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The Art Of Surrender: Why Planning And Controlling Things Don’t Always Work

We’ve all probably seen something like this happen before: we try to take control, we try to do too much, and in the end, the results are never even as good as we like them to be. We want friends to act to a certain standard; we want the world to perceive our work a certain way. At times like this, letting be and letting go becomes a better option – a choice rooted in wisdom. Sur, the art of surrender sounds quite paradoxical. And yet, sometimes, the best way to get somewhere is to stop trying.

This is what Dr. Amy Johnson of Tiny Buddha says in a brief reflective article on the art of surrender. In it, she explains that sometimes, “the energy of surrender accomplishes more than the energy of control”.

What does that mean?

Going With The Flow

Johnson uses the image of boat to make her point: imagine navigating a river, paddling with your  life upstream. In fighting a current, there requires a certain energy, a certain modicum of control at play. The art of surrender suggests that you let go of the oars, and ride the boat out to where the current takes it.

Surrendering, doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on one’s endeavors. it simply means transmuting your energy into going with the flow, rather than fighting against it.

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Mark Matousek of Huffington Post has also written about the merits of the art of surrender. He once asked his participants in a workshop what they thought of surrender. The answers were overwhelmingly of negative images: defeat, resignation, losing.

That reveals a certain misunderstanding: surrendering doesn’t have to mean surrendering to another person, or an adversary. It means surrendering to the universe, the forces that be, or God, as it were. It means letting one’s self be taken where they will be taken, instead of trying of insisting one’s destination by one’s self. One can’t be fighting against the flow all of the time; that kind of boat is often the kind that ends up dashed on the rocks. Let go, and go with the flow.

Choosing Freedom

Another paradox: letting go doesn’t sound like it will get you the freedom that everyone craves. But sometimes letting go is precisely what sets you free. Whether you’re a teacher, student, artist, businessman, whatever it is – you have to decide whether something is within your control or influence.

If it’s not within your control, but you try to control it anyway, you’re enclosed. You’re banging your head against a closed door. Let go, and you’ll find you’ll yourself led to the doors that are open instead.

It’s not necessarily an easy choice. But neither are most things that allow people a step toward their own mode of enlightenment.

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