It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed. ~ Ram Dass
To expect nothing… that’s the tough one. Don’t you think?
How do we go about our daily life with no expectations?
I have learnt to treat every experience in my life, the positives and the negatives, as part of the path. To acknowledge that this is the path allows me to continue, to proceed without wondering if I am indeed on the “right” path or should I take another, without searching for short-cuts or alternatives, without doubting or being hyper-vigilant about each rock or pothole on the path. Knowing these experiences are steps on the path gives me space to be mindful, to pay attention to what is important – the very step I am taking.
Now I am not always in this prescient state of mind. Close ones know I am prone to overthinking and worrying; the result of growing up in a culturally conservative society with predominantly collectivist values, together with conditioned perfectionism from years of legal training. Nevertheless “to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path” is no stranger.
“To expect nothing” has been a tougher act or, more accurately, non-act.
To know what we do or say, and what we experience, has value without reference to an external goal or outcome, and therefore to rest on this knowing and to proceed peacefully no matter the experience, is vulnerability personified and a creative act of courage.
To know the many possible practical outcomes and yet not hold a judgment on which is best or most useful or viable or preferred, and instead be at peace with whatever comes requires a certain faith in the life we live, the life this universe offers us.
How do we then motivate ourselves to proceed, if we are to expect nothing? Without external motivations, we are left with intrinsic values to propel us. A degree of self-reflection is in order. Honoring my curiosity and intellectual pursuit, and my desire for peace and quiet, I do many things “just because”. There is inevitably a someone somewhere who will label it good, bad, useful, wasteful, helpful… always an outcome.
Each of these, an experience and a step on my path.
Ultimately, only we can answer this question for ourselves – the path to what?
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