Many spiritual teachers over the history of time have advocated what could be described as a ‘surrender’ approach to the life experience. This is to say that one should surrender to whatever the life experience brings in any given moment, and simply accept what is.
This is often a tough sell…
It’s easy enough to accept a pleasant or even benign circumstance, but accepting circumstances that are uncomfortable is something else altogether. In western society, in fact, it’s practically a cultural norm to push against something that isn’t desirable. Doing this is typically considered a sign of fortitude, while surrender to unfavorable conditions is often associated with weakness.
But is it actually so?
In the fighting disciplines of the east, within China and Japan in particular, a typical response to the force of attack is to move with the force — not resist it. In fact moving with force is less of a strain, and thus less of a risk to well-being, than resistance is.
Sun Tzu is credited with writing perhaps the most famous work about battle in history: The Art Of War. Yet consider one of Tzu’s insights within The Art Of War:
To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
A warrior advocate claims that ultimate excellence in battle is to not fight at all. It may not come across as machismo, but isn’t it wise?
In his popular work The Seven Laws Of Spiritual Success, spiritualist Deepak Chopra uses the analogy of an oak that stands rigid and eventually cracks during the course of a storm, whereas a flexible reed is pushed to and fro by the winds but survives the storm intact. Then there is perhaps the ultimate advocacy for nonresistance, the famous words from Jesus: Resist not evil.
It may initially feel empowering to put up resistance to unwanted circumstances, but it actually requires a good deal of energy expense — and the expended energy is damaging. Notice the discomfort within the body when resistance to life is taking place. Often this discomfort is felt within the area of the abdomen / solar plexus.
Nonresistance to life, on the other hand, brings about a feeling of tranquility. No energy is being expended at all, certainly no toxic energies, and more importantly the connection to the divinity within is not being blocked. This open connection to the divinity within is the actual source of the tranquility that comes from nonresistance, and it will expand the more that nonresistance to life is practiced.
Accepting and surrendering to life circumstances is not an inherently easy thing to do. I myself struggle against and resist certain life experiences, though I do this less often than I used to. But though it can be difficult, I am certain that not resisting or surrendering to life circumstances as they occur is far more beneficial than resistance is — and also much more peaceful and pleasant.