Question: Which comes first: perfect obedience or unconditional surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: Obedience is mostly in the mind, whereas surrender is of the entire being. Unconditional surrender encompasses the entire being: the aspiring heart, the searching mind, the dynamic vital and the body that has completely shunned lethargy. When surrender comes, it is just like falling flat at the Feet of the Supreme, absolutely prostrating yourself at the Feet of God. At that time, not only your head but your whole body touches the infinite Compassion-Ocean of our Lord Beloved Supreme.

But obedience applies mainly to the mind. If I am telling you to do something, you can either walk as slowly as a turtle or run as fast as a deer. But no matter how fast, how enthusiastically, how willingly you go, only one part of your being is going: the mind. The mind is going with the hope that it will please God or please the Master. It is saying, "If I do not go, the Master will be displeased; God will be displeased." Even if you are going fast, whether you are doing it of your own volition or whether you are doing it under some compulsion, still you are not getting a feeling of spontaneous sweetness in the entire being. But when you make unconditional surrender, all your limbs, each and every one of your 86,000 subtle nerves — everything — is giving you unimaginable joy.

We have to know that unconditional surrender is not the surrender of a slave to his master. It is the surrender that comes from wisdom, from the realisation that Somebody knows more than we do and, at the same time, claims us as His very own and also wants us to claim Him as our own. The vast ocean always wants to claim the little drop. If the little drop has any intelligence or any wisdom, it will also claim the ocean as its own and say, "I have become the ocean." In exactly the same way, if we can make unconditional surrender, immediately we become part and parcel of our Beloved Supreme. At that time we are not responsible for anything, because what we do or say is not coming from us; it is coming from our own highest reality. You are asking which one comes first. It depends on the individual. Unconditional surrender will definitely encompass perfect obedience; if you make unconditional surrender, then perfect obedience is bound to come. But if you have perfect obedience, you will not get automatically the result of unconditional surrender, which is sweetness. According to me, unconditional surrender is much more important and valuable than obedience, even if the obedience is based on perfect faith. Obedience can either be willing or unwilling, but unconditional surrender is always cheerful. In unconditional surrender, we say, "Use me like a football. Kick me as hard as you please, with your right leg or left leg, any way you want to." When there is unconditional surrender, at that time the seeker becomes a perfect instrument of the Supreme.