If I spend time with you, expecting to come away feeling relaxed and refreshed, I might. Or I might not. If I open a book, expecting to find a fresh take on an idea that’s been bouncing around my head, I might find it. Or I might not. If I meditate, expecting to feel a certain clarity of mind after the practice, I might. Or I might not.
In all these things—spending time with others, reading, meditating—the expectations influence the outcome. They bias it towards a specific thing. They poison it.
But what if I have no expectations? What if, when I go to meet a person, I expect nothing. What if I don’t expect to come away with a particular feeling? What if, when I read a book, I begin reading without an objective in mind? What will I find when I’m not trying to find anything in particular? What if I sit and meditate with no pressure? How will that change the experience I have?
Expectations poison outcomes because they limit the possibilities. If I’m expecting to find or not find something, there’s a high chance I’ll miss everything else which isn’t associated with those expectations.
Human perception is remarkably malleable. What we see depends on how we look. But the way to be truly surprised, to see things we never would have expected to find, is to not look for anything at all. Try it. Whatever you’re doing, practise having no expectations. Do a thing for no reason at all. What you might find is that by not looking, you begin to see.