Some people think that desire is at the root of evil. Since the whole universe, in a sense, runs on desire this might be considered an overstatement. But when we add the weight of expectation to desire we do run into trouble. Expectation is expecting someone to say or do something in the way we want. And when they don’t we judge them for it.
Our inner happiness does depend on the kind of harmony we achieve with others, especially those significant others who populate our lives. We can desire all we want but to expect others and life itself to respond to those desires ends up as not only a big expectation, that can be easily disappointed, but it also sets up a demand. I want what I want and I want it now. In children we see their egos doing this all the time. When their internal desires and needs get translated into intense demands.
A wife can be expecting her husband to buy her expensive gifts to prove his love and when he does not she gets terribly disappointed. She becomes miserable especially if her other friends are receiving gifts and she is not. Thus her desire and accompanying expectation acts to destroy her inner harmony and peace. Below the desire and expectation is something else which is hard to look at. Some deeper insecurity or aimlessness in life, some lack of purpose or sense of internal value.
Of course the greatest danger of expectation is having such a strong feeling about how the other should be that we loose touch not only with the other’s reality, but with reality itself. When we get caught in our desires and expectations we become lost in them. And then our center of consciousness becomes locked into the rapids of emotional demands.
So the man who expects his wife to make love to him five times a week will be disappointed when she resists and shows no desire to do so. After the romance dies away there are many deeper issues to deal with that were hidden behind the passion of sex. Women, often being more sensitive, are the first ones to show change. Maybe she has been abused by a man when she was younger and after a few years of marriage this kind of issue surfaces for her to deal with. At this point she will need an incredible amount of real love from her man. If he is totally caught up in his desire and the expectation that his desires be fulfilled by his wife he will begin to suffer and struggle with these issues and possibly destroy the marriage.
It is hard to understand that the heart makes no demands on the universe. It is our little selfish arrogant selves that are expecting the universe to dance to our tune. But the secret to life is not to banish all desire and expectation. It is to not be attached to them so that we can listen to what life is trying to say. Deep down much of our desires and expectations come from the need for something to happen to make life more interesting! We feel empty and want to feel full and want something outside of us to happen to stimulate us.
In human terms as we develop ourselves it is useful to begin to be able to ask ourselves, “Do we really need what we want?” What we need and what we want are not always the same. If we can desire only what we truly need then we will be in good shape. A person who has worked on themselves and has developed their nature both psychologically and spiritually show a type of detachment to getting what they want. They are plenty happy just getting their needs fulfilled and after all we really don’t need that much. Just having air to breathe and the earth to walk on is already a lot.
The heart makes no demands in the sense of desire and expectation, it lets things unfold more magically. The heart has the intelligence not to limit the universe so much with demands and expectations. The heart can surrender, it knows when to say “Ok universe, whenever……in god’s good time.” Expectations create an impatience with life. We let go and let what is supposed to come meet us. But this in no way indicates any laziness on the hearts part. Surrender has nothing to do with passivity.
Expectations work in subtle ways to destroy our peace and chance for fulfillment in life. In relationships it often happens that this ego block shows itself in the expectation for the other person to change. This is tricky because most often it is we who are refusing to change and our internal resistance is being projected onto the other as a demand and expectation for change.