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Editor's 1-Minute Essay:
Surrender & Acceptance
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"All things are lessons God would have me learn." A Course In Miracles
“The kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said, “is like lilies in a field. These exquisite art-forms of nature, living easily under the monitoring presence of God, engage in no fretful activity to survive.”
Editor's prefatory note:
I’d begun a discussion of “surrender and acceptance” as an inset-box within the “Certainty, 1-Minute Essay.” However, since that beginning effort, I’ve come to see things more clearly. It’s a lot more important than I first thought. Rather than offer the new information as a tag-along feature elsewhere, I realized it deserved separate billing in its own right.
more important than I thought
All knowledge is connected. We spoke (in the “Summerland, 1-Minute Essay") of the “circle of knowledge,” a concept embedded within the word “encyclopedia.” You can start with a single blade of grass, as they sometimes do in the schools in Summerland, and from this branch out into every other subject. It doesn’t matter where you begin as everything’s connected.
And so, in this universal matrix of interwoven information, it’s hard to prioritize knowledge. Nevertheless, as I’ve come to see, “surrender and acceptance” is incredibly important. Without this, almost nothing else flows. If the core of one's thinking becomes perverted, then, one's perception of the world, and everything in it, will also be distorted. I am reminded of a proverb which, in my youth, impressed me greatly: "Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).
If we pervert ourselves, if we blind ourselves, if we impair the very element of consciousness meant to lead us into truth, then how do we escape from that box with no doors? As we discussed in the article featuring Jesus’ phrase, “unpardonable sin,” it’s like “sawing off the branch you’re sitting on.” It’s hard to win with that one.
let’s begin with the conclusion of the matter: here’s the most important point I’d like to share about “surrender and acceptance”
This whole subject is a little counter-intuitive. It took me over ten years to feel comfortable with it. And so, let me give you the bottom-line right from the start, and we’ll fill in more details as we proceed:
open a channel
“Surrender and acceptance,” as the mystics and spiritual teachers use these terms, is not about passivity or weakness, not about giving up, giving in, or checking out. It’s about keeping one's mind and spirit unfettered and teachable. It’s about maintaining an “open channel” so that Universal Intelligence can lead and guide us into all truth.
"open a channel"
the trouble with “surrender and acceptance”
"Surrender" sounds like something honorable and self-respecting people want no part of. But this is just a problem of semantics and definition. The question is, surrender to and accept what?
When mystics and spiritual teachers speak of “surrender and acceptance,” visions of becoming doormat to the world might easily beset us.
If someone is harassing you at work, are you to surrender to the harassment and accept it?
If you feel trapped in a bad marriage, are you to surrender to the abuse, or the loveless coexistence, and accept it?
If you feel life is passing you by – be it in the area of love, work, education, or living situation – should you simply surrender to what seems to be your lot in life and accept it?
'surrender and acceptance' has nothing to do with life-circumstance - that’s not what we’re supposed to surrender to and accept
Let’s look at an extreme example to help us understand.
See yourself as an Allied soldier in World War II. The only thing standing between dark totalitarian forces about to sweep over the world, enslaving all, ushering in a new Dark Ages, is people like you, charged with the work of stopping this global threat to civilization. Further, let’s say that you’re an enlightened person, a spiritual person, but with a calling to help stop this madness and depravity.
How does “surrender and acceptance” apply in this situation? Obviously, not by laying down your firearms and giving up. Your job is to destroy the enemy forces, before they destroy your world, your nation, your family, your life.
we are to surrender to and accept whatever Life or God or Universal Intelligence requires of us this moment
The enlightened soldier will be saying something like this:
“I can think of a million things I’d rather be doing right now. I don't want to be here. But if I don’t do my duty, a lot of bad things will happen to a lot of innocent people in the world. I wish I could change things. But until I can, or until things change on their own, I resign myself to being here and doing my part to stop this great evil in the world. I surrender to and accept what Life and God demand of me this moment.”
Notice what this soldier does not say. There is no talk of, “I’m here because I hate the Germans,” or, “I joined the service because I can’t stand the Japs.” For the enlightened mind, there is no motivation founded upon ill-will, or hostility, or rage – even in war. Any of this would just be the Little-Me Ego defending itself. Anger doesn’t make you a better soldier; anger clouds the mind and makes one less capable, prone to mistakes and bad judgment. The ancient warriors of the East well understood this principle.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Doctor: “So, you want to kill Germans, do you?
