Chapter 4: Be a Light unto Yourself
The first question:
Is Zen the path of surrender? Then how come the basic teaching of Buddha is, “Be a light unto yourself”?
The essential surrender happens within you. It has nothing to do with anybody outside you. The basic surrender is a relaxation, a trust - so don’t be misguided by the word. Linguistically, surrender means to surrender to somebody, but religiously, surrender simply means trust, relaxing. It is an attitude rather than an act: you live through trust.
Let me explain. You swim in water, you go to the river and swim. What do you do? - you trust water. A good swimmer trusts so much that he almost becomes one with the river. He is not fighting, he does not grab the water, he is not stiff and tense. If you are stiff and tense you will be drowned, if you are relaxed the river takes care.
That’s why whenever somebody dies, the dead body floats on the water. This is a miracle. Amazing! Alive, the person died and was drowned by the river, but dead, the person simply floats on the surface. What has happened? The dead person knows some secret about the river which the alive person did not know. The alive person was fighting. The river was the enemy. He was afraid, he could not trust. But the dead person, not being there, how could he fight? The dead person is totally relaxed, with no tension: suddenly the body surfaces, the river takes care. No river can drown a dead person.
Trust means you are not fighting. Surrender means you don’t think of life as the enemy but as the friend. Once you trust the river, suddenly you start enjoying. Tremendous delight arises: splashing, swimming, or just floating or diving deep. But you are not separate from the river, you merge, you become one.
Surrender means to live the same way in life as a good swimmer swims in the river. Life is a river: either you can fight or you can float, either you can push the river and try to go against the current or you can float with the river and go wherever the river leads you.
Surrender is not towards somebody, it is simply a way of life. A God is not needed to surrender to. There are religions which believe in God, there are religions which don’t believe in any God - but all religions believe in surrender, so surrender is the real God.