Expectations Increase Negative Emotions Levels (Demo Rinpoche – Ancient Wisdom. Modern Times. #210 – June 23, 2024)

Sometimes in everyday life, one thing that causes problems is our expectations. In teachings like the Mind Training, they say “don’t hold hope”. I think what they mean by “hope” is expectations. There is a little difference between hope and expectations. Whenever you do something you can have hope, and that is your awareness of opportunities or chances. Expectation is not just hope. You are thinking something is supposed to happen, like thinking someone is supposed to visit you. That is not just hope, it’s expectation. Or someone is supposed to tell you the truth or tell you everything. That is also an expectation. 

For example, a long time ago when I was at the monastery, we had really strict rules – no TV, no entertainment at all. At that time new things were coming up, cell phones and laptops and notebooks. One of my friends told me, “I am sorry, I didn’t tell you. I have had a laptop for two years.” I was so surprised. Why did he have to say sorry to me for not telling me about his laptop for two years? That’s the thing. Some people expect that your friend has to tell you those things, and if they don’t, you will get upset. I didn’t have expectations and was just surprised. I didn’t get it, “Why are you sorry about that? You don’t have to tell me anything about that.” So sometimes we have expectations like our friends have to tell us about everything they have, and if they don’t, we will get upset, unless your friend is like me.

Same thing as when someone is supposed to treat you well. Some cultures have expectations, like “I am a teacher and when I come in you are supposed to stand.” When you have that expectation and someone doesn’t stand up, you feel disrespected, and any other emotions are there. In earlier times, when a disciplinarian comes in and someone doesn’t stand up, the disciplinarian may get upset and so forth. If you don’t have those expectations, then you would not even notice who stands up and who doesn’t. Same thing with if you help somebody and you have expectations that that person should do something for you. That will cause problems. It makes you uncomfortable.

Same thing when people have expectations that “this person should do better in their job.” Every parent – at least some – thinks their kid should be the best, more than other kids. They have that kind of expectation. That will bring a lot of stress over the kid. Then you have expectations of your friends. They are supposed to fight for you. Then you go and hit a person and they don’t do anything. 

The more expectations you have, and when someone can’t reach your expectations, you feel disappointed. Sometimes, you had hopes and nothing happened, so you were disappointed. But if you have extreme expectations for somebody, especially if it has to do with you, then you aren’t just disappointed. You are also upset. Then you start to hate that person. Then you think, “I treated that person very well and they don’t treat me well.” And you get upset and hate that person. Same thing when you are very loyal to a person and that person is not loyal to you. Who knows who is loyal to you? Costco knows their customers are loyal to them. They sent that letter, “Loyal customers” to people who have been shopping there for one year or something. (laughs)

Sometimes you are loyal to somebody. You would do anything for them, and then you expect that person to do the same thing for you, and then they don’t do it. You feel disappointment, you get upset and you slowly hate that person. Therefore, with more expectations, hatefulness also comes, and disappointment, and a lot of negativities come. If you treat someone well you expect that they treat you well. If that person does the total opposite, if instead of loving you they hate you, if they treat you as their enemy or something like that, then what happens? It makes you very, very upset. 

Some people want to do a lot of things and some people don’t care that much. It’s some kind of energy flowing. Maybe that’s your karma, you owe them something or whatever. In any case you want to do some things for some people without special reason. You have those feelings. Then you treat them very, very well, like the most important person in your life. You treat them like your cherished kid, even though they are not your kid. You spend money on them, you spend time for them, you also sacrifice your own things. Some people change their job. Some people sell their house to do something for someone. You do everything for them. If you don’t have expectations after that, you are okay. But if you have expectations, then not all people are grateful. There are a lot of ungrateful people. Some are ungrateful because they don’t have sense. 

Sometimes we human beings think that everybody is like us. If you are honest, you will feel that most people are honest. If you are a liar, you will think that most people are lying. If you are smart you think that many people are smart like you. And if you respect loyalty, you think that everybody respects loyalty. But that is not true in real life. In real life people have different understandings and different sense, and though you treat them very well, they don’t thank you for it. Sometimes it is because of age. Sometimes it is because of the environment. 

In Tibet, nomads lived far away in tents made from yak skins. Sometimes I think about Tibetan nomad life and how everything comes from yaks. Milk,  tents, yak skin boats, everything is from yaks. Those nomads have huge black tents, very well made and they live in those tents their whole lives. Since they live in remote places, when they are traveling they have to work so hard. They cross mountains on foot and carry all those things. When they come to the city they carry delicious cheese cakes. When they give people the cheesecakes in the city, the city people are thinking, “Oh, my God, what a delicious cake. If I become a nomad I can always have those cakes.” But they only see the cake, not how hard they work. They have a hard life. But we don’t see that, we only see the cake and everyone wants to become a nomad. 

