A little over a year ago, I read a book called the Untethered Soul by Micheal Singer, a New York Times best selling author and founder of the Temple of the Universe. The book was so profound that it led me to pick up another one of his books called The Surrender Experiment where I subsequently learned more about the temple he founded. Little did I know, less than 2 years later, I would be taking a journey to that very temple in search of my own Surrender.
His book the Surrender Experiment was all about the act of continuously letting go. Letting go of expectations and beliefs of what one thinks should be and how one thinks outcomes should turn out. Looking back, I used to be very attached to how I wanted things to turn out, so much so that I was devasted when they didn’t turn out my way. It was a miserable way to live because it turns out that by forcing outcomes and resisting change, I was actually perpetuating the very outcomes I didn’t want. I had created a closed loop of my own self fulfilling prophecies and it was a sad and lonely place to be.
Back then it took me years of searching until I found transformational work and began working on these negative thought patterns from the inside out. The difference this time was that now I was approaching it in a very experiential type of way. Now I believe that true transformation or self actualization can only be achieved after true embodiment. Meaning that focusing on your ways of being helps transform your ways of thinking.
After almost two years I finally rented a car and began my pilgrimage to The Temple of the Universe. Part of me was going just to meet Mr. Singer himself, part of me was going out of curiosity and the other part of me, the part that answers to my soul, was going to connect with something deeper within me. Before leaving on this trip, I had been struggling and fighting against something I knew I had to do. It was really quite simple, it was either stay in the corporate world doing work that drains your lifeforce or leave the corporate world and do work that impacts humanity and fills your soul. Looking at it now, its a very easy and straight forward answer, but back then I was stuck between indecision and doubt and was really on an internal search for the state of Surrender that he speaks about in his books. I just wanted the noise to stop and the peace to enter my heart so that I could move forward with the decision I knew was right for me.
I arrived just in time for his Thursday evening talk where he spoke about the seat of consciousness. He said that I am consciousness and it is my consciousness that notices things. He also said we are all of the same consciousness, the same consciousness that was Jesus Christ, the Buddha and all the other greats who at one time inhabited the earth. He also made an interesting example. He said, “If I am blue and I look at a red card, does that make me red?”
It sounds like a very simple question but yet it is a very profound teaching. The answer is no, one does not become red. But his following question was, “Then why do I identify myself with it?” Which is wherein lies the problem that humanity has been struggling with since the beginning of time as we know it. We identify with the red card as if it is us. We identify with the object of consciousness, which is whatever we happen to be observing at any given moment, as if it were us. He continues to explain that the moment we begin putting labels on it and creating stories around it, we create unhappiness for ourselves. Its that simple. In my opinion, he couldn’t have explained such a profound topic more simply.
It was a diverse crowd that had gathered from very young people to those who were later in their years and I remember thinking that he explained it so simply that it might have gone over peoples heads. As he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Regardless of the diverse crowd, I had the sense that everyone there was hungry for wisdom. He described consciousness by quoting one of his teachers. He told a story of when he asked, “What is consciousness?” The teacher responded something along the lines of, “I am what was here before I was, what will be here after I am gone and what has always been here.” He then went on to explain that what we decide to think when we look at the red card is a choice. It all comes down to a choice we make.
I noticed something very subtle. Whenever he referred to the seat of consciousness that we each possess, he hovered his hand above his head toward the upper back part of the head which is the same area that heals last on a newborn babies head.
That talk that night felt like a call to arms except he was challenging us to stop making our lives unhappy and urging us to live with joy. It seemed like he was trying with all his might to wake us up.
I believe that the act of Surrender is such an important practice for everyday life that I even teach it in my workshops and coaching programs but in day to day life I can admit that its a lot easier said than done. In society, often times we consider Surrender as an acquiescence. Such as a helpless lamb laying itself down at the feet of a hungry wolf and this is not the Surrender I am speaking of here. Surrender is about letting go of self conceived ways thst one thinks an outcome should turn out. Its about letting go of trying to control situations, people and things.
If you are feeling exhausted and like life is an uphill battle, you are probably living in this closed loop cycle of misery. Its exhausting, infuriating and its draining useful lifeforce energy from you that you could be using to fulfill your dreams and desires. Why do our minds and ego’s insist on trying to make things perfect when all the while getting in the way of the magical possibilities that can be available to us? I should know, I spent most of my life in this loop, creating strategies, shuffling and jiving for outcomes that I thought were perfect when in reality they were far from it and I kept coming up empty again and again.
Another lesson I learned while on this Surrender experiment of my own was about opening myself up. Sounds easy right? Well I learned that being open is not necessarily about opening myself up, its actually about not closing myself off. That is the key. When Michael Singer first said it, I thought it was such a foreign concept but then began realizing how simple it was and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that before. It is easier to close myself. I am really good at it actually cause I’ve been doing it for years. But remaining open? Now that was something I was going to have to practice. I started realizing that I was closed off in so many areas of my life that I didn’t even realize I was closed in. That’s how closed off I was. If you were to ask me, “remain open, “ I would become frustrated because I had never done that before but he simply asked me not to close. And this right here was the key.
Upon practicing “not closing,” I realized how good I had become at closing myself off because it had become something I could do unconsciously so in order to find the areas I was closing myself off in, I had to practice being present and noticing the subtle moments when I do close off.
Another huge lesson I took away with me from that weekend was that living a life of pure spirituality has nothing to do with wanting. Spirituality is not about wanting. Spirituality is actually more about not wanting and in this day and age of manifestation and the law of attraction, I found that hard to believe at first but then I started thinking about it.
The moment you begin to want something, is the moment suffering begins. With further reflection I realized that the act of wanting implies the lack thereof. If you want something it is usually because you don’t have it. If you don’t have something, it makes you feel incomplete and repeating affirmations about what I wanted was reaffirming my not “having-ness,” which made me miserable for not having it. I realized that the thing I was trying to do to make me happy was actually making me sad.
Not wanting is not about not having ambition, dreams, goals or desires in life. It’s about relinquishing control of how you think the outcome should be. Its saying you would like a red card but if the universe presents you with a green card you will be grateful for it and enjoy it just the same. Its about being grateful for and noticing everything you do have and being open to the multiple gifts that are meant to come your way if you remain open to them.
What I learned on this journey was that my search for Surrender was not about finding the answer or the cure to my ailment, it was about allowing myself to just be and not close myself off to the many blessings the world has for me. And once I began practicing that, I have received so much since.