The Surrender Experiment
The amazing life of Michael Singer.
I only recently discovered the work of Michael Singer and was completely blown away by the power of his message. The author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Untethered Soul” published an autobiographical essay titled “The Surrender Experiment” in 2016.
Singer writes about how he’s learned to completely let go of control in his life, of control “on” his life, and how he’s learned to live with what life offered him, every day, in full acceptance.
You would imagine that his life was boring, that it lacked the spark of will, that he lived in a sort of passive state. But no, his life was incredible, full of surprises, big and small successes, significant transformations, unexpected forks in the road. He went from opening a temple in the forest and hosting renowned spiritual teachers, to starting a construction company and running a multi-million dollar software business.
His idea was this, and I’m paraphrasing:
“It took billions of years of perfection for you to be here. You’re not even in charge of how your body works, let alone your brain, so why do you think you are in charge of where your life is going?”
On one end, it’s a powerful idea, but on the other, it’s pretty scary. Our minds are not wired to let go on that level. It’s a, well, it’s a complete surrender, and that was Singer’s experiment.
The fear of nothing.
We tend to believe that if we don’t seek, want or desire things / experiences / relationships in our lives, nothing’s going to happen. We fear that we’ll be forgotten, left alone, disconnected. Singer’s experiment proved the contrary. His life was so abundant in events and opportunities that it seems to me it’s our illusion of free will that keeps us stagnant and out of sync with nature.
I don’t think we were made to operate with our minds the way we do every day. I think we’ve lost touch with a subtle but powerful intelligence that can truly guide us somewhere great. Somewhere we can’t even imagine.
Wu Wei is the way.
The Tao Te Ching, credited to the 6th-century BC sage Lao Tzu, contained an early reflection on this theme. One of the main principles of Taoism being the “effortless action” or Wu Wei. I believe that’s what Michael Singer practiced, but effortlessly, of course. I mean, how can you really practice not making an effort? It’s truly paradoxical. Yet it’s possible somehow, and it’s shown to be a path of great inner peace and deep joy.