Devopama reflects

In Poona one, and on the Ranch surrender seemed to imply submission, obedience to authority, doing what you were told. We heard Osho tell the story of the great Tibetan Master Milarepa being made by his master Marpa to build a house and then pull it down, a process repeated several times over. Gurdjieff did the same with his disciples, and I always feel an affinity reading accounts of his ‘Ranch’ at Fontainbleau. I think we Westerners took a long time to gain any understanding of what Osho meant by surrender. Yet Osho could also often be heard talking about freedom, individuality, rebellion even, and this we Western disciples thought was our language. For us No was only too natural. It was saying Yes that was hard, whereas Indian sannyasins found Yes only too easy. This was a difference between East and West Osho commented on several times.

Once I do remember on the Ranch when I acted out my feeling of revolt, of No – and the Ma’s in charge (Dolma and Vidya as I remember) said Yes, and accepted my decision. It was over going back into a Security job and sitting in those little Guard Box huts watching the cars go by. I just could not face the immobility of it, the isolation. I wanted to go out and play with my Survey Crew gang. Afterwards wondering how I had ‘got away’ with my little rebellion in a milieu where submissiveness posing as surrender seemed to be the rule, I attributed it to the totality of my conviction, its purity. Or maybe they could see I was almost about to have a nervous breakdown over it! Afterwards I did feel a great sense of gratitude, of elation, and of freedom.

The incident has stayed with me and thinking about it again nearly thirty years later I realise I’m back in the same predicament. Only this time there is no clear avenue of escape. My Guard Box is a bit bigger and I can cruise around the corridors and garden paths in my electric buggy. But there is no more roaming over hills and vales, going in a car off my ‘Ranch cum Home’, visiting far-flung friends. My companions here are all twenty to thirty years older than my mere seventy. They were all in the Second World War, and between us there is a chasm culturally. They have never experienced that mixing, or even dissolving, of nationalities sannyasins know and celebrate.

I am unmistakeably English, cannot disguise it. But I don’t feel content being back here in England. The English provinces seem so limited in outlook, narrow in their interests. I have always preferred living ‘abroad’, and loved being in America for that reason, a foreign country that spoke my own language (sort of). Gurdjieff could never bear the thought of living in England because of its barbarous food and climate. There is plenty of both where I live.

I can revolt against it – everything that affronts my ego, my conditioned sense of who I am. I do sometimes go and have a scream away from earshot. But there is not much energy in it, and it does not make me feel any better. Alternatively I can ‘surrender’ to my situation. Meaning what? How?

Acceptance, watching my mind as it writhes and squirms. There is a looking, an acknowledging of what is going on. Ah, there goes Mrs G again, there goes A’s TV blasting my corridor. Ugh, this must be one of John’s packaged soups. Of course I seek to change what can be changed – TV noise, poor food. We have food meetings, but seemingly simple things can be a big struggle. Getting someone to turn their TV down or close their door is never a matter of a simple request, a ‘please’. It involves a whole diplomatic negotiation with Carers and nurses. Surrendering, accepting is far from passive. In fact as far as I can see I am the most rebellious inmate here, and I chafe at the English placidity of my fellow inmates. They have been too long in the army obeying orders. So just having to live in a Nursing Home is a constant challenge. It is a rather different form of Commune than the ones we have been used to, but it still forces me to be aware of my reactions. Yet it has its own rewards – some of my oldies have been very fine, charitable men, a privilege to have known.

And then there is my disease itself (MS), with its insidious increasingly rapid advance through my brain. Again one can rant and scream out ‘Why me?’ But that is to no avail. Nothing can be done. MS is incurable the medical ‘experts’ tell one. And they are largely right. Yet there are a small number of those whose ‘No’ has brought them victory, a cure. There is a very good cheery magazine solely devoted to alternative treatments MS sufferers have found helpful, even curative. But such cures in most cases involve a fairly restrictive non-saturated fat diet,. This is a major frustration for me here where meat and dairy are the mainstay of every meal. I can’t bring myself to eat what only makes me worse and adds to my lethargy. So I have to negotiate my way round the worst excesses and have regular confabs with the cooks. Sadly for me there are limits to what an institution is willing to do for just one member.

