Complete Surrender: What it Really Means
It is extremely important for us, especially saadhaka-s (spiritual seekers), that there is at least one altar in this world where we surrender ourselves totally in full devotion. It may be God, an Ishta Devataa (favourite deity), our Sadguru (Realised Master), a place of worship, a pilgrim centre, scriptures, an idol, an image, an object, even a piece of stone or a person whom we revere, respect and hold in a very high esteem as well as feel very close to. It doesn’t matter what entity we surrender to. The important thing is our surrender. The surrender should be total and complete without any reservation. When we touch the floor with the forehead in the presence or even in the absence of such an entity, in a symbolic gesture, with the attitude of total surrender, we literally unburden our minds, which have accumulated rubbish over the years, we unburden all our worries and fears. Immediately there is an overwhelming sense of peace and lightness.
It is like being a child. A child is totally surrendered to its mother. When a child senses any threat to himself, he will run straight to his mother and sit in her lap. There he will be fearless and at peace. As Lord Jesus says, “be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The child has full shraddhaa in his mother that she will protect him from everything and being. That shraddhaa, which is faith plus an element of surrender, is what we need.
The word “faith” doesn’t convey the complete meaning of shraddhaa without the element of total surrender. Surrender unreservedly. Surrender consists in giving up oneself and one’s possessions to the Lord of mercy. Surrender to Him and abide by His will whether He appears or vanishes; await His pleasure. God never forsakes one who has surrendered. If we ask Him to do as we please, it is not surrender but command to Him. We cannot have Him obey us and yet think that we have surrendered. He knows what is best for us and when and how to do it. Let us leave everything entirely to Him and be carefree. His is the burden; we have no longer any worries. All our worries are His. Such is the real surrender. This is real bhakti (devotion).
How do we know whether we have such a shraddhaa or not? The only test to find this out is whether we entertain even a little bit of chintaa (worry) in any corner of our mind. If we do, then there is a flaw in our shraddhaa, because, as there can’t be two swords in one scabbard or sheath, so also there cannot be shraddhaa and chintaa simultaneously in the same mind. Either we have shraddhaa or there is chintaa. Both can’t exist together in the same mind simultaneously. The presence of chintaa indicates the flaw in shraddhaa.
People are eager to see or experience miracles. If one has complete shraddhaa, one can experience miracles everyday in one’s own life.
Regarding surrender, once Param Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda-ji exclaimed, “Whatever you do oh Lord, who am I to quarrel with Thee? Does a picture ever quarrel with a painter?”
The one, who has surrendered thus, accepts whatever happens in his / her life, whether positive or negative, joys or sorrows, as His gift. Even in negative events and experiences in our lives there is something good, something positive to learn. Due to our ignorance we are unable to comprehend it. Therefore a true devotee has no complaints whatsoever.
Surrender is the same as mind control. The ego submits when it recognizes the higher authority of the Aatman (Self). This is the beginning of surrender.
The rebellious ego can be subjugated, either by seeking its source, when it automatically disappears, or by deliberately submitting all its actions, motives and decisions at the altar of reverence, striking thereby at its roots. Habits create the false notion that thinking is a permanent institution, with which it is impossible to dispense, but inquiry and discrimination will blast this fallacy.
True surrender is the dissolving of the ego in its Source. God is not deceived by physical genuflections or prostrations; what He sees in the worshiper is how much of the ego remains in full control and how much is on the verge of self-destruction.
In the case of him who adores God as anaatmaa (not-Self), the surrender of himself is a sham, just like a gift of a coconut to a guest is a sham in the Chola region. In the Chola region there was a custom of placing a coconut on a plate, just for formality’s sake, without intending to give it.
He who worships God as anaatmaa (not-Self), turning away from the Real God, who is the Self, is like one that goes about seeking a precious stone, throwing away the gem named Kaustubha already in his hand! The earnest seeker should meditate on Him as one’s own Real Self as there is no God other than the Self. Those who meditate on Him as not the Self, the wise call them beasts. Like the man that pursues darkness, light in hand, the devotee who meditates on God as a separate entity from himself, does not reach God (so long as he has this false notion). The light in hand is the Real Self and the darkness is the non-existence, separate God, whom the deluded one seeks! The superior devotion, on the other hand, leads to the goal which is the egoless state.
The completeness of the Supreme Being, asserted by Revelation, becomes true only by His being the Self. The deluded ones are just denying this completeness of His by their notion of His being separate from themselves! The “original sin” (spoken of in Christianity), is just the “I am the body” notion, therefore the sense of separateness of God from oneself, which is the outcome of this sin (‘I am the body’ notion), is itself sinful!
