The Surrender Experiment Book Summary, by Michael A. Singer

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Overview

There’s a lot of noise in the world. People are stressed out and there are many conventional ideas about living life that get in the way.

Have you ever given in to life? Have you simply surrendered to the flow of things and let them happen? If not, you should! It might be a good idea. The author challenges people to give up control and live more freely. He shares his own story about letting go and how it has helped him with spirituality and success.

The world is full of interesting ideas. Some are revolutionary, some are evolutionary, but all have one thing in common—they’re worth talking about. Here we showcase the very best TED talks on business topics that will help your career soar like an eagle.

In this passage, you’ll learn how to quiet your mind; how surrendering to the flow of life can result in a successful business; and about the random events that led to the author’s first spiritual insight.

Big Idea #1: Quieting the mind is one of the main goals of spiritual practice.

You know that awkward feeling when you’re talking with someone and you suddenly run out of things to say? You shift anxiously, frantically searching your mind for possible conversation topics. Well, not to worry—there are times like this where spiritual awakening can begin!

These situations offer a perfect moment for you to notice your anxious mind. This is what led the author to his first spiritual insight. He realized that he could observe his thoughts and emotions, instead of getting entangled in them as they occurred. Slowly, he realized that there was a distinction between himself (his consciousness) and his thoughts and emotions (which he called “the anxious mind”).

But how exactly can you avoid getting distracted by the constant chatter of your anxious mind? One way is to practice meditation.

Meditation is a great tool for quieting your thoughts and focusing on one thing at a time.

When the author’s mind was going wild, he picked up a book on Zen meditation. This type of meditation is quieting and involves sitting in a quiet spot, focusing your breath, and repeating the sound “Mu.” With some effort on your part, you’ll experience complete silence.

The author went on a trip with his friends, and he wanted to meditate. He set up camp in the woods, determined to stay there until he achieved spiritual awakening. As he was drifting in and out of meditation, a loud voice kept reminding him that it wasn’t about him; it was all about looking beyond himself. Eventually, he relaxed into deep meditation and let go of everything except for what made sense at the moment.

Big Idea #2: Surrendering to the flow of life calms the mind.

When you wake up and look outside, you can tell that it’s going to be a gloomy day. You feel miserable about this because of your resistance. When something like the weather happens that you have no control over, it’s easy for your mind to start thinking negatively.

When a peer of the author encouraged him to finish his economics degree and take his final exams, he initially put up a lot of resistance. Just as we put up a fight against bad weather, he didn’t want to complete his course and instead wanted to withdraw from the world and meditate. But the author realized that his resistance was making him agitated. He was frenetically trying to find excuses not to sit the exams and constantly trying to come to the best decision.

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Big Idea #3: Service is more noble than solitude.

Have you ever been asked to look after a friend’s cat and refused because you already had too much on your plate? Perhaps next time, you should agree. Why?

By surrendering to service rather than resisting other people’s requests, the author went from being a hermit to becoming a teacher and spiritual leader.

A woman named Sandy once asked the author if she could pitch a tent in his backyard and take part in his meditation sessions. He agreed, which led to her coming over more often and eventually building a temple next to his house. Eventually, he found himself arranging retreats with spiritual masters from India.

The author was asked to teach economics at a community college, despite the fact that he had no interest in the subject. However, his friend arranged for him to meet with the program director and during that meeting he realized that he would like to instruct students on how meditation can help them think more clearly and be less anxious. The program director accepted his proposal!

Surrendering to challenges and change led the author to unexpected places.

For example, the author’s neighbor asked him to visit his pen pal Jerry. The pen pal lived 40 miles away at a high security prison and was hesitant to go there. But he promised that he would surrender and went anyway. He discovered that Jerry had an interest in meditation, so they met weekly for meditation sessions.

Big Idea #4: Following the flow of life can help build a successful business.

Sometimes, people assume that meditation is only for spiritual leaders or those who want to abandon the material world. However, as the author discovered, these practices can just as easily be applied by business professionals.

In fact, the author’s spiritual principles led to his first business. It all began when he came home one day and found a sheriff waiting outside his house. The sheriff was there to say that he admired the temple that the author had built on his property with friends, and asked if he would build an extension onto his house. Since the author vowed to surrender to life, he suddenly became a carpenter.

As the author continued to go with the flow, his business flourished. He found that clients came easily and he worked on a variety of projects for them. The sheriff spread word about him throughout the community and before long he was installing fireplaces, working on garages and adding porches to country houses.

