Inevitably when discussion turns to surrender the objection is raised,”But what about action? Are you saying we shouldn’t do anything? If you surrender won’t you just become a passive victim of circumstance? Aren’t we supposed to oppose and resist evil?”

They are good questions. But they share a common misunderstanding of the nature of true surrender.

In Christian tradition, when we surrender, we are not surrendering to nothing. We are surrendering to the dynamic power of love that, I see embodied in Jesus. The force of Christ does not create victims; it empowers me to take authentic, life-giving action from a place within myself that is deeper, more real, and stronger than all violence, injustice, anger, or hatred. Surrender is not passivity.

Surrender opens me to a deeper realm or dimension of existence. Through surrender I connect with the transforming power of love that then enables me to respond to my situation in a way that is potentially life-giving for everyone involved. There is within me a deep abiding well-spring of wisdom, truth, insight and compassion to which I gain access by letting go of my determination to be in control.

The problem with action, even well-meant action, that does not come from a place of deep surrender is that it is often tainted with self-identification and unacknowledged egoic agendas. Such self-serving action brings no true liberation for anyone. I may change an external situation, but in the process, when I act from attachment to a specific outcome, I will create new victims, or keep people bound to mechanisms of power. The rebels who use violence to throw off the shackles of the colonizers become the new colonizers as soon as they gain power. True surrender does not create winners and losers.

The only way to navigate a painful situation in a way that avoids creating victims is to start with acceptance. This is the strange alchemy of the cross. The cross conquers violence by standing in the midst of the brokenness and accepting the reality of the situation.

When his disciples became enmeshed in a power struggle, Jesus asked them,

Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? (Matthew 20:22)

The answer was “Yes.” So Jesus promised them they would indeed drink the cup of his suffering. This is the cup Jesus freely chose. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus accepted the reality of the path that lay ahead, as painful as he knew it was going to be.

There is no right action, transformation, or justice that does not start from this Gethsemane place.

We must do our inner work in order to be free to live in transformative ways. When we start with surrender our lives flow forth with love and compassion because we have begun in the place in which resides the power of love and compassion.

I will never get to the right place when I start in the wrong place.

When I start with my vision of what is right, my vision of what needs to happen, and my determination that I know what is best, I  always stop listening. I lose touch with that deeper well-spring of wisdom that is my true nature. I am no longer truly open to the reality of the situation in which I need to act.

When I begin from a place of gentle surrender, I am open and responsive to the realities of my situation. Right action flows naturally from that deep place of wisdom and insight that is my true nature.

Surrender opens me to love; love is the force that created and sustains the universe. When I am moved by love, I enter into the flow of the creative force of the universe; I live in tune with that power that was embodied in Jesus, through whom all creation is made new.

Everyone wins when I surrender.

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