When the Supreme Being is reduced to the status of anaatmaa (not-Self), then He is not the Most Beloved of all. For, both according to Revelation and the common experience of all creatures, the Self is the Dearest of all!
One should make surrender of oneself to the Supreme One by giving up all forms and attributes falsely ascribed to the Real Self. That which has attributes and that, which the words can describe and can be thought about, is always a limited, finite entity. It simply can’t be the Supreme One, the Real Self. What is called surrender of oneself to God is the final consummation of the practice of bhakti (devotion). This can be achieved by the purified mind when the might of the ego is greatly reduced.
Just as a small magnet becomes united to a big one by juxtaposition of the opposite poles, so the finite self becomes One with that Supreme Being by the conjunction of its head with His Feet. The simile of the magnet serves to bring out the need of perfect humility of the devotee bowing in reverence at the feet of the Supreme. If the ego is strong or rampant there can be no self-surrender.
The self-surrender is truly made by him who always has the feeling “Let all things happen according to Thy Will. In all respects, I am bound to you.” After self-surrender, one must resign oneself to the Divine Will without any reservation.
The one who has thus surrendered himself will be at peace, remembering that He (God) is the bearer of the world’s burden. The one that bears the burden himself will be foolish and subject to ridicule, like the figure on the temple-tower appearing to bear the tower on its own shoulders.
As one travelling in a carriage puts down his luggage in the carriage itself and completes the journey, so should he unburden his own (sansaarik / worldly) burden at the feet of his Lord and complete his life’s journey in this world with a sense of peace and lightness.
The wise one leaves to God his cares concerning the good of the world, just as he leaves to Him his cares about his own body and family and goes about discharging his duties to the best of his abilities. The mature devotee must pass his time, patiently enduring whatever happens to him, whether pleasant or otherwise, without yielding to sorrow or joy, with his heart absorbed in Him.
When the ego dies in the natural state of the Self, being swallowed by the Divine Grace, then the devotee’s self-surrender becomes true and complete. In Christianity, actually the cross is the symbol of negation of ‘I’ the ego or the death of ‘I’ the ego.
As the offering is made from what belongs to God, so is the surrender of one’s self to God, since there is no self apart from Him.
Since the Self is the Supreme Being Itself, by whom, how and to whom is the surrender to be made? True self-surrender is only the extinction of the ego, which is the cause, due to which the sense of being different from Him arises.
If one desires to give oneself to God, then one must first seek out and know one’s own Self. Then only will one accomplish the gift of oneself to God.
People want to find out about God without first knowing who they are in Reality. Once we realize who we are in Reality, not what we think we are, then there will be no more seeking. That is Self-realization and that itself is God-realization. This doesn’t come about without the total surrender of the ego, which is nothing but its annihilation. With the destruction of the ego it will be realized that God, Absolute Truth, Supreme Reality, Pure Self, Sadguru (Realised Master) and the seeker himself are not different entities, but one.
The truth about namaskaara (prostration) is the same as self-surrender. Namaskaara also is the perfect giving up of the ego-sense. Right Awareness, self-surrender and namaskaara, all three are one and the same.
Two main paths are laid down for the spiritual seekers for Self-realisation, namely for the dhirah (valiant), the quest of one’s own Self (jnaana yoga / path of Self-knowledge / path of Self-inquiry) and for the fearful, self-surrender to God; and in these two paths all the paths are included. Either seek the root or the source of the ego-sense, that is, the ‘I’, arising and identifying with the body, which is jnaana yoga (path of knowledge), or surrender that ego-sense to God for being destroyed by His Grace, which is bhakti yoga (path of devotion).
Surrender is to give oneself up to the original source of one’s being. One should not delude oneself by imagining such source to be some God outside oneself. One’s source is within oneself. One has to give oneself up to it. It means that one should seek the source within oneself and merge in it.
If on the other hand one merges in the Self there will be no individuality left. One will become the Source itself. In that case, what is surrender? Who is to surrender and to whom? This constitutes devotion (bhakti yoga), wisdom and enquiry (jnaana yoga).
Without viveka (discrimination between the Real and the unreal / eternal and the ephemeral), vairaagya (dispassion) and mumukshatvam (a burning desire for liberation) one can’t be an adhikaari (qualified) for jnaana yoga (path of Self-knowledge or path of Self-inquiry) and without shraddhaa and prema bhaava (pure love) one can’t be an adhikaari for bhakti yoga (path of devotion).