The word “surrender” is often associated with defeat, loss, relinquishing your power and other hard to accept concepts. In many contemporary spiritual programs, the process of surrender is a key element to living a more spiritually fulfilling life. I became curious about this word and wondered if there was a hermeneutic that could shed a different light into this very complicated, yet critical process for change and living life fully!
Surrender: An invitation, not a defeat
The current use of this word stems from the 1580s in France (surrendre) when prisoners would “give oneself over” to the authorities. In the Greek, the word surrender, παράδοση, means “to allow.” This ancient meaning of the word is reflected in agrarian writings of the time that say, “when the fruit allows (surrenders) that is when the ripens occurs.” Indicating that the fruit has a role in its own process of change. Finally, even an older meaning of the word from the Hindi spiritual tradition 4th century BC, defines surrender more as an invitation to heighten one’s relationship with Krishna. It comes from a tradition of allowing oneself to answer a call, or an invitation to live, learn and love in a different manner.
I work mostly with professionals (e.g. physicians, pilots, dentists, executives, etc.) who struggle with mood and addiction issues in their lives. As part of the recovery process, there is a significant, early in the process expectation to “surrender your will to a Higher Power.” Most of my patients shutter at the mention of a surrender. The idea of surrender for most of these individuals is an anathema, a strong dislike that sometimes causes them to stumble in their attempts to remain sober and in recovery from their addictions.
I wonder if we could adopt the ancient meaning of surrender, and begin to experience the full allowance of Presence in our lives – creating awareness and recovery consciousness. My position is the more a person “allows,” then that practice can lead to much serenity and true spiritual and emotional recovery.
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