I do have a sense still of hope; it would be another huge step to have to live in this body with absolutely no hope whatsoever of any stabilization or improvement. Remember Osho’s phrase in a different context, ‘hoping against hope’. In First Poona Ma Veet Asho was a good friend. Often I have pondered on her name’s meaning: beyond hope. No hope means no future; just the present however ‘miserable’ that might be. I see people here with my same disease almost completely paralysed, bedridden. They can have no hope, yet they go on living. When passing by their rooms I sometimes stop and marvel, go in and say hello to raise a smile. They must be in a state of complete let-go, physically at least.

All this is the outer, the body with its brain, which I am very aware of all the time because it does not function smoothly. There is no likelihood of going on automatic when almost every movement demands an added effort, almost a conscious decision – to get up, to take a step forward, to spoon soup into my mouth without slopping it all over the place. Most mornings (depending on when I am got up, and if the TV next door is not blaring so early) I manage a half-hour sit, and that can be blissful and is always centering. It is then a question of maintaining that inner awareness, that centred calm as I boogie myself to breakfast and the noise and agro of the day. My meditation is who, what, is doing all this; who is witnessing. And in that comes the surrender, not to anyone in particular though that can be part of it – to angry carers, to poor cooking, to noisy neighbours. Surrender I take in the sense of acceptance. It is like in Vipassana, naming the thoughts as they pass through the mind’s eye. It is neither passive, nor fatalistic. Ah here comes fatigue, inability to focus, TV noise, leg cramps, body spasm. And really that is my day, with some interesting (to my mind’s taste) reading or a radio/TV programme, plus a cruise around the big garden here when it’s sunny.

If fear is there note down that fear is there and accept it. What can you do? Nothing can be done; fear is there. See, if you can just note down the fact that fear is there, where is the fear then? You have accepted it; it has dissolved. Acceptance dissolves; only acceptance, nothing else. If you fight you create another disturbance and this can go on ad infinitum, then there is no end to it….Suppressed, you never experience the thing in its totality, you never gain anything out of it. Wisdom comes through suffering and wisdom comes through acceptance. Whatsoever the case, be at ease with it. [A Bird on the Wing Ch.1]

Just accepting a quiet, pretty reclusive life. Is there joy in this? Not much elation; but neither am I depressed. I don’t need Prozac thank you. It’s not a life’s ending I would have chosen. I don’t recommend it as a meditation, I’m sure there are easier ways. And yet… others with MS are much worse – I see them bedridden in my Home, let alone worse chronic diseases. Stephen Hawking paralysed in his computerised wheelchair is a celebrity case. But it is not a question of comparisons.

My situation is a wonderful one for inner work, for awareness. I feel it gives me depth, a lovely Osho word. I don’t have to busy myself looking after shopping, cooking, earning/managing money affairs – a decent enough Home with fine grounds is provided free. It is such an opportunity to go in. And that is so exciting and challenging, an adventure to embark on time and time again. To watch this mind and keep looking for that elusive Self within it, hiding away asking to be revealed. Ah this, and this, and this.

Would I say yes to a cure? Of course, and I do keep hoping – my latest is appropriately called Esperanza! But – meanwhile I practice acceptance. Accepting now and here brings in the Present moment, the only one there is.

(This article first appeared in Viha Connection Magazine)

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10 Responses to Surrender

  1. alok john says:

    If it was me, I’d probably eat the meat and dairy products and consider that as part of surrender. After all the sooner you leave the body, the sooner you get a new body.

  2. amrito says:

    Hey Devopama,
    I really love your article. It’s a beautiful expression of your experiences and I will read it a couple of times more to absorb it further.

    Perhaps the greatest treasure given by Osho is that meditation can be completely liquid in all situations of life. It’s a freedom in every circumstance to go in, and no one can stop anyone from that.

    I love your acceptance of the fact ” I don’t recommend it as a meditation, I’m sure there are easier ways”.

    This I found very humbling and warm, it striked a chord in the fact that, everyone is bound to have their own circumstance to grow. And I know so many people who push their own circumstances on others so there is commonground. Nonetheless, I found commonground with your descripition of Vipassana and witnessing: very profound.

