Ramana Maharshi, the great master of advaita vedanta, answers the following questions about surrender:
Q : Surrender is impossible.
A : Yes, complete surrender is impossible in the beginning. Partial surrender is certainly possible for all. In course of time that will lead to complete surrender.
Q : Partial surrender – well – can it undo destiny?
A : Oh, yes! It can.
Q : How I can gain that peace of mind?
A : Through devotion and surrender. Bhakti is the same as vichara. The form and appearance of God -manifestation are determined by the mind of the devotee. But it is not the finality. There is the sense of duality. A Higher Power is leading you. Be led by the same. The Higher Power knows what to do and how to do it. Trust it.
Q: How is Grace to be obtained?
A : Similar to obtaining the Self.
Q : Practically, how is it to be done for us?
A : By self-surrender. Bhakti and Self Enquiry are one and the same. The Self of the Advaitins is the God of the bhaktas. All systems agree on self-surrender. Attain it first.
Surrender will make one understand the Grace. Grace is constant.
Q : How to gain Divine Grace?
A : By surrender.
Q : Still I do not feel Grace.
A : Sincerity is wanting. Surrender should not be verbal nor conditional. Prayer is not verbal. It is from the heart.
Grace is both the beginning and the end. Introversion is due to Grace; Perseverance is Grace; and Realisation is Grace. That is the reason for the statement “Only surrender to Me.” If one has entirely surrendered oneself, is there any part left to ask for Grace. Surrender yourself unreservedly and the Higher Power will reveal itself. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to the root thought ‘I’ or one surrenders oneself unconditionally to the Higher Power. These are the only two ways for realisation. It is not enough that one thinks of God while doing the karma, but one must continually and unceasing think of Him. Then alone will the mind become pure. God cannot be deceived by outward genuflections, bowings and prostrations. Leave it to Him. Surrender unreservedly. One of two things must be done. Either surrender because you admit your inability and also require a Higher Power to help you; or investigate into the cause of misery, go into the source and merge into the Self. Either way you will be free from misery. God never forsakes one who has surrendered.
Q : Can Sri Bhagavan help us to realise the Truth?
A : Help is always there.
Q : I do not feel the ever-present help.
A : Surrender and you will find it.
Q : Can I throw myself at the mercy of the Sadguru.
A : Yes, instructions are necessary only so long as one has not surrendered oneself. Surrender to Him and abide by His will whether he appears or vanishes; await His pleasure. If you ask Him to do as you please, it is not surrender but command to Him. You cannot have Him obey you and yet think that you have surrendered. He knows what is best and when and how to do it. Leave everything entirely to Him. His is the burden; you have no longer any cares. All your cares are His. Such is surrender. This is bhakti. Surrender can take effect only when done with full knowledge. Such knowledge comes after enquiry. It ends in surrender.
There are two ways: either ask yourself, ‘Who am I?” or submit. Submit to Me and I will strike down the mind. There is no better “karma” or “bhakti” than enquiry into the self. The second path is the way of self-surrender – the way of sharanagathi. Surrender yourself to the universal and you will be absorbed in the universal.
Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage Thou are all’ and ‘Thy will be done’. … you can have no likes or dislikes after your surrender; your will should become completely non-existent, the Lord’s will taking its place. The death of the ego in this way brings about a state which is not different from jnana or oneness. So by whatever path you may go, you must come to jnana.
When one has completely surrendered oneself at the feet of Siva, thereby becoming of the nature of the Self, the resulting abundant peace, in which there is not even the least room within the Heart for one to make any complaint about one’s defects and deficiencies, alone is the nature of Supreme devotion.
The end of sadhana, even in bhakti marga (the path of devotion), is attained only after complete surrender.
You give up this and that of ‘my’ possessions. If you give up ‘I’ instead, all are given up at a stroke. The very seed of possession is lost. Thus the evil is nipped in the bud or crushed in the germ itself. Dispassion (vairagya) must be very strong to do this. Eagerness to do it must be equal to that of a man kept under water trying to rise to the surface for his life.
…if you remember Bhagavan, you are prompted to do so by the Self. Is not grace already there? The very fact that you are possessed of the quest for the Self is a manifestation of the divine grace.
Aurobindo advises complete surrender. Let us do that first and await results. Learn what surrender is. It is to merge in the source of the ego. It is enough that one surrenders oneself. Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one’s being.
Devotion is nothing more than knowing oneself. Surrender to the substratum of appearances unreservedly; then, the reality will be left over as the residue.