Surrendering to the Divine

What does it mean to surrender one’s life to the Divine?

It is to place the Divine between one’s perceptions/emotions/thoughts and one’s actions.

Perceptions/emotions/thoughts normally call out for action. An instinctual response.

For example, I might be getting invisalign to straighten my teeth. Thinking about this makes me feel anxious and self-conscious. There is no seperation between the thought and feeling self-conscious, or feeling bad and defensive and maybe a bit sad.

To surrender this issue to God is to insert God between the thought and the reaction of feeling self-conscious, such that God will guide my reaction to the thought.

To feel self-conscious in reaction to the thought means that I experience the thought as a problem, as something which diminishes me. The thought that I might get invisalign is in itself just a thought – in itself neither good nor bad. But normally I don’t experience the thought that way, so neutrally. I experience it fused with am emotional tremor, as something bad or unpleasant. Ultimately, it is not the thought as such but the emotional tremor which feels indistinguishable from it which has painful, negative consequences, draining me of peace of mind.

Surrendering the thought to God is to ask God to guide my reaction to the troublesome thought. To give over the reaction entirely to God, so that it is no longer my concern what my response to that thought should be. This doesn’t take away necessarily the emotional tremor associated with the thought. Not right away. But it gives it distance from the emotional tremor so that I can start to see that the thought might be conceptually seperable from the emotional tremor which has instinctively been associated with it.

To surrender to the divine is to live beyond brute instinct. To live more reflectively, infusing one’s deepest instincts with a sense of the overall awareness and perspective of life.

Surrendering to God is not passive. It is the opposite of that. It is to embrace living beyond socially cultivated, unreflective instinct.

2 thoughts on “Surrendering to the Divine

  1. Quote: “Surrendering the thought to God is to ask God to guide my reaction to the troublesome thought. …This doesn’t take away necessarily the emotional tremor associated with the thought. … But it gives it distance from the emotional tremor so that I can start to see that the thought might be conceptually separable from the emotional tremor ….To surrender to the divine is to live beyond brute instinct. To live more reflectively, infusing one’s deepest instincts with a sense of the overall awareness and perspective of life.”

    This is very helpful. One difficulty I have is that when I do this, I find myself appealing to a personalized or anthropomorphic conception of God (like Krishna or Jesus), as opposed to a more naturalistic conception of God An example of a naturalistic conception of God your pragmatic conception of God (God is “the energy of the world which guides me to live with the cosmic awareness of how small I and all humans are in the world.”). I can intellectually subscribe only to a naturalistic conception of God, but when I need to appeal to God in navigating everyday life (such as when my emotions are going haywire in conjunction with certain thoughts), I can’t but help think of God in anthropomorphic terms. This discrepancy always makes me uncomfortable: Am I appealing to a conception of God that I don’t believe in during times of anxiety or trouble? Isn’t that stupid? Isn’t that hypocritical?

    I think Anthony Kenny said something about how it’s completely consistent for an agnostic to pray to God: that it’s akin to calling out for help it what appears to one to be an empty forest–just maybe there’s someone out there listening. Kenny’s idea is temporarily comforting, but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem above: I get more comfort from a personal and anthropomorphic, as opposed to a naturalistic, conception of God during times of crisis, yet I am left feeling like a hypocrite for feeling that way because I can’t intellectually embrace the former conception of God. I need for the latter conception to do the work of the former. But something like the the latter conception (“”the energy of the world which guides me to live with the cosmic awareness of how small I and all humans are in the world”) is harder to make work during times of crisis. Not sure if that’s a result of my upbringing.

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    • I feel this myself often. Most of the time the naturalistic conception of God is enough to help me. But sometimes, I find the anthropomorphic conception much more natural and helpful.

      I am fine with this. I have no problem with the anthropomorphic conception. Nature sometimes appears in the form of Christ or Krishna, in a way that is easier for my troubled mind to comprehend. The naturalistic conception itself can raise questions. Does nature really care about me in particular, to help me live with cosmic awareness? Attributing care to nature is already anthropomorphic.

      What matters is the cosmic awareness, of being with the reality of how much small I and humanity are in relation to the world. How I hold on to that just depends on personality, culture, upbringing, which words are soothing for one person and not for another person.

      But isn’t to speak of God to commit to God’s existence? Sure. But isn’t that incompatible with science? No. Not at all. God is the cosmic awareness. The perfect, absolute stillness of the universe. To believe in God is to make that stillness a constant part of myself, so that the stillness guides me through my emotions and confusions.

      Is this what most people mean by god? No. If it were, they wouldn’t fight about it between religions or between religion and science. But is this the essence of religion? I believe it is. It is who Rama, Krishna, Christ are. I pray to the stillness in the form of Rama to guide me.

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