Same thing, many people don’t see what you are doing, what you are sacrificing and how you are thinking about them and the hard work you have done. Some people have easy lives. They don’t understand much about others. Sometimes they have less of a social life. Therefore, just as the kid doesn’t know how the nomads work hard and only knows the delicious cake, some people don’t know what you did for them. So with a lack of sense, some people are not grateful.

Some people are grateful but they don’t know how to show it. They are grateful inside but their actions are totally disrespectful and they are doing all sorts of crazy things. Some ungrateful people are not mean, but they don’t have a sense of gratitude. Some have sense but are actually ungrateful and don’t care about others and are self-centered. When you see that, what do you do? You get upset, very much. You get upset when you treat people well and do everything for them and then they stand against you and say that you are the worst person in their life and that you destroy their life. 

Sometimes when people talk, they may praise somebody. They may denounce somebody and use all the words from the dictionary that they can pronounce, not thinking about what it means. If you hear really harmful words, like accusing you of all bad things, then it hurts. That’s when we say, “I got cut.” Cut in your heart. I am not talking about who is right. Once you get cut, you have a broken heart and you feel bad and you stop there. But sometimes you get upset and you hate that person the most. This is the wrong thing. If someone hates you, and if as a result you hate them back, then you are doing a similar thing. 

They are feelings, but we human beings are not just about feelings. We don’t go after feelings. That could be one Dharma teaching, right? Remember, feeling brings attachment, in the 12 Links of Dependent Origination. If you let feelings take care of everything, it goes here and there and it goes wrong. What we need is wisdom. Even if you are feeling bad and you think “I want to hate that person”, your wisdom says: Wait. That person hates me and makes me upset. Now, if I hate that person, what kind of result will I get from that? That is not the solution. 

When kids fight and an adult or teacher says, “Don’t fight”, each kid will point at the other and say, “He or she started it first.” Actually, they don’t know who started first. They have been going back and forth, doing the same thing. Even if someone starts first it is not okay to keep going and do everything. So technically, yes, you may have started first and then I did it. Then if you think logically, if you cut that first part away, then I started it. So it depends where you cut it. If you cut at the first part, then stop. If I don’t do anything back, even if someone else started first it will not go continuously. 

If someone hates you, if you hate back, you are doing exactly the same thing. Sometimes you are trying to educate them and show them how it feels, to acknowledge their actions. No. All these negative emotions are meaningless. Hating back is no solution. The point is, when hatred comes to us, it is at different levels. If a stranger does something to you, you don’t get upset that much. If your friend does something to you, you get more upset. If someone you cherish and treat very well does something to you, you get extremely upset with them. 

Because of that, in many people’s lives, best friends turn into worst enemies. That is because of following with hatred. So instead of hating, the teachings say we have to see those people as someone who needs patience and compassion. They need to practice patience, and they also need someone to practice patience with them. I am talking about a second person. They need a lot of things. They are really sick, because they don’t have a sense of gratitude. They are out of control. They are fighting back against their own mother. But for you, at that moment, they need patience from you. They need someone who practices patience for them. If someone hates them that will not help them. The best thing is to think about their situation. 

If you did something wrong and they get upset, what do you do? You cannot go back in time to solve the problem. What you can do is say, “I am sorry, I made a mistake.” That you can do, other than that you cannot do anything. The best you can do is say, “I am sorry, I made a mistake.” And that’s your job to do. After you have done that, then whether that person is okay with that or not, that’s their job, honestly. What can you do more than that? 

If you did not do anything, and they still see you as their enemy, that is an act of ignorance. There is a lot of ignorance in people who don’t understand gratitude. 

The second thing with expectations is the problem of impatience. If someone is nice to you, you become like a tiger. You show your claws and teeth and tear them down, roaring at everything, because you know that person is nice to you. But when you see another person outside, you become like a little cat, just hiding and so nice. This is wrong. In general, you should be tough with tough people and nice to nice people. Honestly. But most people – I hate to say most, but many  – especially those who don’t understand gratitude, are like that. They are tigers among their family and kittens among outside people. Patience and impatience are funny like that. 

If you are scared of someone and you are not doing anything, that is not actual patience. It is cowardice or maybe fear. Sometimes your boss is scolding you and you keep quiet, sitting there. It looks like patience, but it’s not pure patience. You know that “If I say something back I will get in trouble.” Then, you are sort-of practicing patience, without intention. 

Real patience comes if you can do something, if you can say something, but you hold yourself back. That is patience. Look at big and small dogs. Most times big dogs are nice to small dogs and small dogs run up to the big dogs with some of them biting, and the big dogs are like, “Okay, you are so small, I don’t want to bite you.” I think that is patience. Similarly, among family and friends, or those who you can bully or scold, or those who have done something to you, and you don’t . That is real patience. 

