Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Falsity of Hope

Hope is good. For many, it is the only reason to keep on living. The prisoner hangs on, thinking of the day when he will be released. The cancer patient looks at statistics, and finds solace in a greater than zero odd of remission. The spiritual seeker draws much strength from reading accounts of happiness awaiting. The participant in MBSR training keeps on coming to the group, inspired by tales of others before her who have cut their pain symptoms in half. The abused child seeks refuge in fantasies of another life, one day . . . 

Hope is sometimes the only thread left, between life and death.

Hope is also a double-edged sword, and a state of mind that keeps us in the future, and seals the deal of our present unhappiness. So many times, I find myself not liking the current moment, and hoping for, rehearsing a different life. If only . . . When . . . Some day . . . So many variations in the mind, around what really amounts to  a profound hatred of the present experience, and a denial of life itself. 

Hope lures us with its false sweetness. 

Hope is ok, as long as it comes with an acceptance of the now. A tricky balance,  best maintained by keeping hope contained in the broad field of big intentions, and out of moment-to-moment living. It's somewhat akin to steering our boat towards a lovely place, and then forgetting about our destination, and making room for all the experiences along the way. Not expecting anything else but what is offered to us, right now. The storms, the rough waves, the sleepless nights, the beautiful sunsets, the stillness, the dolphins . . . Not wasting a single minute of the journey.


  1. "steering our boat towards a lovely place, and then forgetting about our destination"

    I loved the analogy.

  2. Thank you,
    One of the Zen mottos is,
    Hope for the best. Expect nothing. Do the possible.

  3. Thank you Jamie. I am glad it resonated with you!

    And Helmut, I am always game for some Zen simplicity :)