On Surrender

On Surrender

Sunset over W Courtenay
Sunset over W Courtenay

Surrender is a key part of enlightenment unfolding. A recent question has led me to explore the word in more detail.

The surrender I refer to is not giving away our power. That is submission, keeping our control but giving responsibility for it to someone else. That is disempowering.

True Surrender is allowing; it is letting go; it is permitting life to lead us; it is harmonizing with the Divine.

Surrender is allowing our higher nature to lead, letting go of the controller, our ego identification. Once the controller falls way, we can begin to operate from our infinite source. We gain infinite resources, inner peace, happiness, and profound support from the world.

But this surrender isn’t something we do. We’re so used to doing that just being without doing is foreign. It’s somehow lazy or insufficient. Surrender is a non-doing, it is allowing everything to be as it is. This has nothing to do with an idea or story of letting go. It is letting go of that too. It is a way of being.

Awakening is profoundly simple. But because we’re so used to doing, we don’t know how to just be. It is when we finally relax, just for a moment, that the Self can shine through and see itself.

Yoga Sutra 1 v2-3:
Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind.
Then the observer is established in their own nature.

A similar thing can happen after awakening. If we try to hold on to it or control it, the mind can temporarily overshadow it. Part of settling in is learning to let it be as it is. Settling in to a deeper surrender to deepest being.

A pre-awakening example comes to mind. When I first started witnessing sleep, it was fascinating and exciting. I watched the body fall asleep and observed and manipulated dreams. But soon I realized that watching the details means the mind was still awake as it’s what processes the senses. In deep sleep, the mind also sleeps.

I had to surrender more deeply into it to allow the mind to sleep too. Without senses, there was no detail. Sleep was more like a deep, silent meditation. Testing showed that the breath often stopped during deep sleep. That’s a key symptom of transcending or samadhi. The body is in such a deep state of rest that the need for breath pauses*.

Yet even if there was no sensory awareness, there was a continuity of Self that hadn’t been there before. ‘I’ was eternal. (But the controller stayed in charge awhile longer.)

This is the nature of the spiritual process. An effortless meditation can teach non-doing. But if we confuse that simplicity with insufficient, we’ll corrupt the practice and drift away. In the same way, awakening is only hard because we’re looking for something. It happens when doing ends. When we stop, that’s when we wake up.

It is just that simple. Surrendering the need to be something and just Be. Surrendering the need for awakening to look a certain way. Surrendering control, just for a moment. Pop.

And then we can learn surrender to our higher nature more and more deeply as we step through the higher stages.

After I woke up, I remember Lorn Hoff talking about perpetual surrender. This horrified me. It took me all this time to surrender for a moment. How was I possibly going to surrender perpetually?? (laughs)

It comes down to deepening into our infinite nature and learning to trust. Then the contractions can relax and we can let go more and more deeply.

*This breath pausing is in sharp contrast to sleep apnea when the breath is blocked and the body is oxygen-starved. If samadhi is extended, we may notice the lungs shift into a fine vibration. That’s all the body needs.

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  1. Jim

    Yes, perpetual surrender – “Do nothing, and accomplish everything” ๐Ÿ™‚
    Once we relinquish all attachments, Nature organizes itself quickly around the fulfillment of our desires, no matter what those desires are. As householders there are billions and billions of desires, and living Brahman there are billions more.
    Thank you, David – such timeless advice for our progress.

      1. Jim

        LOL. That is the weirdest thing…before the second self-healing of the camera I was wondering about how much life force a man-made object could manifest.
        Got my answer, and then some. Working at the subatomic “level” it is apparently no sweat to repair a camera, nor is there much difference between man-made and natural. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. Jim

            Thank you – you have mentioned this before and I missed it. I have seen this with geographical boundaries, but didn’t extend it to any man-made object. Now I see how the man-made stuff, any of it, wouldn’t even work without the devata. An interesting area of study… ๐Ÿ™‚

            1. Yes. Natural devata have more depth and connectedness but everything that is has a devata or it wouldn’t continue to be. It would dissolve as soon as it was formed. Even ideas. ๐Ÿ˜‰
              It’s a vast field of study indeed. I’ve not explored if the devata of man-made objects or conceptual ones have the hierarchy of natural laws like we’ve discussed before.
              I’ve not explored it a lot, just noticing here and there, like the devata of the properties of a new subdivision having attitude. Or a couch devata seeming to be confused, causing the furniture to start falling apart.

