Rabbi Brian:

There is another take on this, which is that HOPE is the most heinous of all evils as it portrays that there is a chance that things will change.

Vaclav Havel (who didn’t write in, but someone submitted it in his name):

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world.  Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.

Lois:

What gives me hope? My two grown sons are alive. I could stop there. But also, they are healthy. They engage in the world. They love their mother. I could stop there. Our human species is adaptable. We are getting better. We are growing spiritually. I have a lot of hope for the future. And, I am grateful every single day.

Jonathan:

Surely what lies beyond, having shuffled off this mortal coil, must in its own way be a form of perfection. After all, in this material evolution, are not our troubles mostly of our own making? When I am back to source, no longer having to carry the burden of trying to manage my ego, my insecurity, my opinion, – no longer being so concerned with the business of others, no longer having to waste moment after moment in constant comparison and judgment wherein I always come up short – surely there is some peace beyond that last rise. Today, I will find relief in service to another, offering my opinion only when asked.

Susan:

I think hope is a gift from God. It is part of the human condition, and it comes to us without any religious or doctrinal strings attached. Its cousin is trust. All of this is grace—a gift from God that isn’t conditional or dependent on our “goodness”” nor is it situational—things have to be going well to feel it. It comes, sometimes unbidden, even in dark times. That’s my two cents.

Shari:

Many years ago I saw a person who believes their best days are behind them is old. That means there are twenty-somethings who are old. Me? I still believe that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. There is much that left undone, and I still have the energy and strength and the will to do it. So, I am still young at 76.

Arthur:

I like the topic very much because it is one that is in my face daily. Working as I do with dying people the issue of hope is less global and more immediate. If one is very ill and the outlook is not what one would want, what does one hope for? Most folks begin with some version of the stages that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about though most people do not go through all or follow the order, nonetheless denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What is hope? Why did she not define that as a stage? Is it because she was writing about grief and grief and hope are apart from each other or are they Yin and Yang?

To make a long comment shorter, I think hope is central to living but it comes, like the Fog in Sandburg’s poem, “on little cat feet.” Hope is a small voice inside that posits: is there really someplace to go that is not so dark? Can I live without being empty and scared? And then there is this glimmer, it might even go like this. I can’t taste my food, everything tastes like metal, like chemo, why eat? And then someone gives me a Werther’s Original and truly I can taste again and it tastes good! There is hope. Or, the person in intractable pain who one day sees the pain doc who can really help and goes home and sleeps four hours, undisturbed. There is hope. The father who is terminal who hasn’t spoken to his son in years and through a careful yet gentle intervention, the two can exist in the same space and then suddenly there is hope; hope of: I forgive you, I am sorry, do you forgive me?

Hope is my waking up and saying prayers of thanks every day….no matter how I feel. Saying prayers of thanks every night, no matter how the day went. Because my prayers of gratitude are really prayers of hope that I will be here tomorrow, I will get another chance, I will do the best I can one day, that I will be enough and that life will be enough for me. To me hope and gratitude are two of the qualities which keep me living each day to the best of my ability no matter my condition. No matter how I feel. No matter my mood or my wants. They are not my rock – rocks keep me in place, they are truly the wind beneath my wings.

Lisa:

My child gives me more hope and fear than I ever dreamed imaginable…. Got feathers… but will she fly?

Bill:

Every day I choose to appreciate beauty, It is all around me. I choose to be a student of wonder and awe at the simple breath that nourishes me. This is an ample bed for hope.

Carolyn:

What gives me hope is my belief that each person has potential for good. What gives me hope is the love for my two boys.

Diane:

I have a lot more hope since I stopped watching news on television! Now I can remember that most people are very good and evil is rare. The world is incredibly beautiful and I am so happy to be able to enjoy it. Fortunately, my life has always tended towards more – more people to love, more personal happiness, more sense of the brief nature of life and therefore the importance of enjoying it NOW. I know that catastrophe could strike anytime but I find it hard to worry about what might or might not occur while I am surrounded by delight.

Paul:

What gives me hope is an inner sense of knowing that all is, and shall be, well. (no religious connotation)

Richard:

I have hope in that you quoted a lesbian and gay male poet and that some day that will have been so widely acknowledged that it won’t make a difference.

