Sage SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI
One of two things must be done. Either surrender because you admit your
inability and require a higher power to help you, or investigate the cause of
misery by going to the source and merging into the Self. Either way you will
be free from misery. God never forsakes one who has surrendered.
– Ramana Maharshi
Sage Ramana when speaking of surrender, is keeping a very high standard for surrender. Total surrender means that there is no ego in you and all that happens in life is God’s. The Sage used to say ‘Nin ishtam, En Ishtam’, meaning Your (God’s) wish is my wish.
Very subtly discerning, it is a blemish-less understanding that there is really nothing to surrender really. There is really no ego to surrender, it is the seeing as being, the ego or mind, hangs its head in shame before its own self, and remains in constant awareness of this truth, always. Here, one will see the impossibility of surrendering! What is really ours to surrender? It is a realisation or blemish less discernment that we are by default surrendered already and any effort on our part to surrender is contrary to surrendering.
All talk of surrender is like stealing sugar from a sugar image of Ganesha and then offering it to the same Ganesha. You say that you offer up your body and soul and all your possessions to God, but were they yours to offer? At best you can say is ‘I wrongly imagined till now that all these, which are Yours, were mine. Now I realise that they are Yours and I shall no longer act as though they were mine’. And this knowledge that there is nothing but God or the Self, that and mine do not exist and that only the Self exists, is Jnana (knowledge).
Remaining firmly in Self-abidance, without giving even the least room to the rising of any thought other than the thought of Self (that is, without giving even the least attention to any second or third person, but only to Self), is surrendering oneself to God. How much ever burden we throw on God, He bears all of it. Since the one Supreme Ruling Power (parameswara sakti) is performing all activities, why should we, instead of yielding our self to it, constantly think. ‘I should act in this way; I should act in that way?’ When we know that the train is bearing all the burdens, why should we who travel in it, instead of placing even our small luggage in it and being happily at ease, suffer by bearing it (our luggage) on our own head?
The Sage explains –
In the following D stands for devotee and M stands for Sage Ramana Maharshi
D: What is unconditional surrender?
M: If one surrenders oneself there will be no one to ask questions or to be thought of. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root-thought ‘I’ or one surrenders oneself unconditionally to the Higher Power. These are the only two ways for Realisation.
M: There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realising one’s helplessness and saying all the time, `Not I but thou, O Lord’, giving up all sense of ‘I,’ and ‘mine’ and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of liberation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti marga (the path of devotion).
It is enough that one surrenders oneself. Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one’s being. Do not delude yourself by imagining such source to be some God outside you. One’s source is within yourself. Give yourself up to it. That means that you should seek the source and merge in it. Because you imagine yourself to be out of it, you raise the question ‘Where is the source?’ Some contend that the sugar cannot taste its own sweetness and that a taster must taste and enjoy it. Similarly, an individual cannot be the Supreme and enjoy the Bliss of that state; therefore, the individuality must be maintained on the one hand and God-head on the other so that enjoyment may result! Is God insentient like sugar? How can one surrender oneself and yet retain one’s individuality for supreme enjoyment? Furthermore, they say also that the soul, reaching the divine region and remaining there, serves the Supreme Being. Can the sound of the word ‘service’ deceive the Lord? Does He not know? Is He waiting for these people’s service? Would not He – the Pure Consciousness – ask in turn: ‘Who are you apart from Me that presume to serve Me?’ As often as one tries to surrender, the ego raises its head, and one will have to try suppress it. Surrender is not an easy thing. Killing the ego is not an easy thing. It is only when God Himself by His Grace draws the mind inwards that complete surrender can be achieved.
Dr. Syed, a devotee, asked Sage Ramana:
D: Doesn’t total or complete surrender imply that even desire for liberation or God should be given up?
M: Complete surrender does imply that you should have no desire of your own, that God’s will alone is your will and you have no will of your own.
D: Now that I am satisfied on that point, I want to know what are the steps by which I can achieve surrender?
M: There are two ways; one is looking into the source of the ‘I’ and merging into that source; the other is feeling ‘I am helpless by myself. God alone is all-powerful and except for throwing myself completely on Him there is no other means of safety for me,’ and thus gradually developing the conviction that God alone exists and the ego does not count. Both methods lead to the same goal. Complete surrender is another name for Jnana or Liberation.
D: I find surrender impossible.
M: Complete surrender is impossible in the beginning but partial surrender is possible for all. In the course of time it will lead to complete surrender.
M: Whoever objects to his having a separate God to worship so long as he needs one? Through devotion he develops until he comes to feel that God alone exists, and that he himself does not count. He comes to a stage when he says. ‘Not I but Thou; not my will, but Thine.’ When that stage is reached, which is called complete surrender in bhakti marga (path of devotion); one finds that effacement of the ego is the attainment of the Self. We need not quarrel whether there are two entities or more or only one. Even according to dualists and according to bhakti marga (path of devotion), complete surrender is necessary. Do that first and then see for yourself whether the one Self alone exists or whether there are two or more.
In the book, Guru Vachaka Kovai, Sri Muruganar in relation to Self surrender states –
In conclusion of this discussion on Self-surrender Sage Ramana says –