Zen Buddhism teaches us that we are supposed to work without expectation, which implies that we should do whatever we are being called to do without expecting anything in return.
As humans we are painfully limited in our perception, this is why we can’t experience everything all at once. We are forced to simplify, prioritize and choose one thing over another. This condemnation causes us to never be able to fully see and understand the big picture.
Everything that pops up in our range of perception is just a fraction of the truth, because we can’t see everything all at once all the time. So how could we ever expect to set a goal and then reach it in the exact way that we intended to?
How can we expect our actions to yield exactly the kind of results we desired?
Have you ever been successful at setting a goal, reaching it and then harvesting the results in the exact way that you wanted it to happen? What is actually possible is far greater and magical than what we think is possible. I have found that I have much less influence on how things turn out than I think.
But I also believe that I am being supported and taken care of and that all I have to do is trust and move forward with my best intentions. And even though I drown in self-doubt every now and then and question everything that I do, I know that this is an illusion caused by my limited perception.
I try my best, but I realize that as a perfectly imperfect human being, I don’t have any power over the results of my actions.
So I try to act and then let go.
This kind of intrinsic motivation is what I aim to make my driving force behind everything that I do. I want to do things for the sake of doing them and not expect my actions to yield certain results. Sometimes, when I am in the zone and there are no outside influences, when there’s just me, my brain and a blank sheet of paper, acting without expectation comes easy for me.
Most of the time, though, it doesn’t. There are mean comments and indifference, lack of affirmation and so many other people who seem way more talented and deserving of success and recognition than me.
And while there’s a lot more positive feedback than negative feedback, the negative always seems to punch me in the guts so hard, that I seem to forget about all of the people I touched and inspired with my way of sharing my being human. Whenever I lose touch of my intrinsic motivation, I start slipping.
There are all these thoughts in my head about what will happen in the future when I publish my work. I am afraid of being seen and then screwing up and letting people down who believed in me. I am scared that they will lose interest in me and stop supporting me.
What if they find out that I am not that great after all?
But as much as I believe that I don’t have what it takes and that I will never succeed and be loved and supported, I keep trying. I return to the battle field because bigger than my fears is my desire to live. I venture out because I want to experience life and explore the world. I want to test myself and my surroundings.
I do it for the sake of doing it, for the pain, for the growth, for the buzz.
I do it just because.
And in the end, I realize that it’s my journey. It’s all mine and all I really have to do is stick to my craft and let go of outside influences. This is about self-actualization. I do it for me. And the only thing people really want is to be around humans that are fully alive, winning and dancing and screaming at the top of their lungs. My search for infinite bliss is my biggest offering to the world.
My roar of joy is what will lift things up into divine order.
So try your best, act and then let go. Nourish yourself and make love the bottom line for all that you do.
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Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: elephant archives