The word hope is used a lot in our culture. I see it on TV, in movies, political speeches, books, etc. And sometimes I wonder if hope is a good thing or a bad thing–or like most things, a little bit of both depending on how we use it. Hesiod wrote that hope was the only thing that remained in Pandora’s box when it was closed, but no one is sure exactly what that means for humans. Hesiod’s moral merely stated: “Thus it is not possible to escape the mind of Zeus.”
Each week, I get a short teaching from Pema Chodron in my email. This one came a few weeks ago and summed up what I’d been thinking about hope in a way I hadn’t been able to put in words before.
The following is an excerpt from: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Classics)
WE CAN’T JUST JUMP OVER OURSELVES
Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.
Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do. We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises.