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To What (Who) Do You Surrender?

Published on 05/10/12
by randy

This may be one of life’s most difficult questions. I’ve found it practically helpful to try to stay out of the way from others. This becomes more difficult when under attack. When I was a child I was taught to surrender to the authority of my parents, the church and the state. This changed when what they were asking didn’t align with something that was deeper. The more curious I got the more I found the need for flexibility. Conditions were forever changing and what I ‘thought’ was truth at one time was totally flipped on its head another time. I’ve seen how those who struggle to stop change eventually break. I’ve seen how those pioneers who push to make change are seldom rewarded in history, at least in their lifetime. And I’ve seen how wisdom has grown in those who hold a bigger view, allowing for uncertainty and the gift of divine providence.

I’ve studied language and thought intensively for the past forty years. It’s utterly fascinating to see how we fight over various ‘beliefs’ which are basically ‘thoughts we’ve attached to’. As we attach to these fixed beliefs in a constantly moving environment we increase our chances to break. We become rigid and brittle. Yet, nature advises us to surrender in faith, to be limber, flexible, curious, kind and in harmony. It seems as if we’re doing everything but fostering harmony these days as we fight amongst one another. We proudly attach to our ‘thoughts’ of being right. We call these our convictions. And just as convicts are imprisoned behind their limiting walls, we close ourselves to growth through our fixed thoughts.

Thoughts are by definition linguistically driven. You can’t have a thought outside of language. Language can point to the universal, to the experience of the divine. Yet, the experience of All (God) comes before the birth of a thought. Once thought (language) comes into the picture we’re necessarily ‘divided’. Uchiyama Roshi describes it as:

“Ordinarily we divide up the world into this and that on the basis of thought.  But to give up thought, to be free from thought, is to be prior to thought and hence to be before the separation of things into this and that.  We can say then that when we are practicing zazen there is not yet any separation between now and eternity, or between self and the world.  This way of speaking may sound like mere theory;  but for the man of zazen* this is no logical deduction as such but a direct personal experience given in zazen.”  p. 115 Approach to Zen. *the practice of sitting meditation

Today we face potential wars of great proportion based on our attachment to having the correct ‘thought’. We all have our myth and through pride, arrogance, and a sense of conviction, we’re willing to kill/harm one another. Yet, when we go to the complete demand to surrender, the Declaration of Independence recognized that it has to be bigger than surrender to nationalism, to church, to military commander, etc. Their statement of faith was a commitment to surrender to full reliance upon divine Providence. I propose that this is God before labels and language. This is that universal experience of support that is free from thought and language. It’s the universal direct experience of peace and support that’s felt before thoughts separate us from each other. It’s the sense of the divine that says we are each other, beyond thoughts’ temptation to label one another as enemy.

We all know this, yet any sense of meeting one another in this space seems to be withering away. From fear and anxiety, we scream ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’. It seems we’ve lost our faith and replaced it with fear/materialism. I recently heard a call from a local minister that said, “As we worship God we let go our fears that keep us from loving, we put down our masks that hide our true selves. We turn to God seeking wholeness and forgiveness in our own life and the courage to offer forgiveness to each other.” Letting go our fear and seeking wholeness (non-duality) is big work, big faith and big courage. Faith has contempt for fear. Can we find the divine before thought, judgment and separation (fear) enter? Where does our sense of belonging stop? Who is no longer our neighbor? If we deeply look at this we’ll likely find where our violence begins, where our peace feels threatened.

This courage to surrender to that which is bigger than our ‘thought’ knowing is what real communication is about. It’s been called dialogue. Rumi captured it when he wrote:

Somewhere out there is a field beyond right knowing and wrong knowing.
Let us meet there.

There’s a moral dimension that lives beyond our judgment of good or bad. There’s a deep respect for the limits of language and the fact that meaning is in the person, not the word. This capacity to cultivate deeper faith in stillness, prior to being captured by language and thought, opens us to a bigger knowing and limitless respect for the mystery of life. This is where we cultivate integrity through faith. This is where we find the courage to dialog. In an article titled “Toward a Meaning-Centered Philosophy of Communication” found in Bridges Not Walls, Dean Barnlund writes:

“Integrative instruction in communication encourages the student to work out better meanings concerning his own communication with himself and his fellowmen. By “better” I refer to meanings that permit more consistency in his personality between what he assumes, what he sees, and what he does. By “better” I refer to meanings that will increase his openness, curiosity and flexibility. By “better” I refer to meanings that will make him more independent, and more confident of his own judgment.”

Tonight is the eve of our first presidential debate. This is a competitive warring format that’s far from cultivating any sense of real communication. We’re electing the most powerful position in the country where ‘confidence of judgment’ through integrity is of utmost importance. Yet, for days they’ve been coached on answers that are anything but authentic. We will not see an openness to one another, a curiosity to understand one another and a flexibility to see things in new ways, all the characteristics we really need for a peaceful world. It will be a battle of who is right and who is wrong, who stands up best to the supposed ‘fact’ checkers, and who cons us best into believing they’ll get more jobs. It’s a test of everything we don’t want in a leader. When the battle cry could be, “Communicate, communicate, communicate”, we’re stuck with the mantra of materialists dedicated to more conflict in the never ending fight to be ‘right’.

It’s my big hope that we’ll once again find our faith, a bigger faith that goes before thought and words. It’s a faith that has contempt for fear and separation, for greed and ignorance to kindness. It’s a humble confidence that’s willing to cultivate a practice of sitting/surrendering to the silence found before thought/words. As this local minister said, it’s a surrender that cultivates the experience of wholeness and unity, knowing “God has loved you, loves you now, and will love you always”, that God is All beyond notions of division. This is real wholeness, real unity, and what gives us the courage to surrender to divine Providence, this knowing that we’ve never been alone, aren’t alone now, and will never be alone. It’s waking from the illusion that we’re separate, and this happens before thought.

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