Once, (I think it was about 2004), after giving a would-be guru friend of mine a headache with my self-pitying whingeing, he dragged me kicking and screaming to a Hindu temple. The family business was having some cash-flow problems and I was somewhat cross about it because at the time I was ‘doing everything right’. Both Lance and I had done some heavy marketing work with our training business, and we’d researched and implemented up-dated business methods. In terms of our corporate image, we were always given rave reviews for our hard work, quality programs, customer care and delivery of value. We looked the part, with our luxury car, nice office space and power clothes. So there really wasn’t any particular thing we could pin the blame on. The phone just stopped ringing one day, and that was it. Panic stations and drama. With two of us running a business, we had no salary to fall back on. If things continued at this rate we weren’t going to be able to afford the proverbial belts to tighten. Furthermore, I was doing all my ‘spiritual’ work, putting in effort to focus on success (daily chanting, visualizing, creating success boards, talking to the subconscious of the people who were selecting vendors, putting my desires in matrixes and bombarding them with energy, staring at candles, arranging crystals and pyramids, burning bits of paper with messages on them, performing an African fire ceremony – yes, I really did do all those things). When it came to looking at my issues, I was hyper-vigilant, and took it upon myself to bust my family’s chops for not looking at theirs. So, red-eyed from all the incense I was burning, my voice hoarse from chanting, I fumed and shook my fists in the direction of the heavens. My friend Paul (I’ll call him that) had had enough. He thought a visit with his Indian guru would fix things, and so in spite of my dismissive attitude to such people, I found myself temple-bound.
Not my thing, I was irritable as I watched this guru-guy give everyone blessings and stick methi on their heads as he did so. One could hardly see him through the smoke from the hundreds of burning incense sticks. I thought, in my own cantankerous manner, that he looked peaceful, tranquil, the way I’d probably look if all those donations were deposited in my account. Later he gave a talk, using language I didn’t understand. He talked about surrender, letting go and going-with-the-flow. Hmmm, I wondered, this chap could afford to talk gibberish. He didn’t have massive bills to worry about. Paul nudged me every now and again, telling me to listen, get past my arrogance. I didn’t know he was a mind-reader. I sniffed haughtily. There was nothing for me here.
Later, Paul had me queuing up for a meeting with the guru. After an hour of shuffling forward on my sweaty bottom, I rose to my feet and stood before the holy man. He looked at me intently and took my hand. All I could think to ask was, ‘What do I do?’ He murmured a simple answer, ‘Don’t do anything. Surrender totally’.
Well, I was furious. I’d spent an hour on the floor, amongst thousands of followers for that? I was peace-loving (or truthfully, I was too cowardly for a confrontation) so I didn’t wring his neck. Instead I complained to Paul who’d brought me here. Paul asked me in exasperation, ‘So why don’t you just go away and do as he says?’ I asked what the heck I was supposed to surrender to. ‘To life; to God,’ Paul looked at me. He saw incomprehension darken my countenance. ‘Stop putting in so much effort. Stop all your effort altogether! Let God take care of things.’ I looked around me and shrugged. I wondered if I’d ever figure out what these strange people were talking about.
That was eight years ago. Little did I know that the wise guru had sent my self-important ass packing on a new path paved with the S-word. For a long time, the concept of ‘surrender’ was to dog my steps, haunt my spiritual life like a demon from hell. For me, the idea of surrender was for lazy people, those who wouldn’t take responsibility for their lives. The guru’s followers all seemed to just sit back and let it all happen; to me they were hippies in a different era. They floated about in their robes, all sort of peaceful and fuzzy and ready to hug a tree at the drop of a hat. I belonged to the Create-Your-Own-Reality Brigade (we also hugged trees); if I focussed hard enough on the life I wanted, I’d get it eventually. If I worked hard enough, took risks, it would all come to me. I was the Master of My Own Destiny. I created the life of my choice. I couldn’t imagine not being in control of my own future.
The trouble was, I sorely needed a reality check. My life wasn’t going according to my plans no matter what principles I followed. And I followed the create-your-reality principles to the letter. Hell, I even taught those principles to people. I knew without doubt that we humans are more than we think we are. We have un-utilized power; we only use ten per cent of our brains. In my classes I used many activities to prove that when our minds focus on something fully we are drawn to that particular thing. I learnt from another teacher to prepare a blank piece of card by writing and drawing my latest desire on it and have someone place this card in a field amongst hundreds of other cards. Then I would close my eyes and try to find that card. Every time I did this activity I found my cards. In a large group I was always the first to find mine, and when I taught my own students, I formulated similar activities that worked in demonstrating the power of the mind. I automatically assumed that if I could focus hard for something that I wanted, I could manifest it. It was a big blow when I discovered that while a part of my own journey was about discovering my own innate power, the next chapter would show me the power of my innate human weaknesses.
