We are often told that to fight is heroic. It is heroic to fight for what we believe in. To fight until the death. To fight to defeat the villains.
To surrender, on the other hand, is seen as weak, as a defeat and that we have lost. If the fighter is symbolised with the raising of the sword in victory, then the one who surrenders is the one waving the white cloth in defeat as he or she retreats with one’s head down.
That same narrative also appears in spiritual discourses. We hear of the Buddha’s defeat over Mara and his armies. We hear of Jesus Christ’s defeat of the Antichrist and his armies. We hear of spiritual warriors and meditators who should give their life to the practice even if it kills them.
But is this narrative always helpful in our life and spiritual practice? Do we really have to fight until the death to be victorious?
When hindrances arise in our spiritual practice, such as in meditation, we may turn on the fighter mode to fight them away. Yet when we do so what happens? We may have some temporary ‘wins’, but often the hindrance arises again, perhaps stronger and perhaps along with it other hindrances. If we ‘lose’ these fights, we may feel defeated in our practice, and for some they may feel a reluctance to practice again.
When we have been practicing being kind and loving, but then we get angry, do we then get angry at ourselves for being angry? Or guilty for being feeling guilty? Or anxiously trying to get rid of our anxiety?
If this is happening to you, then today’s practice is for you.
Often when we are in fighter mode, there is an “us” and them”. It is me against the other. There is aversion. There is a wanting things to be a certain way, or not wanting it to be a certain way, and a justification of why we are right and need to continue to fight. There is the ego-self that is afraid to fail and to be defeated, or be seen as such.
This fight can be very tiring for our heart and mind. It can affect us so much it clouds our judgment and other areas of our life.
What would happen if we allow ourselves to break down that barrier that we have put up between ourselves and whatever we are fighting against? Even just for a moment. Just enough to see that we are not at war with each other, even for just a moment.
What happens if we can allow ourselves to just surrender to this moment, to this imperfectly perfect moment? To just open ourselves to whatever comes. To hold whatever arises without judgement, reaction or claiming it as an extension of our self.
To practice surrender is to practice letting go and acceptance. Surrender is not necessarily by the weak and defeated heart that does so, but the courageous and loving heart that enables it. Surrender opens us up to other possibilities that we may not have seen due to the dichotomy that we had created between ourselves and the other thing or person that we have labelled as the ‘enemy’. Surrender allows us to find peace again, and to find relief from holding on for so long to this fight.
Then, if after this practice you wish to return to the battlefields, at least you do so consciously, courageously, with understanding for – and even with – the other.
Perhaps one day you may also see beyond the battlefield to a place where there is no longer you and the other, no longer any battles to be fought and won, and surrender to the peace that this brings.
May you be victorious in your practice of surrendering. May you transform your relationship with the enemies that have been forged in your life and in your mind, so as to find peace with them beyond the war.
24 May 2020