Author Topic: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH  (Read 22511 times)

Helena

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LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« on: February 21, 2011, 04:18:48 PM »
I found this wonderful article and thought it would be good to share with everyone.

Source: http://siddhalishree.com/blog/letting-go-of-expectations-on-the-spiritual-path

Letting Go of Expectations on the Spiritual Path   

Written by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree    Friday, 13 August 2010 09:35

Expectations are one of the greatest hindrances to spiritual seekers. As we start our spiritual path and learn about others’ experiences (and they sound very cool!), we begin to have expectations for our own path. The questions subtly come up, “When is it going to happen to me? When am I going to have those deep meditation experiences? When will I taste soul? How am I ever going to have ultimate knowledge?” Everyone has different expectations for their own path. I used to have many as well, until one day, I realized you have to let go of all your goals to begin to even taste true spirituality.
The Expectation Formula

Where there are expectations, there is tension. Where there is tension, there is no relaxation. Where there is no relaxation, meditation does not happen. It’s a very simple formula. When we expect something in our spiritual path, we will not get it. Once we let it go, the chances increase to experience it.

Early Spiritual Expectations

For beginning meditators, they want to taste on their first meditation attempt, what experienced meditators feel – peace, calmness, happiness. When the beginner realizes meditation is quite difficult in the beginning (because of that constant talking mind) they make a decision to either drop it or try and continue it. The beginner expected great results right away after a 5-10 minute attempt. But, those who are experienced meditators know that to taste peace, relaxation takes time, discipline and practice. We also know that its not guaranteed we will have “super deep meditations” every time we sit down and close our eyes. Expectations can keep us off the path.

What are Expectations?

Expectations are based on results we think should happen. What we think should happen are based on other people’s experiences, or what we’ve read or learned, or what society says. That is why we must first learn to go with the flow, without any expectation, and unlearn all the ideologies and beliefs we have.

Letting Go of Expectations

Dissolving 100% the beliefs and ideologies that have been embedded within us takes years....a lot of time. Since we were babies, we were taught how to think, feel, act, react, believe, and what to expect. To rid ourselves of the society embedded mind takes a lot of effort. It’s scary, too, in the sense that we are letting go of something that feels safe and secure to us – we let go of who we believe we are. Dissolving our mind is scary, but we cannot proceed to any higher forms of truth without dissolving it. Our mind is the illusion that separates us from soul. The mind is not the instrument to know the soul.

My Expectations

The reason I am bringing up expectations is because I had them too. I know its one of many hurdles on the path to let go of. Acharya Shree Yogeesh would always remind me to never have expectations, because I will never be satisfied or content. He said if I expected deep meditations, it won’t happen. If I expected enlightenment, then I have not learned or understood anything. He reminds me that, “Life is always flowing. Where there is flow, soul is there. Where there is resistance [expectation], truth cannot be realized.”

My suggestion for you is to let go of your expectations. Be ready to even let go of all the spiritual things you have learned, because sometimes even those once helpful ideologies might block you as you advance. You don’t need a full mind of knowledge to know your true self. It is the opposite. To realize yourself, you must have an empty mind.

Helena

Big Uncle

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 05:55:46 PM »
I have a different take on this. I don't think I can completely let go of expectations in my spiritual practice at my level yet. So I just practice never giving up and continually trying to be better and never say I want to quit from my spiritual practice. At my level (which I assume most people are), we will always have all manner of emotional situations due to expectations and various circumstances so never reacting negatively or when things are screwed up, just apologizing and doing our best to make up is a good practice. I think that will eventually help us achieve the state that we completely not have expectations.

vajrastorm

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 08:44:31 AM »
I am inclined to agree with the view expressed in the article presented by Helena.  Expectations carry a ‘negative’ connotation of a strong attachment to the fulfillment of our expectations. If what we expect to experience doesn’t take place, we are extremely disappointed often to the point of giving up trying.

Thus for me, as a beginner on the spiritual path, I have to keep cautioning myself against having expectations, especially unrealistic ones. Yet, we need to have a certain commitment towards certain goals that are important. These goals cannot be couched in specific terms and cannot be attained within a short and definite time frame. They are goals like attaining a compassionate mind. However, for developing a mind of compassion, for instance, we have to keep a mental check on ourselves that we are moving forward in that direction in our spiritual practice.

Here is an example of how one can keep a mental check.Take, for instance , a guideline of the path to developing Bodhicitta(Great Compassion) as contained in the lovely Eight Verses of Thought/Mind Transformation. One example is stanza Three:
“In all my actions, I will examine my mind.
The moment a disturbing attitude arises,
Endangering myself and others,   
I will firmly confront and avert it.”

