“yes is a world
and in this world of
~ E. E. Cummings
Really, to surrender seems the most difficult thing to do. Even in our most relaxed moments, we are unconsciously holding the show through a subtle kind of effort. And this effort is being maintained throughout our life, even more so in moments of threats and desperation. The consequences of this constant tension is visible in every aspects of our being, physically and psychologically where they shine in an obvious manner, but also in our inward, spiritual life where it has even more devastating effects, keeping us at bay, at distance of any deep understanding or realisation.
At every moment of our lives, we experience at best a subtle if not unnoticed resistance to the propositions of everyday experience. Let’s put it simply: we argue. We argue, complain, judge, evaluate, regret, hope, expect, and so many other gesticulations that we superimpose on reality. Really it sometimes feels there is a madman locked here in the room of existence. The present reality, what is taking place here and now offers nothing less, if you look at it carefully, than a quiet and smooth run. ‘What is’ flows majestically like a large river does. It bears the silence of presence, the quiet inescapability of ‘is ness’, of being just the way it is. So why does life and circumstances expose us to such amount of conflict and resistance? How did it all become such an unsolvable riddle?
There is an even more subtle effect brought by this resistance to ‘what is’. Unwilling as we are to fully engage with reality as it presents itself to us, we escape through what appears for a time to be a more noble action than this ruthless refusal of life: seeking! Seeking what is not here, not present now, we feel is the ultimate resource or solution to our lack of peace inside. We need to find completion, and are ready to all extremities — gross or subtle — to achieve it. Not quite noticing that our noble search is nothing more than a refined form of resistance. We are back to where we started. Our plain refusal of life as it is. And bear in mind that this refusal also takes the form of an attachment or clinging to the ‘good’ experiences. This apparent ‘yes’ is nevertheless not a true ‘yes’, but a disguised ‘no’.
This refusal, this ‘no’ towards our life experience takes the form of a self, an entity that seems to be in charge. This is the resisting or seeking factor that needs to be surrendered. But beware here, for surrender should come as nothing like an imposed or forceful acceptance. To positively accept is nothing but a subtle doing and is not what we need. For it betrays the existence of a doer, a ‘someone’ who ‘accepts’ and therefore places itself in opposition to the very thing that needs to be fully surrendered. Most of our acceptations are nothing but an act of enduring, tolerating, or being resigned. It has the perfume of an effort which is in reality nothing but passivity. The dictionary offers here a significant synonym for acceptance: suffering… To suffer! To surrender is never passive, on the contrary! Its qualities are ones of intense energy and creativity. Surrendering is an act that needs no actor for its completion. It is free.
So why do we cling so vehemently to every life experience? Why do we feel we have to be involved with every passing hue and form? What an intolerable burden! These constant thoughts, feelings, images, memories, happenings, that we try to manage, arrange, make sense of, organise in a way that we feel connects to our self image, to the idea we have of our own person, of what and how we should be. Could we not release ourself of this unmanageable load, put it down at last, just once, and have a taste of the lightness and freedom that come when we don’t bind our life to ourself, when we surrender to it all? Shouldn’t we let it all go, let it all live and be according to its own laws and raison d’être, until nothing is left but the sheer joy and ease of living?
I think that true surrendering is like a ’seeing’ without the layers of abstraction and conditioning. Surrendering is plainly seeing something — anything — for what it is. And this seeing has at its very core a freeing, liberating effect. For seeing simply is; seeing requires no effort, for effort is really only the projection of a separate entity, and therefore an untruth. Seeing requires having no likes or dislikes, for these are again projections. It requires no ideas or opinions as to where the solution lies. All these are the very source and cause of our seeking and resisting, of our movement towards happiness. A projection is here at work, and with it a subtle sense of being separate, at a distance. Seeking and resisting are always the expression of a tension, of a refusal, and they are constantly moving towards a desired object. This movement must cease for something new to flower. This is true surrender.
“Perfect rest is absolute freedom from motion.”
