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The Wisdom of Surrender

© Dennis L. Dossett
   (All Rights Reserved)

      I have a cartoon that I passed along to my children many years ago, and I still see it from time to time posted on my daughterís refrigerator. It shows a heron trying to eat a frog. The frogís head is inside the heron’s beak, but the frog’s “hands” are tightly gripped around the heronís neck. The caption is “Never Give Up!” While I love the message of this cartoon, I also think we need to understand what surrender really means. In the context of spiritual development, I believe that we have to think and act in terms of “Surrender . . . But Never Give Up!” To surrender doesnít mean to quit; quite the contrary. The scriptures of nearly all the great religions of the world extol their followers to “surrender”, but to do so with persistence and commitment. The meaning  –  regardless of dogma or belief  –  is the same in each: we are instructed to surrender the Self/ego to the Higher Self. Let’s explore this instruction a bit in terms of practical application.


      Last month I wrote about “The Spirituality of Selfishness”, something in which I truly believe, but I also truly believe in “The Wisdom of Surrender”. On the surface, surrender sounds like a contradiction to spiritual selfishness. The concept of surrender has several different aspects, all of which I know in my heart to be important for spiritual development.


      First, while I believe that my life is all about me, I also know from first-hand experience that I cannot make spiritual progress in my life all on my own  –  not one bit. “Spiritual self-sufficiency” is a contradiction in terms. My life is about making choices, but like most human beings I often put off making those choices until others in my life push my buttons, provoke me, or otherwise present me with “opportunities” to accept responsibility for my role in a relationship, repay my karma, learn my lessons, etc. I probably wouldn’t  –  and most often couldn’t  –  do these things without them. And I have to include Spirit in this as well. My guardian spirit, my guides, and especially the Masters who try to teach me these things are all indispensable to my spiritual development. I thank all of them profusely, repeatedly, and humbly, as they help me learn to surrender control of my life to Higher Self rather than to Self/ego. They have all taken on an enormous job on my behalf, and I am extremely grateful and blessed.


      One major aspect of surrendering to Higher Self is learning to accept things as they are and not trying to force things to be as I (the Self) want them to be. A couple of months ago I wrote that “Life is what you make it” rather than accepting the notion that life (or anything) “is what it is”. The Self hates change and uses our comfort zone to keep us under its control. Learning to accept that we are not  –  and have no right to be  –  in control of everything (especially other peopleís choices) goes a long way toward accepting our limitations as well as graciously accepting the help of others, and it also helps us to develop and practice greater humility, gratitude, and compassion.


      Another important part of surrender has to do with the basic Law of Attraction, and that is “what you resist persists”. By trying so hard to resist something that we donít want in our lives, we end up attracting more of the same. In other words, we attract what we give our attention to. In this sense, surrender refers to our allowing the Higher Self to take control rather than using all our energy trying to resist the Self Ė generally a futile endeavor. Iím not saying this is easy; the Self has us conditioned to resisting and often employs family, friends, and culture to teach us and to coerce us to do exactly that. Just think of trying to break a bad habit. How well has “resisting” temptation worked for you in the long run? However, if we learn to “give it no energy” as Maitreya teaches, we have a far greater likelihood of replacing the old habit with a more constructive set of behaviors.


      I think this is exactly what Sir Winston Churchill was talking about in a 1941 speech during England’s darkest hours during World War II: “Never give in  –  never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” The key here is focusing our attention on surrendering to the Higher Self rather than putting all our attention on resisting the lower Self. It is a matter of persistence and commitment to the higher rather than of force against the lower.


      And this brings me to my final thoughts on the wisdom of surrender. There is an old song from the 1930ís that says “It ain’t what you do, itís the way how you do it. That’s what gets results!” In the New Testament, Jesus admonishes his disciples saying, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt.18:3-4 NIV) The “kingdom of heaven” is the Higher Self, and the Master refers to the necessary child-like qualities that adults generally have lost through conditioning. Among these is humility or receptivity, which is a major component of what I think of as spiritual selfishness.


      In addition, children trust implicitly, while we adults often question everything and complain incessantly rather than trusting that everything in our lives  –  both good and bad  –  happens for one reason: to help us to grow spiritually. Children also focus on the NOW. They have no fear of tomorrow, and no regrets or guilt regarding yesterday  –  at least until we teach them. And part of living in the NOW is having no agendas  –  things that we try to bring about through contrivance, subterfuge, or force. Having no hidden agenda is included in what is often referred to as “purity” in the scriptures of various religions. And finally, children have the wonderful capacity to experience spontaneous joy in whatever the moment presents to them. I’ll have some thoughts on joy at some other time. Until then, I invite all of us to be wise in our daily lives. Surrender . . . but Never Give Up!