Understanding Surrender

Sundar Kadayam - USA Articles, English 6 Comments

surrender with flowers on head

In today’s world, where activity and achievement are celebrated, where multitasking and aggressive doing are crowned as great success skills, the notion of surrender can seem quaint or old fashioned at best, or downright irresponsible at worst.

Surrender, after all, according to Google’s dictionary definitions, means something like this: capitulate, give in, give up, give way, yield, concede (defeat), back down, relent, crumble, relinquish, forgo, lose.

Now why would anyone want to surrender, right?

Surrender or surrendering, when it sounds as bad as it does, centering around the idea of “giving up”, seems like it can only cultivate or promote apathy (not caring about anything) and lethargy (not doing anything).

Why in the world would anyone want to talk about surrender?

Yet, in spiritual practices, including Reiki, we often come across the concept of surrender, where it is talked about in elevated terms, in lofty tones, as if it were a pinnacle achievement of sorts.  Frans and Bronwen Stiene have written about this in many articles including this one: Reiki and surrendering.  In this article they write: 

Surrendering is about not clinging to our experiences, movements, sounds, or hand positions. If we cling we become like plastic cling wrap, completely tangled!“,


To really move with spiritual energy we need to let go of any preconceived ideas and previous experiences. In other words letting go of the past, present, and future, as it is only at this stage of our development that we can move in complete surrender.”  

In their words, there is a sense of flow that seems to be associated with the idea of “surrender”, a sense of freedom from the past or future, a state that precipitates the ability to Be.

That sounds exceedingly powerful, surrendering to spiritual energy, the Reiki, our True Nature, and being free.

But the state of BEing arising from surrender, seems to promote another related paradoxical concept, i.e. non-doing, or “doing nothing”.  That is apathy, or so it seems.  Does this mean that I can simply stay in bed as long as I want, stop doing work, don’t bother with getting things done?  Tempting conclusion 🙂  

However, that is NOT what the masters say about non-doing and BEing!  Lao Tsu says this, in the The Tao Te Ching:

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

As a lay person, as an ordinary man, even if I put in lots of effort, there are always more things left to be done.  This is our practical experience of life and living, is it not?

But when a master does nothing, nothing is left undone!  i.e. When a master surrenders, and is in a state of BEing, or non-doing, everything mysteriously gets accomplished.  As spiritual practitioners, we all might have had some experience of this mysterious, mystical flow.

So what is that which separates apathy from surrender (in the spiritual sense of that term)?

Apathy and lethargy are the “I” resting in the “I”.
Surrender is the “I” dissolving in its Source.

DOing emerges in the “I” and is inherently limited in its scope and outcomes. That is why there’s never an end to the things that need to be done.

BEing emerges in the Source, which is inherently infinite.  And in this flow there is no sense of DOing, for there is no DOer!

Shall we remain in the limited and limiting framework of the “I” and embrace continuous DOing and sadly see that there is no end to the DOing at all?  

Or shall we practice surrender, dissolve the “I” in its Source, our True Nature, and let the infinite flow DO whatever is needed, using us as instruments as it needs to?

That choice is ours. 

Usui san’s precepts are a clarion call to surrender, to recognize our True Nature, and dissolve the “I” in it.  That is how we can embrace “The Secret of Inviting Happiness”, and the “Spiritual Medicine for All Illness”, through our presence, our BEing!



Comments 6

  1. Avatar of Seem

    Thank you Sundar …
    I now see self/I as a complex system consisting of feeling, processes, forms etc…working together or by themselves to give a grand illusion of “Self” .

    Seems I cling to this “self” because without that I will have to face the fact that I am nothing but a clever, trickster or a tiny organism who is trying to survive and THAT would be a blow to self/ ego….:-)

  2. Avatar of Carrie

    Hi Sundar,
    To me, surrender is down the road, something that I’ll deal with later and lethargy and apathy are great friends of mine. Today I will make friends with surrender and embrace internal peace over the instant gratification. Take responsibility for my own happiness by being in the moment and not clinging to the past. Be open to change and not afraid of it.
    Thanks Sundar xx

  3. Avatar of Sundar

    Seema: Our true nature, Reiki, is infinite and eternal.  We already are that.  That we associate with a limited personality and believe it is who we are, is ignorance arising only out of years of habit of believing that we are this limited “I”.  When we think of ourselves as this limited “I”, are we being truly compassionate to ourselves?  When we think of ourselves as being a separate “I”, are we truly being humble?  When we choose to deeply believe that we are a distinct mind-body in its own island of suffering, are we being truly honest?  When we get concerned that this process of awakening will expose us to be a “tiny organism”, are we truly being free of worry and fear? In the process of working through this transformation, we judge ourselves sharply in not being able to transform to our true nature fast enough, but here too are we truly being free of anger towards ourselves?  Usui san’s precepts do show the way to recognizing and abiding in our true nature.  We all slip on this or that in the journey, but the precepts are like beacons, unfailingly showing the way to our true nature regardless of what we slipped on.  All we can do when we slip is recognize it, see where the precepts are pointing and get up and move on that path.  Not easy, but it is just that simple, because we are already that we seek.

  4. Avatar of Sundar

    Carrie, taking personal responsibility, i.e. making a choice about how you will deal with today, is what Usui san points to in the precepts, “Just for today”.  That is great, and that is all we really need to do, is “Just for today”, follow the light of the precepts, and invite happiness and miracles through surrender.

  5. Avatar of seema

    Hi Sundar,
    Thank you . Yes , we have to get up and keep walking.

    Some peaks are not very tall and some waves are like ripples , small things and even the “tiny organisms” do matter :). But some times we dont feel that way and have difficulty accepting ourselves.

    Exposing self or “being bare” is a brave thing to do because after that is done , we do not have anything else to hide or fear.

    Yes, not easy at all . What we slip on is our own creation of mess , does not matter why, how and when etc…ultimatly its our own mess.

    You have a wonderful journey and best wishes to you..

  6. Avatar of Susan

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