Freedom through Surrender: Overcoming the Ego and Finding Peace in Islam | Blog
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
In its misdirected pursuits, the commanding ego-self pushes us to live an existence that is spiritually alienated from the goodness of God.
This ego-self also acts as an inner saboteur and critic, keeps us trapped in thought patterns that do not take us anywhere new or better, and in bodily states that trigger physical, emotional, and psychological suffering. The small self convinces us that our thoughts, emotions, and sensations are, in fact, all that we are—pretzels of emotions, hapless collections of atoms confined by our lack of time and power. Our self is constantly being inflated and deflated, tossing itself from one crashing wave to the next.
Freedom from this ego-driven trainwreck lies in continually surrendering to the Sustaining Force behind all that exists, the Pure Generosity that is greater than any force of the universe. Living in this state of surrender leads individuals to wholeness, contentment, fulfillment, and liberation from the emotional and psychological vagaries of life. Islam signifies this willing surrender and the state of mental, emotional, and physical peace that settles into the innermost being from this state of consciousness. The word also bears a semantic relationship to the concepts of safety, completeness, and freedom from fault. The root s-l-m (the Arabic root of the word muslim) is an aspirational state where wholeness, contentment, and fulfillment are profoundly experienced. Yet, most of us cannot simply will ourselves into a state of surrender and harmony without a great deal of conscientious striving and help along the way. Approaching this elevated state requires effortful practice and community.
Problems with the Ego-self (Nafs)
The Universe and the Human Brain
“We will show them Our signs (ayatina) on the horizons and within their beings (anfusihim) until it becomes apparent to them that it is the true reality (al-haqq)…”
[ Qur’an, 41:53 ].
Overcome the Ego with the Pillars of Islam
1. Surrender through the Shahadah
2. Cultivate Consciousness Through Prayer (the Salah)
“We made from water every living thing…” [ Qur’an, 21:30 ].
3. Develop Discipline Through Fasting (the Sawm)
4. Let go of attachments to material things through Zakat
“One who purifies [the soul] has prospered” [ Qur’an, 91:9 ].
“The one who gives wealth to purify
not recompensing thereby any for a favor,
save for seeking the countenance of their Sustainer, the Highest,
surely will [that person] become content.”
[ Qur’an, 92:18–21 ]
5. Cultivate Patience and Renewed Sense of Purpose Through Hajj
The Effect of Stillness on the Ego
We have access, each of us, to the self that is connected, and when we are in touch with this self, we become free from our need to prove ourselves, to “become” something.