The system of Yoga, which teaches self-realization, offers īśvara-praṇidhāna or meditation on God as one possible way for self-realization. The Gītā, however, emphasizes that not just self-realization but good prosperity of the world and realization of God are also not possible without surrendering to God.
Surrendering is generally considered as something negative. This is the due to the false-ego’s desperation to survive. Whenever we listen to some spiritual teaching and try to act on the basis of it, the false-ego becomes agitated and stages a comeback. In some cases, it stages a comeback by transforming spirituality itself into a race where it can feel good by attaining some goals. The false-ego that feels proud about its own spirituality is the most dangerous foe of a spiritual life.
It is impossible to conquer the false-ego by suppressing it. Letting it be can also turn difficult when the false-ego quickly takes over without warning. Those in the early stages of meditation have a hard time figuring out whether they are really getting into their true being or if they are being deceived by a transmutation of the false-ego. This doubt, in turn, nurtures the false-ego. Good grief!
Surrendering to God does not suppress the false-ego or even just let it be. It creates a state of awareness where the false-ego has no reason to become agitated having ‘let go’. Surrender is not a one-time action but a way of life.
Surrender is also not artificial but a natural way of life. Even in the clearest realization of our awareness, we live in God. What is this sentience? What is this table? What is this universe? All of this is verily the appearance of God. The existence of sentience, the laws of nature, our particular states of being are all part of the existence and the state of God.
As has been explained in previous posts on the topic, non-duality does not imply that one becomes identical to another or to the universe. Non-duality, first of all, implies that we are not independent. The absence of independence is not just for the case of survival (having to depend on air, water, etc.) but for our very existence itself. We do not bring ourselves into being or command any control over what it is to exist as us.
In this sense, non-duality can be understood as the realization that one lives in God. All of our experience is an encounter with God in God. How can one who does not own one’s very existence dream of achieving this or that by oneself? As this understanding emerges, surrender to God comes across as natural. Some teachers say that even the act of surrender is a joke given that one really possesses nothing – not even oneself – to surrender. Surrender is not an action but a state of realization. All goodness: success in this worldly life, self-realization or God-realization result from surrender.
It is true that the mind can be arrested by meditation on any object. However, a form of meditation that is grounded in surrender is not only effective but also true as it corresponds to our real state of existence. The spiritual advice to surrender to whatever is, is identical to the teaching that advises surrender to God if God is realized not to be some distant entity but as the Self of reality. The Śrīvaiṣṇava system considers surrender to be the greatest secret of life.
Surrender, over the course of time or instantly, changes the mindset that the world exists to be controlled by us and for our sake. Instead, we begin to see ourselves as existing for the sake of God, who is the ground of all reality. We are like the flower which is the fulfillment of the tree, existing due to the tree and nourished by it for its own purpose. This understanding prevents the mind from seeking conflict that follows as a consequence of trying to aggressively manipulate the world according to one’s fleeting state of liking/disliking.
In this way, surrender makes life more peaceful and leads to the attainment of meaningful states of life, both worldly and spiritual.