Fundamentally, simply put – according to the great spiritual teachers throughout history – there is really only one thing to be surrendered to God, and it may manifest in an variety of ways. That one thing for us ultimately to surrender is ignorance.
Ignorance can look like selfishness, fear, anger, greed, impatience, lust, gluttony, jealousy, playing victim, projecting blame, violence, suffering, harm, ingratitude, pride, attachments and aversions, clinging, craving, falsehood, dishonesty, sneakiness, hurriedness / rushing, frustration, vengeance, intellectual arrogance, judging, criticizing, complaining, guilt, shame, misunderstanding, hate, etc. Reading over that list might not make anyone to good, but it at least can serve to wake us up to what we might call shortcomings, errors, or mistakes, and see that anything we consider “less than our best” simply arises out of ignorance.
Ignorance of what?
Ignorance of our True Nature! Ignorance of the Truth!
As Jesus says, “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you Free.”
When we know the Truth, we are set free from all the ignorance and internal suffering that accompanies it. Truth is Supreme Knowledge which frees us all ignorance and all illusion. when we truly know the Truth, we no longer fear and we no longer desire. In Truth, we abide in awareness of God and absolute knowing that that which is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent is taking care of everything every moment. In Truth, we realize that truly, “The Lord is my shepherd – I lack nothing.” Lacking nothing, there is nothing to want, and wanting nothing – there is nothing to seek – so we remain blissfully content and peaceful in all circumstances. If there is any “want,” it would be that ‘others’ might also receive the grace to abide in such Divine Truth, yet even with that, the Truth sets us free – for we know in Reality there are no ‘others,’ – that the world is perfect as it is – and there is nothing that needs changing – for God’s Will reigns Supreme always and forever.
When in Truth, all burdens are lifted, and we realize that God is and always has been carrying everything and doing anything. Only in our ignorance did we think that we were doing things and that the world needed saving. In Truth, we realize that all the Power is God’s and there is no world that needs saving. We are free from all that illusion!
So then, let’s get to the process of surrendering to God!
On the path to totally surrendering all ignorance, which you could think of surrendering both everything you think you know and everything you don’t think you know, there are prior surrenders to make.
One key surrender is to surrender the idea that you are the body and the mind. Rather, you have a body and a mind, but you are not those things.
Another key surrender is to surrender the entire process of thinking/mentalization, and to surrender the payoff the ego/mind gets from thinking. The ego/mind is programmed for survival of the animal – it operates with the understanding that through its thinking it can gain things for the animal that help it survive and enjoy its life. Ordinarily, it is easy for us to identity with being that ego/mind, rather than being the witness to it, or the consciousness that comes before it. If you watch the mind, you can quickly become aware that you are not your thoughts, nor are you that which is thinking. Thinking happens on its own, spontaneously, and as you watch the mind you’ll notice how many of your thoughts are non-volitional and simply arise out of seeming nothingness as a result of patterns, circumstances, etc. You can tell your mind to stop and it won’t – it just keeps on thinking. So to surrender the idea that you are the mind or that you are that which thinks with the mind is a big one. To surrender thinking about things and energizing thoughts leads us to a higher state of consciousness where we become the witness to the mind and creation – watching the grand Divine Play without identifying with anything that is seen in it. Instead, we realize that we are more like the invisible audience to the Divine Play. In Reality, no thinking has to occur in order to ensure survival, for survival is entirely dependent on God, and also life – like energy – cannot be created or destroyed. We are Life, and we shall always be that which is Life. 🙂
Instead of identifying with the human animal body and mind, just witness and watch it. Observe it going throughout the day, like a little karmic wind-up toy, just doing its doing, sometimes acting selflessly, at other times it is perhaps a bit selfish. Either way, just witness the animal. As you watch it, the selfish ego games it can play become less and less interesting, and a joy reveals itself that comes with the awareness of the watcher/witness.
Note on direct experience: After writing the above paragraph, just preceded to walk around and explore the place where I am. And true confession! – I totally lost awareness of the witness, and instead was curiously engaging with environment, exploring every nook and cranny and finding it all so interesting. When identified as the human, we project value upon the world outside of us, valuing what we consider to assist in our selfish gain and experience of pleasure. What doesn’t lead to us experiencing pleasure or gaining materially / emotionally / mentally / spiritually, etc., we don’t value and generally are not aware of. On my exploration, I focused on very specific things without holding in mind the general awareness of the witness. The show and story of the world can be so fascinating and entrancing to our ego that is always considered about pleasure and gain. Holding onto the witness in day-to-day life can be challenging, but it is also more enjoyable than engaging in and identifying with the daily story of the ego/mind. Why is it more enjoyable? Because it closer to the Truth! And the Truth sets us free from all the burdens of ignorance and suffering and selfishness which – the greatest relief indeed.
