Surrender, a religious-spiritual counterpart to the notion of fate, seems very un-American.
Nonetheless, of the practice of regularly taking some time off from controlling our world in order to surrender to life and to live it on life’s terms is the basis of almost every religious-spiritual tradition.
Surrender is something we all know deep in our hearts we ought to do more often . . .
Here are my two favorite quotes about surrendering:
As a little exercise, I’m going to suggest that we take a moment to explore the notion that we could be more fated than our egos would like to believe.
Just for fun, let’s dive in.
A “Surrender” Exercise.
Consider for a moment that you don’t have freedom of will and allow yourself to surrender to life.
(I promise you don’t have to do this for longer than the 117 words in this exercise.)
Think about the following:
- Maybe some of the things you thought were in your control weren’t.
- Maybe nature and nurture have conspired to make you exactly who you are at this moment.
- Maybe I was fated to become a rabbi, write my thesis on freedom of will, write this exercise, and you were fated to read it.
- Maybe you are supposed to be exactly where you are at this very moment reading these words.
- Maybe you are supposed to be wearing exactly what you are wearing.
- Maybe you are breathing exactly as you are supposed to be breathing.
- Maybe you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.
How does that feel? How does it feel to entertain the notion that you don’t have complete freedom of choice – that you are doing exactly that which you are supposed to be doing?
Now, let me ask you one more very important question:
If everything were happening according to some giant plan – and not one over which you had any control – do you think you would be more or less relaxed?
Charge & Conclusion
What I’ve started to do on Friday nights is to prepare myself mentally for what I refer to as “Surrender Saturday.” I try each Saturday to see how well I can just “let go and let God.”
It’s not so easy. But it’s also not that hard, as long as I remember that it’s a practice – the word practice by definition means it isn’t something I ought to have mastery over.
I would like to conclude by reiterating the notion that we live somewhere between strict determinism and absolute freedom, in a beautiful balance like the one suggested by the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
A web version of this article is available here.
This article was also posted at Street Prophets.