The Magic of No Expectations

magic no expectations
June 26, 2019

Following a surprising series of dreams in 2018, Shambhavi decided to move Jaya Kula’s headquarters to the Bay Area. She talks about how holding strong expectations of ourselves, others, and spiritual life causes us to suffer. When we hold no expectations, we gain flexibility and the capacity to dance with changing circumstances. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

So this trip really reminded me that everything of value that’s ever happened to me has been something I didn’t expect. And it reminded me that having expectations—of life in general or of spiritual practice—is a great obstacle.

If we’re looking for red, we either find red, or we’re disappointed that we don’t find red. But there are a lot of other colors. So while we’re looking for red, we’re not seeing everything else that’s happening. And that’s a recipe for suffering because life can do anything it wants, and very often, it’s not red. So if we’re always expecting red or wanting red, then two times out of eight, we’ll get red. But the other six times, we won’t. This is a great cause of suffering.

Everything that we expect is more limited than what might actually happen. We have expectations based on our karmas, on our limitations. Period. Having expectations in and of itself is an expression of karma, of limited view. So any expectation we have is going to be outrun by reality in some way or another.

The intelligence and compassion of reality is unlimited. So even if things go wrong, if we don’t have expectations, if we’re simply working with circumstance or responding to circumstance, the result is always going to be better than any expectation. This is true whether our expectations are met or unmet—if we simply proceed without expectations and work with what arises.

I don’t know why I’ve had so few expectations in my life, but I can say that the strongest expectation I’ve had or the strongest “it should be like this” kind of thing is the thing that caused me the most suffering.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.