What is surrender? I used to think I knew. Now it is a mystery.
Prem Prabhat, the false knowledge de-mystifies existence; the true knowledge re-mystifies it. Knowing, if authentic, makes life more of a mystery than it has ever been before. Knowledge certainly covers your eyes with dark clouds, creates a wall of thick smoke, and you start feeling you know. In fact, you are going deeper into ignorance. To be knowledgeable is to be more ignorant than even the ignorant ones.
The Upanishads have a tremendously significant statement. They say: The ignorant man is lost in darkness, but the knowledgeable is lost in deeper darkness than the ignorant – because the knowledgeable lives in an “as if” world. He thinks he knows, but he knows not. He only believes; he has not seen. He believes in God, he believes in love, he believes in surrender, but belief is always a cover-up. Your wound is covered, but it is not healed that way. In fact, the more you cover it, the less is the possibility of its ever being healed. Expose it to the sun, to the wind, to the rain – expose it to the healing forces that surround you.
Mahavira standing naked under the sky is simply saying, making a silent statement: “Be naked! Drop all your clothes! Don’t hide! ” And we are not only wearing clothes on the body – they are not that important – we are wearing clothes and clothes, layers and layers of knowledge, which are really hiding our truth from ourselves.
To be really naked before God is to know, but that knowing is totally different from knowledge. It is closer to feeling than to knowledge. It is closer to love than to logic. It is closer to experiencing than to believing. It is existential.
The blind man believes in light; the man of eyes sees it. And when there is seeing, no question of believing arises only the blind believe; the seers have no need to believe – they know! But to know life is to know that it is unknowable. To know life is to know that it is an unfathomable mystery, immeasurable.
The word “matter” means the measurable; it comes from ”measure.” Science is wrong because it thinks that life can be measured, fathomed, de-mystified. Knowledge believes that life can be divided into two departments: the known and the unknown. That which is known today was unknown yesterday; that which is unknown today will become known tomorrow. The unknown will go on receding; the unknown will go on disappearing. The known will go on becoming bigger and bigger, and one day all will be known.
The Buddhas, the awakened ones, have divided life into three planes: the known, the unknown and the unknowable. The known and the unknown are not different, not very different. They belong to the same category: they are measurable. That is the world of matter. The unknowable is the world of life, consciousness, love, light, truth, God.
It is beautiful, Prem Prabhat, that you say: What is surrender? I used to think I knew. Now it is a mystery.
This is the beginning of real knowing, when all life becomes a mystery, when you come to a state of not knowing at all – agnosia in the words of Dionysius…. Or remember the words of Socrates: I know only one thing, that I know nothing. Or the words of the Upanishads; the Upanishads say: The person who thinks he knows, knows not; the person who knows he knows not, knows.
To enter into the unknowable is the greatest adventure, the greatest ecstasy, but one feels afraid; one feels that one is losing something. You can lose only that which you have not got. Let me repeat. You can lose only that which you have not got. You can never lose that which you have got; there is no way to lose it, that which you have got. If your knowledge has disappeared, that simply means it was not real knowing.
Now is the beginning – Athato Brahma Jigyasa – now begins the enquiry into God.
Surrender is the quantum leap from mind to no-mind, from ego to egolessness. And in a single step the whole journey is contained. It is not a long journey from you to God, it is a single-step journey. It is not a gradual phenomenon; it is not that slowly, slowly, gradually you come to the divine. It is a quantum leap! One moment you were in darkness and the next moment all is light. All that is needed is to put the ego aside.
Zusya, the great Hassid mystic, was dying. His old uncle came to see him and said, “Zusya, have you made peace with God?”
Zusya opened his eyes, laughed, and said, “How many times have I said to you that I have never been in conflict with him? I have never fought with him, so why should I make peace with him? For what? There is no reason for it! I have always been at peace with him.”
