Saturday, October 19, 2019

When Desires Become Expectations

Even though our desires are endless and we remain busy chasing them throughout our lives, it is not their pursuit that is burdensome. It is our belief that our desires must be fulfilled or that our happiness depends on the fulfillment of our desires. This creates a baggage of a different kind. It’s the heaviest load but an invisible one. We remain unaware of its weight as well as oblivious to its continuous build up.

Expectations are those desires you believe you have the right to see fulfilled.

Expectations are not just what we have from others or what they have from us. They are of three types in fact, and all three arise when we fail to drop the thought that seeded it at the first place.

From Self

The expectations we have from ourselves are at the root of our grief. The troubling thing is that not all these expectations are right. Most of these have been handed down to us by our society, teachers, parents, peers, religion and so on.

From Others

Our second big load of expectations come from our relationships with others. We justify the expectations we have from others believing that we rightfully deserve to be treated a certain way; whether it is in the form of reciprocation, love, things, words, gestures.

The beauty and love in most relationships gets crushed under the weight of expectations. If the two partners in a relationship could lower their expectations they have from each other, love in such a relationship will only flourish. 

Expectations put pressure on the one you expect from, all the while increasing your own burden of expectations. When these expectations are not fulfilled, they give you grief and disappointment proportionate to the magnitude of your expectations.

Others from You

Anybody you know has some form of expectation from you.

From the perspective of a meditator, an expectation is merely a desire we are holding onto. Our ego thinks we must see through this lingering thought. When ego clings to a desire, it transforms into an expectation.

When we are unable to let go of our thoughts, some of them become emotions, and then we attach emotions to our desires and expectations. This is where a thought is transformed into a potent force nudging us to take action. Emotions are the giant killer waves that knock the surfer off his surfboard. They influence the nature of and intention behind our actions. And action, I may add, is the final stage of a thought, for the life of a thought ends where action starts.


All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage… If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. - The Dhammapada 

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