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Surrender

By Scott Shaw

Most people who enter onto the Spiritual Path are drawn to it very early in their life. The majority of these people don’t take the steps to actualize their early instincts until they have lived through one too many traumas and are encountering a complete lack of meaning in their life. This explains why there are all the formally depicted reasons for, “Becoming Spiritual,” desperation, illness, poverty, loss of a loved one, and so on. Even in the cases when an individual is propelled into spirituality based in those negative motivating circumstances, if they were not touched by the divine early in life, they would not choose spirituality over the more destructive forms of mourning, such as drugs, alcoholism, sex addiction, and crime.

From a personal perspective, defined by whatever unexplained Karma or destiny, I formally entered onto what may be called, “The Spiritual Path” very early in my life. I was drawn to Eastern Mysticism as far back as I can remember. As I grew up, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the terms: Guru, Karma, Yoga, Zen, and Meditation were commonplace, as were photos of Indian Spiritual Teachers gracing the walls of head shops, homes, billboards, and telephone poles. I suppose being born in Los Angeles, where this type of mindset was much more commonly embraced than in many other parts of the country, didn’t hurt to aid in the availability of the spirituality that I came to heartily embrace and allow to formally shape the person I was to become.

Sixteen
When I was sixteen years old, a friend of mine came knocking at my door. I had not seen him in over a year.

We had met when he was a senior and I was a sophomore at Hollywood High School. During our preliminary friendship we realized that we were both drawn to the Spiritual Path. We would spend hours talking about the various philosophies and ideologies of Hinduism, Taoism, and Zen. But initially, we were not able to take the next step and move into the more refined realms of spirituality as neither of us had a car and we had no way to travel to spiritual centers where we could meet the teachers. This all changed a year later.

Post him showing up at my Hollywood apartment that evening, we both progressed into a period of rapid spiritual awakening. We would drive around with Malas, “Prayer Beads,” hanging from the rear-view mirrors of our cars, pictures of Krishna or images of the Buddha taped to our dash boards, listening to the music of Ravi Shankar and Bhagavan Das or lectures by Ram Dass and Alan Watts. As we drove we would chant while the passenger played the bamboo flute. We spent the next year or so frequenting all of the spiritual centers along the West Coast. My friend eventually went off to college in Santa Cruz and I found the Sufi Order and Swami Satchidanada’s, Integral Yoga Institute. Though I was intrinsically much more drawn to the joy that was brought about by the singing and dancing which served as a meditation tool to the Sufi Order. None-the-less, I found myself spending many nights practicing Hatha Yoga or lost deep in meditation with my new friends at the IYI.

As I look back, I realize how quickly I moved through the ranks of the IYI and quickly found myself in the inner circle of the group with direct access to Swami Satchidananda. This was in no small part due to the fact of my love for Rock n’ Roll I had already acquired a vast knowledge about audio taping and how to operate sound systems. Thus, I became Gurudev’s soundman—traveling to his lectures, doing his sound, and recording his talks for posterity.

Brahamcharya
It was at one such function in Santa Barbara, where Yogaville West was located at the time, that Swamiji had given a public talk. Though I was a practicing Brahamcharya, “Celibate,” and planned to be for the rest of my life, I had brought along this female friend of mine to meet Swamiji.

I had met her at the Sufi Dances and she and I were very attracted to one another. At the time, I believed that if anyone were worth giving up my lifelong plan of celibacy for, it would be her.

Post the lecture, which went exceedingly well, as I was always very conscientious and concerned about the sound being exact, Gurudev returned to his home in Montecito overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and the IYI inner circle gathered at a vegetarian restaurant in Chula Vista—the University town just North of Santa Barbara.

The gathering was coming to a close. It was my female friends and my plan to go camping in the Santa Monica Mountains that evening where our infatuation was leading towards consummation. She and I were preparing to leave when this female Swami came up to me and said, “My ride has left and you must drive me back to L.A.”

Well, this put me in quite a quandary. I mean, it was getting late and to drive her back to the Hollywood IYI would kill all of the plans my friend and I had in place.

This Swami was a female born on the East Coast and though she had embraced the Spiritual Path she certainly maintained all of the abrupt inner-city traits commonly associated with the East Coast lifestyle. In other words, what she had said to me was not so much a question, but more like a command. I looked at my friend, she at me.

It was one of those moments that seem to go on for an eternity. In that seeming eternity, however, I truly embraced my inner being—that inside place where you simply know. I saw my physical persona, seriously infatuated with this girl, and then I witnessed my pure spiritual being—who knew that if I couldn’t step outside of my own desires and help those who needed help, what did the spiritual life truly mean.

I surrendered; I was going to give her a ride home. In that moment of surrender, the Swami’s missing ride, reappeared. She had not left, as was suspected. But, had simply gone off to the beach for a gaze at the setting sun. I was saved!

I sat there in the restaurant knowing that it was my surrender, to the situation, which caused Divananda to reappear. Had I fought the test I was given, then my drive down the coast would have included another passenger.

The party broke up with Pranams, “Prayer Hands,” to everyone. My female friend and I were in my car heading South—off to the camping spot which she knew of.

By the time we arrived in the Santa Monica Mountains, it was quite dark. And, though we looked and looked, she could not find the camping location. It was decided to give up our adventure. I drove her home to her house in Bel Aire.

The Moral of the Story
We all have the tendency to plan. This episode is the perfect example of the unpredictability of life.

We each set our desires in place and expect them to be actualized. The problem is, there is no guarantee that anything we plan or hope for will come to volition. Not a physical desire, which defined this experience for me, not the enlightenment which is promised at some future date or lifetime to all of those who tread upon the Spiritual Path, not even the assurance that you will be physically alive to experience anything in the next moment.

With this understanding in place, the most spiritual thing you can do each moment of your physical existence, is to surrender to the fact that, “All is unknown. Nothing is guaranteed.” You cannot know what your next experience will be. You can hope, you can desire, you can plan. But hope, desire, and planning are just that. They are what the definition of those words equal—something that is predicated upon expectation. Expectations remove you from the now. Expectations are as far from Zen as you can get.

Because Zen is only about the Here and the Now.

Surrender
What does it mean to surrender? Surrender is embracing the unknown. Surrender is accepting that nothing is promised.

Accepting that nothing is promised, you are allowed to encounter each moment in its perfection. Encountering each moment in its perfection is the essence of Zen.

Well, though the girl and I remained close for a time, we never had the opportunity to take our infatuation to the next level. She eventually became a Scientologist. Me, I went to India.

Surrender, because in that surrender all is allowed to be as it should be.


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