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The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life's Perfection Hardcover – January 1, 2015
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Michael's book is a totally different angle - life just happens, don't try to figure out why and how it's happening, you're not doing any of it, just follow life, and it'll be just fine. So with great intrigue I was looking forward to reading it. Even though I knew his perspective on life was different than mine, I do believe in surrender - meaning it's fine to envision something but then completely let go and allow the Universe to do its thing. So even if I used Michael's viewpoint in that way, I was open to hearing what he had to share on the topic of surrendering.
By the way, some chapters ended with such an incredible promise of what will unfold next that you just had to keep reading. I told my son, "OK, leave me alone. I'll be in the sunroom for 5 hours - not getting up until this book is done!" I was up until after 1am, but it was done. I got both the audio book (read by the author) and the paperback.
UNTETHERED SOUL VS SURRENDER EXPERIMENT
Untethered Soul freed me from the chatter of my mind. Although I had been familiar with the concepts of not allowing your thoughts to control you, Michael Singer explained it so radically clear, that my own transformation came via the Untethered Soul. Or so I thought. I might need to go back and re-read Untethered Soul because The Surrender Experiment was mind-blowing.
To me, Untethered Soul was the message of "You are NOT your thoughts AND.... you don't have to just blindly follow your thoughts." Surrender Experiment, however, took that concept quite a bit further. Surrender Experiment was more about "What if you went ahead and did the very thing your thoughts made you fearful or resistant about doing?" and instead saw those opportunities as Life delivering to you your next task/action/decision. I had MANY jaw-dropping moments witnessing JUST how far Michael took that concept. Freakin' mind-blowing! Surrender Experiment was somewhat of a personal demonstration of what was taught in Untethered Soul and then some - totally riveting.
The first couple "life delivered" stories he shared, I was kinda like "Eh, that's nice but really not that extraordinary." (but not to worry that changed as I continued reading!)
My other initial reaction was toward the beginning of the book when I read one of the first stories of how he did NOT give into the chattering resistance of his mind. My reaction was "What?!!! That's nuts! Crap, there's no way I'd give in to a situation like that!" In rebellion, I shut the book and walked away feeling uncertain that I'd wanna keep reading... 30min later I feel drawn in.
I reminded myself that I can read any book and decide to use what resonates and discard what does not. Well hey, at least that perspective got me reading it again. SO freakin' glad I did!! (although I'll admit my reaction of "No way! He did NOT just allow that to happen!" re-occurred as I continued reading the book - see "is resistance holding me back" below)
WHAT I REALLY ENJOYED
Surrender when you feel resistance. (Chp 30):
This made VERY aware of just how many thoughts of RESISTANCE crossed my mind. Untethered Soul made me aware of the constant chatter, but Surrender Experiment made me acutely aware of thoughts of RESISTANCE which was truly transformative. Through the stories of his own thoughts of resistance I became aware of my own... painfully aware of my own (in a good way).
Initially he refused to be paid by someone who was insisting to pay him. Sounds like he had that "too spiritual to receive payment" concept going on - a lot of "spiritual" people experience that so it was good to watch that play out in Michael's life. He admitted that he undercharged for his services quite a bit. That refusal to be paid was a form of mental resistance that he overcame later - clearly he shed resistance to accepting money given the millions he experienced in his companies.
Mental concept separating worldly and spiritual dissolves:
It was cool to witness the dissolving of his concepts "separating worldly and spiritual" as he puts it. For anyone who thinks spirituality is meditating, finding as much isolation as you can, and doing a whole bunch of spiritual practices, get ready to have your perspective shifted a bit. Michael found a way to merge deep spirituality while making millions. In fact, his spirituality deepened as a result of his many "worldly" encounters. He shows you how his spirituality deepened DURING his worldly encounters. What's more is that he often credits his everyday experiences in life and business with deepening his spirituality MORE than meditation and isolation. Truly dumbfounded by how it effortlessly came together.
Also, most people who think about being in a spiritual community, are often doing so to escape dealing the "worldly drama" or "non-spirituality" of regular life and to be surrounded only by like-minded people. That's the way Michael Singer started out as well - alone out in the woods. But somehow he merged living in his spiritual community with the experiences of running businesses etc. FROM that very reclusive spiritual community. And he did so with uniquely remarkable life-changing results.... merely by surrendering to events of his life.
Is resistance holding ME back:
Many times, Michael surrendered to a life situation that seemed utterly ridiculous to surrender to and the voice in my head said "You have GOT to be kidding me!!! Why would you just give in to that?!" Someone builds a house on YOUR land without asking you.... an irate customer demands you pull your workmen off one job and come do hers immediately. Just say OK to both??!! Huh??!! Are you kidding me right now??!!