~ Meister Eckhart
We have seen that every action that springs from a separate sense of self is of a passive nature. The passivity of the ego is due to its unwillingness to explore its true nature and reality. But this attitude paradoxically pushes it to an intense level of activity in order to manage all its contradictions and artificially hold together all its lies. Layers upon layers of them unexplored that constitutes the ‘body’ of the separate self. So this is not true passivity. The ego should really be the laziest entity on earth, and come to a standstill. This absolute passivity, stillness, is the point where it can be allowed to see its fabricated and illusory nature and break down, crumble down like an ephemeral sandcastle to reveal what sustained it all this time — but was unseen because of its frantic activity and restlessness — namely consciousness itself.
So true surrendering comes with the absolute passivity of the one that feels separate, of the ‘person’. This total non movement on the part of the believed entity is what puts in motion the very act of surrendering, and is the true poverty that Meister Eckhart was referring to in his writings. In this stillness, one is allowed to see that the little voice inside the head, that takes itself to be a real entity, is in fact a very fleeting one. Its existence is redundant. In this stillness is made apparent that our self is in fact already a fully allowing space. We are already the very consciousness that we have been all along but was dimmed by the rising of the illusory vindicating, claiming, defending, seeking-resisting, and non-existing voice and entity.
Surrender is the outcome of stillness. But it’s a devastating stillness. For surrender is an absence, a free fall. It is unattached, security-less. It is not a smart achievement. Nothing cunning lies here in a corner. It is in plain sight. For to abandon oneself to life needs no knowledge whatsoever. But it needs one thing though: the ultimate understanding of the cunning and illusory nature of ego, and the instantaneous seeing that our deepest interest and security lies in life itself, in the very spacious presence or consciousness that we are, which is nothing but God’s will at its richest and profoundest. True acceptance is not a doing. It is the natural state when all resistance is abandoned. There is no effort in being, in the recognition of our true nature. This is a letting go, something obvious, natural, easy, like an opening. We ease in that recognition, we come home. There is a release of tension. It’s a resting.
We have seen that there is a releasing factor in truly seeing things as they are. To see darkness in ourself uncovers the light that sustains it. To truly see violence in ourself is the end of violence. To see that there is no entity inside the skull releases us from the burden that it is to live with and as such entity and shows us our true identity as consciousness. For in fact, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as surrender for everything is in fact already surrendered, already allowed, in the space of our own being. And being doesn’t argue with anything. It plainly is. It is only the appearance — the surging one could say — of a thought that arrogantly names itself ‘me’ that prevents this allowing to be seen, and to act in our life.
“It is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
So we have now the map but it is yet another thing to explore the territory. For how can this offer and opportunity of true surrender be provoked or implemented in our life? Are we back here with effort? Is it a practice? Or should we just be prepared to the best of our ability and wait for a surge of grace? I think it should be clear by now that nothing on the part of the ego can be done. Everything lies in the hands of awareness, the already fully surrendered space that we are. So we have to visit it all the time, get impregnated by it, repeatedly take our stand as our newly discovered identity and self, until really our separate self-sandcastle doesn’t have the guts and means to sustain itself any longer. It gives up!
This allowing space has a cleansing effect attached to it. It cleanses us from all our false beliefs and identities that are in the way of our true nature, of peace and happiness. We could say that the quantity of presence or light in us is proportional to our being aware of all that is separate in us, to how much darkness we are prepared to unveil, and to the courage we have to confront the most hidden and buried parts of ourself. This courage is nothing harsh or stern, for it is the simple yet effective surrendering of all the parts into the whole. And this whole is who we are already and have been all along. So let’s come and rest in its arms finally! As I have seen written one day on the walls of a church in London: “Underneath are the everlasting arms”.
Text by Alain Joly
Paintings by Robert Bruce Crane (1857-1937)
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” is from Deuteronomy, 33:27
Read this collection of quotes on the subject: The Deepest Acceptance…
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. krishnamurti – (Rider Book)
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