October 3, 2014
Being driven by expectations will almost always lead to disappointment. Why? Because it is not based on what life is, but on what we want life to be. For example, expectation, which is based in the mind, is often rooted in the ego-driven ambition to get something, such as enlightenment, or, at very least, to feel differently, namely calm, free from fear, or to appear wise. Sometimes practice may, in part, meet our expectations and thereby reinforce them. But when practice doesn’t meet our expectations—that is, when we don’t get what we want—we experience disappointment.
While expectation is based in the mind, we can say that aspiration is based in the heart, or in our essential nature. Aspiration has been described as our true nature striving to reveal itself. In other words, it can be seen as an inherent movement toward who we truly are, like an acorn becoming an oak tree. Conversely, the efforts of expectation are often characterised by ambition, neediness, and fear. The effort of aspiration is softer, not as driven by results as by the inner impulse to live more genuinely.
Excerpt from The Authentic Life: Zen Wisdom for Living Free from Complacency and Fear by Ezra Bayda