I said the last Reflection would be the last one before I released before I launched Knight of Sophia: A Book of Reflections, a collection of all of my Reflections released for free plus a few extras exclusive to the book. I was wrong! This is it. Released on June 16, 2019, it is about the power of surrender, that paradoxical escalator to a certain unassailability. To paraphrase MC YOGI, we bow our heads low to become the heros of our lives.
We all make choices, every day of our lives. From the simple questions about what we might like to wear or eat that day, to the big decisions, like whether or not we change careers or move in with a blossoming romantic interest, we are gifted with the ability to decide our own fates. Self-determination is of value to every living and breathing person on the face of the planet, and much blood has been spilled in our species’ fight for individual freedom. What, then, of an inability to choose? What do we do when we are faced with indecision?
You know how it feels: the paralysis, the hemming and hawing, the endless wondering about whether or not you have made the right move. If I don’t move in with her, will she end the relationship? If I do, will it ruin things? What about the cat? What if she can’t stand him and wants the little furry guy out? What if, what if, what if?
What if there is a way out? A way out of worry?
Have you ever noticed how we champion this trait in people, however unconsciously? Most people find a kind of humble (and perhaps not-so-humble) confidence attractive. ‘She knows what she wants and is not afraid to pursue it.’ As long as they are not hurting others, we tend to find those who do ‘what they want’ to be ‘cool’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘admirable.’ Why do we do that? What is there, buried beneath the surface of this part of our humanity?
Courage? Certainly. It ain’t fear, that’s for sure. But what is courage, really? Isn’t that just doing what you mean to do in spite of fear? You have to ask the question about what impulse comes before courage. To me, the answer seems obvious: it is love.
Love is what drives us to follow our hearts. It is our heart that loves, not our brains. Our brains rationalize, worry, and fear. Our brains are quite good at solving logical puzzles, of thinking things out step by step by step. In contrast, our heart simply says, ‘go thither, young squire!’ It feels and directs. It is the representation of the guiding force of life, from wherever it comes, and it demands that we acquiesce wholly to its commands. And those commands generally come from love.
Now, I am not talking about romantic love, though romantic love is an expression of the force of love. Romantic love is magnetic, certainly, and it is full of passion and fire. But it is only one way that love can manifest. Love, in this sense, is the force that propels us into the wonderful chaos of true living. It asks only that we act in service to it, though this request is the most difficult and peril-fraught demand that will ever be asked of us.
The problem is this: our fears try to prevent us from expressing love. It is generally fear, that response to the world that seems to keep us alive, which prevents us from living a life in service to love. It is our fear that asks that we reconsider, that we second-guess ourselves, that we choose the path well-traveled rather than the uncharted route of the madman of love (I would say that the guideposts for this strange road are everywhere, though more than a little bit shrouded in mystery).
How, then, do we get out of it? I have discussed this before, and The Yoga of Strength is my own response to this question. We get out of it by being courageous. By choosing love over fear. It can manifest in any number of ways, but it will generally mean making hard choices at first. It is about breaking habits, after all. The fearful habits that make us woefully sad.
Inertia is sad. I can speak from volumes of experience. When we get into ruts, we just feel like we cannot make the decisions that will make us happy. We cannot choose to clean the house rather than play a video game and drink beer. We cannot choose to hang out with our friends instead of vegging out at home and watching Netflix. We cannot think that we are good enough, whether for the job or the romantic interest for which we are more than well-suited.
Every once in a while, though, we get a chance to get out of our rut. We are presented with a situation, with a choice. And, mercifully, joyfully, through nothing less than divine grace, we make the choice of love.
You see, in spite of what we might think, courage is not really about going against the grain. In most situations, we are the grain. We have to go against ourselves in order to choose love. By ourselves, I mean the fearful thoughts that colour our experience. It is so easy to believe in our own unworthiness when it is the same story that has been playing along in our heads since we can remember. We believe that we are broken or otherwise less than, and we make the choice that supports that. Better that than the alternative. But what, for the love of God, is the alternative?
Surrender. Courage, properly viewed, is a form of surrender. We surrender our ideas about ourselves, about our capabilities, about the things that form our itty-bitty identities as human beings with histories filled with sadness and regret. We give them up and say, ‘OK, let’s finally try it your way, universe.’
I am not going to sugar coat things: making this choice is not easy. We fuck up, royally, in the beginning. What seems like surrender brings to the surface delusion after delusion, more and more layers of our own bullshit. But there is also be a joy, an exhilaration, the sensation of being part of something greater and wiser than we could ever have imagined.
And then, after a long period of learning about yourself, the last layer will peel off. You see, there is a reason so many self-help gurus and hippies and New Age fanatics have butterflies painted on the windows of their VW buses. Sure, they are brightly coloured, but they are also a metaphor for the transformation that occurs when we make the final surrender into love.
At first, we were the caterpillar, the sad sack lump who trolled people on the Internet and bitched and moaned about every last penny we had to hand over to another human being for this or that necessity of life. When we started to make the loving and courageous choices, we pupated. We were dragged along a scary and winding path that was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating, that showed no signs of stopping or slowing down. And finally, with the light of the most glorious dawning of our lives, we emerged out of our chrysalis, reborn. We ourselves are the butterfly, transformed in the depth of our own self-understanding. There is no longer any illusion of choice between love and fear – we have recalled that we are love itself. We have totally and utterly surrendered our small ‘I’ identity and remembered our Self.
And how did it all start? Grace, certainly, if you can call it that. I both love the term and do not think it is most appropriate, because it is suggestive of something outside of ourselves. We find the grace deep within ourselves, and it springs from love. Love is total and utter, and it is the only thing that exists in the universe. I like to think of it as a very tidy plot device in the Story of Us.
And I suppose that is as apt as any metaphor. This whole dance of life, bright, dazzling, dark, mysterious, both wonderful and terrible in its splendour, is all in service to that. A story of a life, starting with a birth and ending with a death. But it’s not just your story: it’s my story, and his story, and her story, and their stories. It is the story of everything, ever, all filtered through our little consciousnesses. It is our minds that dream the dream of separation but deep down, underneath it all, it is our hearts that are wise to what is going on.
All we have to do is surrender.