A Limited Experience
“The best things in life are unexpected — because there were no expectations.” — Eli Khamarov
There is a Zen story which shows how expectations limit one’s experience of reality:
Zen master Baizhang was walking with Mazu and saw a wild duck fly by.
Mazu said, “What is that?” Baizhang replied, “A wild duck.”
To which Mazu asked, “Where is it going?” Baizhang said, “It is flying away.”
Mazu twisted Baizhang’s nose and said, “When did it ever fly away?”
Baizhang assumed the duck flying away from him was central to his experience of it. He attached meaning to his experience, sooner than assume the duck was flying over him toward its destination.
The kõan is a familiar riddle which offers us the lesson to release expectations. Baizhang related his experience of observing the duck in flight as central to his universe, i.e. flying away from “ME.”
Expectations have the same effect by limiting the current of life. We add layers to our experience, albeit at a cost of a limited perspective.
In his first interview with Oprah Winfrey, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho who wrote The Alchemist, attributes his success to being open and receptive to uncertainty. He reminds us to flow through life — allowing it to carry you where it needs to devoid of expectations, anxiety or frustration.
As you trust in the rhythm of life, you gain confidence through your attentiveness to the signs life bestows you. Undertaking quiet time for reflection will help you to reconnect with purpose.
Are your expectations valid?
Why is it important that circumstances transpire as you expect?
These questions highlight the principal motivation underlying your expectations. If you surrender to universal intelligence, an even better result than you expected often emerges.
There’s a Chinese axiom, which states our cups (minds) are overflowing with concepts which limit our experience of life. “You are like this cup; you are full of ideas. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.”
To see past your expectations, become empty vessels so life may pour herself into you.
This allows you to get past the story in your minds and appreciate life for what it is. Most people’s perception is obscured by subconscious programs — they maintain a distorted view of reality which discolours their experience of life.
It should be stated that no two people share the same experience, not even twins.
Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist wrote a delightful book titled, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. He outlines how your experience of the world is tied to your awareness or lack of it.
Every encounter stems from your perception of reality — not reality itself. He affirms, you must look past the veil of illusion created by the mind. Moreover, expectations are mind-made illusions which you hope to create “out there.”
“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” — Stephen Hawking
How can you liberate yourself from expectations while fulfilling your human needs? First, experience the world through the eyes of a child. Surrender all expectations and be fascinated with uncertainty and ambiguity, the source of creation.
Second, stay grounded and present — this allows you to let go of future expectations and the need to recycle the past in to the present moment. To remain present invites you to embody life’s experiences with fullness.
To illustrate a distorted reality, when you view the sun you are seeing it where it was eight and a half minutes ago given the Earth’s approximate distance from it.
You are not seeing the sun where it is NOW since it has moved. So everything in life is transient — if you miss the opportunity to stay grounded and present, life will pass you by.
A timely quote by Krishna Sagaar reaffirms our position of a subjective reality: “You don’t see the world as it is, you see it, as you are.” Thus we do not experience reality as we intend, yet through a self-made filter of accumulated beliefs, thoughts and emotions.
In addition, get out of your head and move into your heart. Abandon your fantasies on what life owes you.
Life does not fulfil your every request like an online order catalogue. The moment you engage life with purpose and passion, your expectations no longer dominate your thought landscape — all your needs arrive at the right time, when you least expect it.
In closing, reaffirm that everything you need is available to you right now. Release the need for answers because life is not an intelligent personal assistant like Siri. You must discover the answers yourself through your own journey.
Be open to infinite possibilities by being patient and trusting in the process of life.
Surrender the need to control life’s outcomes, for trying to control life is like clutching at water with your hands open.
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Originally published at medium.com