Nobody had ever seen him praying – there was no need for him to pray. Nobody had ever seen him going to the synagogue – there was no need for him to go! No one had seen him reading the scriptures – there was no need for him to. He had done the real thing: he had put his ego aside.
And the moment you put the ego aside, the curtain disappears. God is not hidden, only your eyes are closed. Open your eyes!
Surrender means opening your eyes. Surrender means dropping a false idea that “I am separate from the whole.” It is a false idea, so in fact you are not dropping anything.
You are calculating wrongly: you are doing some arithmetic, two plus two is four, but you are putting five. The moment you realize that two plus two is not five but four, are you dropping something? Are you renouncing something? Are you losing something? Will you feel that it is a loss? – it was five and now it is only four. No, it is not a loss because it was never five; it was always four. When you were thinking it was five, then too it was four. Not even for a single moment was it five. You were in a delusion.
Ego is a hallucination. You are not separate from the whole – trying to be, of course, hence the whole misery. Trying to do something which is not possible, which is impossible, is bound to create misery. Misery is unnatural; it is your invention. Misery does not exist; it is your hallucination. It is a nightmare created by you. It is your great work!
Bliss is natural. Bliss is the very nature of the way things are. Aes Dhammo Sanantano, says Buddha: bliss is the way things are. But you are trying to be something which is not possible: you are trying to be separate, you are trying to be an island, and you belong to the continent, the vast, infinite continent of God or godliness.
Surrender means seeing that “I am not separate” – just SEEING that ”I am not separate.” Nothing is surrendered, nothing is dropped; just a nonsense idea, a dream is no more there because you are awake.
Two young couples had decided to spend their honeymoon at the same hotel. The first morning the two young men came into the hall at the same time and met at the elevator.
One turned to the other and said, “Say, where’s your wife?”
“Oh, she’s in her room, smoking. Where’s yours?”
“Oh, she’s hot too, but she’s not smoking!”
Just a misunderstanding.
An Irishman, on the night that his wife was confined in childbirth, went out a bit prematurely to celebrate the addition to his family, with a few chosen cronies. He did not return home to his family until three o’clock in the morning.
He was barely in the house when the nurse rushed up and uncovered a bundle of blankets, showing the bewildered Irishman triplets. At this very moment the clock struck once, twice, three times.
“One, two, three… sure, an’ I could count ’em myself, small thanks to ye,” Pat addressed the clock solemnly. “An’ one thing more – I’ll be thanking the good God I didn’t come home at twelve!”
Ego is a state of blindness, of drunkenness, of dreaming. Just waking up is surrender. Either wake up and surrender happens, or surrender and you are awake. They are two sides of the same coin.
But the moment you are awake, the whole becomes a mystery. Suddenly all knowledge evaporates like dewdrops in the early morning sun. For the first time your eyes are full of wonder like a child. It IS a second birth! In India we have called the man who comes to know the mystery of existence, dwij – twice-born.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Unless you are born again you will not enter into my kingdom of God.” He also says, “Unless you are like a child you will not enter into my kingdom of God.” What does he mean? He simply means that a rebirth is needed. The way you have lived is the way of the ego. You have to drop that whole life-style. You have lived believing that you are separate from the whole.
It is like a leaf on the tree believing that it is separate from the tree, although believing makes no difference in reality – it is still part of the tree. But its belief will create much misery for it because the moment the leaf starts believing “I am separate,” it starts dreaming of separate aspirations of its own. It starts thinking in terms of achieving something. It becomes ambitious; it has to reach some goals. It starts deciding its own goals – which are not possible, because when the wind comes and the whole tree sways and dances, this small leaf wants NOT to dance. Now there is frustration. It HAS to dance with the whole tree.