Then.... the rest of the story unfolds and life not only fully supports him but over delivers leaving me shaking my head with a smile realizing the gem this book really is. I know it sounds ridiculous but ya gotta read the book to really get this folks... ya just gotta read the book. I can't even explain it here. Truly....
By chapter 34 my resistance to this level of surrender was overtaken by fascination with what may actually be possible that I have not yet tapped into. (yes it took me THIRTY-FOUR chapters to start feeling a great deal of acceptance to what he was saying). :) Suddenly I'm realizing that my own mental/internal resistance to change (and to what life put in front of me) probably had me turn down more opportunities in my life than I could ever count because the voice in my head resisted it in some way. My personal preferences won most of the time disallowing the natural flow of life. Wow, I see this SO clearly now! Unreal.
Life hands you the next task:
Loved this quote "I'm sitting on a tiny planet spinning in out of space and this is the next task that life handed to me. I'm doing this as a gift to the Universe." Shifted my perspective quite radically especially considering certain events occurring my life right now, and the many events I disallowed in the past.
Follow your Bliss:
Although the book doesn't specifically say "follow your bliss" Michael was a living example of precisely that in many instances. He just allowed himself to fall in love with whatever he felt passionate about and lo and behold life threw him all kinds of opportunities that lined up with precisely that. It's an awesome reminder that the Universe will support you in your passion. Often times, we don't believe that we can make money with our passion so we go do something else. Pay very close attention to how that multi-million software company got started - THAT was an incredible display of "follow your bliss" supported by the Universe a million fold.
Awesome Intuitive flow
I loved reading about the beautiful resonant inner flow of creativity Michael experienced where things just flowed out of him - clearly from an amazingly inspired place that delivered projects so effortlessly that it was pretty much like meditating. Really opened me up to experiencing more of this flow and reading how he got into the flow was cool as well.
Is this about the "Art of Allowing?"
OK I know the author probably is NOT into the Law of Attraction. BUT.... at some point I became aware that Michael Singer was remaining in a "state of allowing" that a lot of "Law of Attraction" people talk, preach about, and write books about, and do seminars about but don't really know how to experience. In a way, THIS book is the "art of allowing" LIVED (not just preached).... but that's just my perspective.
Learning to quiet or ignore the voice in his head also provided a tremendous a level of peace in tumultuous situations. Loved how he demonstrated just how easy it is to do that. I followed his guidance and immediately was able to practice the feeling of calm and serenity in any given moment. Very cool. That very peace, is ALSO allowing the law of attraction to work in his favor (I think.) Many people try to "do things" to attract desired experiences never once realizing that attracting is a BEING experience (not a doing one). Michael Singer fully surrenders, experiences tremendous peace and joy in life, and (of course) naturally attracts amazing life experiences (that he did NOT ever envision, set an intention for, asked the Universe for or make a vision board for I might add). Mmm hmm.... there's more than ONE way to live this thing called life folks.
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS & PONDERINGS
What about a combo of desire plus surrender:
Michael's teachings are all about "Surrender your preferences and just follow the stream of naturally occurring life events." And to his credit, he presents a mountain of evidence as to how well this has worked for him. That said, other authors (like Trevor Blake multi-million dollar author of Three Simple Steps and also the book Parallel Realities of Self) embraces the combo of "desire/preferences + surrender."
Personally, I see nothing inherently wrong with having desires and preferences for different life experiences - just don't think your puny little human mind has a better plan than the Universe - dream, envision, then fully surrender to the magic of the Universe. I'd say Michael's book both expanded my view and instantly influenced my experience of the surrender/allowing part.
Always do what life puts in front of you?
At a certain point in the book, he shared that he chose to NOT accept different biz opportunities so as to not sacrifice his meditation practice. But he also says "do what life puts in front of you." I felt a bit conflicted in reading that as life was putting lots of biz opportunities in front of him but he went with his preference for his twice-daily meditation practice, but hey, no big deal... I still love this book. :)
There was also the time when a colleague was impressing upon Michael to build a bigger house for himself on the land he owned. In previous stories where others were impressing upon him to do something, he took it as a "sign from life" and surrendered. But when his colleague was impressing upon him to build a nicer house for himself, he said no, he'll just wait for the timing of life (which he did with remarkable results) but still... I wondered.... that whole surrender and preferences thing isn't so black and white is it?
