Aspiration, Rejection and Surrender - Part 2

by M. Govindan Satchidananda

"Rise up, prostrate, surrender, embrace, wonder;
Appeal in all the ways to the Holy feet of the Lord.
That brings the benefits of this birth;
Hold Him with reverence; He responds in turn."
- Tirumandiram, verse 1499

Self-surrender to the Divine at all times and in all circumstances is the key to the sadhana of Integral Yoga as well as the Kriya Yoga of Patanjali, who said "Ishvara-pranidhanad-va," ("Or because of one's surrender to the Lord, one achieves cognitive absorption, ie. Samadhi.) Yoga Sutras I.23) "My God and my all" summarizes its heartfelt expression. The day that a student surrenders to the Divine, the Divine itself intervenes in the life of the student and helps to remove all difficulties and weaknesses, and brings joy into the consciousness with its Presence.

For this to occur the prerequisites are:

  1. the student must feel the vanity of one's own power
  2. he must believe with all his heart that there is Someone called Divine who really exists, loves him, and has the omnipotence to do anything according to Divine wisdom
  3. the student must turn to the Divine alone as his or her sole refuge

In the surrendered state of consciousness whatever one does, or feels, all movements are made as an offering to the Supreme Being, in absolute trust, freeing oneself of responsibility for oneself, handing over to the Divine all of one's burden.

There is much resistance and obstruction in the sadhaka's habitual consciousness and nature that works against this surrender. One must unreservedly resign oneself to the sole guidance of the Divine. How to know if one has done so? Sri Aurobindo has given a detailed description of the inner mood of a truly surrendered sadhak:

"I want the Divine and nothing else. I want to give myself entirely to him and since my soul wants that, it cannot be but that I shall meet and realize him. I ask nothing but that and his action in me to bring me to him, his actions secret or open, veiled or manifest. I do not insist on my own time and way; let him do all in his own time and way; I shall believe in him, accept his will, aspire steadily for his light and presence and joy, go through all difficulties and delays, relying on him and never giving up… All for him and myself for him. Whatever happens, I will keep to this aspiration and self-giving and go on in perfect reliance that it will be done." - Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga Cent. Ed., p. 587

Consequently, it is the Divine itself who takes charge of the entire course of the sadhak's sadhana. "If one gives oneself to the Divine with trust and confidence and even if one cannot do so fully at once, yet the more one does so, the more the inner help and guidance come and the experience of the Divine grows within. If the questioning mind becomes less active and humble and the will to surrender grows, this ought to be perfectly possible." Letters on Yoga, p. 586-88

So, if the power of self-surrender is so potential, then why does man fail to do so? "Why is it not done? One does not think of it, one forgets to do it, the old habits come back. And above all, behind, hidden somewhere in the inconscient or even in the subconscient, there is this insidious doubt that whispers in your ear… and you are so silly, so silly, so obscure, so stupid that you listen and you begin to pay attention to yourself and everything is ruined." The Mother.

Does personal initiative then cease? No, the ordinary sadhak's consciousness and will is far from being united with the Divine's Consciousness and Will; one is still living in the separative ego-consciousness, with all of its likes and dislikes, so the essential principle to follow is to surrender the fruit or results of one's actions to the Divine, otherwise it is only for the ego's satisfaction that one acts. One must maintain the following attitude:

"The Divine is my sole refuge; I trust in Him and rely on Him for everything and Him alone. I am utterly resigned to His Will. I will see to it that no obstacle on the way nor any dark mood of desperation, ever make me waver from my absolute reliance on the Divine." - Sri Aurobindo.

However, this should not make the sadhak complacent. One should not feel that there no effort on the part of the sadhak, that the Divine will do everything for them. Sri Aurobindo's words make this very clear: "But the supreme Grace will act only in the conditions of the Light and the Truth; it will not act in conditions laid upon it by the Falsehood and the Ignorance. For if it were to yield to the demands of the Falsehood it would defeat its own purpose." There are conditions for everything. If someone refuses to fulfill the conditions for Yoga, there is no use in appealing for Divine intervention.

