Surrender Your Way to Success: The Curious Case of Giving Up
Many of you already know that the Buddha was a prince. When he was born, his father, the King, was given a prediction that his son would be a great ruler.
Well, actually, it was unclear if the prediction stated whether he would be a great emperor or a great healer. Regardless, the Buddha was given a name, Siddhartha, which means “he whose life has been attained.”
His father had it all. He was wealthy and powerful, and the Buddha himself was athletic and intelligent. He was also born with a unique love and respect for all things, and there are even stories of him as a child proclaiming that animals have the same right to live as we do. Sadly, Siddhartha lived a sheltered life within the palace walls. He married and had a child but developed an unease towards life, often pondering life’s meaning and purpose.
After much pleading, his father allowed him to leave the palace. Despite the King’s efforts to clean the streets, Siddhartha saw suffering in its worst forms. First, there was a man ill with disease. Later, he saw an elderly woman. Finally, he saw a dead body.
What Siddhartha witnessed haunted him, and in the middle of the night, he left.
Siddhartha realized in that moment that everything was change, that life was full of transience leading to our eventual decline and death. He realized that we are under the illusion that the beauty of the moment would never fade.
During his search, he studied yoga and meditation with the best teachers he could find but realized they too did not have his answers. Frustrated, he went into the forest for six years and tried fasting to achieve realization. His body became emaciated quickly. He gained many disciples, but he realized this too wasn’t the way.
Once he lost his faith, his disciples quickly abandoned him, and he was alone again. Somewhere near Gaya, the Buddha cried out;
“come what may, let my body rot, let my bones be reduced to ashes, I will not get up from here until I found the way beyond decay and death”.
Under the first full moon in Spring, Siddhartha sat bolt upright and went into meditation. Just as the Devil came to tempt Jesus in the desert, the Buddha was haunted by Mara.
Mara sent his beautiful daughters and tempted Siddhartha with many more fleeting pleasures. When Siddhartha didn’t stir, Mara finally appeared in person and angrily asked him who he was to leave his realm.
Following his encounter with Mara, Siddhartha was both physically and mentally weak. From the village, he was approached by a young girl named Sujata. She offered him a bowl of rice pudding as a gesture of kindness and support. Siddhartha, who was so exhausted, accepted the gesture, and in that moment, he renounced his search for enlightenment, concluding that it could not be done.
Finishing the bowl, Siddhartha returned to his meditation posture, and everything changed. Placing his hand on the Earth, it is said the Earth itself gave witness as the voices of a million beings cried out that he was the one sent to relieve them from their suffering. With that, Siddhartha slipped into Nirvana and became the Buddha.
When he arose, Mara reappeared to ask how he would wake a world whose eyes were clouded in dust. The Buddha thought for a moment and stated that he would teach the dharma, and those that follow him, he would set free!
It is said that a man who has left the world always returns to transform it. The Buddha did just that. Upon his return, the local people were floored by the Buddha’s radiance. When people gathered and asked what he was, he replied;
“I am Awake”.
This story highlights the importance of the “middle path” in Buddhism. I particularly love this concept because it shows us not to cling to the mental constructs surrounding a specific outcome.
Michael Singer, renowned spiritual teacher and author of “The Surrender Experiment,” often discusses the concept of surrendering or letting go as a path to inner peace and personal growth. However, what does that really mean?
In his books “The Surrender Experiment” and “The Untethered Soul”, Singer recounts numerous times that he surrendered to the flow of life. Noticing retrospectively (it is important to note retropectively), that his life had a energy off of its own and that when he accepted each arising as it occured his life transformed into something beautiful. Fighting against our life circumstances only dooms us to internal suffering. Surrendering to Singer, means letting go and accepting things as they are in that moment.
Trust me, Singer was tested. One particular instance I can recount was when someone announced that they were going to build a house on his land and asked him to build it.
What Singer embodied was a profound trust in the universe and its divine organizing intelligence. From his experience, life always brought him unexpected positive outcomes.
Through this method, he obtained profound freedom from his fears and ego-driven desires. What Singer is also referring to is the perceived idea that our actions produce certain results. Surrendering involves relinquishing the idea that we can force or control an outcome and just trust that life will unfold as it should.
It is important to note that Singer does not believe that surrendering is a passive act but rather a choice that is enacted moment by moment to be in the present moment with what life is presenting to us and acting without concern for a specific outcome.
This interests me as I’m interested in how this concept marries together with modern concepts about manifestation and intention. On the outside it doesn’t appear to. However, it depends really on who you read and what you take from it.
Other well informed intention teachers such as Lynne McTaggart and Joe Dizpensa hint to elements of surrender within the process. McTaggart for example will tell you not to intend on a daily basis and to not obsess over the intention arriving in a certain way or even as a specific outcome. Dispenza likewise. Most importantly, they teach about the importance of meditation and the value of being present moment to moment. These, after all are the only real moment of our life.
I suppose when we are feeling a certain way we can think that when we achieve something, or when we attain something we will feel differently. In reality it is actually that we will give ourselves permission to feel differently.
Little do we know that that future outcome will one day be our present and we will probably feel the same. Each present moment contains within in it the seeds for the future we are dreaming of. So often we are tensed against the present that we fail to see the potential that each moment offers us.
Maybe we can all learn something from the Buddha. His intention to achieve enlightenment made him so desperate to that he pushed himself close to the point of death. However, it was only through surrender to the present moment, when he in effect said ‘I give up’ (I’m paraphrasing its unclear if he said anything at all) and ate the rice pudding did he actually get what he wanted.
So maybe the question that we should be asking ourselves daily is how are we turning down our rice pudding?