Hence the proverb: Man proposes and God disposes. God really never disposes. The problem is you, the problem is in you; the problem is in your very proposal. The leaf is proposing that I want to be still, and the whole tree is dancing. Now, it is not possible. The leaf of course will think the leaf proposes and the tree disposes. And then what can the tree do? The tree is part of the earth, of the sky, of the sun. The tree cannot exist without the sun, without the wind, without the rain – it is part of it. What can the tree do? The wind is blowing; it is swaying with the wind. The tree is part of a bigger phenomenon. Everything is part of something bigger. Ultimately we are part of one organic unity; we are rooted in existence.
But our whole effort, our whole education, our whole so-called religion, culture, they all give us the idea that “You are separate.” Even the so-called religion which goes on talking about dropping your ego on the one hand, on the other hand goes on nourishing and feeding your ego. ”Be virtuous and you will be respected,” they say. You will be respected, remember. ”Be virtuous, be knowledgeable, and you will be respected – not only here but even after death, in the other world too. You will go to paradise, to heaven. And those who are not virtuous will fall into hell.” As if we are separate!
Buddha has said: “The moment I became enlightened, the whole existence became enlightened with me.” Now, there is something of tremendous significance in it. What does he mean by this statement? Certainly you are not enlightened, but he is saying, “The moment I became enlightened I came to know that I am not separate. And if I am enlightened, the whole existence is enlightened, because there is no separation anywhere, there is no demarcation. Either the whole is enlightened or I am not enlightened; there is no other possibility.”
And Buddha is right; the same is my experience. I see you all as enlightened – not only you but the trees and the mountains too. The whole existence is enlightened! But man has one privilege: he is free to choose, he is free to believe. He is free to forget who he is, he is also free to remember it.
Think over the word “remembering.” It really means becoming part again of the whole, becoming a member again of the family that existence is: “re-member.” It means that we suddenly learn the language that we had forgotten. It is like a name forgotten: you see somebody on the road, you recognize him, you feel that you know who he is, but you cannot remember his name. You have forgotten, although you can remember this much: that you have known him before. You say, “His name is just on the tip of my tongue.” But if it is on the tip of your tongue, then why is it not coming? You feel absolutely certain; the name is just on the tip of your tongue. And then you try hard: the harder you try, the more difficult it becomes, because whenever you try to do something very hard you become tense, you become closed. Your consciousness becomes narrower and narrower. And it becomes more and more difficult in such tension, in such anxiety, to remember.
Then you drop the whole project, thinking that it is not possible. You forget all about it. You start listening to music or you go into the garden and you sit under a tree, or you start doing something else, sipping tea or talking to somebody… and then suddenly from nowhere the name surfaces.
This is the whole secret of enlightenment: it happens in relaxation, it happens in a deep state of rest. Surrender means relaxing. Ego means tension, carrying a load of anxiety, and unnecessarily.
I have heard that one woman, an old woman, was traveling on a bus, and she was trembling and continuously asking what stop it was.
The stranger sitting by her side said, “Relax, don’t be worried. The conductor will go on announcing what stop it is, and if you are too worried I will call the conductor. You can tell him where you want to get off so he can keep a note of it. And you relax!”
He called the conductor and the woman said, “Please remember. I don’t want to miss my stop. I have to reach somewhere very urgently.”
The conductor said, “Okay, I will make a note of it, although even without your asking I will be announcing it. But I will make a note of it and I will come to you particularly and tell you whenever your stop comes. But you relax. Don’t be so worried about it!”
She was perspiring and trembling and looked so tense. So she said, “Okay, you note it down – the bus terminus.”
Now if it is the bus terminus, why should you worry? How can you miss it? There is no way of missing it!
The moment you rest, the moment you relax, you know that existence is already going, moving, reaching towards higher peaks. And you are part of it. You need not have separate ambitions. You need not think of yourself in terms of a person. You are not a person.
This is surrender: relaxing, resting, dropping all private goals, dropping the whole achieving mind, all the ego projections. And then life is a mystery. Your eyes will be full of wonder; your heart will be full of awe. And to me that is authentic religiousness: wonder and awe. The man who is full of wonder and awe is the only religious person – not the Christians, not the Hindus, not the Mohammedans. They are too full of knowledge; they are too full of rubbish, junk. They are simply repeating scriptures like parrots.
