David and Vesta both put up very well articulated posts on their respective thoughts about passive vs. active submission. I have to say that they take slightly different views from each other, and they each made me think. In both cases, I think they refer to the output of the submissive - (her) outward appearance or demeanor: passive, being quiet, still, demure, waiting to follow rather than initiating, even if to please. These made me think about the process for me though. And maybe it's telling that my first thought was about how it is for me: that it is all active for me, the process, what it takes me to produce that outward appearance.
Argument could be made that what matters is what is seen, what is experienced by the Dom - not what did or did not go into making that happen. This obviously looks at it from my POV - not his - perhaps that is wrong or at least immaterial.
In my case, in our case, I believe it is all active. I have a pretty fair idea, with some exceptions, of what he wants or expects of me day to day, and it's actually all pretty active - there isn't a lot of room in our lives at this phase for inactive. I'm also pretty certain that he would appreciate much more my actively seeking ways to help, serve, please, etc, vs. waiting for him to direct me, even if i miss the mark sometimes.
This is not to say he wouldn't like me to be more centered, calm, or still sometimes. And perhaps it is the case that I have a lot to learn; maybe things that should be so simple for me are more difficult. But it takes me actively controlling myself to do (or avoid doing) the things that distinguish me now (vs. before) as submissive. Curbing my attitude, attending to how i respond, deciding and acting the way i should, being quiet, being still - all take effort from me. Even waiting and being patient, especially this, take active control on my part.
Every once in awhile, I try to play the "you decide" card. I try to sit back and be directed. It doesn't fly. He wont let me check out and abdicate responsibility to think and participate. Even when we play - maybe he wants me to be actively engaged, so he can actively, forcefully dominate, wrestling for it as it were (he wins - he has fun). On the other hand, if I'm told to be still and be quiet, it takes a great deal of effort to maintain that control sometimes even if I'm bound.
The only times it approaches passive is well into a session - when my mind kind of pulls into itself somewhat - or when i seek him out to just hold me - and just melt into him. Oddly, those are the times I would maybe identify as feeling most submissive - and I really, really love those feelings - but they wouldn't ever happen if all the rest didn't come first.