Why Do We Not Surrender?
Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
The scriptures tell us that our fundamental error is wrong identification. We, who are universal Spirit, have identified ourselves with that which is actually an object to us–our body and mind. To get over this wrong identification, they have prescribed different yogas that are suitable to the nature of different individuals.
However, Lord Krishna makes it very clear that in the final analysis there is only one way to cross this ocean of samsara and that is to take refuge in Him alone. In the last teaching verse of the Gita, He is even more specific. Abandon all dharmas, He tells us–all your ideas of what is right and wrong–and take in refuge in Me alone.
Why is it, when Lord Krishna is so specific, and when we know that the essence of the spiritual life–no matter what our yoga–is surrender, that we are unable to do it easily? The truth is, no matter how much we say we want God, most of us are unwilling to let go of control of our own life. Part of us may want to surrender, but another part of us doesn’t want to let go of control. Why is this?
If we examine it, we will find that normally there are two reasons. One, we have unfufilled desires. There are things that we want. We are afraid that if we let go of control of our life, if we surrender totally to God, we may not be able to fulfil those desires. This requires sharp discrimination. We have to realise that there is nothing in what we desire that will give us permanent happiness. We have to examine our experience and recognise that there is no real happiness in anything in this world. Unless we do this discrimination, unless we convince ourselves of this truth, then the quality of surrender that is required by Lord Krishna is out of the question.
The other reason that we are reluctant to let go of control of our life is fear. We don’t know what might happen if we do. The purpose of all our spiritual practices is, in fact, to give us confidence in God, indeed, to convince us that it is safe to let go, that we have nothing to fear. But if we continue to think that the purpose of our spiritual practices is to get something for the ego, then we are perpetuating our problem. We’re protecting our ego and its desires and fears.
We have to recognise that we need to deal with are our desires and our fears. Our desires we deal with by analysis. The way to deal with our fears is to take chances. We have to become vulnerable. We must trust God in spite of our fears. Our fears want us to protect ourselves. Wisdom says, I must conquer this fear, I must trust God in spite of the fear.
We think that courage is some great quality, and it is. But it is actually doing the right thing, doing our duty in spite of our fears. Our duty as seekers is to trust God. Our duty as seekers is to take refuge in God alone. That we may have fear, that we may have reluctance is beside the point. We must do what is right, we must do our duty in spite of any reluctance, in spite of any fear. And God is always there to bless our choice and to help us.
Therefore, while wrong identification may be our fundamental problem, it can be cured by surrender and trust, by recognising that there is no happiness in anything in this world and that God is safe to trust.