I have never had a client ask me what is the one thing most likely to transform their suffering.
I wonder why?
The answer is, to learn to drop your expectations.
I often hear people say, “Life so difficult.” My response is “Compared to what? ”
We don’t have a reference point outside of this life experience so the only thing we can be comparing it to is our fantasy, our expectation that it should be different. I think we create expectation out pain. The pain makes us long for pleasure and we create a pleasurable fantasy in our minds about how things could be better.
Everyone has pain. Many people have pain and trauma that is beyond the describing of it. It is devastating beyond words and naturally the mind seeks relief in fantasy.
Expectations work for a very short time, in other words they make us feel better, but ultimately, long-term they are a living hell.
We have expectations about nearly every aspect of our lives. We want health without sickness, order without chaos and always just the right temperature.
If we are hungry we fantasize about food. If our partners are demanding we fantasize about them being easy-going. If they talk too much we wish they would talk less, if they talk too little we wish that they would talk more.
When I challenge my clients about their partners, they often say to me, “I just want them to be balanced, in the middle!”
What a fantasy that is!
Most of all we expect to have a life without, sickness, pain and death, especially ‘untimely’ death.
Have you ever seen a life that looks like this, a world that looks like this? The balance is in the combination of the extremes. You will never find it in the event, at least not for long.
Expectations are lies.
Most people look forward to holidays more than work, yet work, for most people is often more rewarding than their holiday experiences.
Bad stuff happens on holidays. Bad weather, sickness, fighting, depression, bad food, hotels, demanding kids, sunburn, blue-bottles, hangovers…on and on the list goes.
Many years ago I used to read in the Zen texts that just sitting to meditate was enlightenment.
It sounded utterly ridiculous, I never understood it for a second, in fact it really irritated me and I had a fantasy that they would stop talking nonsense, because when I sat down to meditate except for some intermittent wonderful experiences, I was felt very far from enlightened.
I now do understand what they meant.
In their frustratingly inscrutable fashion, they just didn’t explain it in enough detail.
This understanding is a potential route to your dissolving your fantasies.
In essence an expectation is saying that whatever is happening now isn’t good enough.
Right now I’m not experiencing love or balance strength or power or abundance or health… Whatever it might be.
What I have just begun to discover is that all of these things that we are longing for are actually present and here right now just below the surface of the desperate mind.
Enlightenment is ‘beingness,’ the energetic experience of life. As Adyashanti says, Awakeing is like your hand, “You don’t go looking for your hand, you know it’s just there.”
So what is the nature of the hand? It is billions of subatomic particles and protons and electrons and atoms spinning in a particular formation, making up a hand.
That energy makes up everything. It is peace, it is love, it is power it is abundance and balance…
To begin to feel these qualities, to know that they are all here, right now, just like your hand, dissolves the fantasy that all of the things we want on the outside, are in some other person or experience.
I know that as you are reading this you might be feeling the way I used to feel when I read that just sitting for meditation was enlightenment.
So let me try to help you.
We have learned to believe that all goodness is to be attained or acquired. That it is on the outside.
That’s why I talk about Original Self-Esteem, which is just who we are – it’s on the inside – while Acquired Self-Esteem is something we get from approval or success – on the outside.
In order to discover this for yourself, there has to be some slowing down, some contemplative or meditative state that enables one to not grasp for this truth with the mind, but to feel it and sense it, in the body, in the heart.
This is a slow process of discovery.
One of the biggest religious of spiritual problems people have, is that they believe they are separate from God. God is omnipresent, ie everywhere. Meaning inside and outside of you!
So, if you believe in God, ask, “Is God here right now?” Feel the presence of God, on the inside, as well as the outside.
If you don’t believe in God, ask, “Can I feel the peace that is already here, beneath the noise of my mind and the chaos of my emotions?”
Look at a tree. Ask yourself, “Is the tree at peace?” Look at a cat or a dog or an impala, “Are they at peace. Is the sky at peace?”
The clouds pass through the sky, but the sky is untouched by them, despite the often chaotic movement of the clouds. Your thoughts are the clouds, you are the sky. Can you feel the peace behind, beneath the clouds, that is the sky, that is always here, still and unmoving.
The truth of our being cannot be known with the mind, it is discovered wordlessly.
I remember a wonderful Sri Lankan meditation teacher, Godwin Samararatne, whom I did many retreats with years ago. He used to say that all of the Buddhist professors whom he knew in the universities in Sri Lanka had almost no Buddhist practice.
This is unsurprising, because it is only through an experience, an energetic resonance that is wordless, that the truth can be discovered
What is so critical is that this truth is the antithesis of an expectation created in the mind.
So the question arises, why do we keep expecting when it just doesn’t work. Well, it’s an addiction. All addictions have a short term payoff and have you noticed how often the traditional addicts – ie alcohol and drug addicts really want to change?
Your expectations will let you down, again and again and again. This is the price you will pay for short term pleasure, again and again and again.
If you would like to meet face to face or via Skype, please drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org