Do what life puts in front of you even if you really don't enjoy it?
Here's the thing... what's working in Michael's favor is that he fully BELIEVES that the Universe will support him no matter what. That unwavering belief is a big part the magic in all of this (see my overall comment below). So at times, he says "yes" to opportunities he really does NOT want to do. That left me a bit concerned for readers who may blindly throw themselves into situations they despise which will then create very undesired life experiences.
Remember, Michael did NOT allow himself to feel "despise" for any of the things he accepted but initially felt dislike for. THAT's the key and it created amazing results for Michael. If you cannot follow that ability to turn "initial dislike" into "full positive love and acceptance" for things you really don't wanna do, then you may not wanna blindly follow what Michael's doing in this book. (again... see my overall comment below). Personally, I believe the Universe has infinite opportunities available for us all to experience and it's much more fun for me to align with the manifestation of enjoyable ones, so I choose to do that. :)
Is this all just too perfect?
At times, after reading one life event after another that miraculously turned out just fine, I found myself wondering if this is just almost too perfect. The book is doing an awesome job of articulating a series of selected events that were perfectly timed and that worked out beautifully each time. BUT.... any stories of following whatever life brought to you only to have it blow up in your face? Surely that MUST have happened a few times in 40 years.
Can't help but wonder... were there other events occurring that did not go so well. Quite a few staff members were divinely timed hires. Certainly not all hired employees showed up effortlessly and perfectly timed (for example). Yes, there was the FBI raid where all hell seemed to break loose.... but my mind wondered.... did Michael feel like the employee (who was taking kickbacks) was an effortless and divinely timed hire when that employee showed up? But to be fair, there were other stories of "things seemingly gone wrong... then turned out just fine."
Michael says the growth of the company was astonishing and with it came all the problems associated with a rapidly growing technology company. But doesn't quite say how those typical problems were experienced. Were they all experienced with effortless serendipity? Or was it the typical corporate drama.
Wait, there WERE some preferences expressed:
The book seems to be heavily embracing the "surrender all of your preferences" concept but there were times when I thought "Well isn't THAT a preference?" For example, why NOT simply surrender to the trees being cut down (Ch 38) vs attempting to preserve it which is what Michael did. Why not say "Hey, so trees are being chopped down in our beautiful neighboring surroundings... life just delivered that so I'll just accept it." Nope, Michael had a preference for saving the trees and leased the land to save them. Scratched my head on that one as it seemed like a clear desire/preference to me. The outcome from leasing the land was pretty cool but still.... I wondered.
Mind vs Spirit/Intuition talking
He talks about not listening to the resistant chatter going on in your mind, but what about being guided by the Spirit within to NOT do something? The book didn't address intuitively NOT doing something. It was either focused on not listening to the mind or not resisting whatever life put in front of you. Perhaps he perceives NOT listening to the mind as, by default, listening to your Spirit/intuition? If you're just being the observer of your thoughts, then by default you are indeed following the Spirit? Not sure, but I was left wondering about that as the concept of intuition wasn't addressed (except for the intuitive flow of inspiration in completing projects).
Merge this with Law of Attraction maybe?
Perhaps the Law of Attraction that many Spiritual/new-age people are trying to "master" or "use" isn't as complicated as we make it. ALSO, to fly in the face of what this book is about, MAYBE... just MAYBE.... one can indeed envision preferences and desires, then promptly move your daggone butt out of the way, surrendering to the natural flow of whatever shows up, expecting no particular outcome and remaining completely unattached. I say MAYBE.... yet I'm aware there's plenty of evidence of this being true (e.g. Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake or Parallel Realities of Self by Frederick Dodson, and a bazillion other authors).
Amazing book! A totally riveting page-turner! Five stars all the way! Another masterpiece delivered by Michael Singer and I am SO glad I bought both the paper-back and the audio version. I read them both together - kinda like Michael reading it to me (cool that this audiobook was read by him - Untethered Soul audiobook was not read by him but it was still awesomely read).
The powerful stories in this book almost... ALMOST... made me second-guess my belief in "you create your own reality." But alas, once the last chapter was read, I realized I have my own slew of stories to support creating my own reality and so do others who do not follow the "surrender all your preferences." teaching (again e.g. Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake or Parallel Realities of Self by Frederick Dodson). It's awesome reading books like The Surrender Experiment however, because you get clear validation that there is indeed more than one way to dance to the music of life and experience amazing results.