              1. Jim

                Thank you – Yes, there must be such a connection, as illustrated by examples where the object was created in opposition to the local devata – thinking of dam failures, and favorably, as with The Pyramids.
                Your couch devata example is a great one, and pretty funny. Engineers, including design engineers, are the greatest students of material applied science, the monks of that church so to speak.
                But if designs are severely constrained by ignorance and profit expectations, the object cannot exist functionally for long in this world.
                Of course the variable is consciousness. ๐Ÿ™‚

              2. Michael

                I had to laugh so hard …. confused couch devata! ๐Ÿ˜€

                I fixed a dishwasher with a transmission….and recently realized city devas….a mature one in an italien city (Siena) helped me in my process..

                but still have to laugh…confused couch devata ๐Ÿ˜€


                1. ๐Ÿ™‚
                  I was bemused by the whole thing. I simplified the original story I tried to tell. The whole place was confused. There was electrical problems, the patio was like a mini-jungle, etc. I suspect it may have been the resident as I’ve never seen devata do that to each other.

              3. Lewis Oakwood

                Hahaha…’ a couch devata seeming to be confused.’ Brilliant.


                An image comes to mind: suffering from mental exhaustion after continuingly having to listen to the problems of both stranger and regular alike, and the pain of being sat on all day, the devata of Freud’s couch asks to be psychoanalyzed by a bewildered Freud. However, being far less perplexed by this request, Jung thinks it a valuable undertaking.

                1. ๐Ÿ™‚
                  Yes, exhaustion from being in chaotic consciousness.
                  Being sat on all day is not an issue if that is your dharma. But, you do want to be appreciated for your service.
                  Couch, at your service. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Lewis Oakwood

    Hi David,

    Thank you, good post.


    ‘It is when we finally relax, just for a moment, that the Self can shine through and see itself.’


    This post brings the memory of being in school and competing in the game Tug of War. Lying on the ground, after we all collapsed with exhaustion and, looking up at the sky suddenly, not doing anything, not even looking at the presence of sky and shining sunโ€” what it isโ€”beingโ€”without the description.

  3. Donna

    Surrender is one of my favorite words! I very much try to live in the flow and not swimming against it. I have in the past went against it of course…never turns out quite right. But when we allow, try to let go of expectations, just let the signs come through….let them lead you. I am at peace and life is so much easier! And happier and filled with deeper meaning..always filled with a deeper meaning and understanding of what “I” would be pushing for..ah life…lol

  4. Pete

    Thank you David,

    Beautiful post and beautiful topic, the discrimination between surrender and submission has been alive for me recently, this whole boundary between doing and being, the doer and true surrender seems to be on a sort of tipping point right now, an event horizon of sorts. Feeling gently pulled into more and more surrender and trust.


  5. Lanny

    Surrender. Allow the allowing. Allow everything to be as it is. And Lorn Hoff more than often says allow, allow, allow. But I don’t get “surrender” or “allow.” I understand either to be both something a person can do and can’t do, and also a process that only happens and continues automatically after some awakening is in place. Are there two kinds of allowing? Is there a kind of allowing attitude to have before awakening that invites awakening? What is there to do to allow everything to be as it is? None of this makes enough sense to me to be useful. Maybe if you wrote a book on the topic I could grok it.

    1. Hi Lanny
      And that is the crux of it. The mind is a doer. It will never get “allow” as it is a non-doing. Trying to grok it with the mind will always fail. A concept of it is not it. It is a state of being, deeper than the mind.
      It’s not something a person does, it’s what happens when the person/ mind gets out of the way.
      After we wake up, the doer takes a back seat. This allows deeper surrender. But it does usually take time to wind down the habits of being the doer.
      An attitude is also mind. But acceptance and trust can help move toward allowing. Acceptance isn’t something we do so much as are. A state we’re in.
      To allow everything to be ‘as it is’ is a form of acceptance.
      I do recommend an effortless meditation as it can help culture trust and allowing.

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