• Rev. Ani

Release From Bondage


What about me? I need to arrange things so that I am comfortable all of the time. Life is about my comfort. What about how I feel? I am afraid that if this happens, I will be uncomfortable. I am a victim. What about what I think? I am angry because things are not like I think they should be, which makes me uncomfortable. It is your fault. What about my honor? I am ashamed because you disapprove of me, which makes me uncomfortable. I need to earn my right to be here by doing good things. If things would be different, if you would have acted differently, if you would not have said that, if you would think better of me, then I would be comfortable.

This is bondage. Does it sound familiar?

As it happens, there is a way out of this “what about me” trap. This Way leads to freedom and peace.

Are you interested?

Jesus calls this freedom and peace the kingdom of God. Yogis call it samadhi. Buddhists call it nirvana. Sufis call it fana. And no matter the tradition, the Way is the same. It is the path of surrender.

This Way is succinctly summarized in the first three steps of The Twelve Steps, originally created for alcoholics:

  1. I am powerless and cannot manage this.

  2. I believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.

  3. I turn my life over to God, as I understand God.

Let’s take a closer look at this Way from the perspective of yoga and Jesus.

“Now begins the practice of yoga,” writes Patanjali in the first line of The Yoga Sutras, a compilation of Indian aphorisms dated prior to 400 CE. He goes on to say, “Yoga is the control of the wanderings of the mind. . . Then the Seer abides in her True Nature. . . These wanderings are controlled by practice and non-attachment. . . Effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.” (Sutras 1;1, 2, 3,12, 13)

Now begins the practice; not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now, today. We leave behind the mistakes of the past and release the worries of the future to practice in this moment, and this moment, and each moment; right now.

Yoga means to yoke up or join; union. The union of which the term is speaking is the joining of the human will with the Divine Will. The belief in essential separation (the idea that we are self-sustaining organisms functioning alone) is an illusion of the ego. In reality, there is no duality (you separated from me). All is one in Love. Modern physics attests to the fact that we are all interconnected. In our current self-centered state, we are naturally yoked to our ego mind. We live in the kingdom of me--what about me? Yoking up with the Divine Will means joining the kingdom of God, which is Love.

So this one aphorism amplified reads like this:

In each moment (now) begins the surrender (practice) of the ego to Love (yoga).

Patanjali explains that this surrender occurs by controlling the wanderings of the mind. All of the wanderings of the unbridled mind have one underlying thought: WHAT ABOUT ME? This thought produces fear, guilt, anger, and shame. This thought woos us into the roles of victim, rescuer, or persecutor; us vs. them.

Letting go of “what about me” is what the practice of ego surrender to the Divine Will is all about.

This is the practice of Yoga. This is the Way to freedom and peace.

Jesus talked about this same practice of surrender using different language. He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?” (Mark 8:34-37) Denying myself is not about being a martyr or a rescuer for the sake of being a martyr or rescuer. Neither is it about doing one more thing to earn my place. Denying myself is not about mortification or self-degradation. Rather, denying myself is about being in 100% solidarity with Love, knowing that there is no you and me, but only us. What I do to you, I do to me. All is One.

The two greatest commandments that Jesus cites are the love of God and the love of neighbor as one loves oneself. In that context, this self-denial is actually a denial of the duality of separateness. My dignity is your dignity and vice versa because we are all one in Love. I make the conscious choice to deny my individual ego-self in favor of an acknowledgment of universal oneness. As Jesus said about his life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again.” (John 10:18) Surrender of my ego is an act of will, a moment-by-moment choice.

In a weird paradox, I actually uphold my own dignity when I put it aside to stand for that in which I believe, in this case, universal oneness in Love. I deny myself as separate by surrendering my own security for the sake of Love. I deny myself as separate by surrendering control for the sake of Love. I deny myself as separate by surrendering my esteem for the sake of Love. The reality is that denying myself is actually about denying the duality of separation and acknowledging the reality of universal oneness in Love. When Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me,” it was not a metaphor, but a statement of truth.

In each moment begins the surrender of the ego to Love.

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23) He said, “The pure in heart shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) My eyes are “unhealthy” when they are clouded by “what about me.” I cannot see God because I am too focused on my own comfort. When I surrender “what about me,” my eyes are full of light and before me shines God in the disguise of my brothers and sisters and all of creation. We are all one in Love. As Paul said, “Christ is all and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11) As I “rejoice in the Lord always,” the peace of God fills my heart.

In each moment begins the surrender of the ego to Love.

Webster’s Dictionary explains that “to do something again and again in order to become better at it” is practice. The Way to freedom and peace is a constant practice of surrender to Love, releasing the belief in separation and embracing the reality of universal oneness. Any effort toward awareness and release of “what about me” thinking is practice. I am responsible for the effort, not the outcome. This is non-attachment. I put the effort into surrendering my ego to Love and releasing ideas of how I think things should be, who must always be in my life, what I think I must have, what I need to be comfortable, and me vs. the world.

In each moment begins the surrender of the ego to Love.

This is the Way to freedom and peace.

Blessings on your practice.


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