As time passed, and our business went through the trials and tribulations of its last years, along with other issues that reared their ugly heads, I realized that as human beings we’ve already created our reality somewhere in some other space and time. And what’s more, we’ve made a mess of it. Since it takes a belief to create any given reality in the first place, we find ourselves stuck in a network of ancient belief systems that are now so rigidly bound together, we have had to employ some very scientific methods to unravel the sticky web. A world (or a state of being) where people are selfish, hateful, superior and desperately empty is unnatural to us; in our truth, we are free spirits always looking for joyful experiences. We are certainly not meant to be prisoners of our beliefs. The only way back to our power is to confront our beliefs and let them go, one by one.
This life, this world, I discovered, is not designed for new experiences, but set up to let go of the old. It is a wheel that is ever-turning; what appears to be new, i.e. fashion, social and cultural trends, technological ‘advances’, scientific discoveries, etc, are events on a repetitive cycle. The same things come again and again, in exactly the same way, with different people doing the same things over and over. We are not ‘advancing’ in the way that we think. We are advancing only through the surrender of our ideas. We only know when we are close to the state that we’ve labelled ‘nirvana’ when we know without doubt that this world has no meaning; we know it has no relevance except to strip us of this illusionary identity. Until then, we are caught up in its perceived ‘importance’, and defend our beliefs to the death.
Today, ‘surrender’, ‘let go’ and ‘go with the flow’ are not words, but mantras that remind me that Life has its own agenda, and there isn’t anything I can do to change the order of things. Getting to this place was not a matter of a simple belief in the concept of pre-destiny. No such luck. To understand what surrender truly meant, I had to move through a pre-destined line of events that would unravel the set of beliefs that made me think I was in control my reality. Over time, Life showed me who (or what) was in control. With a mind as determined as mine, it took some pretty harsh events to make me see the truth.
So how do I live in a state of surrender? I simply know my place; my arrogance has gone, my self-importance died a death long ago and I feel unbelievably peaceful in the knowing that my life is, and always has been, on track. To be in surrender means to let Life do its thing (we don’t have a choice anyway-it’s not a magnanimous gesture) and accept that no matter what events occur, they are always in our best interests. Surrender means to let go of the idea of control, to hold the vision of what we want to do, make our plans and when they don’t happen, understand that we took this road because there is something to be learned from it. When our plans do happen, surrender means realizing that it was not we who made this occur, it was ordained, and that we have taken this route because we have something to learn from it. Surrender means that there is no need for effort. It means knowing that what is ours will come to us, and that all we have to do is listen to the inner prompts, the urge to do something, and do it. We do it to our best ability, but not because it will create a desired outcome, but because we are creative human beings.
Surrender means accepting our own nature, every part of it, for all the ‘bad’ bits will eventually be transformed by our experiences. Surrender is the state of mind that allows us to view the world through God’s eyes; it enables us to look upon a cruel and vicious world and know that whatever is happening, however bad, it is all for a reason. Surrender makes us realize that everyone has a purpose, and our lives are entwined in a divinely ordained way. Nothing happens by chance. ‘Chance’, ‘coincidence’ and ‘luck’ are just beliefs that have no substance. Rapists, murderers, con-men, corrupt governments, war-mongerers … all have as important a role to play as their ‘victims’. They are as important and as on track as priests, visionaries, aid-organizations, peace warriors. All the kindnesses we receive, and all the hurt, all is designed to make us loosen our grip on the ideas that we cling to.
Surrender means understanding that we as personalities have no importance; we are not any more special than the next person, no matter what beliefs exist in the world. It means that we know that we will not change the world for the better, because Life has a purpose, and people are saved through their pain. Surrender is knowing that whatever it is that we do is ordained, sewn into the fabric of Life’s ultimate purpose.
Yes, I know my place. I know that I am more than this body, that its faculties are controlled from beyond this physical dimension. My heart is beaten, my body is breathed and my thoughts are deliberate automatic responses to the pre-ordained events of my life. I don’t control what I think; all I can do is respond to the prompts of my thoughts. I no longer beat myself up for ‘making mistakes’. I know now that I’ve never made a mistake, because I can never make choices. I am a puppet of my beliefs, so can only take the route that they demand. And I know that every now and again I arrive at a place where those same beliefs are smashed to pieces, and so I can never take that same route again.
Surrender is peace, and surrender is love. But you can’t do surrender. It is a state of mind, and all of us arrive there eventually, without any effort at all.