—by Paula Pennant London, England

When I first glanced at A Deeper Surrender: notes on a spiritual life I didn’t really expect much, but after feeling compelled to read it, I bought it. It has been 2 years since I first read A Deeper Surrender and I still read it today. A book with many shining gems, it offers invaluable insights that cut across all self-imposed barriers. It’s real and unrelenting in describing how one can go about achieving a spiritual life. In a world where everyone thinks they know the right way, the gritty realism of A Deeper Surrender is refreshing. It makes no bones about what one has to do. There are no short cuts. One has to make a concerted effort, and do you know what, I can say it is certainly worth it.

It may sound a little silly coming from a 25 year old girl, but I have always felt that no matter what the world throws at me, growth is my main objective in life, and just to keep on smiling inside regardless of the blows. However, I sometimes felt as though my refusal to be cynical was met with more cynicism and frowns, and I myself doubted at times whether feeling happy was really that important. However, with Stuart’s guidance, I have realized that it is the best gift anyone can give to themselves. I now have the confidence to feel as though I am not wrong for being and wanting to feel happy. I long ago accepted that challenges will always be part of life, but what Stuart has really helped me to understand is that having an open heart despite the challenges is really important. Throughout history people have always done senseless things. People will continue to do senseless and hurtful things to themselves and each other until we becomes responsible and free enough to want to change within— which is a matter of evolution. I do believe that one day we will get there, but what Stuart has explained to me on countless occasions, it doesn’t matter what others do, it’s what we do. Can we still find love in our heart even after being burnt? Being happy is not some dippy and elusive goal, as Stuart says, on a planet so populated, how many people are truly happy within. It’s true, we chase the externals and then when it comes crashing down, we are encouraged to avoid pain and discomfort by popping happy pills or drowning our sorrows through alcohol or drugs. No one is perfect, but what Stuart teaches is that, whether you believe in God or not, imperfection can serve as a catalyst for inner growth.

Anyone can call themselves a spiritual teacher, but when you scratch the surface, Stuart not only lives what he teaches, he readily and gladly gives away his teachings. There are no brick walls of self-importance surrounding Stuart: non-judgmental, genuine and grounded, he will help anyone. The content of the book is not only powerful but its literary form is interesting and unique. The full importance and meaning of A Deeper Surrender became clear to me when I heard my dear friend’s words just before she passed away: I surrender, she said to me. I now know how powerful it is to surrender. Most people take life for granted, but as A Deeper Surrender states, no one from the 18th century is still alive— we all have to die at some point, so why not live now and make our time on earth meaningful.

The main things that I have really grasped from Stuart, is that when it comes down to it, having an open heart is our purpose in life. It’s not long before you realize that the externals most people get so caught up about, are not so important. It is all about going within. Everything is a manifestation of higher energy, so you can either use your energy and time on earth to create more dysfunction, or you can use the pain, suffering and dysfunction to grow, to get closer to God, divinity, higher energy and love.