When abiding as the witness, there is no projection of value onto the world. Instead, we realize the world is just a Divine Play, we are the audience, and so we appreciate and enjoy all of Creation equally. Every moment, the Divine Play may reveal itself in a new way, yet the Divine Play as the context for all experience remains. The content changes, but the context remains the same – and in the awareness of the context we progress toward Supreme Truth, Realization, and Liberation. 🙂
The ego loves feeling ‘involved’ in the Divine Play and as an active participant in it. It likes feeling important and special and like a game-changer. The ego loves the idea of saving the world, helping others, and also just gaining for itself and experience sensory pleasure. What it doesn’t particular enjoy is the idea of allowing the world to run by itself without its involvement. It wants to feel needed. In fact, the ego may very well insist that without it the world wouldn’t be able to run at all. Hence, it is a helpful to remind the ego that, “The human race has survived for thousands of years without you.” Of course, the ego is worthy of respect – and not to be set up as one’s enemy. Instead, as Dr. Hawkins recommends, “Treat the ego as a pet and melt it with compassion. Like a puppy, it simply doesn’t know any better.”
When witnessing, we can see the ego occasionally stir. For example, if sitting in meditation and watching the ego/mind, one might begin to notice a desire arise to go back to work or eat breakfast or watch a movie or whatever it might be. To melt it with compassion, you inner-dialogue can be something like, “It’s okay ego, you’re just doing the best you can and are operating from ignorance. It is really okay for us to just sit here and be and enjoy the moment. God is taking care of everything.” Interestingly, the ego can even get kicks out of ‘being spiritual’ or ‘engaging in spiritual practice’ which may initially helping with building positive habits and discipline, but ultimately that all needs to be surrendered. To meditate to prove one’s superiority to others is definitely not the point. Meditation, in its highest sense, arises out of a desire to know the Truth and out of compassion for the human condition and all life – or whatever you consider a totally pure purpose and intention – to serve the Highest Good!
Spiritual practice is not about inflating the ego, but it is about purifying the ego and ultimately transcending it. We melt the ego with compassionate understanding, not by setting it up as our enemy to conquer. Everyone and everything, even the ego, is totally innocent, and, like a baby, is simply operating from ignorance and doing the best it can, given what it has experienced and claims to know. Poor little ego pet! It really is just doing the best it can…even when it lies and cheats and steals and inflicts pain and suffering upon itself or others. It is simply caught in the ignorance. With awareness, we can lift the ego out of the darkness of ignorance, shine the Light of Love and Truth upon it, and melt it with compassion. Witnessing the ego/mind nonjudgmentally is a great way to become aware of its workings and ultimately to quiet it and put it in the backseat rather than the driver’s seat of life.
As long as there are desires remaining to have and do things in the world, then cultivating the awareness of the witness probably will not sound all that appealing. The primary illusion is that happiness is something to be found and gained externally. In Reality, the source of happiness is always present within. We are not separate from the happiness which we seek. Yet, in ignorance, the ego/mind thinks that happiness is ‘out there’ and it needs to run about seeking it via experiences, book learning, material gain, etc. Until we give up the short-term pleasure of seeking gain externally, we won’t experience the long-term fulfillment that comes with abiding as one with our True Nature which is Happy and Peaceful Always.
Reflecting more on the personal experience of the day…
Curiosity is what you might call another key surrender. Curiosity is an excuse the ego will use to do just about anything – even drugs! In the name of curiosity and seeking new experience, the ego/mind will poison the human body physically, mentally, and emotionally. It will eat toxic foods, read toxic books, watch toxic movies and TV, and participate in toxic conversations. To advance spiritually, the curiosities of the ego have to be surrendered to God. Instead of curiously sniffing every corner of the world like a dog, the Higher aspect of ourself has to reign in the curious ego/mind and direct its attention toward that which is assuredly spiritually uplifting. One doesn’t have to read every so-called spiritual text in the world to make spiritual progress – but the ego/mind would like you to think that it does. Rather, one can simply take one word – like kindness – and apply at all times, in all cases, in all circumstances, no matter what – and that alone is enough to make tremendous spiritual advancement. Practicing to live in alignment with a single word rather than a whole encyclopedia of spiritual direction is also a humbling practice that requires surrendering much intellectual vanity of the ego. The ego loves to claim to know about everything and be righteous in everything it does – so to surrender that intellectual arrogance and curiosity is a great surrender.