Hindus go on reciting the Gita. Of course, if you go on reciting the Gita you will become acquainted with words, but not with meanings. You can go on repeating them for millions of lives, but the moment of understanding will never come. In fact, the more you repeat, the more mechanical you become. The more you repeat, the more you lose the quality that can bring you closer to awakening. Repetition helps you to fall asleep.
That’s the whole secret of lullabies. Every woman knows it, every mother knows it. She simply sits by the side of the child, tucks him underneath the blanket, and starts a monotonous lullaby – just one line again and again and again. Of course the child falls asleep – he HAS to fall asleep. It is so boring! He wants to escape somewhere and there seems to be no way out, so he escapes into his sleep. The lullaby is the ancient most form of hypnosis.
And there are methods for grown-ups too, for example Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation. It is just a lullaby – a little sophisticated. It is meant for grown-ups, for adults. It is a process of auto-hypnosis. The mother is no more there and your wife certainly is not going to sing a lullaby to you. She can freak out, but she cannot sing a lullaby! She can throw pillows at you, but she cannot sing a lullaby! She will say, “I am not your mother!” And you cannot ask her either, “Please sing a lullaby,” because that will hurt your male chauvinist ego.
So you start repeating a mantra. It has to be in some dead language which you don’t understand – Sanskrit, Arabic, Latin, Greek, Chinese, anything that you don’t understand. If you understand you will not get into it. If you understand, doubts will arise. If I say, “Just repeat ’Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola’,” you will repeat it two or three times, and then you will say, “What nonsense I am doing!” But a Sanskrit mantra is just like “Coca-Cola,” nothing special in it. But you don’t understand so you believe that there must be some secret in it, some great mystery in it, and you go on repeating it. You are singing a lullaby to yourself; soon you will fall into sleep.
Transcendental Meditation and methods such as it have become more important in the West for the simple reason that the West is losing the art of how to fall asleep. People are suffering from sleeplessness more and more; they have to depend on tranquilizers. Transcendental Meditation is a non-medicinal tranquilizer. And nothing is wrong if you know that you are using it as a tranquilizer, but if you think that you are doing something religious then you are stupid. If you think this is going to lead you to meditation you are a fool, an utter fool, just a simpleton.
It is not going to take you into meditation because meditation means awareness. It is taking you towards just the opposite of awareness: it is taking you towards sleep. I am not against sleep – a good sleep is a healthy thing. And I prescribe TM for all those who suffer from sleeplessness, from insomnia. It is perfectly good, but remember that a good sleep has nothing spiritual about it. It is good for the body, it is good for the mind too, but it has nothing to do with the spiritual dimension. The spiritual dimension opens up only when you are awake, fully awake. And the only way to be awake is to drop all sleep and all dreaming.
The ego is the center of all your sleep and all your dreaming. If you can put the ego aside… seeing that it is a false thing, why go on carrying it? – put it aside. In fact, there is no need to put it aside – seeing that it is false; it drops of its own accord. And the moment it drops a tremendous explosion happens in you. For the first time you are awake, fully awake, totally awake. There is no unconscious in you, there is no darkness in you. All becomes light; hence the word “enlightenment.” You are pure light, made of light, eternal light. And when you open your eyes and look at existence, the whole existence is made of light!
This is the only point on which physicists and mystics agree, the only point where science and religion meet. Physicists say matter is made of light – electrons in their jargon; mystics say, in a more simple way, that everything is made of light. This is the only meeting-point, but from this meeting-point much more is possible. It can become the triggering-point for a deep communion between science and religion in the future. It is pregnant with immense possibilities.
