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What is the difficulty? Just surrender already!

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Hare Krishna devotees have a kirtan party


What is the difficulty? Just surrender already!

By Red Willow mataji

Since we were small children, we have been forced to surrender in so many ways, by our parents, our siblings, and by nature's laws. Our whole lives have been spent in practicing this intrinsic process, whether we are consciously aware of it, or not. We have come into this world with a strong desire to control, to be the Lord of all we survey. We want to control outcomes, other people, our direct environment, the natural cycles of time and weather, the economic and climatic situation, hunger, pain, the aging process... and ultimately we want to control death (or better yet, do away with it all together). We all want to have some semblance of control over these aspects of our lives, isn't it true? So much time and money are wasted in this pursuit–the entire world economy is banking on this human tendency continuing, unimpeded! The majority of us are thinking only of ourselves and our own comfort–that is how we were conditioned to perceive this human experience, by our relatives and by the larger society, after all. What will it take for us to unlearn this toxic behavior? Why are we like this anyways?


"Everyone is trying to lord it over the material nature. That is lust. Now, the ant is trying to lord it over the material nature in his own way, and the big politician, he is trying to lord it over the material nature in a different way. Everyone is trying. So that lording it over the material nature is the sign of lust. So you can take it for granted that anyone who is within this material world, he has got that contamination of lust, maybe manifested in different degrees." (Lecture by Srila Prabhupada, BG 3.31-43, Jan 1, 1969, Los Angeles).


His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

So, what is the difficulty? Srila Prabhupada says it is lust only. We are in this material world because we are lusty, we hanker after that which is not ours to enjoy; Krishna's property, Krishna's energy, Krishna's superior position. In short, we want to become Krishna, but because we can never become Krishna, because we are eternally servant of Krishna, we are given the facility by Krishna to play out these desires here in the material world. It is almost laughingly childish.

Surrender seems so risky to us, it means that we must give up our need to control... everything! Give up the possibility that we may...this time...actually....be able to enjoy fully and without consequence. Our family life, our individual lives, our travels, our retreats, our relationships, our many adventures. Human life is all about enjoying as much as possible, (at the expense of others) right?

Truthfully, we are in control of nothing, we are absolutely helpless and, deep down, everyone knows this, but most never start to investigate the nature of this helplessness. Although it may sound drab, this is actually the shining beginning of our spiritual life. So, we must come to this point where we ask, 'why? Why am I suffering in this material world, why am I in so much pain, why do I have to die, why is it so difficult just to be alive?' And then, 'who am I?' And, 'what am I supposed to do to address this helpless condition I find myself in?'

"The devotee who becomes helpless by the will of the Lord is more fortunate than those who are born in good families. The fallen devotees born in a good family may forget the lotus feet of the Lord because they are less fortunate, but the devotee who is put into a forlorn condition is more fortunate because he swiftly returns to the lotus feet of the Lord, thinking himself helpless all around." (SB, Purport, 1.5.19). Our helplessness is our great fortune! We are simply incapable of controlling everything, just like a child is taken charge of by his parents, because they know that, 'this child is completely helpless.' So, also, Krishna is full of compassion and He sends his very dear friend, the bonafide Spiritual Master, to take us by the hand and guide us back to safety. He is the only one we can fully trust. He is like our Mother or Father...as a small and helpless child, what other choice do we have? There is no alternative, we must accept His shelter if we want to solve the problems that we are all plagued by.

If everyone in this material world is contaminated by varying degrees of lust, how can we ever really trust any other conditioned living entity? They are bound to disappoint us, hurt us, mislead us, or exploit us, in one way or another. And if we cannot trust, then there is no question of surrender. To give up everything, including our very selves, requires a foundation of trust. This is precisely why Krishna sends his representative in the form of the Spiritual Master. Because without this manifestation of divine mercy, we have no real chance of approaching the platform of surrender. The bonafide Spiritual Master is not a conditioned living entity, he is eternally liberated, eternally absorbed in Krishna Consciousness. The Spiritual Master is never forgetful of Krishna or his relationship with Krishna, nor is He touched by lust, not even in the slightest. For an authentic process of surrender to initiate, we need to become related with the bonafide Spiritual Master, such as Srila Prabhupada, by the means of hearing. We must hear from Him with a submissive attitude, an open heart and mind, a willingness to apply His instructions.

But, over time, many lifetimes, we have built up these automatic defenses that react quite cunningly to the threat of total annihilation of our false ego. Surrender means: the annihilation of our false bodily-identity. It does not mean to lose anything of value, it means to do away with what is not and to welcome what actually is. We have identified with so many illusory manifestations of the material energy since time immemorial, becoming entangled in this temporal dream-land, orchestrated by maya. But this is not who we really are! When our survival-mode kicks in, we scarcely even notice it... it is such a familiar old friend. There is only one way to override this automatic response, and that is by begging. Begging the mercy of the Spiritual Master, sincerely crying out for help. Only then can we begin to restore our lost memory of our true identity, of what actually IS. Śrī Īśopanisad declares,


om pūrnam adah pūrnam idam

pūrnat pūrnam udacyate

pūrnasya pūrnam ādayā

pūrnam evāvaśisyate


"The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance."


The Universal Form of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead

So, everything is provided, there is no lack. The whole process from start to finish is available to us through the agency of the Spiritual Master who is dispatched by Krishna Himself to deliver the fallen souls. Whatever we may have, Krishna preserves, and whatever we think we lack, Krishna is providing that, "But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have." (BG 9.22) There is a complete and perfect answer for solving our most fundamental dilemma, that 'I am trying to enjoy as God, but my attempts are all being frustrated by the hand of Maya.' The Spiritual Master gives us instructions that can realistically be followed by us, for the particular time, place, and circumstance. It's not as if we have been left to fend for ourselves here in this world of temporality. Krishna is always thinking how to get us back Home. He is a person with feelings after all, He is not some heartless, vindictive... jerk.

Krishna wants us to have the opportunity to surrender, and so, although we may reject that opportunity again and again, it will continuously present itself. Krishna is supremely compassionate... we cannot even understand. This is the kind of person that we want to surrender unto, and the Spiritual Master makes it simple and clear.... 'Just follow me and I will take you to Krishna. You have forgotten the way, but I have not forgotten.' He does not manufacture anything new, he simply is repeating what he has heard from his Spiritual Master, all the way up to Krishna Himself.

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (BG 18.66) This is our guarantee from Krishna Himself. We have more to gain than we could ever lose through the process of surrender. And although it may not seem that way to us at first, the more we practice this begging process, the more we align ourselves with Krishna in the center, the more it becomes clear that this is the only way for us.

Surrender is essentially an intrinsic aspect of our lives because this is the natural position of the individual spirit soul, we are designed to serve. Designed to submit to Krishna's will, designed to surrender to this eternal dance. Once you taste a morsel of the bliss derived from the awakening of Krishna Consciousness, nothing artificial will ever satisfy you again. And if we want to go on increasing this taste, there is only one method– just surrender!


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