Most theistic religions encourage the devotee to surrender, they lay great emphasis on surrendering to the Divine Will. Some paths even require complete surrender unto the guru, the spiritual master. So, what does surrender really mean, does faith play a role? And how important is it to surrender?
Once upon a time, in a small village, lived an old farmer with his only son. They owned a small piece of land as well as a cow and a horse. One day his horse ran away. They went looking for their horse but to no avail. His son was distraught. The neighbors came to see the old farmer.
“God is being so harsh on you,” the villagers said to console the farmer, “It’s terrible what happened.”
“This must be His grace,” the farmer replied calmly.
Two days later the horse returned, but not alone. Four wild steeds, fine and strong, came following. The farmer ended up with five horses in all.
“That’s wonderful. You are so lucky,” said the others.
“This must be His grace too,” the farmer said as much gratefully as indifferently.
His son was excited though. The following day he mounted one of the wild horses to check the ride but was thrown and broke his leg.
“These horses are no good. They have brought you bad luck,” his neighbors offered their wisdom. “Your son has ended up with a broken leg.”
“This must be His grace too,” the farmer replied.
A few days later, the king’s officials came to the village recruiting young men for mandatory military service. They took all but the farmer’s son since he had a fractured leg. Out of envy and love, the villagers congratulated the farmer for his son was spared.
“This must be His grace too,” he said.
Everything you need to know about surrender is in the anecdote above. Surrender does not mean you simply offer flowery words to your God but start whinging at every adversity you come across. Ultimately, your actions show the degree of surrender.
Regardless of the highs or lows, thick or thin, good or bad times, when you accept everything as His divine grace, that is surrender. Just going to the shrines, to church, and saying you surrender unto the Lord is anything but that. Surrender is another term for unshakable faith, it does not mean that only what you deem ‘good’ will happen in your life. It means no matter what, you will continue to seek your refuge in the Divine, unconditionally.
Surrender is a way of thanking God, of loving him, expressing yourself to him. It does not mean you do not work towards improving your circumstances, it means you accept the outcome as His grace. There is something unique about acceptance — it gives one strength and peace.
I am reminded of a beautiful analogy. A baby monkey clings to its mother. He knows he will be safe with his mother. Where, what, when, and how, it leaves that decision-making to its mother. This is an example of surrender. A kitten does the same too but rather than clinging to its mother, it simply lets go. The mother picks it up and transports it to a safer place. The sharp teeth it uses to prey do not harm its own child. This is also surrendering.
Both show surrender with one fundamental difference: in the monkey’s case, the onus is on the infant to cling to its mother, or else there may be no protection. Whereas, in the case of a kitten, it is solely the mother’s responsibility. The kitten does not do anything.
So, should you be the monkey or the kitten? The answer is, be wise, discover your own method. Some feel more peaceful being the monkey while many act like the kitten. It may well be that you have to act like the monkey at times and the kitten the other times.
A village was flooded and the water level was steadily rising. All the residents had fled already but one man with devout faith in God parked himself on the thatched roof of his hut while he prayed to God fervently.
Someone in a boat, coming from the neighboring village, spotted this man and made a detour to save him.
“Don’t worry brother,” he said enthusiastically, “hop into my boat.”
“Thank you but I don’t need to go with you,” the stranded one replied. “I have faith, my God will come and save me.”
This story may represent the height of foolishness but the truth is, both human intelligence and stupidity know no bounds. It is easy to label others’ beliefs and actions as absurd, if we look within ourselves, we all have been there and done that, maybe differently yet similarly.
Surrender does not require that you close your eyes, that you turn a deaf ear, or that you do not question, instead, it means looking at the world through His eyes, that you pay attention to your inner voice and that you exercise patience in understanding His answer. In fact, true surrender withstands any test, any examination. You may want to read this story of faith.
Quite a few have been writing to me wanting to know the importance of a guru on the spiritual path and how important it is to surrender to a master. I will try to cover it in the near future. Stay tuned.