Question: How is expectation different from desire?

Sri Chinmoy: Desire and expectation live in the same room. We can say that they are roommates. Desire can arise in the heart, in the mind, in the vital or in the physical, while expectation is always in the mind. Expectation can sometimes be reciprocal — you have given someone something and then you expect something in return from that person. Or just because you have heard from someone that a person is very kind, very affectionate and very good in every way, you may expect something from him, although you may not have given him anything.

Desire is a very broad term. In the beginning desire can be very mild, soft or timid, but afterwards desire can be very, very aggressive. Expectation can be even more aggressive than desire. If your expectation is not fulfilled, you may become hostile. Then you may try to find fault with the other person. The desire-world stops at a certain point. You desire something for a few days or a few weeks and then you give up. But expectation does not leave you. In a certain sense, expectation is more harmful in the spiritual life than desire.

We have to learn from nature. What is the sun expecting from us? The very nature of the sun is only to give light. The things that are most important in our life — water and air — what are they expecting from us? Nothing. If you ask the sun if it expects something from you, the sun will say, “I do not expect anything. I am giving unconditionally. If you use my light, so much the better for me.”

People who do not expect can give. We learn this truth from our prayer-life, from God. But when human beings expect something from God, there is always an after-effect. Let us say that today we need the sun badly. Then if it rains heavily, if there is a veritable downpour, we curse the sun. We say, “Why did you not come out? Today we needed you very badly.” When human beings have expectation, the after-effect is revolt. Then all the destructive feelings that the mind houses come to the fore.

If you have desire, there is a limit. Sometimes you give up your desire when you feel that God or some other person is not going to fulfil it. But when your expectations are not fulfilled, then unconsciously you develop a kind of revolt. All the aggressive qualities come forward. After aggression comes destruction. I always say that after expectation comes frustration and after frustration comes destruction.

Does God not know what we need? Does a spiritual Master not know what we need? It is the bounden duty of a spiritual Master to give us the heart-power and the spiritual light so that we can have a free access to Heaven’s infinite Delight. He who knows best is God. And God has given us the soul or a spiritual Master. It is difficult for everybody to have direct contact with the Absolute Supreme. Then God says, “Take my representative, the soul. If you cannot see the soul or converse with the soul, then take a spiritual Master as your guide.”

What can poor God do? God Himself you cannot approach because you do not see where He is hiding. Then comes the soul, God’s direct representative. You do not know where the soul is. Books have told you and spiritual Masters have told you that the soul is inside your heart. But inside your heart it is like a big supermarket. There you want something, but you get totally lost. You wander from this side to that side. The thing that you are seeking is available, but it is a huge supermarket and you cannot find it.

Then what do you do? You go to the manager or one of the workers. That person will immediately point out the thing that you need. That person is none other than your Master. Your Master will say, “You want to find your soul? Look. It is there.” The inner wealth is yours, not mine. But it is locked inside your heart-safe, and you cannot find the key.

The Master’s role is to help you while you are searching for the key. He has better vision that you have because he has realised the Highest. So he looks this side and that side until he sees the key. Then he gives you the key. He does not claim the key. He says, “Take it. It is yours. Open your heart-safe and then you can see what you have.” To your widest surprise, you see the most beautiful, most expensive diamond inside you. That diamond is your soul.

Just because you do not see it, you cannot say that the soul does not exist. Just because you cannot see the Master’s operation in the inner world — his occult power and spiritual power — you cannot say that he does not have those powers. Build your life entirely on your faith that your Master is genuine and your soul is definitely real. God is real, even though you have not realised Him.

If you take the positive approach — that the soul is real, the Master is real, God is real — then you yourself become real. If everything that you are seeing is real, how can you be unreal? But if you start saying that this is unreal, he is unreal, she is unreal, everything is unreal, then you will be in the midst of unreality.