Saturday, November 9, 2013

Surrender as a Spiritual Path

I've written a lot here about the realization that there is no separate self and all that entails, but since I've gotten the last two comments, I've been thinking about the various paths and how we choose our path.

Truthfully, the idea that I need to be a good person to get enlightened, or even to begin treading the path, never appealed to me.  Why wouldn't I want to be a good person?  Well, it's not that I wouldn't; it's that I never thought it was possible to be THAT good. 

I think this might have to do with having a perfectionist mother.  No matter how good, I was never good enough.  And so I internalized that.  Even if I did a supposedly "good" deed, it seemed that it didn't count if my ego was congratulating me for it -- that a deed, to be truly good, had to be done without any benefit accruing, even in the mind of the doer.  Since I didn't know how to eliminate thoughts of being a "good" person when I did a "good" deed, I assumed that path was foreclosed to me. 

So what has my path been, then?  I think more than anything it has been about surrender.  But there are two kinds of spiritual surrender:  to someone or something one experiences as external, and to one's own deepest feelings, longings, needs.  For a long time, the conflict between those two kinds of surrender propelled me forward.  I knew there had to be a solution, but the solution could not, and did not in the end, come from the rational mind.  In the end, the conflict became too much to bear and the surrender became a surrender to a deeper truth.  (This actually happened several times, especially when I was in relationship with my first teacher, pushing me to a deeper place each time.)

I'm not suggesting that this should necessarily be anyone's path.  I didn't really choose it; it just seemed the only one possible for me.