Surrender connotes surrender to God, which few except the most saintly seem to manage. It’s much easier to do the surrendering on your own and let God show up if he wants to. Open yourself up to a Rembrandt or a Monet painting. Pay full attention to it. Open yourself up to what is in front of you rather than allowing yourself to be distracted. Don’t judge in advance that you have to like the painting because you’ve been told it’s great. Don’t force yourself to respond because it makes you look smart or sensitive.
Let the painting be the center of your focus, which is the essence of humility. Be receptive to any reaction you may have. If all these steps of surrender are present, then a great Rembrandt or Monet will evoke love because the artist is simply there in all his naked humanity.
In the presence of such humanity, surrender isn’t difficult. People themselves are more difficult. Yet surrendering to someone else follows the same steps we just listed. Perhaps the next time you sit down to dinner with your family you might decide to concentrate on just one step of surrender, such as paying full attention or being non-judgmental.
Pick the step that seems easiest to approach or, better yet, the one that you know you’ve been leaving out. Most of us have left out humility when we relate to our families. What does it mean to be humble with a child, for example? It means regarding the child’s opinion as equal to your own.
At the level of awareness, it is equal; your advantage of years as the parent at the table doesn’t discount that fact. We all had to be children, and what we thought back then had all the weight and importance of life at any age, perhaps more so.
The secret of surrender is that you do it inside, without trying to please anyone else.
Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).