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Surrender: Giving Over, Not Giving Up

One of our congregation songs is Release and Let Go by Ricki Byars and Michael Bernhard Beckwith. “I release and I let go, I let Spirit run my life”.

They are simple words with a powerful message. And when we’re singing it, for that small amount of time, I do feel a sense of freedom and relaxation.

Ervin Seale, a 20th century author and minister, once wrote about the idea of surrender and release. He said we should think of it as giving over, not giving up.

This is a simple but powerful shift in our thinking.  What if we were to consciously and consistently give over the control of our lives to Divine Guidance rather than trying to control everything and make things happen? Just the thought of it makes me breathe easier and relax.

It would mean not worrying, not fretting, not struggling, not fighting, not having anxiety. It would mean that our choices and decisions would be the most sound and healthy decisions at every moment. It would mean freedom to live life to the fullest and experience the joy and happiness that we are meant to experience.

Now many of us grew up with the belief that we had to struggle through life.  We were given little gems like, “Life is difficult.” “You won’t be successful unless you work really hard.” “You have to be so much better than everyone else.” “You must always be in control.” And, “No rest for the weary.” This is truly fear-based thinking!  It is rooted in the idea of duality: God is out there and judging you, so you’d better show him that you’re trying hard. This is faulty B.S.!  That is, a faulty belief system…!

Life really doesn’t have to be hard and we really don’t have to struggle to get through life.  Most things aren’t under our control anyway. Stuff happens! Once in awhile we may be able to call the shots, but with life comes change. And we can either fight what comes, like most of us were taught, or we can work with it. This is where Ervin Seale’s concept of giving over comes in.  We let go and let God; we surrender, and know that God is moving in, as and through us, so all is well.

Whatever we don’t surrender grips us, binds us and makes us truly uncomfortable and unhappy. I believe that it is so important to practice surrender of conditions on a regular basis. Then when big changes come, and they will, we will be much more prepared to release and let go with a greater understanding, and with ease and flow. Let go of resistance and the need for control, and life truly works better for us.

The Tibetan Yogi Milarepa

I would like to share with you a little story that comes through the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to illustrate release and surrender. It’s about a brave and rather unusual fellow named Milarepa. He was a loner and lived in a cave by himself. He meditated wholeheartedly in his cave for years.

One evening when Milarepa returned to his cave after gathering firewood, he found the cave filled with demons. They were cooking his food, reading his books, and sleeping in his bed. They had taken over the place. Now he knew about non-duality of self and other, but he wasn’t quite sure how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had the sense that they were just a projection of his own mind- all the unwanted parts of himself- he didn’t know how to get rid of them. So first he sat on a seat higher than they were and taught them the dharma, or the law that orders the universe. He told them that they were all one. He talked about compassion and love. Nothing happened. The demons were still there. Then, losing his patience, he got angry and ran at them. They just laughed at him. Finally he gave up and just sad down on the floor, saying, “I’m not going away and it looks like you’re not either, so let’s just live here together”.

At that point, all of them left except one. Milarepa said, “Oh this one is particularly vicious”! We all know about that one thing that we just can’t let go of. Maybe there are a few of them, actually. Anyway, he didn’t know what to do, so he just surrendered himself even further. He walked over and put himself right into the mouth of the demon and said, “Just eat me up if you want to.” Then that demon left too. The moral of the story is, when the resistance is gone, so are the demons.

So let’s discover freedom…freedom to become who we truly are. We find freedom in forgiveness; we find it in gratitude; and we certainly find it in release and surrender, or giving over. Let’s surrender in faith, for we are whole, perfect and complete in this moment and for eternity.


The above post is from a Five Minute Talk presented on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night at the Granada Hills Center for Spiritual Living. Talks are given by Licensed CSL Practitioners who invest at least four years in learning and applying these concepts and ideas in their daily life. For more talk topics like this one, please join us at our Center for one of our Sunday services or for our Wednesday evening service at 7 PM.


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