In the old days, and in religious practices, this was sometimes discussed as obedience. I often refer to it using the word Islam, the term that Sufis and other Muslims use. Regardless of how one expresses it, one remembers that even Christ had to submit to the Will of God, as illustrated in his plea in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It's necessary for me to submit to a higher authority, a higher influence; and yet I don't know how. All of the rituals, dogmas, exercises, and practices may be good; each instruction that I receive from an outer source regarding these things may be helpful. Yet in the end, I am quite certain, due to the nature of my own inner contact and the tasks which have been given to me—not by those around me, but already by a distinctly higher authority—that I don't know how to submit to this higher authority.
I'll admit it — even this did not come to me through myself. The insight was given; without that, I could not have seen the task. Perhaps I saw it intellectually; but this is not real seeing. When a real inner task is given it comes organically.
Practicing submission to any form of higher authority on the ordinary level is just practice. It does not teach me how to come, on my knees, to the moment of surrender of my own will. I just don't know how to do that. And every single subscription I make to ideas about how that could be done is another deflection to the idea that I can do something. It sidesteps the objective fact of my own helplessness.
Religion offers me a vehicle for mechanical submission; and every external form of submission, taken into myself and applied, is mechanical. It is part of a world of objects, of gears and levers, a machine that attempts to pry me out of one place and lift me into a different one. The presumption is that there is some kind of inner technology that can do this.
But there isn't.
The inner technologies are part of what has to be abandoned. And I don't even know how to do that. There is a moment within where I ought to put down all of the tools and look up at the sky and wonder; not knowing. In moments like this, a prayer for help arises spontaneously, acknowledging the impossibility of what I wish for. I can't wish myself into heaven. I would like to; but of course I'm not prepared to be there. In point of fact, I'm still alive; and so much work remains to be done on this level, if I am ever going to be prepared to become a candidate to be further prepared for heaven. So I have to get up every morning and face myself, within the narrow constraints of the conditions and requirements I meet — all the while asking myself this: how can my action of submission become, not mechanical, but conscious?
The submission has to become a living thing that penetrates all of my being. Yet in every part, a hardness, a kernel of resistance, arises, and it doesn't want to submit. There has to be an intentional letting go; and that requires all of the precision, the intimacy, the organic relationship that I keep investigating.
Somehow, all of this quite concise awareness of the inner Self is connected to the possibility of the eventual arising of a conscious submission.
If I cannot feel this force, this higher influence—if it is not tangible, if there is no sensitivity—then I cannot even begin to know what needs to be submitted to. And perhaps it is just the awareness of a higher influence itself that is what is missing; because within the arrival of that awareness, there's no question about what needs to be done. It is in the lack of awareness — the lack of consciousness — of a higher influence that my arrogance, my egoism, my belief in myself asserts itself. When confronted with the objective fact of a higher influence, the self (small "s") must inevitably give way to the truth of the higher.
This higher influence that can touch me, if I prepare, and attempt to be open, is an inescapable repudiation of what I think I am. Only if my eyes are opened in this way can I admit to myself that I don't know how to submit.
And the ground floor of any attempt at submission is to admit that I don't know how.
May your soul be filled with light.