Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved children of the Divine! The Gurudvaras (temples) of our Sikh brethren, including the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar, do not enshrine a murti, a statue or any symbol. All these Gurudvaras, large and small, enshrine only a great book, and they do not call the book a “book,” but refer to it with a term of great reverence, “Granth Sahib.” “Sahib” is a term of great reverence used for a person of superior status; sometimes they even use it to refer to God. Sahib is the boss, the one in charge, the one who directs affairs, the ultimate authority, the Lord before whom we bow. The Granth Sahib enshrines the teachings and compositions of all the ten Sikh Gurus commencing with Guru Nanak. And this is the only holy thing enshrined in these great Sikh temples. Every morning they go to pay reverence and bow before it as though they were giving honour and bowing before a majestic personality. They, therefore, do not think that they are in the presence of a book, but rather in the presence of a great Being. And they speak to that great Being, offering their reverence, their allegiance, and their surrender.
Similarly, when you are before the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, you are not before a book, you are in the presence of the great World Teacher, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Being. It is the teaching of a Guru to a disciple, because at the very beginning, unable to know what the way is, completely confused, Arjuna, the great redoubtable warrior, who was regarded in those days as the great unconquerable Arjuna, places himself at the Feet of the Lord and says: “Remove my confusion. Please teach me, tell me what is right, show me the way; I shall follow. I surrender myself to You. I am a disciple at Your Feet.” Therefore, right at the commencement of the Gita narration, Arjuna places himself in this attitude. Then alone the wisdom teachings of Lord Krishna are evoked. And whenever we take up the Bhagavad Gita, we too are in the presence of Lord Krishna, and in His presence we should be like Arjuna, saying: “I am at Your Feet, I take shelter, I surrender. Take me as Your disciple, teach me, I shall follow.”
At the same time, the spiritual Being embodies all that He taught and declared about the spiritual life, life in general, values in life, great principles of conduct and character, about the great ideals we have to fulfill, the ideals of Yoga and Vedanta. All this His presence constitutes, His presence signifies. And therefore, when we put ourselves before the Presence and say, “I surrender myself, guide me,” it means we must follow these ideals, these great principles, this supreme way of life that He taught and declared.
Arjuna, however, after having surrendered, after having invoked the blessings, the instructions and the guidance of Lord Krishna, as soon as the Lord starts instructing him, begins to oppose, to contradict, to argue: “What is this You are saying, Krishna? You are saying something wrong, You are misguiding me. It is not proper, it will lead to very bad results.” So, one moment he has surrendered himself; the next moment he starts arguing.
Therefore, if in the presence of great teachings, such a reaction comes from our mind, we should not be too perturbed: “What is happening to me?” It is the normal behaviour of the mind. It always wants the highest truth, but when it is confronted with the truth, it does not want to accept it. It wants to argue, it wants to debate, it wants to contradict. This is the nature of the mind. And therefore, knowing this, you must be very, very wise and vigilant; you should not identify yourself with that mind. You must distinguish between the wrong promptings of your lower mind and the call of the higher factor in you. You should not yield to the promptings of the lower mind; the higher factor must be your guide.
But in the beginning there will always be arguing, doubting, questioning, refusing to accept easily, saying even: “You are wrong; You have described to me the technique of controlling the mind; this is useless, impossible, because no one can do it. You can even control the wind, but you cannot control the mind.” In this way, like a lawyer, Arjuna argues with Krishna. Your mind will also argue, but at every step you must say as Arjuna ultimately did: “I accept whatever You say. I put myself wholly under Your guidance. What You say I will do.”
This should be the established state of our mind and heart within, especially after years and years of discipleship, years and years of sadhakhood and Yoga life, years and years of human life. If we are still not yet established in that state, if we are still doubting, vacillating, questioning, it means that we are the losers, that there is something essentially wrong with us which requires to be set right. We have not fully entered into a state of at-one-ment and harmony with the teachings of the Supreme Being.
We must definitely and finally put our entire faith into the hands of the daivi, the higher side, the teachings, the side of wisdom, not of unwisdom. We must say: “I hand over the reins of my chariot to You. You carry on.” We should have surrender of that type. And afterwards we must say: “No,” to the other side, “no more listening to you”—then it will be ineffective. “I have turned myself over completely and finally into the hands of the Divine. And thus will be my life.” Then, you are always guided, you are free of care and worry.
One thing I would like to add which is always a matter of great discussion, great debate, great argument. There is a view of equating surrender with inactivity: “If you surrender then you become inactive, saying, ‘Let God do it.’” It is not known why this idea came. The one who surrendered himself completely to Lord Krishna said: “I am ready to fight. Tell me anything, I will do it.” And he did do it. This is the opposite of inactivity. So surrender is not incompatible with activity, and activity is not incompatible with surrender. It is our ego-sense that we surrender, the idea “I am doing.” We surrender our self-will and put ourselves into His hands, so that we act as He dictates, we act as He teaches. So action is there, but no more self-will, no more action prompted by the mind, but action according to the will of God, according to the wisdom teachings of God and His saints. That type of activity is certainly there. Surrender does not put an end to or eliminate activity; however, it is no longer ego-directed, or desire-directed activity, it is God-governed, God-directed activity.
So, surrender and activity do not conflict with each other, but are part and parcel of a total act of spiritualising yourself completely, stepping aside and asking God to take over. If God takes over, everything is under control, everything is working perfectly. If we are there, nothing is under control—mind is not under control, senses are not under control, everything is upside down. When you put yourself under the will of God and His wisdom teachings, then you are a self-controlled person. You will not allow the senses to do whatever they wish or the mind to do whatever it wishes. You will only do that which is in accordance with the will of God, the teachings of God and the saints. If it is not in consonance with the will of God and the teachings of the saints, you will not do it.
So there is an exercise of a certain will, a certain control. Thus surrender does not contradict self-control, self-government, discipline. Surrender to God and continuous self effort and self-control are not conflicting; they are in harmony. They go together because what has been surrendered is the false ego-sense, the false idea, “I am the doer.” What has been surrendered is the self-will of the mind-nature, the desire-nature, the activity of the senses. These are all given up once and for all. “I will act according to Your word”—“My” gives place to “Your.”
That is the essence of the dynamism that follows surrender or the dynamism that is based on surrender. Let us all take to this type of active following of God’s will, active fulfilment of His teachings in our own lives. God bless you all! May God grant you the clarity and the depth of proper understanding, and success in your life of dynamic surrender and surrender-oriented, surrender-guided dynamism! This is divine life.
Sivananda Yoga (Yoga DVD)
Yoga, A Way of Life - Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
"Yoga and Health" - a complete book with Question & Answer section by Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
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