An intruder with a gun breaks into a monastery.
He sticks the gun in the belly of a monk who is meditating.
The monk continues to meditate.
‘You don’t understand!’ says the intruder, ‘I have the power to take your life!’
‘No, it’s you who doesn’t understand,’ says the monk. ‘I have the power to let you.’
Some call it the ‘surrender practice’ – and it’s to be encouraged.
‘Surrender’ as an idea does not have a good name. In popular imagination, it’s about cowardice, white flags, losers and defeat – and no one wants those labels.
We want to be fighters! ‘We shall never surrender!’
Yet most people’s inner fights are a huge waste of energy and keep them from love and life. Whereas surrender returns us there.
You’re standing in a supermarket queue.
Part of you is constrained by circumstance. You’re judging the slow till worker, assessing the speed of other queues, tense with many thoughts, eager to be away, watching other shoppers warily, angry with delay.
And then another part of you surrenders to the moment, and allows it to be just as it is; and now something surprisingly spacious and present is experienced.
You’re in the supermarket queue; and you’re free; from ill-being to wellbeing, via surrender.
Kabir Helminski defines surrender as being ‘actively receptive to an intelligence that is greater than that of ourselves.’
Surrender takes us, just for a moment, out of our sealed-in neuroses, revealing a different and altogether larger world… though we haven’t moved at all.
We hand our self over, we cease fighting, we trust something.
This can be difficult, depending on our story and our experiences in life.
So, we notice ourselves kindly when difficulty appears. How do we respond?
Some brace themselves, harden, hunker down and resist at all costs, cry ‘No, no, no!’
Others soften, open themselves, yield and say, ‘Let it be.’
The first response sends us to our small self and old survival patterns; the second brings us to our truer self and the strange healing of the present.
It is not about becoming a doormat; the monk wasn’t a doormat. He was just free – and therefore rather disturbing.
Surrender is about leaving our neuroses and justifications and acting more freely, whether at work, home or on the beach.
So, at the beginning of the day, and perhaps several times thereafter, we relax into surrender.
It’s a different power.