Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Never Surrender/Always Surrender

                  REPORTING FOR DUTY

ticktock says the clock    click-clack the brain
daylight scuttles in   mincing on naked rat feet
right behind it humps   this hungry world   this
earth-plane shimmy-shake   old slug with teeth

got the heart for it once more   scribbler man--
spewing gouts of incandescent blood at dawn?
nobody knows the password    upside is down
so start over again   like always  scratch  claw

scramble  find a way  bust out   break through
the demon   the angel   they wait in the cracks
zigzagging crazily from Ground Zero  just take
that first wound on the left     you can't miss it


And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses--
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.

-- Anna Akhmatova --


     There are times, like now, when just trying to cope with what this world throws down seems more than I can bear. Stuff keeps on coming, from every angle, and each hit feels like a bull's-eye. Multiply this across so many decades, and you could say my resistance has worn pretty thin. It doesn't take much anymore to stick it in and twist it, right to the bone.

     I'm still juking here, jibing there, doing my best, straining to juggle all these rusty knives. But I'm getting terribly tired; my will falters; my concentration slips. Sooner or later I fear, I'm going to miss one, badly, and it'll wind up quivering blade-deep in my own chest.

     Whatever this particular combination of personal karma, deliberate abuse, or the way life often just happens, there are limits to my endurance, to my will to keep on despite every adversity. After I exceed those limits, I simply can't take any more. I want to give up. And yet...I don't. I go on anyway--without much hope, against all odds, no matter what the cost. How can that be?

     The best answer I've been able to come up with is pure paradox: "Never Surrender/Always Surrender." Unless I consciously live both sides of this paradox--and in exacting priority and relationship--I'm cooked. But if I can somehow penetrate the conundrum, solve the riddle, and achieve the transcending synthesis, then there's no obstacle I can't overcome.

     The key: know what never to surrender to, and what always to surrender to; and also understand that these two crucial choices must occur simultaneously--they're each just halves of a far greater whole. I can only have the courage to never surrender, if at the same time I have the humility to always surrender. Without practicing both realities, I'll never make it.

     What is it to which I must never surrender? Every soulless, fractured, cruel, negative, ignorant, violating, hateful, selfish, greedy, terrifying, brutal, dehumanizing energy--both inner and outer--which threatens to crush and consume me. No matter how overwhelmed I feel, how battered and beaten, against these I must stand bravely and hold my ground.

     Which seems of course an impossible demand, and surely is, unless...unless it's coupled inseparably with the second part of the paradox--always surrender. But always surrender to what? To the infinite and eternal Essence which inspires my beleaguered heart, instructs my fallible mind and animates my mortal flesh; to my deepest Source and highest Self; to the Divine Presence which is always there, nearer than my own breath, hidden within me.

     Where my ego's limited self ends, my spirit's Greater Self takes over. When my mind's finite capacity maxes out, my soul's boundless intuition begins to play. As my heart's waves of passion and courage subside, something much older and wiser inside sinks down roots and grips hard, thrusting below time, grief, suffering, even death.

     All are facets of the Holy Mystery I discover at the innermost core of my being; and it's to that Holy Mystery alone I must always surrender. Only then can I find peace at last, whatever assails me, and no longer be afraid.

     Never Surrender/Always Surrender: these are two declensions of a single reality. We are transient flesh--inspired by Immortal Spirit!



  1. ..Never Surrender/Always Surrender: these are two declensions of a single reality. We are transient flesh--inspired by Immortal Spirit!
    it is a dilemma of our life....
    Never or always surrender...two extremes....is there an option to find a piece and happiness without any conflicts and confrontations? why to surrender??? simple honest conversation and a hug can melt the ice... you agree?

  2. Elina--

    "Simple honest conversation and a hug" would always be my ideal, first choice. But there are also extreme crossroads in life, testing trials, moments of truth, which demand even more of us. It's at these inevitable crossroads that the paradoxical wisdom of "Never Surrender/Always Surrender" must be grasped and practiced if we're to prevail. Unless we have a response that's comprehensive and inclusive enough to confront the starkest extremes, as well as to embrace the ideal and most desirable approaches,our souls will continue to be conflicted and our paths of spiritual transformation blocked. That being said, it's also true that "simple honest conversation and a hug" is one of the most beautiful expressions of mutual surrender to the Divine Source between and within.