When your friend treats you badly, and doesn’t understand gratitude, and takes advantage of your compassion, some of these people do these things without thinking. With those people, we really need to rely on our patience. 

People who are treating you badly in reward for your help, those people are impatient. They know you like them, you treat them well. Many people who do that are not happy. They may have a lot of hatred. Sometimes we say that when you get upset with the yak, you kick the dog. They are not happy about something else and then kick the dog at home, because dogs are nice to their owners, and if you kick them they will not bite you. So some people doing that are not happy. They are upset about something else and they treat you badly. 

Sometimes they get confused. Confusion is also a big thing in our lives. They are confused by work, by what to do in their life, and because of that, there is a lack of sense and they are sort of sick people. They cannot see things, they cannot distinguish between who is nice to them and who is not nice to them. At that moment they cheat you, they think you are their enemy. Then at that moment, if we have considered them to be perfect people, in perfect condition, we will say, “What happened?”,  and you will get upset and try to treat them worse and that is not wise. Whenever you see those things, see those people as someone who needs help. 

So what kind of help can we give them? Practice patience. Even though they may hate you, you don’t have to hate them back. Instead of that, be compassionate to them. Meaning that even bad people know who is doing good for them. Bad people have bad friends. They know who is nice to them. But those people who don’t know who their friends are, who are helping them, who are treating them badly, they are the ones who need help. They don’t need another problem. 

Therefore, be compassionate, be patient and let them be. If you can, help to educate them. Sometimes that doesn’t work directly. Then you have respect for them. Therefore, for yourself, when something like that happens, don’t hate back. Have compassion. Honestly, be compassionate, practice patience, don’t hate back. If you hate back it is not worth it. You did good for that person and now you hate back. That makes you decrease your value too.

The best thing is to ignore that. Then inside your heart, be nice to those people, consider them temporarily not okay, going through problems. Understand that way. If someone is sick and not okay, what do they need? They need care and compassion. Therefore, this is the solution. Otherwise, in our life, if someone hates you, if someone gets upset with you and then you hate back and you get upset back, that will not solve the problem. 

If someone is upset with you and hates you, then you are not happy, you are upset. Then surely that person who hates you, I don’t think they are happy either, in general. Maybe they look happy, but no. Happy people will not upset other people. Then if you upset them and hate them back, then you make them not happy and the result is that you are not happy and they are not happy. If someone upsets you or hates you, and if you don’t do anything back, then at least you are not making someone unhappy. Technically, you are doing well. 

I want to go back to the expectations. Any time you help somebody, if you do something for somebody and do that with a pure heart, try to do that without expectation. If you do anything without expectation, in your job, in other things, you stay intact and last longer. Otherwise, you feel regret after your good deed. If you feel regret after your good deed, then it will destroy it. Remember what I said earlier? If you made a mistake you cannot go back there to solve the problem. But if you do a good thing, you are sort of able to go back and destroy it. That’s unfair. You help someone and do a good thing and after a while you feel regret. Then what you did becomes not that great. A sort of time-traveling that is reducing your virtue from that time. 

Therefore, a life without expectation is happier than a life with too much expectation. For myself, I am happy with people who are not expecting that much from me (laughs). Being honest. If someone expects something from me then I feel nervous or on the spot or whatever. Without expectations I feel comfortable. I think that is true for many people. If you treat them well and you don’t expect anything from that person, that person might also feel comfortable. 

Some people are strange. When they have kids, they tell them, “You are my kids and when you are getting older you will look up to me, right? And you will come to visit me often, right?” If you say those things often, that will scare them. You are inferring, “I did everything for you in order that you do something back for me.” So then the kid thinks the wrong way, and your pure love is turning into Costco love, a marketing thing. They will think, “I thought my parents liked me so much, but now they are counting on me to do something.” I don’t think parents think that way. When they say those things, when they want their kids to become what they are hoping for, they do so with a pure heart. 

They are doing everything for the kid. Surely the parents have their close feelings for their kids. Nowadays, kids are becoming more and more sort of AI (laughs). They have less feelings for their family and they become more like machines, less feelings and more intelligence. And then parents worry about them. They are not worrying that the kids won’t look after them, but about not seeing the kids. Then they ask, “Are you coming to see me?” So the problem is when you expect so much. That scares the other person. Therefore, expectations are not good for the receiver and not good for holding them. Therefore, if you have less expectations you might get less hatred. Less disappointment. 

In my life, when I do something, I try not to have expectations of that person later. That makes me more genuine and comfortable and later, if that person does something wrong, I don’t feel that much damage in my heart. 

Expectations Increase Negative Emotions Levels (Demo Rinpoche – Ancient Wisdom. Modern Times. #210 – June 23, 2024)

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