Someone recently asked me what I thought about “submission to God.” Submission or surrender is common in all spiritual traditions it seems, and perhaps even more so in their mystical communities (the very word Islam means “submission”). Here are some of my thoughts about it.
I think submission or surrender is referring to the fact that our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite, that we are limited beings that cannot understand all things, that we emerge from a deeper place than our superficial “self” or ego, that it is impossible for our intellect to truly know anything in an absolute sense.
And so we surrender that “self,” our mind and being, to something more Ultimate than ourselves, a higher Perfection or Infinite, an Absolute, a Real, from which all things are derived and in which they have being. We realize that we are limited creatures embedded in a limitless reality.
The paradox is that when we finally give up our limited finite unknowing being, when we let that identity go, we come to realize and know the deeper One from which we come and in which we are, sometimes called the true Self, the Christ Self, the Buddha-nature, the Atman, or simply God, or Ultimate Reality. We actually can identify ourselves with that, and in mystical terms realize we are One with it, in absolute perfect union with it. It no longer is an “It,” something else over there, but a Me, the “I AM.”
We can actually experience being that One, that Absolute, that Infinite Being, that God. And this I think is what is classically known as theosis, deification, divinization, awakening, salvation, liberation. When total surrender of the finite mortal temporal “self” is complete, even temporarily, then we know our deeper Being directly, the Ultimate Reality that we really are.
We go beyond all appearances, forms, symbols, to the Real. We transcend all limitations and manifestations and perceptions to what Is beyond all of that, to God its Self, the One. Then we know Reality as it is in its Self, and we are that Reality. We are no longer separate from it, in a subject-object relationship, but rather it is nothing other than what we are our Self.
I think it is related to the emotion of reverence, of awe, of something which radically transcends our everyday psychological sense of self and normalcy. It is in the presence of this tremendous awe, this reverence, that our “self” is humbled to the depths, and even suffers “death” in the presence of the immortal One that we actually are.
Where that One is, the ego cannot go, as the two are in a sense opposed to one another, and so the ego-mind must submit itself to be absolute nothingness, emptiness, a void. And when the ego is absolute nothingness, that is when we realize we are absolute everythingness, a fullness, the pleroma, the Most High, the Ground of Being, the One. It is never the ego that is this fullness, this ultimate God, but rather it is the Source of our deepest being, the substructure or foundation of reality itself. Reality knows its Self. God knows its Self.
And when we are everything, we are also Love, a oneness or nonduality which transcends all dualities, all separations, all divisions, all alienation, which brings all things together into One Great Whole. When we are egoless, when we let go of being that finite separate self in duality, we are that Love. The two become One. Every “other” becomes a manifestation of the divine Self, the Holy One.
It’s been said that the last thing you surrender is doubt, and I think that is true. Then you know, and you are the knowing itself. You don’t know some “thing” else. You are the knowing, the experience of being, the consciousness of reality, the energy behind all things that are. Then you know who/what created all things, because you are That fundamental principle, that unmanifest Divine, that hidden mystical ineffable Reality which unfolds itself into all things, that process or creativity through which all Beings are made manifest, and which exists from eternity to eternity.
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That is how I interpret it from my experience. How do you interpret submission or surrender? Please share with us in the comments.