Surrender isn’t a dirty word

Surrender sounds like a dirty word. It conjures up an image of someone standing with arms held high, perhaps with a white flag, giving up to the enemy. In spiritual terms, however, surrender means to stand with arms outstretched, embracing the world. It is unconditional acceptance of what is. It is not mere toleration of any unpleasant circumstances or events we may face, but it is the joyful welcome we give to what cannot be changed. We do this because we are secure in the knowledge that our present circumstances, however difficult they may be, are what are best for us now. Thats why it says in the Lords Prayer, Thy Will be done. Not our will, but the Will of Infinite Intelligence.

What is a miracle? Some people believe it is when God follows our will and answers our prayer. Not so. If we want to experience miracles, we need to follow His will. So, if we must prayer, lets prayer not to be delivered from misfortune, but for the strength to accept our fate. We are given difficulties to overcome so we can rejoice in victory and marvel at the miracles we achieve.

Heres how Henry Miller expressed the idea of surrender, Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.

For the last 2,500 years, Chinese have practiced surrendering to fate by following the Way (Tao). They learn to flow with the tide of events, to bend in the wind like bamboo, and to avoid resisting, struggling, or recoiling from what is meant to be. Isn’t it better to be led willingly than to be dragged along? Or, as Seneca wrote in the first century, Its the great soul that surrenders itself to fate, but a puny degenerate thing that struggles.

I’m not suggesting that we accept everything, only that which cannot be changed. If a loved one dies, for example, there is nothing we can do to reverse the situation. So rather than curse the darkness, we can use the tragedy to strengthen ourselves, and by learning how to overcome our own grief, well know how to console others in their hour of need. When you are dealt a severe blow, you may think the world is far from ideal, but remember, if the world were perfect, it wouldn’t need you!

Sometimes we can, and need to, change the situation. For instance, while working in one of my first jobs, I discovered my employer was dishonest and cheating our customers. As I didnt want to support or engage in such conduct, I quit my job. But many years later, when I lost my job because of downsizing, instead of resisting and fighting the unavoidable, I took advantage of my freedom to learn about The Internet and start writing as a freelancer. What we need to do, then, is have the wisdom to distinguish between what can and cannot be changed. Whenever something can be changed, we should make IT better, and whenever something cannot be changed, we should use it to make US better.

We mustn’t follow the example of the fish who complained about living in water and jumped out, only to die on land. It would be folly to try and jump out of the situation we have been placed into. By surrendering to the inevitable we learn new lessons. Don’t see the world as you are, but as it is, for Acceptance of what has happened, according to William James, is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. In other words, acceptance brings inner peace and tranquility, instead of anger and resentment.