"Hope requires both a shirking of personal responsibility and a movement of precious attention from present Reality into future illusion. Hope never. Love. Now." Happy Cow
For many readers the title of this article may seem like a 'negative' one. That is no surprise, because hope is relentlessly promoted as a virtue in most societies and major religions. I would like to suggest that the promotion of hope is in fact a subtle trick used by these bodies to keep individuals trapped in a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction and striving for the future, directly preventing them from attaining unconditional happiness at the only time it can be attained, right now. Society and religions do not want people to be happy. When people attain genuine happiness, there is absolutely no need for politicians and priests, no need for police or government. Happy people are wild and free. They naturally live in harmony with others and with their environment. They don't need any Big Brother to tell them the 'right' way.
What does it mean to hope?
First of all it means holding circumstances responsible for your happiness. Circumstances are not responsible for your happiness. You are. Happiness is unconditional. Happiness is for no reason. If you are in a 'good mood' for a reason, that is not happiness. That is pleasure, which is conditional. As soon as conditions once again become unfavourable (and life is constantly changing), your 'good mood' will be lost. Happiness goes hand in hand with unconditional love. A totally non-judgemental acceptance of life just as it is. Love has no judgements such as good or bad, positive or negative. No judgements at all. Love and happiness are both unconditional, for no reason.
"When joy has a reason, it is not going to last long. When joy is without any reason, it is going to be there forever." Osho
When we hope, we are saying to ourselves: life is not good enough now. I do not accept this. I want circumstances to be 'better'. We are judging this moment negatively, and with the judgement we create our own dissatisfaction. With the judgement we stop loving. With the judgement we stop being happy.
Secondly, hope means moving our attention out of the present moment and into the future. The present moment is real, actually happening, now. The future is a mind invention, an imagination, a dream. Every moment spent in hope is a moment of life missed.
There is a popular encouragement used by many positive thinking enthusiasts: 'live your dreams!'
You can choose to do that if you wish. You can choose to live in an imaginary future instead of present reality. But when is it going to stop? When you are 30, 40, 50, 60? How many years of life are you going to miss lost in a fantasy, your attention never in the present moment when vibrant and wonderful life is always happening all around you?
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That is why they call it the present." Eleanor Roosevelt
I am fortunate to live in a very affluent country. I look round at many of my friends, many of whom now have everything they were hoping for when they were 20 or 30 years old and then some more. Yet still I see mostly grim faces, striving faces, faces who are still, in a word, hoping. Still wanting more. Still lost in their minds, lost in the future, lost in illusion. They have everything they ever hoped for. When will enough be enough? When will they stop and recognise how wonderful life is already? More, more, more!
"He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. " Lao Tzu
But what about those in less fortunate parts of the world? What about those facing real hardships? Starvation, disease, brutality, the loss of many family members. How can these people possibly go on without the hope that things will get better in the future?
It is a good question, and one which allows me to introduce the notion of trust.
When hope is replaced with acceptance of things as they are, it always brings some relief. Circumstances may be very harsh, but nothing is to be gained by adding on top of that harshness the added internal anguish which comes when one rails against fate and circumstances, moaning that it should not be that way, that life is not fair. The fact is, it is that way, and the internal complaints will not change anything, except to bring you even more anguish.
When that internal screaming subsides, one becomes present in the moment. When present in the moment, one is present to act, to do something right now to change the circumstances. It is possible that there is nothing that can be done right now. This is where trust comes in. Observing life with present awareness it becomes clear that circumstances are continually changing, like waves on top of the ocean. Sometimes up, sometimes down. But never always up and never always down. When one is aware of the cycle, one can develop unshakable trust. Hope is not necessary. One knows that life always moves in this cycle, that a trough always eventually turns into a peak. Always. This is not hope. There is no doubt at all. This is trust. One can remain present. It is not necessary to speculate about how the future is going to go. One knows.
"Hang on a minute!" I hear you saying. "If that is the case, then that means that peaks are always going to turn into troughs too!"
Yes it does. Such is the nature of life. With acceptance of that, one will once again be able to remain present. One will be able to enjoy the 'ups' totally, knowing they are not going to last forever, making the most of every precious moment. One will live life NOW, not miss it because of a constant nagging worry that it might all change. It will change. Once that is accepted, you are free to concentrate your attention on fully engaging with the present moment.
This is also the reason why happiness must be unconditional. If one judges troughs as 'bad' and peaks as 'good' then mood is going to cycle too, up and down, up and down. There is no chance of a lasting constant sense of happiness unless the judgement stops. When judgement stops, unconditional love and lasting happiness begin.
If happiness is your aim, abandon hope and embrace love - NOW.
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." Buddha
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