An Action. . .

HOPE – What do you think of when you read that word? What are you hoping for right now? Have you formally defined your concept of hope?

I can hear the musings now – Jim, how does a buddhist hope? Are we not grounded in the moment and all actions of the moment? Hope is just some concept right? Well. . . yes hope is a concept, but like all concepts it prompts us for a definition and therein lies the strength of this concept we call hope.

In the Buddhist tradition we tend to be a little skeptical of hope, or perhaps it’s better to say we hold hope lightly. That doesn’t mean we are into hopelessness, quite the opposite in fact. But the opposite of hopelessness would be considered love, or connection, in contrast to trying to wrestle control over life’s changes, which doesn’t do much for us. One cause of suffering is desire. When you get obsessed by or fixated on something specific that you want you may view yourself and the world around you from a deficit: Life would be perfect only if you could get that thing, person, experience. One can get lost in this craving, which only increases separation from the world as it is. We try to see the world as it is with equanimity instead of craving and fixation.

Equanimity — the balance that is born of wisdom — reminds us that what is happening in front of us is not the end of the story, it is just what we can see. Instead of being frightened of change, with equanimity, we can see its benefits and put our daily existence in a broader context. 
In the meantime, you might ask, where is the hope? I have found a sense of hope in a few places that are not attached to demanding a particular outcome. There is hope in remembering in the course of my life things have been bleak before, even bleaker than they are now. I am strong and there is much within me that responds well to adversity. There is hope in the certainty that things do change. The hope resides in the certainty of relief not in specific outcomes, like getting exactly what we want; the hope comes from the way things actually are in this universe – constantly changing.

The other place I find hope is in my sense of community and the experience of bearing the tough times with others. Positioning my unhappiness in a larger context tends to dissipate its power. I have found this aspect of hope in unexpected places and with people I barely know. We moved recently from our home of 30 years to be closer to parents and realize our on personal dreams (another story for another day) which started out as . . . you guessed it “hopes.” I have known my wife since she was 17 and it was our long term hope to live in the city, in a loft and be a part of the community’s we were a part of as young hopeful teens. All journeys begin with hope. Hope should fuel the work. The work and hope require change.

Hope is action. Do not let it be a wishful thought or greeting card sentiment – Put hope into action each day; only you can find that way.

Peace and Love, Jim

#hopeaction #thedailybuddha

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