Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Vocation, not Surrender

In today’s column from Care2, Deepak Chopra presents an excerpt from his book, The Path to Love ( Three Rivers Press, 1997) entitled “Have You Resolved Struggle Vs Surrender?” The title caught my eye as I glanced over the various Care2 columns (a site whose slogan is “make a difference”) . As I read the column, I came across this sentence: "Struggle is born of the ego’s isolation; it ends when you can find the Way and surrender to its guiding force." This was my response to the column:

While I totally agree with the premise - that struggle results from ego's isolation - I don't find the language of surrender or its cousin, submission, terribly compelling for mature adult human beings. These are words constructed from power relationships. I don't think spirit is about power (even as I recognize that 12 Step theology has made such thinking popular). Rather, it's about being.

What I sense as a more humane, and thus superior, way of describing the relationship of the individual to the Way is the concept of vocation. Vocatus (Lat.) means to call to. When the Way calls to a human being, the proper response is not to submit or to surrender, it is to respond and ultimately to embrace the Way. Such an understanding respects human dignity, constructs the resulting following of the Way in terms of relationship and avoids the elements of power that simply can never fully appeal to many human beings. That will be particularly true for those of us already suffering from the disadvantages we face under socially constructed power relationships.

The recognition of the rightness of the path, its salubrious if not salvific potential, and the advantages of embracing it result in a decision to answer its call. Deep calls out to deep, the psalmist says. Brahman calls out to atman. The underlying paradigm regards being, existence, not power.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.

Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.

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