Why Not to Expect, Nor to Want?

March 22, 2013

I belong to a spiritual mission, the Sahaj Marg. We meditate. Have a Master who teaches mostly by giving a personal example.

I just spent a week in India and was honored to stay at his home and have personal sittings with him.

I write this blog in his honor.

The meditation starts with a prayer. It has a certain part to it which I want to focus on in this blog. It says “…for all we are is slaves to expectations.”

The prayer directs us to free ourselves of expectations.

Why so? Because wishes enslave?


They put our mind into the future, not in the present. And the future is by definition not now. It moves. All the time. So do our wishes. We have new ones. So one is never fulfilled. Never happy. There is always something else we wish for.

Here is a true story that makes the point:

There is a bar in Amsterdam, which has a big banner on its wall that says:


If you truly believe it, you will be coming every day to the bar and be frustrated and never satisfied: the drinks are always not today. They are…tomorrow.

And by focusing on the future, we miss the present. And we should focus on the present because that is what is real. The past is no more. And the future is not yet.

This focus on the present has its support in the Jewish religion too.

That is how I interpret the name of God in Hebrew; “Ye hoveh” “YE” refers to “in the future” and “hoveh “ means “ present”, now. Thus the name of God which observant Jews are prohibited to pronounce, means to me : “make your future now””: Be in the now.

If we do not have wishes, no expectations, we will notice and realize that what we have in the present is all we need. The book of the Jewish sages says the same: Mi hu ha meushar. ha sameah be helko ( Hebrew for: Who is happy? The one who is satisfied with what he or she has).

So, no more wishful thinking. Be happy. Take it as it comes.

Ok. Now, but how about “wanting?”

When you want something, you are actually by default saying that you are not happy with what you have and you want thus something else.

Huh. Back to making yourself unhappy. By simply wanting it. But, if you stop wanting, does it not make you “a vegetable”. You do not plan. You do not aim. Thus, you probably do not move and improve your life. You accept the same condition you started with.

Not to want is “sacrilegious” especially for a consultant, which is my profession. We always start by asking a client: "what do you want?” "what do you expect?” How otherwise?

The Master directed me to look at the natural way which is the literal translation of the words Sahaj Marg, which is the name of the mission I belong.

When you go to the bathroom, do you want to go to the bathroom or do you NEED TO go to the bathroom. You naturally go to the bathroom. How about breathing? You do not even think about it. You just breath.

Just imagine living your life that way. You do what needs to be done. Not because you wish something or want something. You do it because that is what needs to be done. You respond to a need and get your ego out of the way. You become a vehicle to deliver what needs to be delivered and you stop being self driven. You serve instead.

Look at real artists. Gifted artists. They do not want to dance. They dance. Paint. Play music.

Because they NEED To do it. They would “die out” inside; their soul will die, otherwise. Dry out like a flower with no water.

If you are a jazz musician and improvise, you do not think. You do not plan the improvisation. You just play what you are inspired to play. You are a vehicle for the sounds to be played.

If you a sculptor, You might plan what the stone is eventually going to be. But you better relax your wishes and wants and expectations. The stone provides you with a reality you need to respond to and eventually create what needs to be created. You need to take your ego out of the way or you will create a lousy piece of commercial art.

That brings me to the word “expectations”

The word “expectation “ is more than wanting or wishing. It has a component of control in it. When you expect something it means that you give it a probability that it should happen which means that what you expect it to be controllable.

When the expectation does not get realized, we are very frustrated because it points to our weaknesses, to our helplessness.

By expecting nothing, we surrender.

And surrendering does NOT mean we are inactive. That we become vegetables.

We do our best. We do what needs to be done with all our passion and love and efforts we posses. And then we let it be. We expect nothing. We wish nothing . We want nothing. We let providence, nature, God, ...probabilities, if you are a statistician...whatever you believe in...take its course. We have done our thing. No more. No less. We are complete. And thus we are happy.

I am practicing this philosophy of life. Working on it. It is not easy. Especially because I am Jewish and we Jews are all the time in our Head: Thinking, Planning, Wanting, Expecting. Very intense.

I am working hard through meditation to cut out wishful thinking, wanting and expecting. My books, I do not expect them to be best-sellers. I do not even write them in a way that I want them to be best-sellers. If they are, good. And if not, fine too. I did what I could do. I did my best. That is all that is controllable. By me. Only what I do. The rest is up to forces I have no control over.

And I found out something fascinating by following this prayer. When you expect nothing and want nothing, whatever new happens is a surprise. Even bad surprises have a silver lining to them. Life becomes very interesting. You become a child again. There is all the time something new to learn. Life becomes richer. And like a child you smile more. You are happier. Less frustrated. Less demanding of others. Like Kazanstakis, the author of Zorba the Greek, you will be free. He has on his tomb in Crete: “No more fear, no more hope. Finally free” But, you will be free while still alive. You do not need to die to be free. Just stop wishing and wanting and expecting. You will be happy like a Buddha was with what is. Totally conscious of the now. No energy spent on the future fighting the present to get to that elusive future. All energy available now. All energy focused on now. Not on the past and not on the future. Now.

And with no wishes and no expectations we get more powerful and closer to God.

Hmmmm. WHAT????

God is the MOST powerful being because I suggest to you that God has no wishes and no expectations. God gave up expecting and wanting early in the Old Testament. With the flood, God realized he can not make us righteous. He actually surrendered. He shows us the way, but he does not take control of our life even a bit. Thus, we can not accuse him for the death of a loved one or for the Holocaust. Or for whatever happens to us. He did not do anything. He is there just watching. He just gave us the rules and watches us if we are following them or not. Observing with no judgment. With no anger. He controls nothing. World goes its way. The world he or she created runs its course governed by rules God has created but not controlling and that is the end of it.

If He surrenders, who are we not to?


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes