Reactions, expectations, and the desire to control

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HARPREET KALRA takes us along with him on his journey to find the perfect meditation. Along the way he understands much more about life and how to live it, and the need to let go.


One cold wintry early morning, after meditating, I was quietly contemplative. Not that this contemplation was something new, but on that day it was different. My quiet contemplation was laced with disappointment about why I was not able to pull off a perfect meditation.

Most spiritual guides and world meditation teachers have time and again mentioned that one perfect meditation is enough to help us dive fully within and realize our true inner potential. Yet, after years of meditation I have not been able to pull it off. That perfect meditation still eluded me. Unable to find an answer, I left for work.

It was a busy day, packed with meetings and presentations. Around 7:30 p.m., after wrapping up, I started my drive back home. Seeing the red light at the traffic signal, I stopped. As time passed a sense of annoyance tinged my system, “Why is it not turning green?” I murmured.

Eventually the signal turned green and I felt relief, but just when I was about to hit the accelerator I realized the car in front of me was not moving. My relief was short-lived and I started to honk and mutter. In some time the car moved. Shortly I followed and quickly overtook the car; not before giving the driver a staring glance.

While I continued to drive, all the events of the day flashed in front of me one by one, like bubbles dancing in free air. Soon an understanding gripped me. There was a common thread through my thoughts, feelings and behavior. The thread of reaction.

It was not that I was not earlier aware of my reactions, but this time the understanding pervaded my entire being in one stroke. There was something different. The heart and mind both accepted the need to change and stop reacting, unlike on previous instances when one was not in sync with the other.

It further occurred to me that all my reactions were rooted in the disappointment of my unmet expectations. I was expecting from almost anything and everything in my radar – from myself, from friends and family, from colleagues, from acquaintances and strangers, from life events and circumstances, from God … the list was endless.


When we completely lose the desire
to control any outcome,
the tendency of the mind
to expect also ceases to exist.
We can then achieve a perfect meditation.


The stronger the expectation, the greater was the disappointment at it not being met, resulting in reaction and frustration. During my college days, when I had faced a particular criticism from a friend, I managed to brush it off, but months later, when I faced a similar criticism from my father, I struggled to deal with it as my expectation from him was different.

I concurred that expectation was the real culprit! “But what did that have to do with a perfect meditation?” I pondered. Slowly another understanding pervaded my being.

Expectation is rooted in the desire to control.

I was aware of many definitions of meditation: meditation is the art of awareness; meditation is thinking continuously of one thought; meditation is diving deep within oneself, etc. The one which always resonated with me the most is: meditation is the art of letting go of control. That instant I realized why.

In meditation, we practice this art of letting go of control. If we carefully analyse the nature of the thoughts that pull us out, that stop us from deep diving within ourselves fully, we will soon realize that they have the same thread. For example, a desire for a preferred outcome, such as “I should get this job,” “I should get promoted,” “My boss should appreciate my work and not criticize me,” “My son should get admission in the best school,” etc.

I realized that in meditation, as we set out to relinquish these desires for preferred outcomes, we start oscillating between being at peace with any outcome and latching onto a specific outcome desired by us. With time, as the desire to control the outcome weakens, the quality of meditation starts improving. We increasingly stay connected with our inner self and are less pulled out.

I understood that day that when we completely lose the desire to control any outcome, the tendency of the mind to expect also ceases to exist. We can then achieve a perfect meditation. But not without relinquishing the desire for a perfect meditation!



Article by HARPREET KALRA


 

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Comments

  1. Very nice observation. Desire to control outcome – expectation – reactions.
    Maybe an addendum to this or the other abstraction to your observation would be the ‘desire’ itself. A very well known evil.

    The ‘desire’ to control or ‘desire’ to not to control. Any extreme is not cool. In Buddha’s words, stay in the middle.

  2. SANTEPPA Santeppa Kambham : July 6, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    It is very good input and observation. It the expectation that’s causing the problem.

  3. The root of reactions and expectations is desire. Thanks.

  4. Expectation is directly linked to ego. Particularly once we have material comfort then we like to control our surroundings and people.

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