception and deepest fear.
NEXT: Toxic Religious Beliefs: Don’t think—Don’t Feel