Question: Is there a difference or distinction between surrender, devotion and selfless love?

Sri Chinmoy: Now, let us take them. Wonderful! Selfless love, devotion and surrender. Now, let us put them in order. Let us put devotion first; you used the word “selfless”, selfless love, second, and surrender, third. One, two, three. Devotion, selfless love and surrender.

Devotion is wonderful in the inner life or in the outer life. Devotion: what does it mean? It means to devote oneself to and to serve with total absorption something usually apart from oneself. If you devote yourself to something or someone, then sooner or later, you will achieve success in whatever you aspire for. Then also, devotion is something very intense, especially if it is used in a spiritual way. Devotion need not, or at times it may not be pure, because of thousands of desires which the individual has or by the impure motives of his devotion. Somebody is devoted to me, but at the same time, he may be assailed by thousands of desires and then each desire is like a drop of poison in his system. But he is coming to me with devotion. It is wonderful. But he is unaware that he is bringing this poison also. But if his devotion is freed from desire, at that stage, we have come to selfless love.

Here we go one step ahead. We love but we don’t care for any return. In devotion, there may be a kind of give and take. “I devote my entire life to you. You have to give me inner realisation or illumination or something else.” In selfless love, when you come to this stage, there you are loving selflessly and you are becoming one with the object of your adoration. Then, in that love, there is a subtle understanding that He will give you the best reward because you do not bother Him with your silly emotional problems or desires. You no longer say, “Give me this or give me that. That stage I have gone through.” In selfless love, you know that He will give you something worth possessing.

Now let us take surrender. It is the best stage. There the disciple will say, “I do not care for Heaven. I do not care for Hell. Only I care for my spiritual Master.” (This is what you have said in your unique poem, Madhuri. Whatever he wants to give me or do with my life, with my existence, I am ready. I fully surrender my very breath, my existence. Then, even if he does not want my help or assistance, or my life, I am still happy. In one of your poems, you have said this. I expressed the thought conveyed at the end of your poem.) This is the truest surrender. There we want only the Will of God, the Supreme. Let Thy Will be done. That is the highest Surrender. It is very easy to say, “Let Thy Will be done.” But that is when we identify ourselves with God’s Will. When you really surrender, then you become one with God’s Will. And there can be, in the spiritual life, no greater achievement or more powerful weapon with which to enter into the spiritual life than surrender, which is most difficult, especially in the West. In the East, it is much easier, the practice of surrender. So devotion, selfless love and surrender.

From:Sri Chinmoy,Earth’s cry meets Heaven’s smile, part 3, Agni Press, 1978
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