Leela relates how surrender can happen in many ways.
Surrender in the English dictionary is described as to ‘give in, quit, submit, succumb, abandon, resign, relinquish’. In our Western culture, surrender carries the message of defeat, being overcome by another, as in war for instance.
Although I heard Osho speak so often of surrender in my early years with him, my conditioning did not allow me to absorb what surrender really meant. I understood it intellectually but because of the negative associations that it held for me, I always went a bit deaf at the mention of the word surrender.
Not for me! I had been so repressed as a child and I was therefore more focussed on finding my rebel, my power, and learning to stand up for myself. Looking back I realise that this was exactly right for me.
I came to hear of Osho at the end of 1972. I had just arrived in London from the far distant land of South Africa and was really ignorant of anything to do with meditation and the spiritual journey. All I did have was a deep inner discontent which I could not identify with my everyday life. I was married to a man I loved deeply, had two beautiful children and had just arrived in exciting ‘London’ after the spiritual vacuum that I experienced in South Africa with its repressive and racial vibe.
The timing of our arrival in London was one of those magical events of synchronicity.
No sooner had I settled than I began to make contact with friends who were all to become sannyasins in the future. For the first time I came out of a cloud of repression and fear that pervaded life in South Africa and also my own upbringing. A huge opening lay before me which took quite some time to adjust to.
The first Osho Center had just opened in London; it was January 1973. Many of my new friends were in therapy dealing with their past pain, but I remember that at the time I was not attracted to therapy at all. When I heard about the Dynamic Meditation I was intrigued and very attracted, so off I went on one cold February night to start a two week course of this strange meditation.
In a basement on a side street in the city was a little underground dungeon done out in Indian style. Bright cushions, incense, photos of a strange man with wonderous eyes hanging on the walls and Indian music on the tape deck. A woman called Veena dressed in an orange robe welcomed me. So began my journey of surrender.
In my conscious mind I had no idea what was happening of course. It seemed like a nice friendly and loving place. Some of the men were also wearing beaded necklaces and long orange robes with big boots and long overcoats which I thought looked ridiculous. I was very reactive to uniformity and could not imagine myself in a bright orange outfit with a bead necklace around my neck.
In the beginning Dynamic was hell for me, because I suffered such bad asthma attacks during it. But after some time I finally managed to get through the hour. The results were almost immediate. I felt layers of repression and inhibitions fall away and for the first time in my life I began to experience joy, aliveness, spontaneity and a feeling of personal strength that I had never felt before.
Deep within me huge changes were taking place as I came out of the dark clouds of my past. I could actually feel myself emerging and expanding almost on a daily basis. What a liberation! What a blessing. People close to me could not believe the transformation I was undergoing as I continued to use Dynamic as a means to liberate myself. However, my conscious mind was still adamant that I had had enough of conformity in my life, and so the possibility of taking sannyas was not for me. I loved listening to Osho’s discourses and sobbed with overwhelm whenever I listened to him. But sannyas, no, that was simply too much.
One Sunday some months later, I felt very irritable and told my family that I was going to the center to do Dynamic. After the meditation I still felt very strange and instead of leaving to go home, I went and sat in a back room to try and pull myself together. There was a huge photo of Osho’s face leaning against a filing cabinet, so I sat down right in front of it and just stared at him. I have no idea how long I was there, but at some point, Veena came and sat down quietly next to me. We sat like that for some time and then out of the blue, the words left my mouth “I want to take sannyas.” When I heard what I had said I jerked with shock. Who the hell said that?
Veena left the room and came back with a mala which she gently placed over my head. Then surrender happened. I felt as if I had been hit by lightening as the mala came over my head. I laughed and cried intensely for nearly two hours. I was in the grip of something so beyond anything I had ever experienced before. For those two hours I experienced a let go so vast and so profound that from that moment on my life would never be the same. Only after the event did I realise that the decision to take sannyas had come from such a deep inner space of knowing that I previously had no awareness of.
For me, surrender comes in many ways, from the profound overwhelming experiences, to the small daily let goes we experience when we release ourselves from the identification with our ego orientated mind. Surrendering ‘our-self’ is a moment to moment experience and takes such awareness and stamina, that at times just seems almost impossible. Surrendering to who and what exactly, often creates such confusion for us. To become one with the whole, dissolve into the divine are such enormous ideals that they leave us feeling hopeless and helpless.
Daily surrender is the journey of falling into the present moment, of being, rather than functioning from the mechanistic, conditioned reactions that we live through in our unconscious behaviour. Every time we enter the present and experience life in ‘the now’ we are surrendering our ego based identity which separates us from ourselves, each other and the whole. Not an easy thing, surrender, but still it’s all we have to do.
I still sometimes struggle with the word surrender and oftentimes find myself using the words ‘let it go’. When I am contracted and reactive that is the moment that I need to shift awareness from identification to let go. Moving from the small ‘I’ to the vastness of witnessing, allows me to feel the expansion of surrender.
A sense of melting back into a greater and more wondrous reality is so utterly mysterious and essential. A great sense of being at home and at one.
It’s an intense journey and requires that each day I challenge my limitations. Each day a little more of becoming a little less! How relaxing, how blissful when that happens.
Essay by Leela
Prem Leela was born in South Africa and took sannyas in 1973; in Pune 1 she worked in the press office, while in Rajneeshpuram she was running the Welding Shop, part of RBG. It was in Pune 2 that Osho asked her to start conducting the Mystic Rose Group by giving her a few suggestions, which she then further developed into its present concept. When she is not abroad conducting workshops, she lives in Australia. mysticrosemeditation.com
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Related discourse excerpt by Osho
Surrendered to Existence