What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.”
From the first word, a perfect page…ruined. That’s what happens when I write, or that’s what it feels like at least. I have this beautiful idea, all the possibility in the world of capturing its pure sentiment, infinite combinations of words that would do it and if one didn’t exist to say it more sweetly, I make one up. So I meditate and reflect, read and talk to people, get inspired, sit in front of the computer lift the delicate lever of my finger press it down and…fuck it up. Irrevocably. The plan veers into a land I neither know nor am prepared for that somehow already includes not one ellipsis but two, so I just try to follow the tracks, surrender what will never be to claim what is.
We practice letting go so there’s room enough for what matters most. In our CEC hive-mind, letting go forms an essential part of a practice, a necessary antipode to the striving, the claiming, the aspirational special states like the one where you might glimpse, just briefly, if you stare into a bright light long enough, a universe kept afoot by a platoon of microscopic capuchin monkeys.
What do we let go of? Preference. Effort. Constantly trying to frame our experience, divide every little thing into the light of good or the shadow of bad, the east of left or the west of right, the dizziness of reasons that support our choices. What do we surrender to? What remains. The truth. The source of our will. The power to make change. Trust.
When I conceived this essay, before it took over, I thought to thread surrender through war, what I watched conflict do to a country, the holes it left and how it took peace to fill them, then pass it through the pain being shared from #metoo, to the new ground it’s pointing at beyond, big enough for us all. I hoped to make the case that surrender does not ask us to give anything up, except that which we can no longer use. It is an active process, not a passive one, a getting out of the way so we can know what lives beneath. We practice doing it because one day, if we sit and are quiet, all the forces in the universe that have ever been, every experience we have had, each subatomic collision and crashing gravitational wave, may well up in the tiniest of whispers:
“Are you ready for the truth?”
And on that answer, balanced as thin as an angel on a pin, despair deeper than we even fear about the suffering in the world, but rushing with it, like tide over the rocks, filling all the holes, dreams wilder than we’ve hoped, and a freedom that can never be taken back.
“If you can’t find truth where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”