March 14, 2018
Self-surrender is often made to look easy. When it is taken lightly, it is the mind that creates a 'god' and a 'self' and surrenders that self to that god. The self is the subject, not an object.
There is awareness all the time, but this awareness illumines objects (including experiences). The yogi uses objects to turn the awareness to the subject, as it were. This is the beginning of meditation. The master allows any object to be used for this. It is even hinted that pleasure and pain can be used as meditation subjects. But, pleasure tends initially to be a distraction and later to become dull and boring. Self-inflicted pain has been used by mystics all over the world, in the name of austerity. The question is: is all this necessary, are there not sufficient pleasant and unpleasant experiences in daily life which can be used to trigger meditation? Surely, yes. When the light of awareness is turned on them, abnormal reactions cease, the pleasure inherent in life is heightened (because it is freed from the excitement which results from craving), and the pain is lessened (because it is freed from the fear, arising from memory and imagination). There is no suppression of any emotion, but there is non-reactionary action which arises from the inner intelligence.
Everything in the yogi's life "turns his gaze within", in the words of Gurudev Swami Sivananda. The quest for Self-knowledge goes on till it is realized that just as 'self-pity', 'self-love' and 'self-hate' are words without real substance, the words 'subject' and 'object' are also words without a corresponding reality. The one awareness or consciousness is indivisible and forever undivided. This realization does not interfere with or negate life; but life is greatly enriched by it.
Īśvara-praṇiḍhāna - 'self-surrender' or 'surrender to God' - may have three connotations. As niyama, it is a sincere prayerful attempt to approach God. Self-surrender as a way in itself happens when the fire of enquiry burns through all the components of the self and through all its activities. The infinite is not the senses, the mind or the self. But then, what is beyond? Unable to find the answer, the self collapses in surrender. The Light dispels the shadow of the self (the investigator or the experiencer). The questions: 'Is the observer different from the observed?' 'Is 'I' independent of the totality?' burn without an answer because there is none (no self) to hear the answer! The observer is the observation - pure awareness. The experiencer is the experience - pure experiencing. There is total freedom, kaivalya. One alone is, as all-one.