If we check ourselves on a daily basis, as we recite these words in prayer and meditation, we will be more and more mindful of our actions of body, speech and mind, on a daily basis. This to me is ‘tangible’ progress on the spiritual path to developing Bodhicitta, using a lovely guideline. We don’t carry on our shoulders the burden of expectations, but we are committed to progressing surely and definitely towards our goal of developing Bodhicitta.


Helena

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 07:08:16 PM »
Thank you, Vajrastorm for your wonderful sharing and explanation.

That verse which you quoted from the 8 Verses of Thought Transformation is also one of my favourite lines.

My Guru always advise us to be diligent and steadfast in guarding the fortress of our minds. The moment we sense a disturbing thought, we should quickly attack it. Because such negative thoughts, no matter how insignificant they may appear to be, will do the most harm - not to just ourselves, but also to those around us.

It is similar to a terminal highly contagious disease. It will kill you and take everyone's lives along as well. Rather horrifying, actually.

Hence, I find expectations very harmful. Because it disturbs one's equanimity/balanced view.

These words of yours are the ones which impressed me the most.

 We don’t carry on our shoulders the burden of expectations, but we are committed to progressing surely and definitely towards our goal of developing Bodhicitta.

Bodhichitta includes everyone and embraces everyone as the same. Equanimity is the key to cultivating a true genuine care and concern for others.

Expectations just ruin everything else. Because most of the time, they are unrealistic, as you rightly said.

Most of our expectations revolve around preserving self interests. Hence, it is not about everyone, but completely self-centered.
Helena

Klein

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 10:48:35 AM »
I found this wonderful article and thought it would be good to share with everyone.

Source: http://siddhalishree.com/blog/letting-go-of-expectations-on-the-spiritual-path

Letting Go of Expectations on the Spiritual Path   

Written by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree    Friday, 13 August 2010 09:35

Expectations are one of the greatest hindrances to spiritual seekers. As we start our spiritual path and learn about others’ experiences (and they sound very cool!), we begin to have expectations for our own path. The questions subtly come up, “When is it going to happen to me? When am I going to have those deep meditation experiences? When will I taste soul? How am I ever going to have ultimate knowledge?” Everyone has different expectations for their own path. I used to have many as well, until one day, I realized you have to let go of all your goals to begin to even taste true spirituality.
The Expectation Formula

Where there are expectations, there is tension. Where there is tension, there is no relaxation. Where there is no relaxation, meditation does not happen. It’s a very simple formula. When we expect something in our spiritual path, we will not get it. Once we let it go, the chances increase to experience it.

Early Spiritual Expectations

For beginning meditators, they want to taste on their first meditation attempt, what experienced meditators feel – peace, calmness, happiness. When the beginner realizes meditation is quite difficult in the beginning (because of that constant talking mind) they make a decision to either drop it or try and continue it. The beginner expected great results right away after a 5-10 minute attempt. But, those who are experienced meditators know that to taste peace, relaxation takes time, discipline and practice. We also know that its not guaranteed we will have “super deep meditations” every time we sit down and close our eyes. Expectations can keep us off the path.

What are Expectations?

Expectations are based on results we think should happen. What we think should happen are based on other people’s experiences, or what we’ve read or learned, or what society says. That is why we must first learn to go with the flow, without any expectation, and unlearn all the ideologies and beliefs we have.

Letting Go of Expectations

Dissolving 100% the beliefs and ideologies that have been embedded within us takes years....a lot of time. Since we were babies, we were taught how to think, feel, act, react, believe, and what to expect. To rid ourselves of the society embedded mind takes a lot of effort. It’s scary, too, in the sense that we are letting go of something that feels safe and secure to us – we let go of who we believe we are. Dissolving our mind is scary, but we cannot proceed to any higher forms of truth without dissolving it. Our mind is the illusion that separates us from soul. The mind is not the instrument to know the soul.

My Expectations

The reason I am bringing up expectations is because I had them too. I know its one of many hurdles on the path to let go of. Acharya Shree Yogeesh would always remind me to never have expectations, because I will never be satisfied or content. He said if I expected deep meditations, it won’t happen. If I expected enlightenment, then I have not learned or understood anything. He reminds me that, “Life is always flowing. Where there is flow, soul is there. Where there is resistance [expectation], truth cannot be realized.”

My suggestion for you is to let go of your expectations. Be ready to even let go of all the spiritual things you have learned, because sometimes even those once helpful ideologies might block you as you advance. You don’t need a full mind of knowledge to know your true self. It is the opposite. To realize yourself, you must have an empty mind.




Thanks for the helpful article. However letting go of our expectations will take a long time. As Big Uncle states, it's easier to hold on to our spiritual path and never give up. If we keep hanging on to letting go of our expectations, we'll end up more frustrated and distracted from our practice.

Galen

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 03:11:50 PM »
I found this wonderful article and thought it would be good to share with everyone.