Steve Rogers: “I don’t want to kill anyone. I just don’t like bullies.”
And what about our common day-to-day struggles? If someone is harassing you on the job, you’ll want to say to yourself,
“Alright, at this moment, this is how it is. I acknowledge, and surrender to and accept, what Life or God is requiring of me this moment in terms of lessons to be learned. I am not in a hostile frame of mind, nor will I indulge in bitterness with a ‘woe is me’ attitude of victimhood. I’m going to beat this and survive, and today I’m going to start to push back against, or talk to, this person who’s attacking me. I’ll do what I have to do to help myself, and, if need be, if worse comes to worse, I might even seek legal advice or maybe look for another job. But, in the midst of whatever I do to defend myself, right now, I surrender to and accept what Life or God is demanding of me this moment. There is no hostility in my spirit.”
If you are feeling trapped in an abusive or loveless marriage, you might address yourself this way:
“I should never have agreed to this relationship. I was too needy at the time and didn’t know my own mind. I have no one to find fault with but myself. This is where I am right now, at this point in my life. I’m not trying to deny that I messed up. At this moment, this is how it is, and I surrender to and accept that I need to grow up and learn some hard lessons from Life and God. I don’t want to blame anyone else, I don’t want to have an angry or hostile frame of mind. But I promise myself this: This very day is the first day of the rest of my life, and I’m not going to waste the duration by being with a person who does not love me, and one whom I do not truly love. I’m going to change my situation. I’m not sure what that means yet, but what I do know is that the status quo is unacceptable to me, and I respect myself enough not to remain in a demoralizing relationship.”
Whatever is plaguing you, either decide to remain in it, if you think that’s best, or change it, or leave the situation. Do not adopt a victimhood posture. Take charge of your own life. Be proactive. But, in the midst of all this self-help, surrender to and accept what Life and God are requiring of you this moment. This means, no hostility, no anger, no self-pity, just an "open channel" to learn.
learning to “be with what is”
Eckhart Tolle, in one of his lectures, masterfully explains this entire approach, encapsulating it with learning to "be with what is.”
He spoke of “meditation,” which is a very misunderstood concept. Essentially, meditation refers to aligning oneself, becoming one with, Universal Intelligence.
A common objection is,
“yes, I’d love to become one with Universal Intelligence, but right now the kids are screaming, an ambulance siren is droning, there’s a dog barking in the distance, I just got word that my in-laws will be here in two days, my son was called to the principal’s office for the third time, there’s a nest of wasps on the back porch, my car needs a new radiator,” etc., etc., etc.
We are reminded of Jesus’ parable about the “good seed” of the kingdom falling on stony ground, meaning, the cares of this world stand ready to stultify our spiritual growth with every step we make.
Every day of our lives there’s some new reason – if we allow it – why we cannot become one, align ourselves, with God, with Universal Intelligence. What are we to do?
beyond common notions of “good and evil” lies a higher good, which has no opposite and incorporates what the myopic refer to as “evil”
Nothing of God, nothing of eternal import, has an opposite; only elements of this transitory, polarized world have opposites. For example, the opposite of life is not death; life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth, both merely ephemeral tokens of mortality.
In “The Wedding Song” we viewed God as singular pervasive reality. This is but another way of saying, “only Consciousness" -- Universal Consciousness – “is real.” All things derive from it and, at best, enjoy a subsidiary existence.
I speak of these things just now because, as we learn to “be with what is,” the temptation will become that of labeling “good versus evil,” and feeling ourselves under attack by the “evil” in the world. But - God is not in contest with "evil."
Well, even so, "evil" can be very unpleasant, and, most days, it feels that way. But, from a higher perspective, the vista changes. As discussed in many articles, we learn from the great Spirit Guides that our planet, known in other spheres as “the sorrowful world,” is a place of individuation. We came here for the primary purpose of becoming persons; not necessarily “good persons” – that’s step two in the process, which occurs in Summerland. We came here to develop a sense of self, an ego, a perception of “me” as opposed to “you.” Like making sausage, as the saying goes, it’s not always a pretty process.
