The Surrender Experiment
For my birthday I received lots of great books. The first one I picked up was written by Michael A. Singer, The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life’s Perfection. My interest was tweaked in part because I’ve been on a little bit of an experiment myself with surrender, and because the 8th Agreement in the Core Agreements for An Evolving Culture is “Surrender to Grace”.
Essentially this requires a deep trust that the universe knows what it’s doing. In religious terms you could say that G_d is present non-coercively weaving a tapestry that is beyond our rational comprehension, but which we can be apprehended by. To do so is to experience awe and reverence, and these emotions in turn generate more trust, more letting go. It’s possible to get caught up in this cycle of synchronicity.
In his early twenties Singer experienced in himself a witnessing consciousness. He noticed an awkward silence in the conversation he was having with a friend, and then noticed how active his mind was in trying to do something about it. It was in the noticing that he experienced an awakening. What was this part of himself that was aware of himself? Those of you who know Eckhart Tolle’s work will recognize that he too was saved by identifying with witnessing consciousness, rather that his personality that was telling him all was lost. Both of these men became far less interested in the contents of his consciousness than in whatever pure intelligence was witnessing the contents of his mind.
Intuitively, he just started to meditate, so that he could reconnect with the witness. Over time he simply surrendered again and again and again to this intelligence. He calls it “life” or “life force”. It’s whatever made and animates a universe. He figured that it built a universe without him needing to figure anything out. Maybe it could build him a life too with having to rationally figure it out, plan it, and then execute it. By paying very close attention to what showed up in his life, assuming that the universe was for him, and then taking action, his life was shaped.
This wasn’t easy, because small self had preferences, likes and dislikes, ways that he thought his life should go. He just wanted to meditate, day and night, but people just kept coming into his life. One story that stood out for me was a young woman who decided that she would build a house on his property and make her home there, without his permission. I was relieved when I read that there was a voice inside of him that was enraged by her arrogance and presumptuousness. Then he watched his reactions, went away and meditated, and the next day strapped on his carpentry belt and helped build her the house.
That is a very small example of how he lived his life. He ended up a multimillionaire owning 1000 acres in Florida. But you could tell that he wasn’t attached to the money at all. He just assumed that life was living him and the perfection of life, in him anyway, would involve building, step by step, a very large company. It needs also to be said that he’s brilliant. When computers first came out, he taught himself to program, then he started writing his own accounting programs, then somebody asked him to write a program for their medical company, then and then and then…
The way he tells it, he just surrendered to the next thing that came his way. At one point the surrender was quite literal, as his company was raided by the FBI, and he was arrested. He wasn’t jailed but the court proceedings took five years of his life, and through it all, he stuck to the surrender experiment. He was completely exonerated in the end.
Surrendering though doesn’t mean being a doormat. Once you’ve surrendered and life takes you the way life wants to take you, your will needs to be active in execution, and Singer led a very active life. Through it all he continued to meditate early in the morning and at night. Then he just did the next thing he seemed to be asked to do, and let it all unfold.
The thing that I noticed in reading the book, although he never mentions it, is that he never seemed to feel any fear. Life was unfolding perfectly, even when his company got raided by the FBI. When things didn’t go “his way” he just got curious about what was life’s way.