TRIPPING OVER JOY
What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
Several years ago I was in a troubled relationship. Always another problem to be solved, one more thing keeping us from being happy. I tried to figure it out, this problem of love and of happiness. I wrote reams of ‘morning pages,’ trying to clear my mind of garbage in order to see my way through. We went to therapy together and separately. I travelled to India, alone, trying to connect with some deeper part of myself to escape the discomfort I was in. And I was told, again and again, in every way you could think of, by everyone I asked, to surrender.
Surrender to what?
How do you do that?
You just do it. You let go.
Let go of what?
Of how you think it should be, of your ideas.
But I don’t even know what I think it should be. How can I let it go if I don’t even know what it is I’m letting go of?
You just do, they would say.
While inside me everything is screaming, ‘Don’t do it! You’ll die! Don’t let go! Don’t die!’
There’s no good ending here. I never did figure out how to surrender. Until finally my life and our relationship fell apart/exploded/was brought to its knees – you pick the metaphor. The ‘surrender’ I finally experienced was more like being knocked out and mugged than anything voluntary on my part. The result, however, was the same – God was once again in charge of my life, rather than my ego, and my life was rebuilt, one day at a time, into something that fit me rather than my old ideas, and that today feels better than I ever imagined life could feel.
It was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. Perhaps it could have been simpler. But I didn’t know how.
Since then I have learned a few things; and one of the things I have learned has to do with how to surrender.
We surrender to God. To nature. To the flow of Consciousness itself. To this one, vast, undivided reality that is everywhere and everything, including me, and that wants nothing for me but my happiness. (This is key, this idea that God wants happiness for me; for I will never agree to surrender to a mean God, a punishing God, an indifferent God. Or to Chaos.)
We surrender everything. There is nothing that needs doing that can be done better by my small mind than by Totality.
We let go of our thoughts about ‘the problem,’ whatever it may be.
By paying attention to where we are, rather than to what our thoughts are telling us. We listen to our friend, rather than to our thoughts about our friend. We take a walk, being present to our feet upon the path, the sun on our shoulder, the sounds around us. We simply return to the moment of our lives, to our senses, again and again and again; and
- And when we find ourselves simply unable to redirect our attention, we use the tool of visualization.
We visualize the situation as being held in the palms of our outstretched hands. Relationship? I visualize myself and him or her as there in the palms of my hands, my open hands. My hands that are not clutching or holding on. To anything.
And I’m surrendering to God/nature/Consciousness. To something other than my small mind. I visualize Consciousness as light – a being of light there in front of me – glowing, alive, friendly, warm, welcoming.
In my imagination I simply hand the relationship over to this Being of light, letting the image of it dissolve into the light, and silently saying something like:
A PRAYER OF SURRENDER
‘Dear God, Being of Light, I surrender this relationship to you. Take it, please. Help me to know what to do. Give me the strength and courage to do it. Help me to remember I am not in charge. Help me to be loving and kind. Help me to be of service. Help me to be who You would have me be. Help me to be the best that I can be. Help me to remember that whatever nature has in store for me must, by definition, be greater than what I can imagine for myself. Thank you.’
Redwoods, Muir Woods, Mill Valley CA