There is one word we are all here to learn – ‘surrender’.
It is a word thrown around like gold dust in the spiritual arena and the personal growth industry: You must find out who You are! Surrender!- They all tell us and we fight tooth to nail to surrender. There is no one I have ever heard of who does not struggle with this word. Some of us deeply admire the word from far but all we do is sweat as we try harder to get to know it. And when we do it, we do it with a grinch on our face. We try to surrender by trying to control what is going on in our life!
It is not that we do not want to, oh no. Far from it, as the word is nothing short of miracles.
It is the sweetest word for miraculous transformations, having your dream achieved or finding out how life has always given you what you needed, even if you did not like the packaging of it.
Surrender is a word devoid of disappointment, it always delivers, if only we knew what makes it our most powerful tool for life.
There comes Ramadan each year and we set our alarms not only for the morning prayers but for our anticipated new learnings. I have picked ‘surrender’ all my fasting life (those who know me, they know!) and I am convinced that surrendering is mind-bending stuff. My soul has dried up many a time before I could feel an inch of movement towards understanding a tiny portion of it, often as tiny as my food I manage to eat, fearing sickness with each bite in the cold dark for thirty days.
This year I came to Ramadan with slow, deliberate steps. I made no plans for our daily meals. I did not know what I would be studying this year.
I did not feel ready for Ramadan in my soul this year. There was one thing I did do – and that was to clear all my drawers. All. Of. My. Drawers. That is right! Chaos should not eat me up, I thought as I surrendered. It shall not terrorize me in the form of a clumsy kitchen drawer!
So, I cleared and ordered every neglected drawer, one by one in the last ten days. There was nothing extraordinary about this, I know. Or maybe there was.
I figured something out as I scrolled through old toothbrushes, broken hairpins and rusty safety pins. Our mind is packed with thoughts and interpretation of how life is SUPPOSED to be. We interpret everything in our mind- what we like or what we must stand against. What is good or what is bad; or what feels nice and what abhors us. We stuff our mind with thoughts on how we feel about our life, job or in-laws or how we experience our money situation. Our mind is filled with gunk, like the drawers where we chuck unwanted, unused rubbish. These are the renderings of our mind.
Each time a new experience hits us (and it will because this is Life’s job), we will render it according to what is already there- we base it on the fear, negativity, emotional garbage, leftover emotions.
We keep rendering with each experience, only to add to the material that is already there, and this is great to form an opinion and strengthen our views. But not so great when it gives you suffering, like heartburn after eating a spicy samosa to break your fast.
What we do not do enough is practice surrender. Sur means “over” and when you surrender, you literally give over your own reactions that are embedded in your habitual way of thinking to a power much higher than yourself- a part of you that is not attached to anyone except the highest intelligence. Those of us, who call it God, have nearly completed our month-long journey of fasting; we were invited to this practice. We were invited to overstep our mind by giving new meanings to anything that happens to us, instead of looking at it the same old way we have done so in the last three hundred years.
We have a part of us that is filled with the divine and devoid of the earthly junk we have accumulated.
Surrendering is not to give an interpretation riddled with your mind’s patterns to any event that occurs in your life. Someone leaves you disappointed? Surrender and let it go. Just acknowledge you are disappointed. It is not your making; it actually has very little to do with you. You have had a bad day? Stop calling it bad and replace it with “it is an experience”. Nothing less, nothing more. Let it go, so you can focus on the next moment, a new one, that carries the possibility you have been looking for. You are fed up? Let go of the idea of what is wrong and step into each new moment with a sweet anticipation, not with prediction.
Render your mind so that you experience every moment without the past regrets or the future angst creeping in. Prediction is the mind’s favourite game; surrender and do not give in to your mind’s twisting tricks.
Rendering means to look afresh, not react from our old mind patterns. It is about accepting what God gives, not refuting it just because it does not fit into our old rendering patterns.
Surrendering is to “render over” what you always do, think or act, find the moment and meet it with a deep gratitude and zero attachment or expectations.
I think God would like that in Ramadan. I think He would like it even after Ramadan.
What can we surrender after Ramadan?
I wish everyone who fasted had a wonderful month of surrendering!