Sweet surrender (The Financial Athlete #44)

Muddy Road
(A Zen story)

Tanzan and Ekido were traveling together down a muddy road. Heavy rain was falling.

Coming around the bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females, especially young and lovely ones. It is dangerous! Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

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The last pose in a yoga class is shavasana, which translates as dead man’s pose. Simply lie on your back, chin tucked in, palms out, and toes pointing out. Anyone can do the posture physically. The difficulty lies in achieving the purpose of shavasana, which is bring yourself into a state of total relaxation. How? By surrendering…letting go of the busy mind burdened with stress, regrets, and the compulsion to keep busy. If you can do this, you will understand why my yoga teacher calls this “sweet surrender.”

Shavasana will not burn calories, build muscle or flexibility. In our culture which values doing over being, this posture seems like a complete waste of time. Ironically, it’s the most important pose in yoga. Surrendering is essential for mental health. What good is carrying a perfect body if the mind is perpetually disturbed?

In the subconscious mind there are four responses to a stimulus: flight, fight, freeze, and surrender. Flight, fight, and freeze are untrained responses. Only surrendering always requires a conscious effort. In the story above, when Ekido refused to help the girl his response was flight, but after Tanzan carried her across the river his response changes to fight. Hours later Tanzan instructs Ekido on how to release himself from the burden of a prolonged fight response with the response of “sweet surrender”.

Investors often are stressed with a prolonged fight response, which may endure for years and debilitate health. To progress these investors must learn to surrender. The mind must let go of missed opportunities, losses, and of being misled. Surrending is accepting things as is (“It is what it is”). From here the investor can move forward to build a brighter future with more wisdom.

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The concept of ‘surrendering’ is not unique to Eastern philosophy and religion. In the West, there is the notion of surrendering to the grace of God, because by our own strength we are too weak.

Surrendering to the divine (by Ao)

Let my heart be comforted
for you are my comforter

Let me be strong
for you are my strength

Let me be loving
for you are love

Oh Lord, let me be your child
for you are my father

(Above: The kanji (symbol) for Zen)

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