Source: http://siddhalishree.com/blog/letting-go-of-expectations-on-the-spiritual-path

Letting Go of Expectations on the Spiritual Path   

Written by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree    Friday, 13 August 2010 09:35

Expectations are one of the greatest hindrances to spiritual seekers. As we start our spiritual path and learn about others’ experiences (and they sound very cool!), we begin to have expectations for our own path. The questions subtly come up, “When is it going to happen to me? When am I going to have those deep meditation experiences? When will I taste soul? How am I ever going to have ultimate knowledge?” Everyone has different expectations for their own path. I used to have many as well, until one day, I realized you have to let go of all your goals to begin to even taste true spirituality.
The Expectation Formula

Where there are expectations, there is tension. Where there is tension, there is no relaxation. Where there is no relaxation, meditation does not happen. It’s a very simple formula. When we expect something in our spiritual path, we will not get it. Once we let it go, the chances increase to experience it.

Early Spiritual Expectations

For beginning meditators, they want to taste on their first meditation attempt, what experienced meditators feel – peace, calmness, happiness. When the beginner realizes meditation is quite difficult in the beginning (because of that constant talking mind) they make a decision to either drop it or try and continue it. The beginner expected great results right away after a 5-10 minute attempt. But, those who are experienced meditators know that to taste peace, relaxation takes time, discipline and practice. We also know that its not guaranteed we will have “super deep meditations” every time we sit down and close our eyes. Expectations can keep us off the path.

What are Expectations?

Expectations are based on results we think should happen. What we think should happen are based on other people’s experiences, or what we’ve read or learned, or what society says. That is why we must first learn to go with the flow, without any expectation, and unlearn all the ideologies and beliefs we have.

Letting Go of Expectations

Dissolving 100% the beliefs and ideologies that have been embedded within us takes years....a lot of time. Since we were babies, we were taught how to think, feel, act, react, believe, and what to expect. To rid ourselves of the society embedded mind takes a lot of effort. It’s scary, too, in the sense that we are letting go of something that feels safe and secure to us – we let go of who we believe we are. Dissolving our mind is scary, but we cannot proceed to any higher forms of truth without dissolving it. Our mind is the illusion that separates us from soul. The mind is not the instrument to know the soul.

My Expectations

The reason I am bringing up expectations is because I had them too. I know its one of many hurdles on the path to let go of. Acharya Shree Yogeesh would always remind me to never have expectations, because I will never be satisfied or content. He said if I expected deep meditations, it won’t happen. If I expected enlightenment, then I have not learned or understood anything. He reminds me that, “Life is always flowing. Where there is flow, soul is there. Where there is resistance [expectation], truth cannot be realized.”

My suggestion for you is to let go of your expectations. Be ready to even let go of all the spiritual things you have learned, because sometimes even those once helpful ideologies might block you as you advance. You don’t need a full mind of knowledge to know your true self. It is the opposite. To realize yourself, you must have an empty mind.




Thanks for the helpful article. However letting go of our expectations will take a long time. As Big Uncle states, it's easier to hold on to our spiritual path and never give up. If we keep hanging on to letting go of our expectations, we'll end up more frustrated and distracted from our practice.


I think the gist of the article posted by Helena is that we should let our experience flow and not to expect a certain result to come out of it. Having said that, the spiritual seeker should also have the ultimate goal in mind, which is liberation.

Having expectations will lead to disappointments and eventually may lead to a fall out. Having faith that you will progress in your spiritual path is more important than expecting a certain result to turn up from meditation or prayer session. Every persons growth is different and should not compare with another person.

It is always good to begin anything with a blank sheet of paper i.e. an empty mind and that has more potential for growth than a mind filled with beliefs and certain outcomes that will occur.


Tenzin K

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2011, 04:57:37 PM »
It's not easy to let go our expectation on any other things we do because we tend expect certain returns from what ever things we do.

In our spiritual path, having expectation will bring us to disappointment and eventually give up. This is what we worry about. Personally i feel that we should give up on samsara acts but not spiritual but because of most of us have been brought up in samsara way where we perceive samsara needs/attachment to something temporary is what make us happy is true.

Letting go our expectation in spiritual path is to let go "giving up" & let go the "result that we expected".
With this whatever difficulties we face in our spiritual journey we will keep move on because we will continue even though we fall and our ultimate goal is to achieve liberation where we are good with having it and good without it too. Expectation is just doesn't exist anymore or no effect on us.         

Manjushri

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2011, 12:52:45 AM »
Having expectations in general usually lead to disappointments especially since that in reality, nothing really matches our expectations. Even if out expectations are met, we would go into a circle, developing more, higher expectations, and eventually, lead to our disappointment and if we cannot get over the result and remain attached, we may fall into depression.

