By Dr. Frank B. Smoot

The very sound of surrender puts us on the defensive and creates an immediate feeling of resistance in the deepest recesses of our being. For this reason, ego surrender may be the single greatest challenge confronting anyone on the path of spiritual or personal growth.

It is essential to understand that the need to surrender the ego is not only for those whom we would consider “egotistical.” None of us is free of the ego’s influence. Every human being, without exception, lives a life whose daily, hourly, moment-to-moment behaviors emanate from a core of learned beliefs. And every human being, without exception, has developed an ego whose view of life is intimately intertwined with this core of learned beliefs.

To fully appreciate the influence of our ego in our lives, we need to understand how it functions. The ego is best understood as a kind of “child king”–as one who wields great power, but who as yet lacks the wisdom and maturity to make decisions that are consistently in the best interest of those whom it governs: our own selves.

That’s because, like any child, it only knows what it has been taught by influential others in its life. We need to understand that our ego learned most of what it knows during it’s earliest and most impressionable years, when it was most suggestible by outside influences–and least able to distinguish between helpful and harmful information, between truth and mere opinion.

Is our ego by its nature negative or evil? Is it the source of all the problems in our life? Absolutely not. Many of the beliefs it has helped us adopt are positive and life-enhancing.

After a lifetime of having the voice of our ego speaking to us from within, we have come to believe that the ego’s voice is the voice of who we are.

Yet, even though our ego speaks to us from within, the information is provides can only come from without. In truth, the voice of our ego today is merely the echo of a world we once lived in.

Unfortunately, because we have learned to believe that we are our egos, we humans seldom learn to distinguish between the voice of that ego and the voice of our true self. Indeed, we may not even be aware that such a distinction exists. As such, we cannot begin to grasp the degree to which our daily, hourly, moment-to-moment behaviors are the products of our egos.

But until we can learn to distinguish its voice from the voice of our true self, no one can be free from the ego’s influence. The good news is that, contrary to what we may fear, ego surrender does not mean losing our identity or giving up who we are. It means losing our false identity and setting free who we really are. It means letting go of who we have pretended to be–who others convinced us that we had to be–and discovering and embracing who we truly are.

The best news is that, as we surrender our ego, any residual arrogance we may still have will be gradually replaced with humility. And what is arrogance? Nothing more than the conviction that our own beliefs and opinions–which were merely learned from others–are the truth.

7 Responses

  1. Mary,

    Thanks for this very challenging question…. Actually the goal to surrender the intellect and will needs some sort of preparation to arrive at a state of awareness… I found first there needs to be a very intense desire to be free of painful feelings caused by the ego… Intellectually, it is important to explore the illusion of being a separate self, and there is much literature exploring this topic… The illusion of free will needs be questioned intellectually and can also seen as an illusion.

    When the intellect is satisfied with its understanding of the self and its will is nothing more than a socially conditioned fabrication, this message needs to be sent to our subconscious mind… Without subconscious acceptance no surrender will occur… My own experience is that the subconscious is most open to issues of intense emotional need… I have also found it is necessary to request surrender of some ego expectation over a long period of time and be expressed as a form of prayer rather than simply an idea… Interestingly, the surrender occurs when we give up our efforts to find this goal while in a state of hopelessness.

    Thanks for your question and if you care to continue our dialogue please let me know.


  2. How do we use our intellect and will to surrender the ego to the life force or true self?

    Mary Burgess


  3. Regional,

    Your comment comes through as spam….two suggestions, know your content and enjoy writing about it….don’t worry about the traffic !


  4. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for newbie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  5. That is beautifully said!

  6. Jenn,

    I like this quote as a summary of wholesome surrender:

    “Surrendering means letting go of your resistance to the total openness of who you are. It means giving up the tension of the little vortex you believe yourself to be and realizing the deep power of the ocean you truly are. It means to open with no boundaries, emotional or physical, so you ease wide beyond any limiting sense of self you might have.” – David Deida


  7. I think many see the meaning of surrender as losing the fight, giving up, cowardliness. Many people see it as a negative word, a powerless word. They believe that the strongest holds out and wins. But there is another surrender that I am talking about, yes, the one that religion talks about. It means that you let go and let God. You allow yourself to stop trying to be in control of realms beyond your power and beyond your control. allow the forces of nature to gently guide you into the flow.

    Have you ever jumped the big waves at the beach? you wait for them to come and just as one approaches, you steady yourself, and right at the moment of impact you throw your force into it so that it doesn’t knock you down…it’s fun but exhausting. The thrill lasts a second. The power of the wave does not belong to you because you went against it. you didn’t harness its strength, you countered it. You wouldn’t describe it as being one with the ocean or one with the wave. But what if you were a surfer? Every surfer knows that if you become one with the wave, all its power and force in that sweet moment is yours….not through resistance, not through counter force but by surrender. giving it up to the wave. It is you who must catch the wave. you must time it’s frequency just right. Ask any surfer what that feels like; when they catch the perfect wave at the perfect time.

    Ever notice that when you lay on a raft in the water (any body of water, even a pool) and you are consciously paddling and steering yourself? You conscious don’t feel one with the water. You are just in the water having fun. But ANYONE who has laid on a raft in the water with eyes fixed or closed silently and still begins to feel the movement of the raft slowly synchronize itself in perfect harmony with the water. Not one person who experiences this doesn’t feel the peace and tranquillity of moving with the rhythms of nature as opposed to against it. Nothing in nature wants resistance. I used to float in the bathtub as a little girl. I would lay there on my back just floating. My ears under the water and I lay still just listening to the echos of the gentle movements of the water. I felt like I was floating in heaven. My tiny body weightless in space. when we allow this and just focus on the movement we feel we are one with the water…..Ahhh, how peaceful …how tranquil…….this is surrender at it simplest. There is such a quiet beauty in surrender.

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