David:

Because the alternative is despair and apathy, which don’t feel good and I loathe. Why Hope? Because I am a consummate optimist, in the face of failure, I still “hope” for a better tomorrow. Is hope the panacea for brushing off all the things that I have not taken care of? (my work deficit) Not, not for that, not for covering over the necessary chores of life. Hope for me tends to orbit around the knowledge I have that I can address the negative aspects of my life, improve, make progress, take positive steps, celebrate EVERY step towards victory. It is participating in the upward spiral of growth of me, of my family, of humanity. The world is moving to a “better” place. Physically mentally and emotionally and spiritually. Despite the setbacks, retrograde motion, disease, fanaticism, racism, and all the negative, backwards elements, as a whole each of us can and will grow if we have hope and belief that tomorrow can be a better day! Whatever that means for you.
So I make my lists, do the work, make the calls, enjoy the moments and pay attention to what it is that makes me call a day “bad”. It seems to be my reaction to outside circumstances that really sends me for a loop. Looking behind to see where we are going is alway s a tricky business, but it does show that mankind, me, am making progress. And then there are those moments of clarity, of vision, of emotion, where I see the day in a new way and all is well. That seems to be hope’s cousin contentment (not resignation)
Hey, its early in the morning and my eyes still aren’t fully open. Its the best I can muster now, It’s okay, And yes, I know I will die eventually, but for now, I choose growth and effort, sometimes the effort of no reaction and calmness. One of my spiritual teachers would often respond to my questions by saying “Do what is in your heart.” That was it. No dogma, no ritual, just “Do what is in your heart.” Man, that has proven the most challenging advice I have every received and I still discover new aspects and colours of the answer daily. May the God of your Understanding bless and keep you well.

Allison:

My relationships- with my husband, my children, and the friends whom I chose to nurture a close, connected relationship with.
Babies give me hope. Trees give me hope.

Rita:

My hope is not in a heaven. I think there is one, but I am not putting up with stuff so I can get to heaven.
I think hope comes from experience. I have car trouble, I had car trouble many times and it got fixed. It will get fixed this time.
I get depressed. Then my friends hold my hope. They hold the truth that the depression will end.
I’d say my life is getting better. On the weekend I held my latest great nephew, all of seventeen days old. And had a great talk with his mom about the birth and the early days.
Sometimes you have to hope. It is a stance you must take.

Crystal:

I believe hope is a verb — a choice we make when we are willing to remain vulnerable in our lives. Which, I suppose, is why we meet so many kids who are hopeful and so many adults who are cynical. Vulnerability is so risky and not a trait esteemed in adulthood (one must KNOW EVERYTHING)!! Yet, what are our lives without all the truths hope can show us?

Stevie:

At 71 years old, I find that I lean heavily on the faith in God that has sustained me throughout a long and sometimes troubled life. I find that the “golden years” are not all that golden with failing health and sometimes depression so I lean even more heavily on my faith. I also depend upon the love I have for my family, including all my extended family. Some I call family who are not related by anything but love. Last I maintain a sense of humor, some would say a little inappropriate at times, but laughter always makes me feel hopeful.

Lisanna:

I don’t know about ‘daily basis’ but on the days that I read the writings of Charles Eisenstein or Joanna Macy, I feel hope. If you haven’t already, I recommend you check them out.

Aron:

“You’ve got to admit it’s getting, getting better all the time.” – Paula McCartney
“It can’t get much worse.” – John Lennon.

Bill:

I got a Wisdom Biscuits. That gives me hope that I’ll get another one. I’m hoping for at least a 77% chance. A 77% chance is good enough. Hope is what I choose to take a chance on and fortune favors the prepared mind. The prepared mind is the mind that recognizes the mind is Making all this up and the mind is so powerful that Making-up becomes reality. If all is mind, then Making-up is all we can do. Mind you, be damn careful what you Make-up. I like what you are Making-up. Keep up the good fortune.

Tory:

Hope is learning. It’s the feathers (like Emily said) and appendages of life experiences we attach to ourselves; we collect on our journey. And even though each feather can be just as shitty as the last, or even shittier, the hope is the learning our feathers give us. Without them we would not be able to fly and explore, no matter how painful or beautiful the sight may be. Hope is the growing of our ever expansive perspectives. It’s the ability to see the purpose & beauty in the shit, and the all the shit & purpose it took to create the beauty.

Patrick:

Though just wanting Hope to be true may dismissed as foolish by some, especially hard core materialists and rationalists. But when the chips are down it is time to fight. If others adopt this mind frame the possibilities for success are much improved ! So I believe that wanting the good is a great starting place.

