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Buddhist Mysticism: The Art of Surrendering

Surrendering

Quotations from Dennis Genpo Merzel

In our practice, really to fail, once and for all, to fail absolutely and completely: that is it.
(p. 112)


"Practice" refers to Zen meditation. Failure is the essence of surrender.

When you give it all up, you get it all. You end up losing absolutely nothing, other than some well cherished opinions and ideas.
(p. 39)


"Give it all up" refers to surrendering. By surrendering the ego to Zen meditation, the rewards are many: happiness, love, patience — these are all transformed into their positive forms.

The very effort to stop the ceaseless movement of thoughts keeps us stirred up. Just give up all this effort to stop thinking! Fruitful effort is to let go of effort. Strive to stop striving! When you do, everything settles by itself.
(p. 31)


Why try to stop the ceaseless movement of thoughts then? There is no point in trying to stop thinking. It is easier to follow each thought as they come and go. By letting go of "stop thinking", the calm mind arises eventually. This is what is meant by "everything settles by itself."

And what really happens the moment you say, 'OK, thoughts, come up, I welcome you!' Suddenly there are no thoughts! What is happening? 'Come on, thoughts, where are you?' Except for an occasional blip, they stop arising.
(p. 96)


When the Zen practitioner becomes open to the ceaseless movement of thoughts, all of his thoughts will leave him less stirred up. In the end, he shall achieve "no-thought" with little effort. Even when he goes looking for them during the practice, the movement of thought no longer distract him.

It is a simple fact: whatever you resist will persist. If you are resisting suffering, you suffer more. If you are resisting confusion, you remain confused. If you are looking for peace, you find yourself constantly disturbed. If you are seeking after clarity, you are in a muddle. If you do not want to be angry, you are going to walk around angry. If you do not mind being angry, you will never be bothered about anger, because you will not be holding on to it. Having no opinion for or against, just being open to whatever comes, you are free.
(p. 97)"


By resisting change, the thinking mind will continue. That which you resist may cause its opposite to arise, be it suffering, confusion and even peace. The Zen practitioner ought not mind being angry until he is no longer bothered about it, due to letting go of it. Likewise, to neither be for or against the opinions you hold dear, is true liberation.

By surrendering to the ceaseless movements of thoughts, I develop the ability to rise above them and not let them stir up my feelings.

Thus, letting go of "thinking" by returning to "breathing", no-thought is achieved.

Despite the ebb and flow of "just thinking", it is still possible to be free of their influence. By not minding being angry, I am able to let go of anger.

By not clinging to anger, I am free of it.

Indeed, by not clinging to thoughts, true freedom arises.

This is what the art of surrendering is about.

Originally posted: October 17, 2003 3:27 AM

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