Author Archives: Swami Satrupananda Saraswati

Surrendering to Your Greatness

By Swami Satrupananda

Do more.  Try harder.  I was given this advice as the key to success in life.  If you want to get a promotion at work, take on more responsibility.  If you want to improve your golf game, practice more.  If you are struggling with establishing a new lifestyle habit, try harder.  This is the notion that by doing more you’ll be more.  

However, yoga approaches it differently and says that surrender is essential.  

Surrender can be a scary word.  We associate surrender with waving the white flag, an admission of defeat.  Surrender can also be reluctantly accepting the current undesirable circumstances.  This is not what the yogis meant by surrender.  Throughout history, yogis have been people who were not satisfied with their personal status quo.  They wanted something different from life.  They applied themselves to a greater goal, even though it went against the cultural norms.  

So what is yogic surrender?

To understand yogic surrender, let’s compare the underlying principles between modern success and yogic attainment.  In the West, we are taught that by doing more you’ll be more.  

In contrast, yoga is based on the principle that you are already great, whole and complete.  You are not merely great, you are Greatness itself.  Any word you use to describe the whole of your being is limited. You are that Divine Essence which is beyond words.  The ancient yogis called it “That”.

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The problem is, your Greatness is hidden inside, just behind your mind.  Since you don’t know your own Greatness, you feel lost, small, unworthy and alone.  You look for a replacement.  You construct identities around the work you do, the relationships you are in and the places you live.  Your mind works hard at creating and maintaining these identities. 

This is where yogic surrender comes in.  You are already Greatness; you are That. To discover That, you surrender your constructed identities.  You give up the notion that you are merely what you do, who you know and where you live.  You embrace that you are That.  You see and be your own That-ness, and you see it in everyone and everything.  Baba Muktananda described it:

Surrender means to become one with That, to merge with That.

You let go of your idea of being small and step into your Greatness.  You surrender to your Greatness.  It’s a great promise but not necessarily easy.  Letting go of your constructed identities can be difficult.  They are so familiar.  And they are so painful.

A few years ago, I had a busy mind at the beginning of a meditation period.  My mind was comparing me to others, and I was ending up on the bottom.  I was feeling small.  My constructed identity of being someone valuable and worthy was being threatened.  My mind wanted to do more and try harder to patch up my shaky constructed identity.

But I couldn’t find a solution that made me feel like it would work.  I was scared.  If I gave up this constructed identity, who would I be?  I didn’t know.  Yet I did know the instructions that my Guru gave me for meditation.  I followed them and repeated mantra.  As I continued to repeat mantra, a shift happened inside.  I settled deeper into my That-ness.  Then I could see that I was holding onto the constructed identity.  The act of comparing myself was what was keeping me small.  So I surrendered the comparison.  I surrendered my smallness, and I got my Greatness.

We can learn about surrendering from a way to catch a monkey.  In India, they take a jar with a wide base and a narrow opening.  The opening would be just wide enough for monkey to slide its hand into the jar.  The jar was then tied with a rope to something solid.  A shiny coin or piece of food was placed in the jar.  A monkey would pass by the jar and become interested in the treat inside.  It slipped its hand into the jar and grabbed the lucky prize.  Now, however, the fist, grabbing the treat, was too big to go through the jar’s narrow opening.  The monkey was trapped.  The monkey had a simple way of getting free.  Just let go of the little treat.  

But the monkey holds on tight and starts screaming.  They gave up their freedom for a little treat.  

The same is true for us.  We are the ones holding onto our limited constructed identities.  And the price we pay is our freedom.  We give up our Greatness.

So how do you develop your ability to surrender? Swami Muktananda tells us:

Meditate more and surrender will come.

Swami Muktananda, From the Finite to the Infinite, page 322

Every time you meditate, you experience your own Greatness.  The more you experience and know your own Greatness, the easier it is to surrender to your Greatness.  Then you abide in your Greatness all the time.

So meditate more, not to be more, but to surrender to your Greatness.  It can be a tricky balance to play.  I recommend meeting and studying with one who has fully surrendered and lives from the knowing of their Greatness within.  They know the yogic path to surrender and want to share it with you.  Come meet Satguru Nirmalananda.  She will help you surrender to your Greatness.

Decisions Based on Bliss

By Swami Satrupananda

Life is a series of choices.  Every decision you make determines your future trajectory in life.  When you are in a state of clarity, you calmly assess your current situation.  You consider your options.  Then you make a choice as you aim for a certain outcome.  Where are your choices taking you?  Do your decisions lead you towards an outcome you want?  

