Sweet Surrender!

In reflecting on the wonderful teachings I have received in the past few months, it has dawned on me that a common thread running through all of it has been the concept of surrender.

All the way back in May, I had the privilege of spending two weeks with the delightful Srivatsa Ramaswami, who took us verse by verse through the Bhagavat Gita. There is much said in the Gita about “Yagnya”, which is often translated as “sacrifice”. However, it seems a more appropriate (and more palatable) interpretation would be that it means to surrender the fruits of your action, either to Isvara (the God-principle) if you are a Bhakti Yogi, or (forgive me for simplifying here) for the benefit of others if you are a Jnana* Yogi, following the path of knowledge.


This concept of surrender is very closely connected to Karma. Essentially any action creates karma if that action is driven by the ego, by your personal desires, even if the outcome of that action is a “good” one. Karma is what keeps us from stepping out of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth – if a karmic seed has been sown, whether it be good or bad, you must stick around to see it come to fruition – to experience the inevitable effect after creating the cause. It is only if we can be completely unattached to the fruits of our actions that we can think, speak or act without planting those karmic seeds. So surrender is the path to freedom.




These ideas came up again at the Diamond Way Buddhism Europe Centre Summer Course in Bavaria, with teachings from, amongst others,  meditating buddhaThaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. In several different contexts, Karmapa mentioned that compassion and devotion are actually the same open-ness in your heart, and will have the same effect. Compassion is shown to all unenlightened beings; devotion is shown to those who have reached the goal of freedom.  The message is very much the same as that in the Bhagavat Gita – if your actions are driven by compassion or devotion, without attachment to the results, they will not result in the sowing of  karmic seeds, and your escape from the karma-klesha cycle moves ever closer.






Although in a completely different context, surrender was very much a part of Gary Carter’s weekend workshop in Glasgow last month on Fascia, Forces and Freedom. Coming now to thinking very much on a physical level, Gary explained to us the nature of fascia – the “organ of form” – which pervades our entire body ensuring that it operates as a whole and not simply as a collection of separate bones, muscles and organs. If subjected to sudden strong pressure, the fascia becomes solid, impenetrable, immovable; yet subjected to gentle, steady and relaxed pressure, it behaves more like a liquid.


The implications for your Yoga practice are clear – an ego-driven determination to stretch your body will meet with all the resistance your fascia can muster (as well as the resistance which will be offered by the protective Golgi refle in the muscles themselves); if, on the other hand, you approach your Yoga mat with an attitude of surrender to the forces of nature, you will not only have a much more enjoyable Yoga session, but the result will be a joyful opening, a harmonious release…. ENJOY!


Factoid: the Sanskrit word “Jnana” is the root of the Greek word “Gnostic”, which means “ultimate truth”.