The author didn’t have enough money to start his new business, so he had to take out a loan. Unfortunately, every bank turned him down because of his lack of experience and limited funds. The author decided to ask one last bank for the loan. They accepted it and gave him the money he needed.

Jim Owens was a banker, but he quit and opened up his own video rental store. He needed a loan to do that, so the author helped him get one.

Big Idea #5: From carpentry to software, life knows what it wants you to do.

It’s hard to believe that 40 years ago, computers were a novelty. Fewer than 40 years ago, computers were a futuristic novelty and few could comprehend what they looked like.

Steve Jobs was a college dropout working at Atari when he purchased his first personal computer, the TRS-80. His friends thought it was a waste of money, but Jobs had an intuition that computers were going to be big in the future. He ignored their advice and bought one anyway. Once he started using it, he became fascinated with programming and created software for his carpentry business. Soon after that, people found out about him and began asking him to program software for them as well as buy programs from him so they could run their businesses more efficiently.

Shortly after he began to sell software, two clients called him on the same day asking for some software for their medical billing systems. The already existing software wasn’t helpful to them so it was clear that they needed something else.

Finally, when his product was ready to be launched, life presented the author with an opportunity. Just as he and his team had completed hundreds of templates for handling the intricacies of US insurance companies, Systems Plus called again. They were looking for a new medical billing solution!

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Big Idea #6: If you surrender to the flow of life, the right people and opportunities will often show up.

Imagine if you had a phone call every time you were in trouble and the person on the other end of that line would be able to solve your problem. Well, life often works like this and gives us exactly what we need. In one case, an author’s company was hired for a big project from someone who was very demanding, but he kept going with it anyway and ended up getting paid $35,000 for his work. It really started to pay off when another neighbor called him later to offer land at $37,000 for his spiritual center.

The author was informed that his land didn’t fit the criteria for commercial property. He also learned that the city wanted to build a construction waste dump on some other land adjacent to the temple. The community reacted by protesting against this plan, and it was abandoned. As a result, this land came up for sale, and it met zoning requirements for business use.

Life sometimes presents opportunities to us. Sometimes, it also gives us the people we need in order to take advantage of those opportunities. The author was able to take advantage of many such opportunities because he had the right people on his team at the right time.

Big Idea #7: Continued surrendering to life can result in extreme success.

If you were offered a $300 million business, what would you do? Perhaps your reaction would be to accept the offer, but it wouldn’t be that easy. You’d have to work hard and deal with responsibility and complications in order to maintain it.

In 1985, as more and more medical practices introduced computers, the author realized that electronic billing was the next step. However, this meant a lot of work to get it done. Fortunately, he got help from Larry Horwitz who packaged all of the insurance codes into one program called Medical Manager. With this software product’s success came its popularity with doctors and hospitals across America.

The author of this book was contacted by the insurance company Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. They were looking for a system to help digitize medical practices, so they wanted Medical Manager created. Soon after that, regional branches of Blue Cross Blue Shield started marketing Medical Manager to their clients across the country. To keep up with demand, the author’s company had to continue expanding.

However, as sometimes happens with success, he also needed to know when to let go.

The author’s business was doing well, so his investors proposed that he should form a new company to better manage all of the dealers. In addition, they wanted him to give up ownership over the software he developed for those dealers. The author knew it was time to let go of his creation and become CEO of a public company instead.

Big Idea #8: Surrendering to life also means accepting extreme adversity.

When life gives you a million-dollar business, a perfect house or a wonderful partner, it’s easy to go with the flow! However, what if life offers you prison?

Life can be tough, especially when you’re dealing with adversity. When life gets difficult, it’s essential to learn how to surrender and accept that things are the way they are. The author learned this lesson in 2003 when his company was raided by the FBI and he was investigated for fraud. An employee who had been accepting kickbacks from dealers had contacted the FBI and tried to pin the blame on him. This could have been a crippling source of stress for anyone, but because he understood how critical it is to accept hard times instead of fighting them all the time, he dealt with it without letting go of his sanity or giving up completely. During hard times like these, it’s important not only not to give up but also fight back against your problems using whatever means necessary until you succeed at overcoming them.

The author knew that defending the company would be a difficult ordeal. There were many lawyers and it took five years to settle the case, but when they found no evidence against the management team, all charges were dropped.

However, setbacks can have positive side effects. One great plus emerged from these five arduous years: the author finally found the time to write. In fact, he penned The Untethered Soul, which became a New York Times best seller.

The Surrender Experiment Book Summary, by Michael A. Singer
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