Real Surrender

This post was inspired by current events relevant to our last issue and those that came before it and will come after it, in this chapter.  

I have recently come out of my metaphoric cave and been presented in Connecticut. It has been an education. While I have been telling people about the practice of Surrender Meditation, they have been hearing something else entirely. It seems that the word ‘surrender’ has a different meaning to them than it has to me, and that I will either have to find a way to get this difference across, or change the name of this exquisite practice. 

From what I am hearing, it seems that the word ‘surrender’ has become trendy, and amounts to getting out of one’s own way when in the midst of a challenge of some kind or other, and to not try to control things but go with the flow, etc. The element of abandoning one’s attachment to getting a certain outcome is more to the point. I applaud this. It is a very good practice, and a prelude to real surrender. Though it has elements of surrender, it is not surrender as I mean it, and would more aptly be defined as a ‘momentary renunciation of attachment’. 

Scriptural texts on the subject of surrender yoga are plentiful, and all are in agreement that real surrender is the full surrender of oneself to God (whatever your name is for That) under certain conditions meant to make this degree of surrender possible.

Surrender Yoga

The purpose of this practice is union (yoga) with God—union, unity, communion, reunion, unification, with Truth—and liberation from the cycles of birth and death. It is not about navigating life, though this is inevitably affected in the process. 

Surrender Yoga requires that the proper conditions are in place, and that one fully surrenders oneself to God within this context by abandoning the personal sense of being the one doing things, or being the cause of actions—thoughts, bodily movements, feelings, or even falling asleep…etc. One doesn’t try to control what happens or doesn’t happen, but abandons these kinds of desires, along with the expectations and preconceived ideas associated with them.

What I am calling ‘real surrender’ as it is taught in mystical texts on Yoga, and my own lineage of teachers, is the full surrender of oneself to God—the whole package, not just the mind, not just feelings, and not just the body, but all of it. This surrender is not just an ah-ha moment of realization in the midst of life in general. 

Real surrender requires that you know what you are surrendering (yourself) and what you are surrendering it to (God). These two keys are vital. Then your surrender will protect you and take you to the Divine, God, Truth, the Absolute.

You get what you surrender to, whether you are aware of what you are surrendering to or not.

The trendy form of surrender is mild enough that you may not run into any trouble with it, though there will be some who will. I have come across some of them. Just surrendering, or just opening up, is never a good idea. It is no different than parking your car in a tough part of town with the windows down and the key in the ignition. One must be clear on WHAT one is surrendering, and WHAT one is surrendering it TO—and what that is, should always be God/Truth. If you aren’t specific, anything can come along and drive away with your car.

To the degree that one can do this, to that same degree one is surrendered. It takes time and practice like anything else, but with the proper conditions, it is easy and pleasant, and leads to profound experiences and jet-fast progress. By resorting to God in this way, God will drive your car for you.   


This is not a practice done in groups. And it is not for everyone. It is not a good fit for someone who wants what the world has to offer in the way of enjoyments, success, money, fame, family ties, approval, etc. It is only useful to those who are interested in God, Truth, the Absolute, the Divine, the Real, and to whom this comes first and is not at the bottom of a wish list.

Privacy is of paramount importance. You will not surrender much if there is someone around, or if you can be heard, walked in on or interrupted. While you might start out in less than perfect conditions, you must work toward this kind of privacy.

Another component is time. One tries to practice during the same time-period daily, for at least one hour. It is best not to do more than two hours a day if you have duties and responsibilities that take most of your time. It is a seductive practice, effortless, pleasant and laced with amazing experiences, and after some time of regular practice, there may be a temptation to increase the time.

After a few months, you will begin to notice subtle changes in yourself, often without knowing how or when they changed. This is God at work, taking care of you, because you surrendered to That.

So now, coming to the end of this discourse, I am thinking that I may revert to calling this practice by its Sanskrit name, Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, meaning ‘the activating force given (shaktipat) for the purpose of accelerating evolution (kundalini) through union with God (yoga)’

But will such a long and enigmatic (though literal) title be acceptable? Click on “Leave a comment” at the bottom, and let me know what you think. If you have an interest in learning more about this practice, click here.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma

VI:37-39 Falling from Yoga

Self-control is just as necessary in Yoga as it is in daily life. In the path of the Will, one uses their willpower to succeed in their practice. In the path of Surrender, one abandons control in meditation by surrendering to God/Truth. But what happens if you fall from Yoga? 

Continuing from the last verses in which Arjuna (you) asked Lord Krishna (God/Guru) some questions… 

Arjuna spoke:
If one has faith but is not controlled and falls away from Yoga without achieving success, where does one go?

Here we find yet one more Sanskrit word for ‘control’ within the word ‘uncontrolled’. The meaning of ‘uncontrolled’ here is that he is ‘not an ascetic’. Other definitions of this word consider that it is synonymous with ‘not making necessary efforts’ because one is ‘unrestrained, uncontrolled, undisciplined’ and therefore unable to achieve success—even if he has faith in these teachings of Lord Krishna.

In other words, he is not a true seeker if he is not making an effort. He cannot otherwise achieve restraint of the senses, and therefore the mind and life energy, and we need this to happen or we cannot get past the throat chakra and enter into a true meditative state. So we must be self-disciplined enough to at least maintain a regular practice and not fall from Yoga.

Ultimately, restraint, or control, has nothing to do with you at all, but with the senses, mind and prana (Life Energy). What we are seeking is their restraint—when the senses withdraw, the mind becomes still and prana concentrates in one place. This is called pratyahara. It will happen automatically in Surrender Meditation—the senses will spontaneously withdraw from their objects and ultimately separate from their faculties, and you will find yourself in the deepest possible state of real meditation.

