Expectations can have a strong effect on our experience of life. If we have heavier feelings about life, we’ll tend to have lower or darker expectations. Because what we put our attention on grows stronger, our experiences will tend to mirror our expectations. In a sense, we’re intending what we don’t want.
Similarly, if we culture positive expectations and gratitude, our experience of day-to-day life will be more positive. Or at least, we’ll take it more positively. Taking life less personally similarly helps.
Somewhat related, when our senses refine and subtler values begin to be perceived, our expectations will influence how we perceive finer values. If we expect angels to have wings, for example, they will. I refer to this as personalization.
The stages of awakening though are a different animal. Expectations are born of mind but awakening happens from beyond mind. As a result, expectations do not guide the unfoldment of our awakening but they can be a barrier to it. For many, the last barrier to awakening is our ideas about it. Once we let those go and have that moment of allowing, the awakening can poke through.
Some suggest if we expect certain things, we’ll experience them during the awakening process. This is true in the sense of what we put our attention on will unfold more. But not in the sense that we’ll experience what our teaching trained us to. I know many, myself included, whose journey did not follow the model of their tradition. But we will tend to resonate with and follow teachers who have a similar orientation and will thus tend to experience more like they do. And the practices we maintain will have an influence on how we subjectively experience the unfoldment. Effortless meditators, for example, will tend to be very familiar with Self long before awakening and thus describe an experience of ego transcendence into Self. Mindfulness practitioners are more inclined to transcend ego into no-self. Same thing – different subjective experience of it.
Many of the sub-stages of awakening are similarly blocked by expectations. Sometimes a step occurs after enough purification. Other times, after we recognize an erroneous expectation and let it go. We can call this a form of mental purification. Purify, refine, and open. Repeat. 😉
Let go and enjoy!
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