WHAT IS SURRENDERING TO THE WILL OF GOD?
Setting aside all Dharmas, just surrender to My Will. I shall liberate you from all sins or bonds of Karma. Do not grieve. (Gita 18.66)
(See also Gita verses: 2.07, 3.18, 7.01, 7.14, 7.15, 7.18, 7.19, 7.29, 9.32, 15.04, 18.17, 18.56 and 18.62)
We interpret the meaning of setting aside all ‘Dharmas’ as neither giving up various spiritual paths or practices such as service, charity, austerity, meditation, yoga, rituals, worship, efforts etc. nor giving up one’s prescribed duties in life, but embracing a spirit of renunciation in all actions. Some commentators feel it means giving up all acts of righteousness. Setting aside all ‘Dharmas’ also means perform all duties (Dharmas) setting aside doership, attachment and ego or the false notion that an individual soul (Jiva) is separate, independent and different from Brahma. Ego stands on our way to God. It is not possible to progress on our spiritual journey without first renouncing ego, the origin of doership, ownership, and attachment to all works.
Ego is very difficult to get rid off. One cannot fight ego and win, just as one cannot fight against darkness, because ego runs the show of life. Jnāna or ParāBhakti is the only way to break the wall of ego that stands between Jiva and Ishvara. After this mental wall of separation is gone, “Jiva is Brahman”. It is just like when the wall of pot is broken, there is no pot space—pot space becomes free! Saint Jnaneshwar defines surrender to God as firm intellectual conviction that there is nothing but Brahman (Gita 7.07 and 7.19) and Jiva and Brahman are non-different. It is total surrender of the ego, individual existence, and individual will (Gita 6.04). Total surrender or Bhakti is ancillary for clearing Karmas. Our effort should be acquisition of Jnāna which also burns all Karmas (Gita 4.37). It is well known that Jnāna dawns in a man through the grace of God after sincere self-effort. And the Grace can come only after one has done selfless service or any other Sādhanā such as contemplation on Brahman or devotional service in countless births with the feeling that he is an instrument of the Lord and the work is an offering to the Lord. The following discussion is a detailed elaboration of the principles of surrender that will expedite the process of surrender. Gladly bearing all that fate imposes is taking refuge in the universal laws of Karma.
When everything is surrendered to Him and one truly understands that He is the goal, the path, the traveler, as well as the obstacles on the path, vice and virtue become powerless and harmless as a cobra with fangs removed. The grace of God is always available—effort is needed to collect it. To win the grace is not easy. One has to earn it by sincere spiritual discipline. Surrendering is the complete renunciation of individual existence or the ego. It is the feeling: O my beloved Lord, nothing is mine, everything—including my body, mind, effort and ego—is Yours. I tried to get out of the ocean of the material world using all the methods given in the scriptures, and failed. In surrender one lets the divine plan rule one’s life after putting one’s best effort.
Surrendering is giving up confidence in our own effort and depending on God. Get rid of confidence in your self-effort and replace it with confidence in divine help. It is giving up sole reliance to one’s effort alone to reach Him. God can be discovered by seeking His help in discovering Him and not by spiritual practices alone. Surrendering to Lord alone means turning only to Him for help. Give up individual will and accept the Will of God because the world is controlled by the laws or Will of God. One has to learn to abide by His Will. Be thankful in prosperity and resigned to His Will in adversity.
When we turn to Him, our responsibility ceases. Lord takes full responsibility for a person who totally depends on Him. The scripture says: The wise should not be attached even to righteous deeds for their entire life, but should engage their mind and intellect in contemplation of the Supreme Being (Mahabharata 12.290.21). One should develop a spirit of genuine self-surrender to the Lord by offering everything to Him, including the fruits of spiritual discipline. We should connect all our work with the divine. In order to be free from pious or impious results that bind one to this material world, it is necessary to offer every action to God. When a devotee sincerely works for God, God protects that devotee from the touch of Maya, the external energy of the Lord.
A true devotee perceives: O Lord, I remembered You because You remembered me first. One breaks away every yoke of bondage and becomes free in this very life as soon as one gains the knowledge and a firm conviction that everything is done by the Will of God, that it is His world, His sport, and His battle, not ours, and regards oneself as a mere actor in the divine play and the Lord as the great director in the cosmic drama of the soul on the stage of creation. Surrendering of individual will to divine Will is the culmination of all spiritual practices, resulting in joyful participation in the drama of joys and sorrows of life. This is called liberation, or Mahāyāna in Buddhism.
When one firmly understands that there is nothing else except the Supreme Being and His sport, all Karma gets exhausted; one surrenders to His Will, and attains salvation. One cannot surrender to God as long as one does not completely get rid of the notion of doership or ego. The miracle of surrender is triggered when one realizes: One is not the doer, and Lord arranges for the science of Self-realization to be revealed to such a surrendered soul and the gate of Nirvana opens up.
Surrendering to God does not involve leaving the world, but realizing that everything happens in accordance with His laws and by His direction and power. To fully recognize that everything is controlled and governed by a divine plan and order is to surrender to Him. Learn to accept all results as His Will.Soul is unable to get out of the trap of Maya without help from the Source. As birds seek the shelter of a tree when tired, similarly human beings should seek the divine shelter after long spiritual journey to attain union with Him.
The process of surrender may be called the fifth or the ultimate path of yoga—the other four being the path of selfless service, metaphysical knowledge, devotion, and meditation. The Good Lord directs the mind and senses of the living entities according to their Karma-born desires. But in case of surrendered devotees, however, He controls the senses directly according to His desires and in the best interest of the devotee. Let Him be the driver of your spiritual journey and you just enjoy the ride. Muniji beautifully explains this process. He says: “Every pain, every ache, every discomfort becomes His gift when you lay it in His lap”. If you learn how to put the reins of your life-chariot in His hands—without interfering—you will be ever happy, ever peaceful. The lesson of ultimate surrender is very difficult to practice.
Shri Yukteshwar said: Human life is beset with sorrow until we know how to surrender or tune in with the divine Will that baffles our intellect. The Lord chooses much better things for you if you let Him be your guide by completely surrendering unto His Will. If one depends on the supreme Lord under all circumstances, then the good and bad results (Karma, sins) of work automatically go to Him. After total surrender to the Will of Lord one becomes free from the bondage of Karma and Moksha is attained.
Marks of a surrendered soul are given in Gita verses: 2.55-59, 5.08-5.11, 5.18-26, 6.27-32, 12.13-20, 14.21-25, and 16.01-05.