Ever wondered how authors can provide such amazing supporting evidence of their very different teachings/beliefs? Easy peasy... it's Universal Law - that which you believe must become your reality. Michael Singer believes in "surrender your preferences and life will support you" and that became his reality. Trevor Blake believes in "set your intentions then let go and allow the Universe to do it's magic" and that became his reality. Frederick Dodson believes in "get clear on what you want, shift into that parallel reality and you'll experience it" and magically, that became his reality. It's Universal Law at work - whatever you firmly believe will happen MUST therefore become your reality (even bad stuff I might add - be careful!). So just choose your preferred "awesome sauce" recipe that resonates and flow with it. We are THAT powerful as creators of our own human experiences - makes life very cool I think, don't you? :)
As I said WAY back in the beginning of this review, I take what resonates and discard what does not when it comes to *any* spiritual teacher. Love Michael Singer's work a whole lot, yet I believe we're each here to have our own unique life experiences on this earthly ride. At the end of anyone's "spiritual teachings" remember to pause, lay aside the excitement of discovering something new, take a breather, then go within... meditate.... get quiet enough to access your OWN inner compass/guidance, your own intuition, the Spirit within you.... to see what aspects of that new teaching was actually meant for YOU at this time.
For me, my own life experiment will be a merger of expressing my desires to the Universe AND (thanks to Michael) surrendering a whole lot more to whatever shows up. Different than Michael for sure... and we'll see where that little experiment takes me. Hey, life is a playground and I'm gonna play it any way I like darnit! :)
Really loooooong review. BUT... hope it was helpful to you my fellow Amazon browsers and spiritual seekers! :)
Second, not knowing anything about Michael Singer's life, I was amazed at his life story. It is fascinating, as Singer expresses in his book, how life moves "this way" then "that way" with no idea why it's going that way. It just happens. The book can also be read on different levels, for business types as well. There were gaps in the story which left me baffled, most prominently, what of his relationship to his wife and child? Mentioned in but a few sentences then disappeared.
After I read the last chapter of the book, though, I was disappointed and it took me a couple of days to ruminate over what it was that bothered me. Then it came: his book, and his life story, missed an opportunity to teach and to explore what "surrender" is in its full context. The general context of his surrender stories in his autobiography involve coming up against something which he personally dislikes, but he, in his own way, surrenders to the dislike, and something "positive" opens up on the other side, which naturally enlightens his soul and enriches his life. What concerns me is that the reader could interpret this scenario as the only means and particularly, the correct outcome, of surrender. It is a sort of prosperity gospel that if one surrenders to one's life, good things will happen to you. The teaching moment I feel that is missing in this book is that, "This is how surrender expressed itself in my life, but it may not happen to you the same way." An addendum to that message would be, "Yes, I went from being a hippie living on only $5000/yr. and I became a CEO of a corporation and a millionaire, but guess what, it's nothing special, it's just how life showed up. It's no better, or more important, or more valuable than anyone else's life story. Surrender happens in many ways and in many forms."
Surrender does come in many forms. Sometimes it comes with years of great pain, sorrow, and heartache. Sometimes even death. In fact Christianity centers around an individual who is an extreme example of this. For Jesus, surrender came in the form of ridicule, hatred, and his eventual horrific death in his early 30's.
Furthermore, what does surrender look like to someone who is in an abusive relationship or a parent whose innocent child is killed in a drive-by shooting. Surrender in these situations is much more than simply allowing a dislike.
Or even, can someone be so very ordinary with no outstanding achievements, wealth, or spiritual accolades of any sort be spiritually enlightened having surrendered to his/her life?
So, to me, I think the book can lead others to misunderstand surrender and to interpret Michael's story as the story that "should" happen in their own life. I would given a much higher grade if, after his own story, he would have included a chapter or so discussing what surrender means. Without that chapter, the book diminishes down to a life story of one man.
The Untethered Soul starts with, "To thy own self be true." That is the only place surrender makes sense.
I found this book quite difficult to finish. I was hoping to learn how to surrender and practice it in my on life, instead, we he just talks about his own experience (my fault for not reading what the book was about I guess). And yet, we don’t see a character growth or him learning from mistakes. It’s just a description of continuous events. You can skip several random chapters and that won’t affect at all your comprehension of the book/story. You won’t miss any important information. Quite predictable.
And how he turned hiring people, or paying bills, or buying property into deeply spiritual experiences is beyond me.
I really wanted to like it but it was one of the “most…boring books…of my life”.