When that rude person attacks you, we call it “evil,” and such definition is not altogether wrong, but what’s really going on, from that higher cosmic perspective, is an immature ego trying to form itself. It needs a sense of “otherness” in order to know its own essence. It needs to make you “wrong” so that it can feel “better” and "more" by being “right”; in so doing, it bolsters itself as an independent entity. It needs to make enemies, a sense of “I am against you,” because this fuels its own image of itself as an individual person.
You get the idea. We could go on in this regression of incivility. But let’s keep this larger process in mind as we make our way in this troubled world. What we call “evil” is God’s unruly children attempting to grow up and make a “self” out of themselves; what we call "evil" is the Needy Little Me attempting to deal with its skewed perception of the "false self," ever chanting, "I don't have enough" because "I am not enough."
See more discussion in the articles, “The Purpose Of Evil,” Parts One and Two.
our task is to learn to “be with what is”
The only possible solution is that of learning how to “be with what is” -- no matter what happens. When the kids are screaming, as we make our way to quiet things down, we must also surrender to and accept “what is,” without anger or hostility, this present moment, right now, this lesson in-the-making offered by God and Life, even as we strive to provide remedy.
And when we learn that a son has been called to the principal’s office one more time, in that disturbing moment, we also surrender to and accept a difficult lesson that God and Life is requiring of us. This is the way it is, right now, and it does no good to rage and lash out, but instead we must accept this present moment as it is, and learn to “be with what is,” whatever that might be – even as we make plans to deal with the situation and the son, in order to make things better.
And in this equanimous frame of mind – of no hostility, no anger, no victimhood, but ready to be taught – we are to address whatever accosts us during the day, each day of our lives.
Winston Churchill: "I am always ready to learn, but not always ready to be taught."
And why should we do this? Why should we learn, with open heart and open mind, to “be with what is,” no matter what happens?
We need to do this because God or Universal Intelligence is trying to communicate with us, to lead us into all truth, into a mature and evolved frame of mind.
But if we fight whatever comes our way, if we react with anger and hostility, then we will be “cutting class” and fail to learn what we need to learn in order to ready ourselves for what comes next.
It’s better to “hand our homework” in now, on our own terms, than to be sent to “detention,” and forced to think about what needs to be done.
"open a channel"
surrender and acceptance as “relaxing into the resistance”
excerpts from a discussion of physicist Peter Russell and Eckhart Tolle on the subject of consciousness
even the question, 'what is consciousness' is a wrong question, as it sends us to something external, because we are the knowing, we are the consciousness
(they begin by discussing Peter's view on meditation)
Peter says that in early years he pursued a structured and formulaic meditation, but today he sees it all as something "getting simpler and simpler."
P. "To me, meditation is letting go" of the mind's fixation on the cares of this world. "It's not trying to stop thought," it's not about "a lot of concentration, a lot of effort," but "it's about not doing anything, but the mind wants to do something... And so I help people to spot, just to notice what is, and just to notice when that slightest bit of wanting and trying comes in... [which is a form of] resisting the present moment.
E. "The very idea that I am 'doing' a meditation can become an obstacle because this thought comes in between you and simply being."
P. "Right. You can't 'do' meditation, but it's an exercise of awareness, a bringing an awareness to what is, and it's the resistance that keep us locked in, and it's bringing an awareness even to the resistance, so when you notice some slight holding back, just be aware of what that feels like, what does it feel like to be resisting what is?"
E. "You can be the space even for the resistance. And then you can take a step back from there and say, 'there's the resistance' -- whatever arises you can be the space for that."
P. "I say to people, 'don't resist the resistance,' but paradoxically you can 'relax into the resistance.' It's there, you don't try to get rid of it, there's a faint sense of tension here of resisting, ok, just notice it, what is it like, and just relax into that, and, of course, as soon as you do, it just dissolves."
E. "Yes... that's lovely... it sounds quite easy." (laughter from the audience)
P. (laughing) "It is totally easy."
E. (smiling) "It is ease itself."
P. It is ease itself. However, these minds [of ours] have been trained to “do” things, and they’re well trained to do things well, and to do things better, and so, “maybe if I just tried a little bit harder it would be even better.”
T. Yes, yes.
P. We’re so trained in this mindset to “do,” to try, to make things better – and so, in some ways, meditation is an “untraining of the mind,” to step back from all that conditioning we’ve known all of our lives.
