Is it ok to have desires and goals in our lives? We live in a material world where we are expected to be consistently moving forward toward the next goal or accomplishment lest we be named a slacker.
This was the idea posed at the beginning of yoga class yesterday. The class sat in a seated meditation posture in the darkened studio listening to the soothing music fill the room. The instructor stood by the window at the front of the room with the sun setting over the mountains in the backdrop behind him. With the darkened room and the light pouring in from the setting sun, the instructor looked more like a shadow than a three dimensional body. He held a book and softly read from it while the class sat in silence.
The book was on teachings from the Buddha and was a question and answer format with a Buddhist teacher. The instructor read the question and answer that we were to think about during the class.
Is it ok to have desires and reach for goals?
The question was “Is it ok to have desires and reach for goals”. The answer was “yes”. However it is important to not identify with the outcomes of your goal. So if your goal was to get water, you should not get caught up in expectations about how you are going to get the water. You instead come up with a way to get the water and then go for it. If you don’t get it, you don’t get upset and cry or lash out in anger or become frustrated. You instead laugh it off and figure out a different way to get it. “Woops I guess that didn’t work. How else can I try to get the water?”
Expectancy vs. Expectations
The answer to this question reminds me of a quote that I heard at some point. It said to Live in expectancy instead of with expectations. In other words expect great things, but don’t expect them to happen in a specific way.
Living with expectations not only leads people to disappointment, but also leads them to give up trying even before they try. “Oh I’m not going to do that because I know that I will fail.” They think that they will fail because they have a set of expectations regarding what it means to accomplish their goal. They are afraid because so often when we go for something we want, we don’t accomplish what we expected, but often times what we accomplish is something even greater. We are just so caught up in our expectations that all we see is failure instead of the great thing that resulted despite our expectations.
Is there something that you are wanting to reach for in your life, but are instead holding yourself back because of your fear of not meeting your (or someone else’s) expectations?