Top reviews from other countries
Ever since I have begun on this journey which I now understand came at precisely the time it needed for me, I have struggled with the concept of 'just make a list of your wishes, visualise, be specific, set a time line, etc etc etc'. I sat in so-called law of attraction type seminars with the main theme being 'what is it you really want', listen to accounts of people who had their plans clearly mapped out, who seemed to visualise like mad and seemed so convinced that 'this is what they wanted'; while I sat there thinking 'what the hell is wrong with me that I sort of know what I want but that I am actually not quite sure'....
Well, fast forward to now, I know now that this is a journey that I was meant to be on. This book is for anyone who has arrived at reading Eckhart Tolle's 'A New Earth', felt a huge wave of peace and relief, felt an even bigger relief and peace when reading Marianne Williamson's 'A Return to Love', began to study and read the Course in Miracles and finally understands the concept of 'asking life what it wants from me'.
I always thought that unless I make it happen for me, nothing ever gets done; I always thought that in a certain way life was a bit of a struggle, that I need to go out there and take the bull by the horn. That unless you have a clear plan mapped out towards your goal, you won't get there. That people will take advantage of you if you don't watch out for yourself, that you need to compete in this world etc etc - all the things that years of working in the financial industry in both New York and London effectively teach you....
Reading this book will bring such a huge relief to anyone who finally wants to understand what can happen when you just let go (anyone who knows me will know that for me to 'let go' is the antithesis of how I used to operate in my daily life...), when you just surrender yourself to the stream of life, when you detach yourself from your thoughts, your likes and dislikes, and just go with what life presents you. Reading this book and listening now to The Untethered Soul as an audiobook also makes A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle more comprehensible (to me Eckhart Tolle is my spiritual teacher bar none but his language is tougher to understand sometimes).
I hope this review will help those like me who have come full circle and finally understand what life is all about. What the next years will bring, I don't know - but I am excited to find out what my own 'surrender experiment' will bring!
Great book and thank you so very much to Michael Singer for writing this!
Hoping Michael will write a follow up. He barely mentions his wife and daughter and I longed to hear more about this side of his life but perhaps he deliberately kept that private.
An extraordinary book which I will recommend to everyone.
It was very clear at a key point in the book that the survival of the company that Michael Singer built was under threat, and that it was time surrender. However, it seems that he was too attached to the company and its success to let it go. In the end, what that led to was a 7-year legal investigation into his company by the FBI that culminated in his resignation.
Any kind of legal action is incredibly stressful to deal with and especially a law suit of the magnitude that Michael Singer's company became embroiled in. Yet, it seems like the human impact of that lawsuit was completely glossed over. The situation ended up costing $190 million dollars to resolve, plus Micheal Singer had to walk away from the company he founded. That doesn't sound like being in flow with life and things working out perfectly.
The book seemed to come from a very self-centred perspective where other people were relegated to bit-players in Michael Singer's life, and they are described mostly in terms of how their presence benefited him personally. It seems there is more self-love than love for others in this book. Michael Singer actually married and had a child, yet only vaguely mentions this, as in: he wrote a brief sentence about them a couple of times and then moved on.
The second half book ended up being more business-oriented and focusing on the developments of the legal action brought by the FBI, and then suddenly jumps from that to Michael Singer going back to the woods to write and ends there. That's it.
I was left wondering what happened to the company and all those people he worked with that he described in such glowing terms. But everything was ok because things all worked out fine for him in the end.
I'm not sure how you can go from founding and running a company that was turning over $300 million per year at one point to suddenly having to return to living in the woods because of an expensive and life-changing lawsuit. He must have needed to work through feelings of despair, resentment, grief or anger, for example, and come to terms with it, like any human would. But there was nothing. In that respect, the book seems more than insincere and it seems highly unlikely that a someone could have no real issues in their life until the age of 50+ (when the lawsuit arrived).
It seems that there is a lot of unacknowledged ego in the book. If anything, these seem to be the writings of someone who is at odds with life rather than at peace with it. The book appears to be an attempt to impose a narrative on life that everything was perfectly ok all of the time when it clearly wasn't. I also suspect that the book focuses so much on business in the second half to correct the public record about what happened at Medical Manager Corporation. That is not accepting what life put in your way.
Michael Singer also emphasises his hippy credentials throughout the book, but doesn't mention until some way in that his father was actually a very successful stockbroker. So the world wealth, and especially astronomical wealth, was not as alien to him as he tries to make out.
If you want a book about applying spiritual practices to modern life, this isn't it. And if you are thinking this book might teach you how to manifest wealth, think again. There are better reads out there on both subject.
Overall, a disappointing read that was massively dishonest.
Great book! Will read it again.