(calligraphy by Alain2)
At times in my life I sought out this particular Seer when I was confused about situations in my life. Every time I would go to her house she would say in a soft voice, “You will experience many disappointments in the next months.” She would look at my disappointed face (disappointed in her reading of my future) and then say, “Oh but you will overcome these disappointments.” Her confidence in me did not help. I did not want to overcome them I wanted to not have any disappointments. Is it possible?
Recently, a number of friends were talking about disappointments. I said, “I was taught that if you have expectations you will have disappointments.” The room became quiet. They thought I was being a Dharma teacher or something like that. To break the somber feeling, I said, “I know this because I’m disappointed all the time.” Everyone laughed probably because they didn’t expect a Dharma teacher, some weird human evolution, to admit such a thing.
It is human nature to have expectations, to want a desired result from the actions we take. After all why take any actions if there are no results? As matter of fact some of us would stop living if we couldn’t gain anything from it and unfortunately some of us do–stop living that is.
What is an expectation? It is an idea that is being forced into reality. For example you may expect your children to graduate from a university. Then you are disappointed when they don’t. A wedge is placed between you and your child. Every year the gap is widened based on an expectation. Perhaps you saw your sister or brother getting married and having children like you and then you are disappointed when they decide not to engage in life as you have done. Maybe you are an educator and you have students. You expect them to be enthused and to flourish but in your eyes they don’t seem as though they are learning what you want them to learn. Notice how many times the word “you” comes into play here. An expectation requires “you” being at the center of everything.
Disappointment is sense of failure with oneself and others. You or someone else didn’t meet your expectations. Still notice the “you” at the center of things. After being disappointed we may quickly move to the next expectation to make things better. “Forget that, I’m going to do this now.” You may even add, “I’m going to do this without you and you and you.” Therefore, you become isolated because folks (including yourself) do not meet your expectations. We are not alone in this cycle of expectations and disappointments.
Yes, I’m disappointed a lot of the time but less and less these days. For me the enlightened (in-light-within-it) place is to know that disappointments will occur. However, you are aware in the moment that you are experiencing the results of your expectation. If you know it is simply expectations at work then your disappointments can be decreased or eliminated within moments. If I feel let down, I am very clear that an expectation has been put into play. I can sit down and ask, “What did you expect Zenju Earthlyn Manuel?” When the expectation becomes clear I can drop that sense of failure immediately and do what I do often which is, “Laugh at my mind.”
Can we avoid being disappointment? I’m not sure but my instincts says no. But we can be enlightened about the experience of it. We can continue to be love in the midst of it and avoid hurting self or others because they haven’t met our expectations.
Can we gain from life without expecting to gain anything? I bet you can answer that one. If we look deeply into our lives most of the things that come into our lives are unexpected–good and bad. While we are busy expecting one thing another thing is happening. You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Life happens.” While we are busy expecting one thing or another, what is in front of us goes unseen. All the love and gifts of life that we are truly gaining in life goes unseen. Have you taken a look at your beloved without your expectations? Have you taken a look at your children just where they are today? Have you seen your life as it is today unfolding, unfolding, unfolding? This is my new daily exercise–Just looking. Like watching the waves of the ocean, I just look to see what I see. I will still probably have expectations but I have the choice rather to put them into play or not. If I get disappointed I’ll just eat my popcorn and say, “You went there again. Didn’t you?”