What it means to surrender

In this week’s spotlight I want to explore what’s involved in surrender. Now I’m not thinking about the type of surrender that occurs on a battlefield, although it might sometimes seem like one. Rather, I’m addressing what is meant when we speak of surrendering to that which is larger than ourselves. Let me clarify that some by borrowing the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment . . . Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you.”1

Turn it over

The third step in the 12 Step Program designed for addiction recovery is best known as the surrender step. “It asserts that a lifetime of recovery can only be achieved by making the decision to turn over your will to a higher being. Step three is defined as ‘(to make) a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.’”2

Maslow is known best for his hierarchy of needs: physiological safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The highest of these, self-actualization includes growth, or reaching for our potential. In Maslow’s words realizing personal potential comes down to a “desire to become everything one is capable of becoming.”3


I recently had a conversation with a dear friend about accepting the spiritual side of our lives. I suggested that “waking up” should encompass the awareness that we are more than the physical body destined to rot or be cremated. To that end, I suggested that in my view, the highest in the hierarchy of Maslow’s needs, self-actualization, included coming to grips with the idea that there was something bigger than you. Now Maslow did not state this as such, but if you think about what it means to achieve one’s full potential, how is that done without recognizing at least the potential that you are more than merely mortal?

To me, everything one is capable of becoming implies the potential for experiencing an afterlife. Why? Because when we accept this possibility we pioneer the prospect of experiencing a special sort of awe, perhaps even the ineffable spiritual experience. When life is viewed through this lens the opportunities for experiences alter. The unexplainable takes on the mystery of miracles. Instead of ignoring that which cannot be explained, we embrace the idea of feasible miracles. With this mindset one is able to experience a sense of deep spiritual connectedness that otherwise would be missed. To live a life without this experience is less than our full potential in my view. For that deeply connected spiritual experience transcends every other experience one can have in life, literally adding a dimension to the meaning and purpose behind our lives.

Of most importance

Surrendering to the idea that we are not the center of our existence but rather an interconnected aspect of all that is both humbles and empowers us. Bottom line, as Tina Turner once said, “I want to tell people how to live spiritually. After you’ve bought all your houses and your clothes, you want something bigger.”4

Thanks for the read and as always, I welcome your feedback.

Eldon Taylor

Eldon Taylor
Provocative Enlightenment
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusion


  1. Saviuc, L. 2014. “Eckhart Tolle Speaks on Acceptance and Surrender.” Purpose Fairy. October 28, 2014.
  2.  Buddy T,  2018. “Understanding Step 3 of the AA Twelve Steps.” Verywell Mind. Updated November 25, 2018.
  3. Maslow, A. H. 1987. Motivation and personality (3rd ed.). Delhi, India: Pearson Education. Page 64.
  4. Turner, T.  2019. “Spirituality Quotes.” BrainyQuotes.com