We human beings have the ability to think of things not in front of us. We create stories in our minds in which the hero or heroine is always us. We evaluate what happened in the past, we analyze our present conditions, and we anticipate what should happen in the future…… But this ability leads to many problems. We have certain expectations of our stories. If things go as we expect, we feel like heavenly beings, but if not, we feel we’re in hell. Often we desire more and more without ever experiencing satisfaction, like hungry ghosts. It’s important to see that it’s not life that causes suffering but our expectation that life should be the way we want. We can’t live without expectation, but if we can handle the feelings caused by the difference between our expectations and reality, that’s liberation.
Kosho Uchiyama, Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo