• October 23, 2016

    I remember that you said at one point that in this work you must abandon hope because it is contrary to making work efforts. Could you explain what you meant?

    My favourite vajrayana teacher convinced me of this many years ago but it has a specific meaning. Like all real insights, it cannot be reduced to a rule.

    What most of us mean by hope is a strange mix of wishful thinking and anxiety. We hope that things get better, we hope nothing bad happens and we hope that we, or those close to us, get what is wanted. These hopes are largely driven by fear and disagreement. We reject what we have, we do not like the current situation, so we pin our hopes on the imaginary appearance of something more pleasant in the future. The key is that these hopes are imaginary and future-oriented.

    Noticing this process in ourselves is a very important work exercise. The fact is that we often do not deal with the present, and we do not do the work we can do now, because we imagine that things will magically get better in the future. This is a major source of procrastination. In the future, we will have what we need to work, the situation will be more favourable than it is now, we will be less busy and stressed. The future becomes the enemy of the present.

    In business, the expression is: “Hope is not a strategy.” Conditions usually do not just get better. Problems and opportunities must be dealt with as they arise.

    Is this the only kind of hope there is?

    I don’t think so. What I have described is hope as a sensation-state. In my experience, there is also an objective feeling of hope. This quality has a strong degree of presentness; it is not only a projection into the future. It has threads running through it of trust and faith. This hope is not for tangible things or accomplishments. It is based on an experience of being and the confident expectation that being will continue to unfold.

    Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen… Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (New King James Version)

    I hope for a deeper relationship with ‘things not seen’. This hope, this expectation, is rooted in a relationship that exists now, that I wish to make more perfect. This expectation asks that I work towards it in the present, as often as I am able to remember. This kind of hope does not offer an escape but rather a promise of discovery.

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