Sweet Surrender : A story about India, surrender and a white Apple machine.

All that you are attached to, all that you love,

All that you know, someday will be gone.

Knowing this, and that the world is your mind
Which you create, play in, and suffer from,
Is known as discrimination.

Discriminate between the Real and the Unreal,
The known is unreal and will come and go
So stay with the Unknown, the Unchanging, the Truth.


This blog was inspired by two sweet souls who wanted to raise money for a new IPAD for me as I had recently lost it. I was extremely surprised, humbled and joyful, and to know that I have such wonderful, thoughtful, loving friends in my life was better than any material gift. The lost IPAD is actually quite immaterial as these ‘things’ come and go. However, the love and wisdom triggered by this white Apple machine will stay with me forever.  

May 8th is Narayani Proclamation Day. It was on this day 21 years ago that our spiritual teacher became a pillar of spirituality for the world. So picture this, as I recall the celebration this year:  Small dusty village in South India. Scorching heat. Fifty drummers dancing on the road flanked by elephants dressed in jewels.  A sea of Indians dressed in mango coloured attire and a handful of joyful yet sweaty overseas devotees dying in the heat. All in procession barefoot through the village carrying pots of holy water heading towards the Narayani temple. 10008 pots to be exact. These pots would make its way to a cute little temple where an ant hill and a lingam emerged from the ground back in 1992.  (A lingam is a phallus-shaped symbol that signifies the generative power in Nature.) Once a year, the public has the opportunity to touch this lingam, known to have supernatural qualities to remove negativity and alter your karmic bank balance. It was my first time witnessing this event five years since meeting my spiritual teacher, a young Indian saint by the name of Sri Sakthi Amma. I'm one of the first to do the rose water abishek (bath) on the lingam, of the tens of thousands of people who are queuing outside in line. It was an experience well worth the sweat and heat exhaustion, as intense energy spiraled and tickled my entire being. I was sure something positive would eventuate.

I'm also blessed to be able to do some seva (service): to fill up bottles of holy water (theertum) for all participants to drink or sprinkle in their homes. With a few friends, there we are in this production line organized in a functionally-chaotic way: fill bucket with theertum, dip bottles, remove, place lid, place cap, place in basket, distribute. Hours pass and I find myself thirsty. So I 'take leave' (as they say in India) and head across the road to get a drink. Amidst the craziness and heat, I bump into a friend and the lost IPAD comes up in conversation, specifically about the invaluable photos and discourses on it.  He works in the airlines but his advice was unexpectedly esoteric in nature: "Simply make a vow to the Divine. Say 'Please bring back my iPad and I will vow to ...'" Interesting. I don't usually like to bargain with the Divine and the thought of doing it for material gain makes me choke. But I also know very well after living in this Harry Potter-esque place called Peedam for the last 5 years is that there are no coincidences. There are absolutely no accidental meetings. People often act as karmic triggers. It felt like it was a strong message that I needed to consider for some unknown reason. 

So I thought ‘What was the one thing that would be most difficult for me to stop or add into my life? What's the one thing I'm most attached to, a habit that I would like to break?’ The iPad story now just seems to be a trigger for this deeper evaluation.

There are so many possibilities. But the one that stood out was a habit that I've been attached to (unconsciously and consciously) for about 30 years of my life. As Mooji (a spiritual teacher from Jamaica) once said, sometimes our problems seem like a gigantic whale and we are consumed with fear and resistance, however when we finally “burp it out”, out comes a tiny tadpole to our surprise.  Anyway, this one big fat whale is my nail biting habit. Seems trivial for peeps from the outside who have beautiful fingernails, but trust me, there's many deep layers of emotional pain-body attached to this one. I have been investigating it for years.  I have tried every possible remedy to 'cover it up', but as we all know there's no such thing as an instant cure once you walk on the spiritual path. You have to do the ‘work’. Every manifestation of the physical body, habitual or reactive, has a correlated emotional attachment to it. That is, if you choose to delve deeper into it. We can choose either to cover up with more superficial material junk creating a false identity, or choose to uncover the layers to find the true beauty that we are. 

I once asked Amma in a private meeting many years ago, in a jovial way, what was the deal with my nail biting. Could she give me some clues? What to do with this self-destructive habit? Amma’s response was:  "What is Jo anxious about? Just dip Jo’s hands in some theertum and command your hands "Don't do it! Don't do it!" as she laughed aloud in a loving, light-hearted way. For those who have a physical living Guru, you would understand that your Guru's words are like finding speckles of gold in a haystack. Although it may seem simplistic and not make sense now, every word is said with intention and for a reason. And the energy that is interwoven between the words, transferring from teacher to disciple is far greater than the words itself. Until now, I have not followed through with Amma’s guidance for two reasons: firstly, because I was not ready; and two, where was I to find enough theertum to dip my hands in?  

Meanwhile the analytical mind starts ticking. "What is Jo anxious about?"  I watched my mind start to take over like a lightning-speed train running off the long lists that one can get anxious about in this maya (illusion). My Top 5 mind-tunes automatically stream away. I witness the usual boring stuff like..."When are we going to settle down? Where is it going to be, Sydney India Bali? How to...blah blah...” I catch myself get carried away into the abyss, witness again and stop. I know very well by now that the mind will never cease with the questions, nor with the search for answers. It will analyse, probe, judge, solve, reason, hope, and it will continue to chatter and bicker as long as you give it energy and space.  Time for practice. Time to meditate. I felt my heart charged with divine energy, as I chant internally and recall Amma's teachings:  "Just three words, Om namo narayani, I surrender to the Power in Everything. It's like soap. Just chant, meditate and it will clean out everything." 

In that simple yet profound practice, always comes the answer. A realisation that Jo gets anxious when she is not surrendered. When she is planning to lay the perfect bed for the future, she gets anxious. When she reminisces of the past with regret, she gets anxious. When she dreams of success, she gets anxious. When she fears of failure, she gets anxious. When she compares and judge she gets anxious. The paradoxical nature of the wanting and lacking mind becomes apparent. When she dreams of living in India with her teacher, she gets anxious. When she dreams of not living in India with Amma, she gets anxious. You get the drift. Shit! There is absolutely nowhere to go! Finally beneath all the darkness light emerges - the only way of having peace of mind is to Be. Be with Love. Be with Self. Be with Uncertainty. Be with Fear. Be with Unworthiness. Be with That which is Unknown. Sit and face ALL that arises. Moment to moment.

+ + + + +

So, welcome back to the present on this balmy May 8th celebratory day. I’m at the temple to continue seva to bottle the precious holy water. I am given the task of dipping my hands in a huge bucket of theertum to fill up thousands of empty bottles. As my fingernails soak in the holy water charged with mantras and divine energy, there's a sense of déjà vu. A sense like somebody is watching me from above ticking the boxes. Is this the moment to make the vow? The vow that oddly part of me wants to fail, yet another part wants so desperately to succeed? Immersing my full arms into the huge bucket of theertum, I silently chant the mantra whilst looking at my fingernails  "Don't do it! Don't do it!", simultaneously grinning at the silliness of it all yet surrendering to Amma’s guidance with trust and faith. However the vows I decided to make is far greater than breaking a thirty-year habit. It's one that humans seem to collectively struggle with in this day and age. But change starts with an individual. Change starts with Me.


I vow to surrender to the Unknown.

I vow to trust in the perfection of Love.

I vow to relax and let destiny take over.

I vow to devote my life to conscious living.

And if I shall to slip up, please remind me of these vows.

Again and again.


Om namo narayani.