Trying to do 1000 different spiritual practices is really just a trick of the ego, setting itself up for failure, so that then it can play victim on itself and have a pity party. Better to put down all the books, turn off all the TVs and screens, and just practice unconditional forgiveness and kindness, no matter what. Pretend you don’t know anything. Just practice kindness and forgiveness in all circumstances. Even if it looks like there is nothing to forgive, just forgive what is anyway. Just be kind to everything you’re experiencing, even if it looks like there is no conscious presence accompanying you. Be kind to trash cans, doors, cell phones, and scraps of food on your plate. Forgive the toilet, forgive the floor, forgive the trees. Embrace the Reality that there is that which is everywhere present, and that Presence registers every moment, and we are accountable for every moment. We are held accountable! So to embrace a consciousness steeped in kindness and forgiveness is a powerful practice that sows wonderful seeds for the future and the present.
Forget all your knowing. Forget the supposed knowing of healthy foods, proper exercise, what to do with money, how to communicate effectively with people – forget all the worldly details. Just put total faith in the practice of kindness and forgiveness and allow that powerful energy field to do all the work for you. Let to go of labeling everything. Thinking that a chair is a chair does not change the chair, nor does it really benefit except it gives the ego a bit of juice and pride in that it then thinks that it knows about something. Better to project one consistent label onto everything – something like ‘Divine’ – and let it be at that. Or, just project that all objects are worthy of kindness and forgiveness, so project that on them.
There are worldly goals and spiritual goals. Worldly goals lead to short-term, fleeting pleasure. Spiritual goals lead to long-term fulfillment and maximum service to humanity. Spiritual goals are also based on Permanent Truth and that which is Real. Thereby, realizing the fulfillment of spiritual goals is not something that happens on the physical plane, but it is rather doing work on an unseen level. Forgiveness is not a tangible act like holding the door for someone, yet it is far more powerful. Spiritual goals and spiritual work deal with the unseen level of intention and attitude. Spiritual goals are about evolving our awareness so it becomes more and more aligned with Love and Truth. They involve surrendering the ego/mind obsession with the world and instead to prioritize one’s relationship with Truth, Love, God above all else. Spiritual goals deal with the eternal, so the realizing the Goal also serves one eternally.
What’s holding you back? What’s holding me back?
Sensory pleasure. Illusions of saving the world. Ignorance that leads to judging some things as right and other things as wrong. Seeking to gain materially and financially in the world. Wanting to please everyone. Wanting to learn about spiritual information and read spiritual texts (rather than simply surrender to embracing one spiritual practice unconditionally). Wanting to process understanding in written words and share it with people (this ;-)). Wanting to serve humanity (which in itself certainly isn’t ‘bad,’ but it is based on illusion and ignorance. The world is perfect as is, and to serve humanity, one need not directly feed hungry people; doing spiritual work and aspiring toward the ultimate Spiritual Realization benefits all Creation maximally). Projecting ‘wrongness’ onto ‘problems’ in the world like wasted food, hungry people, poorly educated people, dirtiness, etc.
So then, we’ve got to surrender all that! Really though, if we just surrender the thinking process itself and the illusion that we are the thinker or that we are the ego/mind but instead fully embrace and surrender to being the witness of the Divine Play, the above ‘obstacles’ will melt. Everything melts with Truth, for Truth sets us free! All the obstacles of the ego/mind melt with compassion. 🙂
Compassion means realizing that suffering is the underlying condition of all conscious beings. Except for perhaps fully realized, enlightened beings, we all suffer – because we are all in ignorance and to some degree still identify with the fleeting, small, human animal body/mind – so we ‘think’ we are impermanent and going to die so we have fear which leads to suffering. On some level, until we reach the Supreme State, the ego/mind leads us around in the world operating from a sense of lack and scarcity which means suffering and incompleteness and imperfection, so it constantly seeks to gain, bring completion, and move closer to perfection. Reality is already complete and perfect and absolutely abundant – God provides perfectly every moment- and when we wake up to this realization on a full-time basis, we are free from the suffering. Until then, compassion is a powerful baseline perspective to operate with. Remember the suffering and illusion that all are operating with – they think happiness is outside themselves and they have to gain things externally to be happy and they think they are doing things to perpetuate survival and they think they don’t have all they need and fear dying, etc., so have compassion for that ignorance. It is only by Divine Grace that someone comes into that higher state of Spiritual Realization anyway – certainly one who achieves that state would never take personal credit for it. So, compassion for all. And compassion that all are doing the best they can according to what they’ve experienced and what they know. If they had experienced differently and been educated differently, they’d be doing differently.
We live with acceptance of What Is, trusting in God completely, aware of the underlying perfection of Reality As Is, letting go of our need to project labels and judgments and opinions on everything, and simply relaxing as the witness, enjoying the Divine Play 🙂
Surrender the pleasure of thinking with the mind. There is much greater lasting, eternal pleasure to be reaped. Also, it is far more entertaining to watch the mind and see it as part of the Divine Play – a show being put on for you, Oh Divine Audience. For that, we can give infinite thanks!
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!