    Thank You,


  3. sonam says:

    beloved devopama,

    I am touched by your words and I am grateful for your being. Thank you for your “grace and grit”. Humility, acceptance, and the perseverance to witness.

    Much love,

  4. pujarin says:

    thank you from all my heart. You tought me such an essential lesson on surrendering, being here, accepting – which doesn´t mean getting passive. It all became much clearer to me by your gentle way of talking about it and I can only say thank you again and wish you to stay on the track and fell the bliss of it. – Pujarin

  5. Ram Trivedi says:

    Thanks for sharing your being.
    yes, accept,surrender.
    deo jump.
    I,ll join you soon.
    love……sw ..ram

  6. . Pankaja says:

    Beloved Devo,
    reading this again touched me so deeply. Your meditation on acceptance and surrender feels like an anchor into reality – I have so many ways of avoidance that you do not. In a way that feels like a gift, though not one that many would choose. Thankyou beloved friend,

  7. alok john says:

    Here is a favourite quote from Tao : The Three Treasures, Vol 4, Chapter 7


    And Lao Tzu insists on the second point also; that life does not believe in strength. Weakness has a beauty in it, because it is tender and soft. A storm comes, big trees will fall — strong; and small plants — they will simply bend; and then the storm goes by and they are again smiling and flowering. In fact the storm has made them just fresh, it has taken their dust, that’s all. They are more alive, younger, fresher, and, the storm has given them a good bath. And the old trees — very strong, they have fallen, because they resisted, they would not-bend, they were very egoistic.

    Lao Tzu says: Life loves the weak. And that is the meaning of Jesus’ sayings: Blessed are the meek, because they shall inherit the earth; Blessed are the poor, the poor-in spirit; Blessed are those who weep, because they shall be comforted.

    Christianity goes on missing the meaning of Jesus’ sayings, because those sayings are Lao Tzuan. Unless they are related to Lao Tzu they cannot be interpreted rightly. The whole teaching of Jesus is: Be alive and be weak. That’s why he says if somebody hits you on the face give him the other side also. If somebody takes your coat, give him your shirt also. And if somebody forces you to walk with him for one mile, go for two miles. He is saying be weak — Blessed are the meek.

    What is there in weakness which is blessed? Because ordinarily the so-called leaders of the world, teachers of the world, they go on saying: Be strong. And this Lao Tzu and Jesus, they say: Be weak.

    Weakness has something in it — because it is not hard. To be strong one needs to be hard. To be hard one needs to flow against life. If you want to be strong, you will have to fight the flow, only then will you become strong, there is no other way to become strong. If you want to become strong move upcurrent. The more the river forces you against it the more you become stronger.

    To be weak, flow with the river; wherever it is going, go with it. To flow with the river… if the river says go with me for one mile, go for two miles, if the river takes your coat give your shirt also, and if the river slaps you on one cheek, give the other.

    Weakness has a certain beauty in it. That beauty is that of grace, the beauty is that of non-violence, AHIMSA, that beauty is that of love, forgiveness, the beauty is that of no conflict. And unless Lao Tzu is understood well, and humanity starts feeling for Lao Tzu, humanity cannot live in peace.”

    And if the river offers you one portion of dairy, eat two!

  8. Beloved devopama,
    Thank U for for the insite and an window to what hapens to someone that has had all the opportunities for growth that Osho* the beloved helped and helping*this is m`a Joy!*
    I myself immagine being in the ocean caught in a storm as in the old times and present one as sea fearers often are confronted with; thank U Osho*!We can fight and ask for the Lord`s grace to surrender to it; or alow Lord to show Us what surrender is and to What* we are fighting to,*Were from? Become vulnarable,and therefore our accuality becomes a presence!We´re vulnrables whether this mind believes it or not!I´m vulnarable!

  9. Hev says:

    supplemental vitamin D may help.x

  10. dhyan says:

    it is good to hear from you. I have read about you being in the home, i forgot what her name is, has written about visiting you. It is quite by accident that I come across this site right now, as I have just remembered you, pondering a visit to Santa Fe after all these years. You lived in that little house, in the outskirts. I never finished that school. We are therefore, neither this, nor that.