So much of our personal suffering is self-imposed. We struggle against the way life is unfolding, trying to force certain outcomes. When we fail, we are miserable. Our minds replay our supposed failures over and over again, triggering memories of past “failures” so that finally we are drowning in an avalanche of suffering. We see ourselves as victims, barely able to carry on beneath the burden of unfulfilled dreams, of life’s unfairness. The promise of abundant possibilities and self-fulfillment seems to elude us again and again. What if we are only living out our mind’s perception of life—a self-constructed illusion that keeps us trapped in struggle and unhappiness? Our personality self, or ego, which is connected to the mind, engages in the world at the level of effort and trying. Our souls exist in connection to a Higher Self, or God. When we completely surrender to something greater than our own individual personality selves, we let go of suffering as a way of life.
I’ve been learning about the power of surrender for a number of years. The first level for me was to recognize that life is not about one-focus doing, it’s about being, out of which doing arises organically. When you surrender to something that is beyond the mind, beyond the will—whether you call it God/dess, universal consciousness, source energy, the name doesn’t matter—you step into the flow of life. I found that the more I let go of desired outcomes and objectives, the more I felt connected to that flow. Life unfolded perfectly without my even trying. Now, by “perfect” I don’t mean everything was necessarily what I wanted to experience. What was perfect was my letting go of it being perfect! At a deeper level, I accepted all of life’s experiences, not just the “good” ones, those my mind thought should happen. When I did that, I stopped suffering: on some level, everything was “good,” because it was part of a greater soul plan for my life.
Not everyone believes in soul plans. I do—perhaps because I’ve repeatedly experienced the power of that trajectory, that connection to God and soul purpose. Recently, I was working hard at learning a new kind of writing, one that I had never attempted before and knew nothing about: a play. The idea of doing it was exciting; the day-to-day reality was at times intimidating, overwhelming. I persisted because of my own internal commitment to do it, but I proceeded at the level of effort, of difficult daily mental work and figuring things out. There were moments of inspiration, but overall, I was not experiencing the flow that I have come to know in my writing when something beyond my personality self takes over and speaks through me. In spiritual writing, which has been my main focus in recent years, this connection comes easily for me. I am a conduit, and my own particular writing abilities are in service to that. In attempting something new, I felt none of this.
The solution came, of course, in letting go even more. My morning prayers of gratitude and surrender expanded to the point where I was only asking to be of service to God: “If this is what I’m here to do, please show me the way. I surrender to whatever my soul’s agenda is.” Last year, during a health crisis with my eyes, I had surrendered in much the same way, and everything opened up around me. This time I went even deeper, and once again I was lifted out of the entanglements of my own fears and efforting into connection and flow. I began to hear my characters’ voices in my head and transcribed their conversations into the play. I witnessed their lives unfolding, just as mine was. My mind became the tool of my soul and helped me actualize the creative flow I was experiencing. I stopped struggling.
And the miraculous byproduct of this new level of surrender was an even deeper relationship with God, the spirit within that is always with me. The vast loving energy of a universe that is eternally ready to support our soul’s evolution here on Earth. One morning, as I was praying at the end of yoga, on my knees in child’s pose, surrender went through my body like electricity, like a flood, leaving me shaking, with goosebumps all over and tears streaming down my face. The divine connection was so powerful that I felt an inner vibration for days afterward. Now, day to day, I feel even less attached to the outcome of anything, in writing or in life. I’m here to live my soul’s purpose, and I accept wherever that takes me. Suffering or struggle, if it arises, passes very quickly when I remember that one guiding principle.