Defeated by life vs actual surrender

 

There is a difference between being defeated by life or a particular situation, and being surrendered to it. And we can also think we are surrendered when there is more left.

Say I have an ongoing health issue (as I do).

I can be defeated by it. Feel hopeless. Sad. Hopelessly angry. Give up. At the surface, this can look like surrender but it’s really just being defeated by the situation. I still see it as terrible, I still fight it in my mind, but I have given up doing something about it.

I may think I have surrendered. I may also think I have surrendered because I hope for it and it looks like it has happened, while the surrender is temporary or one of several layers. I can also fake surrender. I can pretend I have surrendered. I may have all the right words. I may see the benefit of surrender. I may wish for surrender. But I am still secretly fighting life. I still secretly see my situation as terrible.

And there can be a more real surrender. My resistance to the situation has worn off over time, perhaps through a lot of struggle. And sometimes it’s supported by inquiry, whether the natural inquiry we all engage in through living our lives, pondering our situation, and talking with others about it or a more structured inquiry. I may have seen through my stressful beliefs about the situation and find what’s genuinely more true for me. I may have identified and seen through my cherished identities that don’t fit my health situation, and again found what’s more genuinely true for me. I may have found the genuine gifts in the situation for me and genuine gratitude. I may have found that what I really value in life, myself, my relationships, and my role in life, genuinely isn’t what this illness impacts. I may have come to a place where I openly allow my grief, anger, sadness, gratitude, joy, and anything else that sometimes come up in me around it.

Often, there is a mix. Some parts of us struggle with it, and we struggle with these parts of ourselves, so we don’t fully allow them. We may think we have surrendered (perhaps in a particular way or area of life) and there is still something left which surfaces later and in another situation. And sometimes, in some areas of us and our life, there is a more genuine surrender through clarity, allowing, and an open heart.

How can we invite in a more genuine surrender? Mainly, it comes in its own time. We cannot decide for it to happen or will it to happen. If it happens, it’s often because our resistance wears out through (futile) struggle. What we can do is prepare the ground. For instance through basic meditation (noticing, allowing), heart-centered practices (prayer, ho’oponopno, tonglen, metta), inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries, Big Mind process, headless experiments), therapy with a wise, skilled, and heart-centered therapist, and most of all receptivity, sincerity, and authenticity.

I notice I rarely write about surrender although it is an important topic. It’s not something we can choose or will to happen – it comes through grace. There is a difference between surrender as a temporary state and a more genuine and complete surrender, and it’s not always so easy to tell the difference (unless we wait to see). And there are always more layers. Surrender is a not something we achieve, it’s at most something we can invite in. And it’s an ongoing process.

There is also a bigger picture here. A lack of surrender is life resisting itself. It’s life locally and temporarily taking itself to be separate from everything else and engaging in an ongoing struggle with itself. Surrender then is life recognizing itself as all of it and giving up the (identification) with the struggle. The struggle may still happen because that’s conditioning. But life recognizes itself as all of it – this human self, the wider world, the situation, the struggle – and identification goes out of it. All of it is recognized as the play of and within life and not something that happens to an actual separate self.

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Initial notes….

  • defeated vs surrender
    • defeated, broken, hopeless vs surrender
      • emotional issues
      • vs seeing through beliefs and emotional issues, wearing off beliefs and identifications
        • often happens over time, through struggle,
        • and can be supported by inquiry, heart-practices, prayer etc.
      • very different
    • e.g. physical illness
      • can be defeated by it, hopeless, sad, give up
      • vs. see through beliefs saying it has to be different, it’s terrible, see through the identities it doesn’t fit (that they are only mind made) – and find the genuine gifts in it, find peace with it
      • can also fake surrender, tell ourselves we have surrendered when have not actually
      • and is usually a mix of them all
    • …..

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