The real meaning of surrender

Once you embrace life, you will find that it is much easier to stay afloat and harder to sink

The essential surrender happens within you, it has nothing to do with anybody outside you. The basic surrender is a relaxation, a trust—so don’t be misguided by the word. Linguistically, surrender means to surrender to somebody, but religiously, surrender simply means trust, relaxing. It is an attitude rather than an act: you live through trust. Let me explain.

Stop fighting, start floating

You swim in water—you go to the river and swim. What do you do? You trust the water. A good swimmer trusts so much that he almost becomes one with the river. He is not fighting, he does not grab the water, he is not stiff and tense. If you are stiff and tense you will drown; if you are relaxed the river takes care. That’s why whenever somebody dies, the dead body floats on the water. This is a miracle. Amazing! The alive person died and was drowned by the river, and the dead person simply floats on the surface. What has happened? The dead person knows some secret about the river which the alive person did not know. The alive person was fighting. The river was the enemy. He was afraid, he could not trust. But the dead person, not being there, how could he fight? The dead person is totally relaxed with no tension—so the body floats. The river takes care. No river can drown a dead person.

Trust means you are not fighting; surrender means you don’t think of life as the enemy but as the friend. Once you trust the river, suddenly you start enjoying. Tremendous delight arises: splashing, swimming, or just floating, or diving deep. But you are not separate from the river, you merge, you become one.

Surrender means to live the same way in life as a good swimmer swims in the river. Life is a river. Either you can fight or you can float; either you can push the river and try to go against the current or you can float with the river and go wherever the river leads you.

Surrender means you don’t think of life as the enemy but as the friend

Even God is not needed

Surrender is not towards somebody; it is simply a way of life. A God is not needed to surrender to. There are religions which believe in God and there are religions which don’t, but all religions believe in surrender. So surrender is the real God. Even the concept of God can be discarded. Buddhism does not believe in any God, Jainism does not believe in any God—but they are religions. Christianity believes in God, Islam believes in God, Sikhism believes in God—they are also religions. The Christian teaches surrender to God; God is just an excuse to surrender. It helps, because it will be difficult for you to surrender without any object. The object is just an excuse so that in the name of God you can surrender. Buddhism says simply surrender—there is no God. You relax. It is not a question of some object, it is a question of your own subjectivity. Relax, don’t fight. Accept.

The belief in God is not needed. In fact, the word ‘belief’ is ugly. It does not show trust, it does not show faith—belief is almost the very opposite of faith. The word ‘belief’ comes from a root ‘lief’, which means to desire, to wish. Now let me explain it to you. You say, “I believe that God is compassionate.” What exactly are you saying? You are saying, “I wish there was a God who is compassionate.” Whenever you say, “I believe,” you say, “I intensely desire.” But you don’t know.

There are religions which believe in God and there are religions which don’t, but all religions believe in surrender

Know, don’t believe

If you know, there is no question of belief. Do you believe in the trees here? Do you believe in the sun which arises every morning? Do you believe in the stars? There is no question of belief. You know that the sun is there, that the trees are there. Nobody believes in the sun—if he did, you would say he is mad. If somebody came and said, “I believe in the sun,” and tried to convert you, you would say, “You have gone mad!”

Once you know, what is the point of belief? Belief is in ignorance. If you know, you know. And it is good that if you don’t know, know that you don’t know—the belief can deceive you. The belief can create an atmosphere in your mind, where, without knowing, you start thinking that you know. Belief is not trust, and the more strongly you say that you believe totally, the more you are afraid of the doubt within you.

Trust knows no doubt. Belief is just repressing doubt; it is a desire. When you say, “I believe in God,” you say, “I cannot live without God. It will be too difficult to exist in this darkness, surrounded by death, without a concept of God.” That concept helps. One doesn’t feel alone; one doesn’t feel unprotected, insecure—hence belief.

The belief can create an atmosphere in your mind, where, without knowing, you start thinking that you know

Trust is simple. It is just like a child trusts in his mother. It is not that he believes—belief has not yet entered. You were a small child once. Did you believe in your mother or did you trust her? The doubt has not arisen, so what is the question of belief? Belief comes only when the doubt has entered; doubt comes first. Later on, to suppress the doubt, you catch hold of a belief. Trust is when doubt disappears; trust is when doubt is not there.

For instance, you breathe. You take a breath in; then you exhale, you breathe out. Are you afraid of breathing out, because who knows, it may not come back? You trust. You trust it will come. Of course there is no reason to trust, what is the reason? Why should it come back? You can at the most say that in the past it has been happening so—but that is not a guarantee. It may not happen in the future. If you become afraid of breathing out because it may not come back, then you will hold your breath in. That’s what belief is—clinging, holding. But if you hold your breath in, your face will go purple and you will feel suffocated. And if you go on doing that, you will die.

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Trust and relax

All beliefs suffocate. They deaden your being. If you exhale, you trust in life. The Buddhist word ‘nirvana’ simply means exhaling, breathing out—trusting. Trust is a very, very innocent phenomenon. Belief is of the head; trust is of the heart. One simply trusts life because you are out of life, you live in life, and you will go back again to the source. There is no fear. You are born, you live, you will die; there is no fear. You will be born again, you will live again, you will die again. The same life that has given you life can always give you more life, so why be afraid? Why cling to beliefs? Beliefs are philosophical; trust has nothing to do with philosophy. Trust simply shows that you know what love is. It is not a concept of God who is sitting somewhere in heaven and manipulating and managing. Trust needs no God, the infinite life, this totality, is more than enough. Once you trust, you relax. That relaxation is surrender.

Courtesy: Osho International Foundation • osho.com


A version of this article was first published in the April 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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