Conscious Surrender (Audio/Written Essay)

The first thing you have to understand is what you are surrendering.

The general idea is that a state of surrender cannot occur until enough pain has shocked oneself into submission. That the Reality of life has brought you to your knees. Everything you’ve tried, everything you’ve hoped for, has proven to be false. A false prophet. A false dream. A false means of happiness, or escape, or freedom. Realizing that one’s self has brought destruction to the very thing it’s aiming at emboldening.

When we talk of surrender, we’re talking of the ego. The me i think i am. The me i think you are. The me that feels and believes. The me that walks around the world apart from it. Victimized by it. The center of the universe as it unfolds. The me that’s trying to interpret, analyze, and get over on it.

The first thing we have to understand is what we are surrendering and i have a theory: Life will do it to us if we don’t.

Thats where the pain comes in. The shock. The melancholy and the infinite sadness.

Life will bring us into submission, one way or another. It could happen with a heartbreak. A business loss. A family tragedy. It can happen at the very end, laying on our deathbed looking over the lives we’ve lived. Did we miss out? Are we scared? Whats next? Did I really live? and then lights out. Curtains closed. We can fight it, we can not believe it, but then…its over. Fought for ourselves to the very end.

The first thing we have to understand is what we are surrendering and I think it can be done consciously.

I was sitting in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous a little over a year ago. I had just gotten out of a whirlwind of a depresh. A solid 3 years of full blown sadness. There’s rap records to prove it and I have no problem identifying with it. It’s captured. It’s there. It’s part of me. I like to say this all the time and i’ll say it now: The sadboy is strong in this one. So strong that it commandeered the entirety of my experience. 

The pain of being was so overwhelmingly awful that it hurt to exist. I don’t know what else to say…it just hurt. And, i didn’t know what to do, so I hurt. I hurt out loud. I hurt at meetings. I hurt in process groups and podcasts and essays and videos.

I hurt at a microphone until my stomach clenched for lack of sustenance.

I yelled and sang and spit whatever soul was dying as a means of self preservation. It was the only thing I knew to do. Share. Share it as it died. And it was a damn struggle. It was also one of the most exciting things i’ve ever experienced. It was a real challenge. A real whooping up against Reality. It was a give and take, back and forth fight that went well beyond 12 rounds. When I would get over on it, when I would realize what I had claimed, it was like standing on top of a mountain. I had beaten out on it. I had succeeded. And i’d spend a day or two living in paradise. A paradise of my self, my mind, and my potential. A winning out against the lashings of life. And I was its master. Great tidings would approach as reward…

and id wake up totally destroyed. Choked out. Suffocated and drowning in the undertow of Reality. My mind wasn’t any better. My heart still broken. My body devoid of sustenance and care. I’d sit and suffer. I’d stand and suffer. I’d watch movies and suffer. I’d call friends and suffer. I’d write songs and REALLY suffer. I’d torture myself because I didn’t know what else to do. I took it to Reality. I fought tooth and nail, claw and clavicle. I would win out…

I died over and over and over, only to be reborn in the exact same space.

Oh yea, I was going to share a story about being in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Anyways, I was there in this meeting totally anxious, uncomfortable, and uncertain. Pretty normal occurrence. If i wasn’t on stage, i was scared. If i was around other people, i was scared. If i was in line at the store (which i rarely ever did) i was scared. I avoided all potential human engagement. I waited until grocery stores were empty to shop, but i never stopped going to meetings. I would show up to meetings and hurt. I knew i could at least do that…

Anyways, i’m sitting in this meeting and this guy in the back corner starts to share. And he starts talking about the 3rd step of AA. “Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand it” and he goes on to say that this is Advanced AA but has proven true. That if one is totally serious about the 3rd step. Totally serious about working this program of recovery, totally serious about honoring the program and the path, then the rest of your life is none of your business.

The rest of your life is NONE of your business.

And you can do this many times a day, as often as you like, in every moment available. If you sincerely take a 3rd step, and you genuinely mean it…the rest of your life is none of your business.

I felt something when he shared. What he said. It rang true. This guy was right. I felt, i heard, and i knew. It was the answer. Plain as day. All of my life, all of my choices and decisions, all of my actions as a means of making something of myself, making something of the world, all dissipated. It was none of my business and I felt a taste of freedom.

It lasted 3 minutes. 

As soon as the lights turned on, I was right back where I’d always been and had no idea what to do with the information. I looked around the room and saw people talking. The anxiety crept back in and I sat still while the room engaged with one another. Someone recognized me, said some words and i responded. I sat. I waited. Maybe my answer would come. Maybe someone would tell me what to do…

I waited around and nothing happened. I stood up and went outside where people were having smokes and talking. People stared out of the corners of their eyes as I stood waiting to know what to do. Nothing happened. I walked to my car and drove home.

I think about what that guy shared all of the time, but not nearly enough because the first thing I have to understand is what I am surrendering. 




Conscious Surrender. A willingness to die. A desire to be free. Removed from the toils, trials, and tribulations of a life, a Reality, that digs spikes into my veins and pretends he’s someone. Pretends he’s special, or important. Imagines he’s a “somebody”. Take his pain and warps it, wraps it in a bow hand delivered to your inbox. Transmuted and transferred. 

“Here take this. It’s mine but you can have it.”

That’s not surrender. Thats self flagellation.

“You are not ready. Like everyone else you want to learn the way to win. But never to accept the way to lose. To accept defeat, to learn to Die is to be liberated from it. 

So when tomorrow comes, you must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying.”

-Bruce Lee

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