Craving and surrender

To a disciple initiated into the way of surrendered life, the teacher Naṃpiḷḷai taught that one should not give oneself to craving for wealth or other material possessions after surrendering to God.

Craving and surrender are mutually opposite paths. Surrender is the state where one has let go with the understanding that one’s life at the level of mind-body is determined by one’s circumstances and preconditions while life at the spiritual level is enhanced by the grace of God.

Surrender follows from the understanding that we did not will our energies, talents and abilities or even our essential sentience into existence by ourselves. Even the state of surrender is sustained due to the grace or the will of God.

Craving can be seen to be the path that is directly opposed to this view. In craving, one is found to be living in separation, trying to enhance oneself and adding to one’s estimation of oneself. In this case, both the life at the level of mind-body and that at the level of the self are to be carefully controlled and enhanced.

The teacher, Naṃpiḷḷai offers three reasons why craving for possessions is not advisable after surrender:

(i) If one has truly internalized the motivation for surrender, it is easy to see that God, who has brought one to the state of surrender, is unlikely to take one away from this path and push one into the difficulties of craving and frustration. The activity of grace within oneself is a sign of things to come.

(ii) For the individual, this would imply walking away from the true state of existence. It has been seen in previous articles that surrender is a natural way of existence. Having come to the point of surrender and authentic living, one would be walking away from truth again if one would lose oneself to craving. This is best summarized by For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

(iii) In the Śrīvaiṣnava understanding of reality, a life of surrender is considered to bring happiness to God for a soul is gained that is harmony with the divine. In the Purāṇa-s, this is indicated by the descriptions of God sporting with those in harmony with Him. Craving interrupts the divine sport of God and the joy of harmony. To be detached with the bliss of God is to try to thrive as a lotus outside the pond.

On this cool and fresh morning, may we let the grace of God enliven our awareness to watch our thoughts and predilections that cause craving for pleasures.

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