The beginning and the end of every spiritual path is surrender. People who have never experienced it tend to ask: surrender to who or to what? But a more important question is: who or what surrenders? The standard answer is the ego ~ but then what exactly is the ego, and what happens when it surrenders?
Every being in creation, human or otherwise, is ultimately a mask of the OM. It’s right there all the time, and it’s really you, but to expose this secret identity you have to penetrate and unpeel the infinite layers of your personal onion. This is difficult work, and it’ll surely make you cry. Why? Because you’re pretty firmly convinced that you are who you think you are: your personal self in a physical body. Your very life seems to depend on this illusion, of which the first layer is the ego. So the prospect of surrendering your ego can be downright terrifying ~ you may feel like you’re going to die.
In order to take the plunge, most people need assurance that the death of their ego is not the end of everything, but rather a passage to the next layer of reality. A very good way to attain this certitude is to first make contact with someone or something already established in that reality, and form a relationship with him, her, or it. The most popular of these spiritual contacts is God, because of the obvious advantages of going right to the top. When you surrender to God in your heart, you can’t go wrong ~ you eliminate the potential pitfalls of dealing with intermediaries. But even this has become challenging for many people today.
The signature development of the modern age was a magnification of the ego and an elevation of the individual to the sovereign place in society. Thence there proceeded the overthrow of all other sovereigns: kings and queens, aristocrats and nobles, potentates, pontiffs, and ultimately even God. So when dispirited individuals try to win back their souls, and grope about in the dark for a dharma, they’re usually suspicious of surrendering to anyone or anything beyond the bounds of their sacrosanct ego ~ even or especially to God.
What can be done by such spiritual orphans, lost in the lonely crowd of pseudo-sovereigns, kings and queens of the infinite space in their private nutshells? There’s hope in the fact that even these inner sanctums are penetrated by Spirit, which permeates everything and everyone. For indeed the universe is a hologram, an illusion created by the laser-light of Spirit, which is the substratum of actual reality.
People can therefore surrender to Spirit without fear of compromising their personal integrity or bowing to an outside power that’s totally separate from themselves ~ as the Western God is traditionally held to be. Truly enlightened traditions (including some that were transmitted secretly in the West) know that Spirit is the internal, external, eternal essence. Surrendering to Spirit in an ongoing way is devoting yourself to the best within you, as well as honoring exalted expressions of Spirit when they appear outside of you. So you can have your cake and eat it too ~ as long as you lose your ego.