Sometimes I surprise myself. Reading along in a nicely non-dualistic advaitaish book I didn't expect to find myself moved by a passage about surrender.
If you surrender, doesn't it have to be to someone or something outside of yourself? That doesn't sound very non-dual. Usually religions preach the virtue of surrendering either to God or His earthly representative – a prophet, guru, messiah.
I don't like the idea of surrender under those terms. Throwing myself at the mercy of an imaginary being called "God" makes as much sense as pleading to the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus to take care of me.
And surrendering to another human being – that's got too much of a master/slave thing going on.
But there's another way of looking at surrender: to reality. Which, since I seem to be just about as real (or unreal) as anything else, includes me. Here's how Ramana Maharshi puts it in excerpts from his writings quoted in "One."
Complete surrender is another name for jnana or liberation. Offer yourself up unconditionally to the power that is your own source.
It is enough that one surrenders oneself. Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one's being. Do not delude yourself by imagining such a source to be some God outside you. Your source is within yourself. Give yourself up to it.
I've read several books about Ramana's teachings. What can be confusing about is the way he bounces back and forth between speaking of the Self as the non-dual essence of everything, and talking about God in a seemingly theistic manner.
However, just as with Ibn 'Arabi, I've learned to mentally translate Ramana's "He's" and "Him's" into "That's." Ramana recognized that some people are drawn to a conception of a personal divinity, so he gave them what they wanted.
What I want, though, isn't surrender to another person – even if it supposedly is the Big Man Upstairs. Reality will do just fine, thank you.
And that's what I feel I get from Ramana, once I burrow beneath the apparent monotheism of his words and hit a deeper vein of non-duality.
Complete surrender does require that you have no desire of your own, that God's desire alone is your desire and that you have no desire of your own.
Banish even the thought "I am a fit instrument for Him" and remain still.
Abidance in one's real state is ceasing to exist as a slave [of God]; it is remaining even without the thought "I am a slave" rising; it is egoless mauna [silence], utterly still, having no mental movements. The unlimited consciousness that shines in this state is the [true] consciousness.
Surrender to Him and abide by His will whether he appears or vanishes; await His pleasure. If you ask Him to do as you please, it is not surrender but command to Him. You cannot have Him obey you and yet think that you have surrendered.
He knows what is best and when and how to do it. Leave everything to Him. His is the burden; you have no longer any cares. All your cares are His. Such is surrender. This is bhakti.
Or, enquire to whom these questions arise. Dive deep in the Heart and remain as the Self. One of these two ways is open to the aspirant.
Two ways? Maybe. However, I suspect they're the same way.