Debbie:

Synchronistically, I’ve been thinking about “HOPE” for the past little while . . . I don’t know where it comes from .. . I’m searching, too. These days, to me, life often feels very low on hope. However, your weekly email often gives me the feeling of hope, as well as when people do nice things for other people. Also, simple interactions with my husband, dog and cats often give me hope . . . they are often nice, “just because” . .. I’ve also been reading a book by Lewis Mehl-Madrona called Coyote Healing – he talks about the importance of hope before healing can happen. He says the possibility of transformation creates hope . . . Again, I don’t know where it comes from, but I know it’s critical to life.

Bonnie:

The interaction with my friends, co-workers and family gives me hope. Even when I have a “bad” day I know it will not last forever.. I start the week off with saying “It’s Monday!”; co-workers ask, especially at 4:30 am when I get to work at the hospital, “What is so good about Monday?”… I reply, “It is another 7 days until Monday!” Sounds silly but it helps me start off the week… I also try and practice deep breathing by repeating “rest, relax” and it helps me get to sleep when it has been a hard day.

Robin:

My favorite bumper sticker is “Now that I have given up hope, I feel much better.”

Holly:

What gives me hope is finding joy in each day. Like today, we had some snow last night. It was very light and fluffy. When a breeze came through the snow would be lifted up and sprinkle into the air. The sun would catch it and turn it into sprinkles of gold. It was so delightful.

Mary:

Jesus’ promise that we will be with him in heaven after death.

Jane:

Hearing the birds whistle and chirp, seeing sun sparkling on dew and shining through green leaves and grass. Smelling nature. Petting miniature donkeys, or any animal. Seeing a smile, people loving each other. Caring gives me hope.

Leah:

Hope comes from a combination of sources: From the gift of the imaginal realm that my mind allows me to enter, where I may create ideal forms and visions, and from the moments of beauty and shining goodness that arise from ugly, hopeless-looking situations, in fact, from those shining moments when they appear in any circumstances. Goodness, loving-kindness, justice, shared joy, signs of pure creativity, when any of these occurs, it raises my hopes. Today is so fresh after the rains. Something primal sings with this in me, an excitement in being alive, and that reignites optimism and hope as well. I drink from the well of the moment and I let it nourish me. Intellectually, I know the limits of my ability to see reality, and I recognize the need to live with an awareness of dire probabilities in one hand, of good outcomes in the other. I identify this as the warrior path, where even without rational basis for hope, you move forward and effect the next right action, as best you can discern it. Anyway, that’s it for me. I am a depressive person, have had a scarred childhood — like many, yet unique–and I reach for loving connection in the moment to keep me going. Sometimes I find it in your emails and your replies to mine.

 

Poem: “Thanks, Robert Frost” by David Ray
from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems.
(c) The Backwaters Press.
originally found online at:
http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2007/01/31

Thanks, Robert Frost

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought…
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed
upon their tender necks. Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.

 

Pema Chodron (also submitted by a reader):
The Benefits of Hoplessness
Excerpted from When Things Fall Apart by

Turning your mind towards the dharma does not bring security or confirmation. Turning your mind towards the dharma does not bring any ground to stand on. In fact, when your mind turns toward the dharma, you fearlessly acknowledge impermanence and change and begin to get the knack of hopelessness.

The difference between theism and notheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God. It is an issue that applies to everyone, including Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Theism is a deeply seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. It means thinking there’s always going to be a babysitter available when we need one. We all are inclined to abdicate our responsibilities and delegate our authority to something outside ourselves. Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves. Nontheism is realizing that there’s no babysitter that you can count on. The whole of life is like that. That is the truth, and the truth is inconvenient.

As long as we’re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot. In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon Hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Everyday in everyway, I’m getting better and better.” We hold onto hope and it robs us of the present moment. If hope and fear are two different sides of the same coin, so are hopelessness and confidence. If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.

Death can be explained as not only the endings in life but all of the things in life that we don’t want. Our marriage isn’t working; our job isn’t coming together. Death and hopelessness provide proper motivation for living an insightful, compassionate life. But most of the time warding off death is our biggest motivation. Warding off any sense of problem, trying to deny that change is a natural occurrence, that sand is slipping through our fingers. Time is passing and its as natural as the seasons changing. But getting old, sick, losing love – we don’t see those events as natural. We want to ward them off, no matter what.

When we talk about hopelessness and death, we’re talking about facing facts. No escapism. Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, not to run away, to return to the bare bones, no matter whats going on. If we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.

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