Is Intentional Living Contrary to Surrendering?
Negin M. Khorasani
June 12, 2021
I hear again and again from our clients at Be 8nfinite that the notion of surrender that is so much praised in all spiritual traditions seems contradictory to planning one’s life, designing one’s destiny and intentional living. That’s why I feel the need to explore these ideas a little further here with the intention to bring more clarity on them to our audience.
First of all, let us explore who’s will we think we have to surrender to. Is it an outside authority such as our parents, our boss, the society, the government, or a God outside of us that we are supposed to surrender to? If the answer you gave to all or any of these options was ‘yes,’ then your understanding of the notion of ‘surrender’ is actually in contradiction with planning for your life. In this scenario the planner is our human mind, backed by the will power coming from our ego, which tries to overcome the opposite forces of society, government or a God outside of us as religions describe; then I must say good luck with that planning! It’s a constant and for the most part hopeless struggle, and in rare occasions a win that comes through sacrificing your peace, your relationships, and becoming tough-skinned and bitter in the process.
So what’s the other option? Who’s will then all spiritual traditions encourage us to surrender to? To me it’s our higher self that we must surrender to, which is one with the Supreme Being. It’s not an entity outside of us, it’s our ‘self’ in its truest sense. It’s the consciousness that resides in the core of our being, which is one with the Consciousness itself, with the great mystery! If we agree that we are living in a holographic universe, consciousness in every particle is one and identical with the consciousness that governs the entire universe. The best and simplest analogy that comes to mind is the drop and the ocean that are one and identical. In this scenario it’s the self that surrenders to the Self. It’s the human mind and the ego that surrender to higher mind and higher will.
Some may say, if the human mind surrenders to a higher mind, then what is the need for planning or designing one’s life? Or better put, who is planning in this scenario if the mind is retired and surrendered? Here is the piece that clarifies this whole seemingly controversial subject. In intentional living, it is not the human mind that is the planner; who is it then? It is our higher self that we give the control of our life to. So the designer of our destiny is what we have dissolved into.
This is a process of alchemy that happens through purification of our heart, backed by clarity of our mind and consequently yielding into the heart’s wisdom. When we talk about the wisdom of our heart or the true desire of our heart, it’s not our whims and wishes that we pursue, it’s the commands of our heart, that in a state of clarity we can’t help but surrender. Sometimes the heart’s commands are not easy, and takes courage and integrity to follow. It may demand us to do things against the norms of the society, but for a person who clearly receives the commands of her higher self or the heart’s inspirations it feels wrong to not follow the orders as otherwise there will be an inner conflict. Bearing with an inner conflict is more difficult than carrying out the task or the duty given to us by our higher self. The truth is that we cannot undo what we have become aware of. We cannot un-know what we have known.
For most people receiving and recognizing the heart’s inspiration seems confusing and rather inaccessible information. However, it is a sense that like any other sense could be trained and developed. The same way that, for instance, the sense of smell in certain individuals is trained to keenly identify the subtle nuances of various ingredients used in a dish by tasting just one spoon of it. As we listen more and more to our heart’s inspirations and instructions, we become more receptive to its directions, and following it becomes natural, automatic and even instantaneous. As if the higher self or the heart’s wisdom becomes our mind and our entire being will be the instrument to follow its orders.
Now, let’s go back to the idea of designing our destiny and living an intentional life. How does it work really? It is actually the process of posing an open ended question to our higher self about the subject we want to find a solution for. Let’s say we recognize an obstacle on our way or a difficult situation in our life, this recognition happens through our mind and we surrender the situation to our higher self. We also clarify our intention about the situation, the ultimate image of the issue being resolved under grace. We do not need to try to figure out how through our mind, as otherwise it will be the human mind’s planning. We do not have to try to force it the way we can think of either, as then it will be the ego’s game.
We surrender the how to our higher self or the heart’s wisdom. We just focus on the ultimate image and trust the how will unfold before us; but then we have to trust the wisdom of our heart as we receive its commands however bizarre they may seem. We have to follow its orders and follow the inspirational clues and the path that unfolds before us, even if we only see one step a ta time, even if it seems upside down. As we may realize later, we were measuring it by looking at the mirage of an upside-down world.
This is true surrender that is praised in all traditions; surrendering the ‘how' to the heart. The ‘what’ can always be determined through our clear mind and for the highest good of all involved. Trying to figure out the ‘how’ with our limited human mind creates all the conflicts. So in reality there is no contradiction between intentional living and the notion of surrender. In fact, they go hand in hand or to be clearer, one cannot exist without the other.
So those individuals who think they have to live under conditions of dis-ease, poverty, abuse or any other difficult circumstances of life because they think it is in line with the idea of surrendering to the Divine Will, I must clarify it is a mere fallacy. Our circumstances of life, whatever they may be are only a result of our past conditioning and Samskararas. If we can break free from our past conditionings, we can be free from those difficulties and miseries. So there is no virtue in continuing living under those circumstances. We can start wanting to be free from the difficult conditions whatever they may be, and intend for a more fulfilling and balanced life that allows actualization of our highest potential. We can give permission to ourselves to imagine a life that is more balanced and harmonious. We can start with intending for it and allow our higher self to reveal the ‘how’ to us.
Of course, it takes some effort as it means we must finally leave the miserable situation that we are so used to and therefore is our comfort zone, however uncomfortable it may be. Sometimes it takes many lives, let alone many years to get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Only then we are finally ready for a change. Before that, we may use the idea of so-called Divine Will as a convincing excuse to refrain from change. However, now that the entire structure of the common fallacy of ‘surrender’ as it is understood by the majority of people is exposed, there seems to be nothing left to hide behind for intelligent minds that are reading these lines. This means it is finally time for doing what it takes to change.
Remember we are always there to support you as you embark on this life-transforming journey.