T. Yes, wonderful.
(they begin to speak of consciousness)
P. "I think it's even wrong to use the word 'conscious-ness' because we make it a thing, we make it a noun. As soon as we add '-ness' to anything we turn a quality or an attribute into something we can talk about, it's useful for language, but...
E. "Yes, it becomes an object, a mental object, but is there a better word for this..."
P. "I think we should not use nouns for it, because as soon as we use a noun, whether it's consciousness, awareness, whatever, we make it into a thing, which implies that we're beginning to look for another object, another form of perception, and so even the question, 'what is consciousness' is a wrong question, because we are the knowing, we are the consciousness, and [with this question] we begin to look to other than what we are."
E. "The question immediately makes [consciousness] into an object [of the external world, and deflects attention from the true source, ourselves linked to God]."
P. "And so I prefer to use verbs for this."
E. "Ok, let's see what that sounds like." (laughter from the audience)
P. "Well, 'I am aware' and there is 'awaring', and 'knowing' and there is 'experiencing' -- 'conscious-ing' doesn't work."
E. With 'awaring,' you have to create a new word to get rid of the inherent error of nouns."
P. "And so I think science is misleading itself by the very act of looking."
E. "Science can never find the answer to consciousness unless or until the scientist becomes introspective... in other words the scientist has to become a mystic."
P. "I think a scientist can become a mystic. I think we need to draw a distinction between science as it's practiced now, the belief-systems of science, a very materialistic [process] as it excludes 'awaring,' and deliberately has done so, because you can't measure it, you can't put a rule up against it...
Editor's note: See the "Life 1-minute essay" for further discussion from Peter Russell and Eckhart Tolle.
Editor's last word:
Ancient Greek athletes, in preparation for the Olympic Games, would build strength by running with heavy leg-weights, or even 90 pounds of battle gear.
Spirit Guides, via channeled testimony, often speak of this “sorrowful planet” as a training world, one that will prepare us for what comes next. The grief and suffering experienced here might be compared to athletic training with 90 pounds of hoplite armor weighing us down.
It won’t always be this way. In one of Spirit-Guide Abu’s lectures, he states that “You on the Earth have no idea what it is to really live, to exult, to enjoy all that life can be. No, you haven't even begun to live.” Imagine what it would be like to finally remove the 90 pounds of armor, the sense of lightness, the carefree and untrammeled spirit, just to rejoice in the freedom of living as we like and going where we please.
We speak of “opening a channel”; we speak of learning to “be with what is.” So often in this world, the opening of a channel and the being with what is, at best, becomes a study of grace under duress. But this discomfiture is merely the training-weights attached to our legs. This is not the way it will be for unending times.
We are not to open a channel and be with what is in order to forever live with pain. No, these training-weights are temporary measures, meant to help us access Universal Intelligence, the mind of God, even under conditions of extremity and privation.
And when we do, especially, in better days to come, we will find that the primary purpose of opening a channel, of being with what is, issues as an unfettered perception of life, a pure delight to be alive, of simply enjoying one’s own existence, which, presently, as it often seems, is a little difficult.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning helps us here:
what is it to live but to feel the life in you, all the fibres of being, passionately and joyfully
Elizabeth's love letter to Robert, March 20, 1845: “You seem to have drunken of the cup of life full, with the sun shining on it. I have lived only inwardly; or with sorrow, for a strong emotion. Before this seclusion of my illness, I was secluded still … I grew up in the country – had no social opportunities, had my heart in books and poetry…
my life, drooping toward the ground like an untrained honeysuckle
"My sympathies drooped toward the ground like an untrained honeysuckle… It was a lonely life... Books and dreams are what I lived in… And so time passes and passed – and afterwards, when my illness came, I seemed to stand at the edge of the world with all done … I turned to thinking with some bitterness that I had stood blind in the temple [of life] I was about to leave – that I had seen no Human nature, that my brothers and sisters of the earth were [mere] names to me, that I had beheld no great mountain or river, nothing in fact… I am, in a manner, as a blind poet… how willingly I would as a poet exchange some of this lumbering, ponderous, helpless knowledge of books, for some experience of life and man… What is to live? Not to eat and drink and breathe, -- but to feel the life in you, down all the fibres of being, passionately and joyfully.”