Book Cover
The Surrender Experiment


★ ★

TL;DR: The “flow of events” in Michael’s life, and how it was impacted by his spiritual journey: from living alone in the woods, to success as a software entrepreneur, to an FBI raid and trial. Fantastic, well-written story but just wasn’t enough to get me past my (admittedly deep-seated) initial skepticism.

Notes

  • Soo…Singer credits all of his wild success and happiness to this concept of “surrender” – giving up control to life to see where its flow leads.
  • I’m a pretty rational, logical person so this premise automatically raises from red flags for me. While Singer’s story is fantastic, this one case study does little to sway my own worldview.
    • Clarify – there is certainly merit to not getting caught up in little (or even big) things, but I don’t see completely ceding control as the optimal way there. Just don’t worry about things you can’t control and I think that’s a good place to be.
  • I felt like many of the examples of “surrender” weren’t exactly that wild…they could be reframed less dramatically as “going out of my comfort zone for the purposes of growth”.
  • I do see the merit in meditation/yoga to clear the mind. I’ve dabbled in it a bit lately and have noticed an improvement in my thinking. To me, the power of clarity of thought is the more important takeaway from this book. This leads to an easier life.
  • Are my personal preferences a net negative or a net positive? Hmm, something I hadn’t considered before.

Snippets

It's as though we actually believe that the world around us is supposed to manifest in accordance to our own likes and dislikes [...] this is an extremely difficult way to live, and it is the reason we feel that we are always struggling with life. (4)

It was overwhelming at times, but I never lost the perspective of watching a voice talking inside. It was obvious it wasn't me; it was something I was watching. (12)

The sounds were out there, but they seemed so far away from where I was seated inside. A **moat of thick peace** allowed nothing to reach the citadel of my elevated state. (21)

I knew where thoughts came from, but where did inspiration come from? [...] It came spontaneously, in total silence, with no effort or commotion. (36)

[...] the abandonment of reason that belongs only to young hippies and crazy people. (42)

I had not done these things -- they had happened to me. In fact, if I had not let go of my initial mental resistance, none of them could have happened. (54)

First, you let go of the personal reactions of like and dislike that form inside your mind and heart; and second, with the resultant sense of clarity, you simply **look** to see what is being asked of you by the situation unfolding in front of you. (64)

I clearly remember granting her request solely because the voice in my head was so resistant to it. (67)

There was the logical, thought-driven mind that links together what we already know into complex patterns of thought [...] Then there was the intuitive, inspiration-driven mind that can look at a problem and instantly see a creative solution. (150)

Since I had absolutely no idea what was going on, thinking about it wasn't going to help. (221) [This one doesn't make much sense to me]

Summary

  • In his twenties, Michael has a spiritual awakening as he travels after college trying to figure out what he wants to do in his life
  • He settles on this realization of “surrender”, giving himself up to the flow of life.
  • He buys a plot of land in the woods and lives a hermit lifestyle meditating and attending gatherings of spiritual leaders
  • To support himself, he starts a construction company with what he’s learned by building on his land.
  • By surrendering and letting life dictate his actions, his construction company becomes wildly successful.
  • He discovers computer programming and also starts Medical Manager, which turns into $300-million-a-year software company with at one point, more than 300 employees.
  • Interrupting this wild success is an FBI investigation into massive fraud at his company. After a long, public trial Michael is found not guilty.