Expectations can drive one to perform, to work harder to achieve that desired result, which can be a good motivation factor, but the key to it is that if things don't go the way that you expect it to be, then let it go. On a spiritual path, there should be no or minimal expectations, (although expectations are hard to let go) as it can be distracting.


biggyboy

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2011, 03:39:14 AM »
Like Buddha before us, letting go of expectations is gaining freedom. Once we let go of trying to control or expect the results to be what we want, life seems to flow with greater ease.  Why force on it? Forcing and expecting them the way we want it make us and people around us to suffer pain and unhappiness.

dsiluvu

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2011, 06:21:15 AM »
There is two side of the coin to look at this. To totally not have any expectations can also lead to disappointment cos it can easily be misinterpreted as not having to push oneself to improve or achieve anything? With the right concept and understanding of how things are impermanent but yet having some kind of goal is necessary for us to stay focus on the path we want to be on. In this case the spiritual path. It would be rather easy for people to use having "no expectation" on their spiritual path to not do much and use it to be laid back.

For instance we could always take one verse from the Eight Verses of Mind Transformation and practice one verse as a goal to achieving to curb one negative habits till we can go on to the next. So the type of expectations if any one should have, would be one that would help up stay focus and strong with our practice and on the spiritual path.

diamond girl

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2011, 06:16:13 PM »
Letting go of expectations to me is unrealistic.

As for disappointments, it is only disappointing because we are attached to what results should look like and when it does not look a certain way we get all too absorbed in being disappointed. This is a waste of time. When we fall we just get back up and go.

Expectations should be used in a positive way to set benchmarks and goals we can aim to achieve. It can be used to gauge our progress forward, especially in our spiritual path. We can think that spiritual progress is intangible but it is not. Mind transformation can be measured, it can be seen and felt. We should expect from ourselves, by removing expectations we will become complacent and just leave it to luck and Buddha... Buddha helps all, and if we help ourselves too, it will sure be faster to enlightenment.

DSFriend

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2011, 07:26:54 PM »
From what I understand, Buddhism teaches us that all phenomenon are empty. From my unrealized understanding, "empty" does not mean nothingness..but rather its nature is empty of inherent existence. Basically, whatever i make out to be does not necessarily exists as how i think it to be.

For samsaric beings, projections arise from a mind lacking in clarity and wisdom, infused by wrong views. In short, the deluded mind!

We get disappointed perhaps is not that expectations are evil and we shouldn't have them... but could be because we place our expectations on incorrect projections.

I do have expectations that by putting in effort to study and practice the dharma, I will have a long lasting, happier mind. There is a surety that I won't be disappointed because this method has been proven.

Perhaps we get disappointed is because we "placed the bet on the wrong horse" Thus what we need to let go off is not about expectations but wrong views.

 


yontenjamyang

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2012, 06:52:10 AM »
I think in the spiritual path or in any endeavor it is really not possible to truly let go of expectations. Paradoxically, the letting go is also an expectation. To achieve this letting go is itself an attainment; so it is really chicken or egg first.
I think the to be zen about it, we should not expect anything nor not not expect anything. However, practically, we can set small goals along the path such as be able to let others win, more and more, to be able meditate 5 mins to 10 mins etc. Each time an obstacle arises, just be patience and move on. Never give up. Set goals but do not worry too much.just do it.It is also to have joy in our practice. Otherwise, we will give up.  So the perfection of effort applies to other perfections or practice or endeavor be it spiritual or worldly; we must have aspiration ie goals or expectations....??!!, confidence of our guru and practice, have joy..always be content with what is achieved or not achieved and strive on, and lastly relax when it us needed ie take breaks. Enjoy the practice. That is why we see high monks are very joyful.

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2012, 07:42:39 AM »
Thanks Helena, I like the article very much, that is something in my mind recently.

Letting go expectation is very useful to apply especially dealing with people or working in a team. Most of the people don't have the same expectation as you do, so you will have much disappointment and anger if you hold on to your own expectation. If you see clearly, not meeting your expectation is not their fault, it's our fault that didn't explain and nurture them and get them to do this way.

And I like a quote in the movie "Seven Years in Tibet", a Tibetan girl is explaining to Brad Pitt about the different between spiritual and the world Brad came from: in life, it's not about what we have, but what we let go.

Letting go is a simple but not easy, but it brings tremendous good result if we work towards it.

pgdharma

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Re: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2012, 11:16:55 AM »
We suffer because we can’t let go of expectations. When we have expectations due to the way we perceive and it does not turn out the way it is, we get disappointed. Even though if the expectations are met, we will still not be satisfied and expect higher expectations. This is good as it makes us perform and work better. Thus when we want to pursue our spiritual journey it is good to have expectations as it will push us to a more focus and correct path.