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21 January 2022

Welcoming the New Year in the Spirit of Surrender

by Hugo Ticciati

Resolutions and Surrender: A Delicate Balance

At the beginning of the year, many of us take the decision to make one or more New Year’s resolutions. We make firm pledges to take this or that positive action to improve our lives, or to abstain from doing things that we think might be detrimental to our wellbeing. This can nurture many positive changes – even if, sometimes, the pledges don’t last as long as we intend!

There is, however, a danger in making such promises to ourselves because it sets up an internal conflict or division between the way things are and the way we would like them to be. That discrepancy is, of course, the very essence of a New Year’s resolution – we want to do something that will change our lives for the better, and there is no doubt that this is, in and of itself, an admirable aspiration. Nevertheless, the desire for change requires an effort of self-will that arises from what one might call the egoic plane of consciousness. Although there is nothing inherently wrong in this, in order to counterbalance the internal division, one needs to flip the coin and embrace desire’s polar opposite – surrender, and in particular, a surrender to the reality of what is.

Many spiritual disciplines speak of the importance of surrender, and at this time of the year, when self-improvement is very much on the agenda, it’s important to open oneself up to what this means. Surrendering to the reality of the present moment – to the reality of what is – necessarily includes seeing our weaknesses and fallibilities for what they are rather than fighting them from a judgmental position, or trying to resist them by asserting our willpower. We have to acknowledge that our frailties as well as our strengths are an intrinsic part of our make-up. The kind of surrender that takes place in the light of this understanding grows from a deep trust in life and its mysterious ways, and it can be the doorway that leads from a space of unknowing to an evolution of change that is reflected in the New Year’s promises made at a conscious level. This dark space of surrender is the still and silent womb of grace.

Meditation is not a technique to master; it is the highest form of prayer, a naked act of love and effortless surrender into the silent abyss beyond all-knowing. — Adyashanti