If our expectations are too rigid, we may miss opportunities that come into our lives. It is better to have no expectation of the blessings that we might receive, but be open to all possibilities.
There is a story about a man who considered himself a true believer, of having a great faith. He relied on God to provide all his needs. One day a terrible storm was forecast and people were warned to go to higher ground because of the danger of being flooded. However, the man ignored the warning because he knew that God would provide for his needs. A car came by his house with neighbors who offered to take him with them to a safe place, but the man refused because God would provide all his needs. The rain came and began to flood the area. A boat with authorities came by and told the man he should evacuate, but the man stood his ground because God would provide. As the water got deeper, the man went up to the roof. A helicopter flew over and, seeing him on the roof, the people inside told him to grab the lifeline and they would pull him up, but the man refused because God would provide. Finally the water swept over the house and the man drowned. When he got to heaven he met God and indignantly asked, “I had great faith that you would provide what I needed and you let me drown. How could you do that?” God answered, “I sent you a car, a boat, and a helicopter, but you refused them all.”
Sometimes the blessings we receive are either smaller or greater than what we could have imagined, and sometimes they are disguised as difficulties that will lead us to something better.
There is another story of a man who bought a beautiful stallion at a very good price. His neighbors came and congratulated him on his good fortune. He replied, “Perhaps it’s good, perhaps it’s bad.” One day the stallion managed to escape the corral and ran off. The neighbors all voiced their regrets at this difficult loss. But again he remarked, “Perhaps it’s good, perhaps it’s bad.” A few days later the stallion came back with three lovely mares and, of course, the neighbors all exclaimed what good luck that was. But the man only replied, “Perhaps it’s good, perhaps it’s bad.” As his son was riding one of the mares, she bolted causing the young man to fall and break his leg. At which the neighbors again voiced their dismay at the turn of events. But the man only answered, “Perhaps it’s good, perhaps it’s bad.” Because there was much trouble in the area, the king ordered all young men to join in a great war, but the man’s son couldn’t go because he had a broken leg. When the neighbor’s came to congratulate him on his good fortune they heard the same reply – – and so it goes on.
Whether a situation is good or bad depends upon our outlook, the way we perceive it. The situation, in itself, is neither good nor bad, it just “is.” Only our attitude determines its rightness or wrongness. Even those who commit a crime believe it to be a good thing for them, though it may appear to be bad to everyone else. A rain storm may be beneficial to a farmer who needs water for his crops, but detrimental to an outdoor celebration.
There is a saying, “Expect nothing and never be disappointed.” Frustration is a result of expectations not met, and anger is the result of an overload of frustration that is acted out as violence. These are conflicting energies that exist between the ego’s longing for worldly things and the soul’s longing for peace within. When ego and soul are in agreement, there is no agitation, no frustration, no anger – there is only peace within.
To expect nothing is to be accepting of all circumstances, all situations – with the knowledge that we have the ability to refuse from people that which does not serve our greater good, or to accept from them that which does. Refusing what does not serve us is illustrated by the story of the Buddha in “About Bullying,” another blog available here.