Manish Sidhpura has won the 1st prize for the ‘WRITE AN ARTICLE’ contest held at the recent lectures at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai for writing this piece.
Recently I was fortunate to attend a series of lectures on Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita, the chapter on the Path of Devotion or Bhakti Yoga. I say fortunate because it is during these lectures that I learnt about a brilliant life transformational tool: “surrender”.
Now when we hear the word surrender, the feeling associated with it is largely negative because it means giving up or giving in to something or somebody – an act most of us resent and would only resort to when we have lost. How then can surrender be a tool for spiritual growth? It is, because surrender in the spiritual context means surrendering the enemy and not surrendering to the enemy. And as revealed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, our greatest enemy is within us – our very own EGO.
Fortunately, most of us already have the right views about ego in general– that it is inherently negative and only causes problems. Unfortunately, most of us also fail to realize that despite this knowledge, we allow it drive our entire lives!
The reason is that our ego is much more than we think. From the ego comes our sense of doership (the feeling that “I” am doing this or that), our sense of importance and our complete self image. Broadly therefore, it is that which gives us our sense of individuality. And since the two causes of all our problems viz. desire and fear, are constituents of the ego, the ego essentially becomes the root cause of all suffering!
Fair enough. So to rid myself of all suffering and attain lasting peace and happiness, I must surrender my ego. But wouldn’t that equate to surrendering my very individuality – that for which I have worked all my life? Wouldn’t I lose my whole identity?? It is these thoughts that make the very idea of surrender scary to most of us. However, on probing deeper, we discover that our fears are totally baseless and misplaced.
Surrendering the ego is actually an intelligent act of humility, borne out of the understanding that there is a Higher Power who knows best and therefore I choose to let my life be directed by His will instead of my desires. But one question – won’t that result in a life of inaction, devoid of any goal or motivation? No. Because surrender in no way means that we must stop acting or renounce activities and duties. Surrender only means renouncing the sense of “doership” in all our actions.
And contrary to what we imagine, surrender results in a beautiful, never-before-experienced life of inspiration, dynamism, peace and light-heartedness! Those of us who have managed to surrender even one of our selfish desires to a larger cause will have experienced a similar feeling.
Unfortunately the majority of us who attempt surrender find it nearly impossible. This is mainly due to our ingrained sense of doership, a result of ignorance of the truth. We believe that we, the physical selves, are the real “doers” and therefore cannot risk losing control to some unknown, unseen God despite our so called “faith” in Him.
The question to ask then, is – “are we really the doers?” When a room is lit by a bulb we say the bulb is “lighting” the room. But is it really the bulb (i.e. the device) or the invisible electricity (the power) that is lighting the room? The same relationship exists between our physical self (merely an instrument) and Atman (the real enlivening power). Having understood this relationship well, surrendering becomes easier. However surrendering to God momentarily only to seek solutions to desire-based problems and then continuing to chase one’s desires is not surrender.
True surrender is surrendering all your desires and like & dislikes to God forever, and letting Him decide. And this, not in the expectation that He will fulfill all your desires! Rather with the silent faith that He will do what’s best for you. After all, isn’t that what we seek throughout our lives – the best?!