In the Light of Theosophy – Expectations

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This article appeared in the June 202w issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: 

We have expectations from others, ourselves and the world at large. When we have expectations not based on facts or analysis, then we are in for disappointment. “We live in a largely uncertain world, consequently this desire for certainty often sets us up for disappointment and pain. While some things might be in our control, many are not,” writes Marguerite Theophil. An old man used to sit outside the gates of a palace. One winter day the king noticed him shivering and promised to arrange for a warm coat and blanket to be sent out immediately. However, the king had to attend to some urgent business and could not keep his promise. The next day, the old man was found dead with a note that read: “For all these years I shivered and yet survived, but the expectation of warm clothes makes the cold unbearable, and will be the death of me.”

On the other hand, expectations can motivate us, help us envision the future and make us want to reach our goals. There is nothing wrong to expect others to treat us fairly and respectfully. However, an expectation is not a wish or a hope. The possibility remains that others may not live up to one’s expectations and that should not upset us. “Becoming more realistic about expectations does not mean that we need to stop setting goals or dreaming.…We can still ask for what we want…And most of all, learn to take no for an answer. While not easy, adjusting unrealistic expectations can bring enormous mental and emotional relief.”

It is not always easy to live up to another’s expectations. If we are not careful, we find ourselves living for others’ approval. It is  also important that we treat others the way we expect them to treat us. In inter-personal expectations, it is sometimes necessary to express what we expect from other people and likewise, learn to listen to them, writes Marguerite Theophil. (Sunday Times of India, The Speaking Tree, May 1, 2022)

In Psychology, an expectation is defined as emotional anticipation or belief of an occurrence that may take place in future. It is not a mere wishful thinking. When we expect to achieve something, we move it from the realm of impossibility to the realm of possibility. Expectations can bring out the best in a person. Sometimes high expectations from one’s own self can be equivalent to aiming or aspiring high. When an arrow is aimed at the target, it is slightly raised to allow for the trajectory, which is due to the force of gravity acting upon it. We are required to aim high and allow for the trajectory that comes about from the limitations of our nature. “The calls of the senses, heredity, defects, and wrong habits…never permit us to do as much as we would wish to,” writes Mr. Judge. When viewed in the light of the doctrine of Karma, what plays a pivotal role in the fulfilment of our expectations is our karma from the present and past lives.

Studies in psychology have shown that our expectations for kids can actually affect how they behave and how they learn. Therefore, we must expect the best, expect that our children, our friends, and our students will succeed because by doing that we are giving them exactly the kind of support they need to succeed, writes Vanessa LoBue, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University.

In a spiritual context, the power of expectation plays an important role. Our efforts are determined by our expectations. When a student aspirant wavers in his discipline at some point in time, he resolves that in future he will not oscillate so much. Mr. Crosbie advises that “This is not the true position—it shows he expects to oscillate some. Of course, if he expects to oscillate, he will oscillate. It would be better to expect to hit the mark, instead of expecting to miss. There is a great difference in the psychological position, as well as in the quality of the energy aroused. We should cease doubting our power to accomplish.

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