When the senses are busy, the mind is busy. When the mind is busy, the life energy is busy. When the senses, the mind and the life energy are not busy (restrained), all are still and at peace (and so are you), and Real Meditation begins.

You have taken a road that is not generally practiced by others, with the promise of true and lasting happiness. But what if you have faith in the truth of these teachings but your self-discipline is a little shaky? And what if you find yourself skipping your meditation, or not finding the time for it? What if you ultimately give up on it altogether? What happens if you fall from yoga? This is Arjuna’s question.

A resolution to the possibility of failure is found in the verb root of the word for ‘controlled, or restrained’. It means ‘to be loyal to’ and ‘to give one’s self up to’—to commit yourself to surrender yourself to God.

Sounds rather pleasant, doesn’t it? This has indeed been my own experience (do you imagine I would have practiced yoga sadhana for forty years otherwise?). When something is pleasant, we like it. When we like something we are inclined to seek and find more of it, and self-discipline, self-control, is no longer an issue.

If he does fall from Yoga and has no solid ground, does he not come to nothing, like a thunder cloud torn asunder, and deprived of both ?

Arjuna wants to know what will happen to him if he is unsuccessful in ascending to yoga, but falls from Yoga, and expresses some of his fears about failure. He worries that if he continues but fails, he will not fit in anywhere—he won’t be able to return to the normal life he had before, and he won’t have achieved God-realization, either.

Arjuna’s previous orientation was to use his willpower to succeed at any undertaking, but Lord Krishna has suggested he surrender to Him, and now Arjuna’s orientation is forever changed. 

This conversation between God (Krishna, the guru) and You (Arjuna, the disciple) is on a battle field for a reason: It is a really Big Deal. It all sounds rather scary, but your certainty of its importance has caused you to make this huge investment. 

You are the only one who can completely eradicate my doubts, Krishna. Other than You, no remover of this doubt of mine exists.

What does one do in this situation if one has no guru? Not only is this a big investment, but it is likely to change you to the point that you find yourself on the outside of your usual social circles, and out of the groove for hitting the fast-lane to make a living. On top of that, you have only one place to go if you need help: guru.

Arjuna trusts Krishna and accepts that what He has been teaching him is True, but he also knows from what he has been taught (as have you and I), that he is his own means of success and can’t point the finger at anyone or anything else if he doesn’t make it. So now he is calling on his guru-disciple relationship with Krishna to put his mind at rest, and is no doubt hoping for some reassurance.

In the next verses, Lord Krishna alleviates Arjuna’s discomfort—and ours—with the hoped for reassurance.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

The Magic of Shaktipat, Part 2

The following is an excerpt from a book written several years ago. If you should find what appear to be inconsistencies in excerpts from my books, they are not due to informational changes, but changes in my own way of putting things.

Divine Energy  

Sanskrit, ‘the language of the Gods’ according to scholars, has several words for energy according to its function. Three of these are shakti, prana, and kundalini.

Shakti—The Activating Power

The word shakti means ‘power.’ Shakti is the Divine Energy whose function is to make things happen. Put another way, energy is called shakti when it instigates activity. Because it is shakti that gets things going, the word ‘shakti’ also implies initiation. In the Christian tradition, this same activating energy is known as the Holy Spirit.

Prana—The Sustaining Power

We do not have a word in English for the life energy. We have tried calling it ‘life force’ but neither word, ‘life’ or ‘force,’ has much to do with what it is that keeps us alive. In Sanskrit, the life energy in the body is called prana.  Put another way, when energy functions in the capacity of maintaining and sustaining life, it is called prana. Prana is responsible for healing and for keeping us alive. She has the power to sustain life indefinitely. When she leaves the body this is known as ‘death.’

Kundalini—The Evolutionary Power

Kundalini is what we call the Divine Energy acting in its evolutionary capacity. The word kundala from which the word kundalini is formed, means a circle, ring, coil, snake, or spiral. The word kundalini means ‘the little coiled one.’ Coiled up, it lies dormant at the base of the spine. After it has been awakened, the energy can rise up and begin the evolutionary process. Ordinarily, evolution takes place slowly with the birth of new bodies, but if kundalini can be awakened it has the opportunity to evolve the being in the current lifetime.

Harnessing the Life Energy

When prana is free to act on its own, it becomes very strong. Normally, however, we keep the life energy under the domination of our mind, and prana is not free. We harness prana in order to achieve our goals in life and to succeed. This is a natural phase of life, but there is a price. The price is to not attain liberation. Most of us are willing to pay that price. Not having had the experience of liberation, we don’t have the foggiest idea what we are missing. In fact, as long as we are getting a lot of our desires fulfilled and goals achieved, we feel pretty good, so there is very little motivation to look beyond.

I believe it is important to achieve some degree of success in mastering the prana. If you have never experienced success, you will never stop trying. Why?  Because at some level you have an awareness that it is important to find your power and know that you can be effective. This has to be real to you. If you feel powerless, you will be reluctant to let go, to give up control—you will be reluctant to surrender. In this state, how can you get yourself to accept whatever comes as a result of allowing prana to be free? And why would you choose to give up chasing desires if you never knew what it felt like to have them fulfilled? Fulfilled desire can seem like heaven on earth, but there’s a catch. Having had this experience, it can become addicting. It can lead to misuse, obsession, or indulgence, and the ultimate paradise of absolute freedom, liberation, is lost.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.


To that last sentence I would add: As long as you entertain a desire, you are reinforcing the illusion that you do not already have what it is that you desire. We all have it all. It’s just a matter of access. If you want to pursue something, pursue access, not the desire itself. That is utterly useless.

Durga Ma

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