One essential condition is faith. Genuine faith is a deep and quiet illumined feeling of conviction arising from the depths of one's being, when the outer mind and heart are stilled and made pure of all egoistic desire and expectation. It can pierce the haze of adverse movements of the moment and concentrate on the ever-present truth. It is not a fair-weather friend, nor is it merely based upon reasoning or willpower. True faith shines like a flame; it is self-existent and independent of circumstances.

Does this mean that the surrendered sadhak will face no difficulties or misfortunes? In this world of dualism, with all of its ups and downs, and contradictions, its meaning lies in this opposition. "It must be an evolution which is leading or struggling towards higher things out of a first darker appearance. Whatever guidance there is must be given under these conditions of opposition and struggle… through the double terms of knowledge and ignorance, light and darkness, death and life, pain and pleasure, happiness and suffering; none of the terms can be excluded until the higher status is reached and established." - Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga p. 1627

While an effective surrender does not necessarily ensure the sadhak against all future storms and stresses; it does assure the absolute security of the sadhak's spiritual health even in their midst. No promise is made that the path will be a sunlit path of rose petals; what is promised is that He will lead the surrendered sadhak to his cherished spiritual goal through every possible misfortune in life. The surrendered sadhak also knows that misfortunes and suffering are not in vain, but are sanctioned by the Divine for fulfilling a necessary spiritual purpose whose significance will be revealed in time. The surrendered sadhak knows and feels that the Divine is not far away or absent during his suffering, but sitting in the heart of his acutest difficulty, guiding from there the course of circumstances to lead the sadhak to union with the Divine. The surrendered sadhak also knows that if faced with courage, patience, and right attitude, in a spirit of surrender, every difficulty bring great spiritual benefit. Finally, the surrendered sadhak knows that there is an underlying purpose leading to some future spiritual good. His mantra remains: "Let Thy Will be done always and everywhere."

Having heaped the fuel of devotion onto the fire of aspiration, and having rejected all that seeks to smother the growing flame of inner realization, it now remains to dive into the fire of tapas, of self-surrender. Surrender of the contracted ego's petty perspective to the expanded bird's eye view of the higher Self. Here are suggested practices to cultivate surrender:

  1. By abiding as the Witness, as pure consciousness, at all times, in all circumstances. Whatever karma brings, one never ceases to stand firm as the Seer, in para-vairagya, supreme detachment.
  2. By cultivating mental silence. The mind creates the delusion of separateness, and the intellect divides unceasingly between this and that; when their chatter subsides one beholds the absolute Oneness of all, and the background comes to the foreground; so when faced with difficulties, go beyond the surface. "Be Still and Know." The guidance will come.
  3. By surrendering fear, lust, anger, and all desires, remaining poised, neither liking nor disliking, neither having nor not having, neither gaining nor losing, but remaining in that place of balance, transcending the dual opposites that worldly attachments afflict one with.
  4. By remembering "This too shall pass," when things go well and when things go badly. Banish all moods of trepidation, worries, and anxieties regarding the possible course of life. The slightest appearance of fear or worry should make the sadhak alert and begin to immediately rectify the flaws in his attitude, renew his resolution, and establish his consciousness in a state of tranquil trust in the Divine.
  5. Reaching for the Divine above, with utter faith in its providence, by practicing the "complete surrender pose," lying face down, completely vulnerable, with arms outstretched above the crown, the seat of the guru, to the Supreme Being above, hands together, in sacred union.
  6. By piercing the veil of dark thoughts, which habitually envelope one, seeing psychically the bright light of consciousness beyond them.
  7. By opening oneself to intuitive guidance, putting and keeping the mind in a calm receptive state, listening to the inner guidance or insight, which comes spontaneously.
  8. By accepting things as they are, seeing the lessons which every situation brings, and beholding the perfection that they lead to.
  9. By cultivating patience, especially when expectations are not met.
  10. By remembering "Om Namah Shivayah": That (Supreme Being Shiva) I am!
  11. By seeking the immanent one in the midst of all changes; the underlying Supreme reality which transcends all. "Watch for God in the events of your life. See only the hand of God in it all."

Om Tat Sat

Aspiration, Rejection and Surrender Part I

Copyright: M. Govindan Satchidananda, April 2006


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