The effectiveness of your decision is based on:

  • Assessment — Your assessment of your current situation is accurate.
  • Options — You are considering all options.
  • Goal — You clearly understand your goal. 
  • Awareness — You are aware of your personal process, how you make decisions. 

When any one of these is compromised, your decisions may not be effective: 

Assessment — You might incorrectly assess your situation or only assess part of it.  For example, you are busy thinking of your response, so you mishear someone’s question.  Your answer is not effective.

Options — You might not be aware of all your options.  You restrict yourself to familiar patterns.  Perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to have someone share a potentiality they see in you.  They help you discover that you can do and be more than you thought. 

Goal — You lose sight of your goal in your decision-making moment.  Or perhaps you do not have a goal or even have conflicting goals.  You want to lose weight and eat chocolate cake too. 

The most important factor is your awareness.  You first need to be aware that you are making a decision.  When you have arrived at your destination, do you remember if you stopped at the red light?  It’s too easy to have your life decisions be knee jerk reactions instead of conscious decisions. 

Psychologists have estimated that the average adult makes 35,000 decisions a day[1].  Approximately 227 of these decisions are about food[2].  Are you aware of all of these decisions?  Imagine making conscious decisions that would be aligning your actions, words and thoughts consciously towards your goals.  How would this change your life?

One decision-making psychologist recommended yoga to increase your awareness.  I was delighted!  Yes, yoga is all about awareness.  That’s why we start and end each yoga class with a guided awareness.  Practicing awareness is so important that it is done twice in every Svaroopa® yoga class.

Yet simply being aware of every decision is not enough.  That’s because your decisions might be based on an inaccurate assumption.  It’s human nature to operate on an assumption of lack.  You lack something, so you make a choice to fill the lack.  You assume that a decision will make you healthier, happier or somehow better.  

Yoga changes your assumption.  Instead of lacking anything, yoga says you are already full, whole and complete.  You are fullness itself, which yoga calls your Self.

How do you transition from an assumption of lack to an assumption of fullness?  Shaktipat.  Shaktipat is a sacred initiation given by a Satguru.  In the initiation, the Satguru reveals the fullness and wholeness that you are.  This revelation shatters the underlying assumption of lack.  

While you might not know your fullness all the time yet, after receiving Shaktipat, it is always available.  The fullness delightfully creeps into the nooks and crannies of your body, mind and heart.  The assumption of fullness takes over.

I had a tangible experience of this restructuring of assumptions.  In a meditation, I could feel the internal structures being rewired.  It was tangibly happening in my spine.  I could feel the energy connections, channels, supports and structures being moved and re-aligned.  

I knew that I had been changed on a deep level.  It’s like I had new equipment — my body, mind and heart were forever changed.  Even if I tried to do my familiar limiting patterns, my internal system wouldn’t take it.  I was being rewired to know my own svaroopa — the bliss of my own Beingness.

This restructuring takes some time.  You must participate in the process.  You choose to follow the practices given by the Satguru so that you can support your own restructuring.  And the goal is clearly described in the yogic texts for you.  Once you fully realize your fullness, your own Self, you live in bliss:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham.

This yogi experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others. — Shiva Sutras 1.18

This is a promise of your future.  You will experience the sweet bliss of your own Self all the time.  This bliss is not affected by location, not by the people nor the activities around you.  This is such a great promise.  It means you can achieve the highest in the midst of your life.  You can know the bliss of the Self right where you are.  It also promises that you will always be experiencing bliss.  Then your decisions run on the assumption of bliss:

  • Assessment — You see everyone and everything as your own blissful Self.  You can take in the whole situation.  You accurately assess the situation.
  • Options — You consider all options.  You see bliss in every outcome, so all options are up for consideration. 
  • Goal — You are experiencing the fullness and wholeness of your being.  You do not need anything.  Thus your goal is to share the bliss that fills you.  The bliss overflows and you share it with others.
  • Awareness — You are aware of the whole process.  You are awareness itself.

Now this is truly the way to live.  Give up your assumption of lack.  Instead, upgrade your assumption to bliss.  Get Shaktipat and do the practices they teach you.  Luckily, I happen to know one — Satguru Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati.  Come study with her and live a life fueled by bliss.


[1] How Many Decisions Do We Make Each Day? | Psychology Today

[2] We Make Lots Of Choices Every Day, But Exactly How Many? | PBS North Carolina (pbsnc.org)