Bend With the Wind

Paramahamsa Niranjanananda, Mangrove Mountain, Australia, May 1994

At one time or another, we have all thought about what surrender means and how it applies to us. The underlying qualities of honesty and flexibility are important components of surrender. If we consider these two aspects, then surrender is not so frightening after all. There should be no fear of losing absolute and total self-control. There seems to be a need to educate ourselves in this respect.

First, the quality of honesty. We need to know if we are truly honest or not, and honest to what? Because many times we are honest to our own ambitions, to our own selfish ideas. So, even honesty has to be viewed in the proper perspective. There must be a process of enquiry in coming to recognise our honesty. Honesty is more an internal experience than an external factor. We cannot be honest to something, we have to be honest to ourselves. That state of being honest to ourselves should bring us to terms with ourselves. Without honesty, coming to terms with ourselves is very difficult.

We tend to hide from our own mental creations, images, impressions and samskaras. By hiding from our own creations, we are not being open internally. After all, honesty is a process of opening up, of recognising and assimilating that, and converting it into a living experience. In this regard, Paramahamsaji has laid that even today, he cannot understand intellectually what surrender is; even today he cannot do it. However, he feels within himself that a link is made, a link is there, due to honesty in his life, towards his commitment, towards his goal and direction, towards his Guru and towards God.

Second, the quality of flexibility. There is a saying that one should be humble and flexible, like a blade of grass. Trees which stand tall and upright and do not sway with the wind are often broken. A tree which can move with the wind survives the onslaught and remains standing. Flexibility is also a quality of life through which we learn to flow with the current and not struggle against it. Many times we have to make an effort to stop this struggle. We have to stop the ongoing, inner process of struggling to gain a solid support, and learn how to sway with the force that controls the environment.

The tree cannot control the flow of the wind, but the wind can control the swaying of the tree. If the wind blows to the right, the tree will bend to the right; if the wind blows to the left, the tree will bend to the left. So, there is an environmental factor which is more powerful than the personal factor. In our lives, when we try to stand up against the environmental factor, then clashes of ego, frustration and depression occur.

Flexibility and humility are necessary to counteract this manifestation of ego. Flexibility is the training which awakens the quality of humility. If we work on these two levels initially in order to understand and refine our interactions with other fellow beings, with God and with Guru, then surrender is spontaneous and automatic, and it is neither a joyous nor a painful process.

Paramahamsaji has also mentioned two forms of surrender: one is the surrender of a bhakta and the other of a non-bhakta. The word bhakta means a believer, a person who believes in fate, in God, in Guru, in personal effort or whatever, but that link of being connected to something or someone is there. That is the bhakta link, the link of a devotee who is connected to something either personal or impersonal, physical or spiritual. The other type of surrender is of the non-bhakta, who is not connected to anything and is simply observing and allowing things to manifest in the course of time.

In the surrender of a bhakta, there is more spontaneity and less enquiry, whereas in the surrender of a non-bhakta, there is more enquiry and less spontaneity. Ultimately, however, both come to the same realisation that being a good conductor, purifying oneself, making an effort to maintain a link, is the way to go.