Surrender

Whoever tries to gain his own life will lose it; whoever loses his life for my sake will gain it.

Jesus - Matthew 10:39

 

Have no expectation in this prayer. It's an exercise of effortlessness, of letting go.

The method of centering prayer is a way of opening to God at 360 degrees. Surrendering oneself to God is a more developed kind of consent. Transformation is completely God's work. We can't do anything to make it happen. We can only prevent it from happening.

Thomas Keating - Open Mind, Open Heart

 

The art of letting things happen, action through nonaction, letting go of oneself, as taught by Meister Eckhart, became for me the key opening the door to the way. We must be able to let things happen in the psyche. For us, this actually is an art of which few people know anything. Consciousness is forever interfering . . .

C. G. Jung

 

Willingness is the budding form of surrender. I have discussed numerous examples of how willingness can become distorted and how willfulness can masquerade as willingness. . . Surrender is the giving of one's personal will to another. . We may conclude from this that acts of legitimate spiritual surrender must be conscious, intentional, and freely chosen, and that one must be willing to accept responsibility for the acts of surrender. True surrender cannot be seen as automatic, reflexive, unintended, or in any way "out of control." . . . One must not only make the choice to surrender consciously, intentionally, and with acceptance of responsibility for that choice, but one must also be willing to accept responsibility for any and all consequences of that choice. I would pose that surrender is dangerous whenever there is any known, definable cause, group, person, or other substantive and limited entity that is used as an object for surrender. . . . Any objectified image of God, be it a set of mental concepts, a carved or painted figure, an identifiable collection of feeling, or even another human being who seems to be an "open channel" or a "realized master", must make the surrender into an objectified image as well. It is only when one can surrender to the ultimately unknowable Mystery behind the images of God that the act of surrendering can result in less self-definition rather than more. . . This need neither devalue nor preclude the notion of a personal God. It seems to me that there are two dimensions of experience in which God can become very real, alive, and active in a personal way. The first is through images that are acknowledged to be incomplete, expedient tools. . . . It is as if God says at such times, "Here is a way of seeing Me for now. It is a part of the way in which I AM." The second dimension in which God becomes personal without being fully known does not involve images and is therefore more difficult to discuss. I have said before that contemplative traditions hold up the possibility of "knowing without knowing," of realizing, loving, appreciating, and experiencing deep aspects of the Mystery of God without in any way "solving" that Mystery. . . . The only analogy I can give is a relatively weak one of normal sensory experience. The direct personal experience of Mystery is not unlike standing in a warm summer rain, feeling the drops on your face, smelling its freshness, being in it so intimately that you never think to call it "rain". There is a primitive sense to this kind of knowing; it happens when there is nothing going on in one's mind except the simple sensory appreciation of the experience. There is sufficient self-definition here to be fully appreciative and even awe-struck by the magnificence of what is given, but not enough to cause one to have to label, judge, or manipulate the experience in any way. Since such states border on the unitive, they probably constitute the deepest possible kind of experience of a truly personal God.

 

Gerald May - Will and Spirit

 

Letting go of business and allowing silence to be silence means letting go of the busy work of projecting. As Eckhart says, "When you come to the point when you are no longer compelled to project yourself into any image or to entertain any images in yourself, and you let go of all that is within you, the you can be transported into God's naked being." We are indeed capable of such blankness, emptiness, silence. But we need to desire it deeply, to pray for it and even to let this letting go become our prayer. . . . . How do we go about letting go of images, images for ourselves and images for others and images for God? First, this presumes that we do indeed entertain images in the first place; it presumes that the Via Positiva has been entered into deeply enough that we have imbibed of the excitement of living and relating and that therefore images do flow in us. One does not let go of images by concentrating on letting go of images. . . . Rather one lets go by breathing deeply in and out, by entering into the music of one's body - its breath, the tympanum of one's heart-beat or lung beat, by concentrating on what is most immediately present. Zen sitting or yoga posturing can help some people to do this letting go. For others, just being, just sitting can work. For still others the moments following ecstatic experiences in nature or music or sexual sharing or poetry afford the correct setting for letting go and for silence of the deepest sort. For others a group meditation, as at a Quaker meeting or a monastic meditation period, is a fine occasion for such letting go. All of us, when circumstances imprison us and force us to let go of our light-of-day plans, learn anew what silence means. This may happen in a hospital following and accident or during an illness, in prison if that is where we are, in moments of deep sorrow following the loss of a loved one or of a loved relationship. And it may happen in praying scripture with the heart and not just the head. Or in communing with the deep silence of the cosmos and its children, whether of the two legged or finned or winged variety. For most of us a combination of almost all the above ways of letting go and letting silence be silence can be expected to prove fruitful at different periods in our lives.

 

Mathew Fox - Original Blessing

 

You see, the whole thing in marriage is the relationship and yielding - knowing the functions, knowing that each is playing a role in an organism. One of the things I have realized - is that marriage is not a love affair. A love affair has to do with immediate personal satisfaction. But marriage is an ordeal; it means yielding, time and again. That's why it's a sacrament: you give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship. And when you're giving, you're not giving to the other person: you are giving to the relationship. And if you realize that you are in the relationship just as another person is, then it becomes life building. A life fostering and enriching experience, not an impoverishment because you're giving to somebody else. Do you what I mean?

 

Joseph Campbell - An Open Life

 

For Jesus there is no drama. The more we surrender, the more we are carried along in the current of God's love. We become like the lilies of the field, who do not toil or spin and yet are clothed in a splendor beyond Solomon's; we become impartial and generous like

God, who makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. Not that good and evil don't exist. But when we see into the realm beyond good and evil, where everything is pure grace, we are much less likely to be caught up in our own judgments and moral categories, and much more ready to experience every action as easy and natural.

It's sad to see Paul locked in a death-struggle with the demon of sin. Jesus never talks about sin that way, in the authentic passages. Sin and guilt are such terribly inefficient concepts in spiritual practice: mostly dead weight, excrescences of the image of God as a harsh father. It is much simpler to see things done shoddily or harmfully as mistakes, grave mistakes perhaps, but actions arising out of our ignorance, greed, and hatred, and correctable, transformable, with enough sincere effort. The original meaning of to sin in Hebrew is "to miss the mark"; it has nothing metaphysical about it. And the sins I commit against others ultimately derive from the sin I commit against myself: I think myself down into a petty, unworthy, miserable creature and lose sight of my original magnificence. As for a sin against God, there is no such thing. Do the clouds sin against the sunlight?

Stephen Mitchell - The Gospel According to Jesus

 

Now the only reason I bring this up is that the discipline of actively passive surrender, especially under the guidance of an acknowledged spiritual master, is always being confused with childish passive dependence. ... The adolescent separate self sense, however, which is an exclusive identification with the mind in a stance of fiercely macho independence, is not so highly valued; therefore, many preliminary exercises in contemplative communities are specifically designed to remind the ego of its phase-specific and intermediate place in overall development. Exercises such as simple bowing in Zen, the prostrations in Vajrayana, or mandatory community service-dharma in monastic sects, are outward and visible signs of an inward and actively passive surrender to a state of selfless being more panoramic than ego. The eventual aim of such practices is to keep the mind but transcend the egoic self sense by discovering a larger self in the spiritual dimension of creation at large.

Now, that is radically different from the clan-cult strategy of reducing the self to prepersonal and passive dependence by restricting and prohibiting the free engagement of critical reflection. The aim of sangha (Buddhist community) is to keep mind but transcend ego; the aim of the cult is to prohibit both.

Ken Wilber - A Sociable God