How would I ever know what life was capable of doing if I was always in control?Michael A. Singer, the Surrender Experiment
Confession time. We love it when we come across something contrarian. An approach, a viewpoint, an idea that challenges the status quo, that doesn't go down the beaten path but breaks down popular convention.
Michael A. Singer's book 'the Surrender Experiment' is one such book. It's one heck of a contrarian book, and didn't just give us food for thought. It gave us a feast, an awesome food orgy for the brain and soul.
One almost universal convention about how we should be living life is to be in control. Own the day, own our lives, go out and achieve our dreams, you get the gist. We're told to (wo)man up and be in charge, otherwise we'll end up with a life we didn't choose. We all buy into this right?
And then comes Michael A. Singer with his life experiment, where he did the exact opposite and ended up with a life beyond his (and our) wildest imagination. He decided to totally surrender to life and see what would happen to him.
That he decided to approach life as an experiment in and of itself sets him apart from most of us and got us to wonder what would happen if we took the same approach of 'let's see what happens if we do x' rather than 'this is what HAS to happen if we do x'. Rediscovering our childlike wonder couldn't be a bad thing now, could it? It would certainly take the pressure off and re-ignite our curiosity for life.
So, surrender. As Singer describes it :
At the heart of the experiment is a simple question: Am I better off making up an alternate reality in my mind and then fighting with reality to make it be my way, or am I better off letting go of what I want and serving the same forces of reality that managed to create the entire perfection of the universe around.
Singer's plan for surrender involved secluding himself in a cabin in the woods and doing yoga and meditation all day (it was the 1970s afterall). But his experiment had a different plan for him (not too difficult to surrender to life when one is living as a recluse in the woods right? Life decided he needed a challenge or two). So what ended up happening to him is completely unreal.
He went on to pass his economics PhD with flying colors despite not studying but only opening his book randomly the day before the exam and landing on the exact pages that he needed to read to pass. He then started a construction company because he gave in to people who were impressed by his log cabin and asked him to build theirs. His company would magically bring in the exact sums of money needed to buy plots of land around his estate and build a massive yoga community.
And then the kicker. He walked into Radio Shack one day and decided to buy this weird, intriguing machine that people were calling a computer. He obsessively got into coding, turning this passion into a ... $300 million dollar company with over 300 employees. All while releasing resistance to whatever was happening to him and deciding to go with the flow of life.
And it's not even over. Just when he was starting to get the hang of surrendering (easy when great things are happening you'd say), by a shocking twist of events, he got locked into a 5 year legal battle (through no fault of his) and had to walk away from his business. How do you release resistance to that? And yet surrender he did.
This mind bending story is incredibly humbling and does get us to pause and reflect because life rarely unfolds as we want it to. Our immediate reaction is to beat ourselves up, kick up a storm, mourn, complain, get stressed. What if we released all of that and allowed life's magic to happen? You ready to experiment?
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