But neither the mystics have recognized the point yet nor the physicists. One can forgive the physicists because they exist on a lower level, they exist in the valley. But one cannot forget and forgive the mystics: they are on the top of the hill, they are on the peaks – from there they can have a more inclusive view of things, from there they can see far more; the valley is included in their vision. The physicist may not be able to see the peak. He may be too occupied with material, objective investigations. He may be looking at the earth too much; he may not look at the peak at all. He may even be afraid of the peak.
There is an Arabian saying that camels don’t like to go near the mountains, that’s why they exist in the deserts. Obviously, no camel would like to go to a mountain, because seeing a mountain for the first time he feels utterly humiliated. In the desert HE IS the mountain! Standing by the side of a mountain he is just like an ant, utterly reduced, disgraced. His ego feels hurt.
Man does not want to look at the peaks. That’s why persons like Friedrich Nietzsche say God is dead – not that God is dead, but Nietzsche is an egoist. The very idea that God exists is not acceptable to him, because if God exists then the camel is standing by the side of the Himalayas. Then who is Nietzsche? Then nobody is anybody in particular. Then you have to drop the ego; then you cannot go on carrying it. It becomes utterly futile, foolish. It is better to kill God. Nietzsche is speaking for your egos; he represents your egos.
I have heard that somewhere on the earth there are two graves with two tombstones. On one is written: “God is dead,” signed “Friedrich Nietzsche”; and on the other is written: “Nietzsche is dead,” signed, “God.”
But it is too late: Nietzsche went mad. That is the logical consequence of going to the very end of the ego. He is very representative: he represents the contemporary mind, the twentieth-century mind. He is far more representative of this age than anybody else. One hundred years ahead of you he had said God is dead – and now everybody feels it. You may not say so because you may not have the courage to go to the logical end of your argument, but that’s what is really happening in smaller degrees to everybody; the difference is only of degrees. Nietzsche is a stubborn person: he follows the track to the very end, where the road ends; he goes to the very point where the abyss has to be encountered… and he goes mad.
More and more people are going mad, more and more people are becoming insane, more and more people need psychotherapy. More and more people are just on the brink, for the simple reason that that is ego’s ultimate result: you go insane, you go mad. Surrender’s ultimate result is: you go sane. In fact, for the first time you know what sanity is, what wholeness is, what health is. Your wounds are healed. It is a mystery.
It is a good beginning, Prem Prabhat. Don’t shrink back. Go on moving into the mysterious. It is the mysterious which will melt you, merge you like a river moving into the ocean. It is the mysterious which will transform you and will make your darkness luminous. It is the mysterious which will open your one-thousand-petalled lotus of consciousness. Allow it to happen.
People are very much afraid of the mysterious, because the mysterious means the unknowable – not only the unknown but the unknowable. People are even afraid of the unknown, what to say about the unknowable? The religious person needs guts; it is only for the courageous few. Religion is not for the cowards.
Religion is not a mass phenomenon; it is not for the crowds. The crowds can only be Christians, Hindus, Mohammedans; the crowds can never be religious. Only very courageous people like Jesus, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu, Buddha – only very courageous people can be religious. It is not for the cowards.
Cowards create a pseudo religion for themselves, a toy religion; they go on playing with it. They go every Sunday to the church and they think it is enough – a Sunday religion! The church is not more than a club. A few people go to the Rotary Club, a few people go to the Lions Club, a few people go to the church. It is not very different – it is a social affair. It is something formal. It is good: it functions like a lubricant; it makes you more adjusted to the crowd. The crowd feels good that you belong to it, you feel good that you belong to the crowd. The church is just a meeting-place where you talk sweet nothings – beautiful things, but they are meant only for the church. They don’t change your life; they don’t transform you. In fact, they prevent transformation.
Encountering the mysterious is the beginning of religion, the beginning of God.
You are blessed, Prem Prabhat. Go on. Buddha says: Charaiveti, charaiveti – go on, go on. Never stop, because life is a constant movement, a continuum, a process. It is not a noun, it is a verb.
From Guida Spirituale, Discourse #14
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