On Giving Up All Hope

October 07, 2010 | | Comments 0


We start to toddle in early childhood and spend the rest of our days teetering into tomorrow. Our balance is precarious; we reach for that  parental hand that will help hold us up, keep us going and otherwise save us from what we fear may harm us. From our first, hesitant steps into our brave new world of uncertainty, we’re propelled by hope and, simultaneously, checked by fear. Fear is always a pre-gret. It’s a mental or emotional anticipation of a negatively viewed event that  may  occur in the future. Hope is exactly the same, only it is a positively viewed future. And so we have this hopeless fear and this fearless hope. All wrapped up and bound in tomorrow. Both are kept alive and kicking in us with thoughts like this from The Book of Counted Sorrows:

Hope is the destination that we seek.                                              

Love is the road that leads to hope.

Courage is the motor that drives us.

We travel out of darkness into faith.

Pure fiction?   I ripped that “saying” out of the first page of an  old discarded Zane Gray novel I found on a bench. And I ripped the following out of the last page of an old discarded edition of William James  Varieties of Religious Experience:

“ No fact in human nature is more characteristic than its willingness to live on a chance…chance makes the difference…between a life of which the keynote is resignation  and a life of which the keynote is hope.”


With both the above in mind, let’s have a look at our life in practice, as we know and live it, and throw in one more quote from Dante:  “ Abandon hope all ye who enter here”.

At  the core of both hope and fear lies the basic assumption we’re fed from the time we sit up and take our first porridge: Control. To simply say to ourselves that “ there is no control” is to perhaps wave off  the truth with a kind of understated “ of course, I know that!”  But functionally, actually, do we know that?

In fact, do we want to know that we don’t now, nor have we  ever, been in control? Well, of course not! That prospect evokes too much fear. And so the fear/hope cycle perpetuates itself.  It’s only when this hope that drives all seeking and the fear that motivates all hope, is seen for the  fiction that it in fact is, that we begin to live in Reality. History, both ours and theirs, is replete with examples of a world out of control. Not partially, occasionally, or just now! It’s like the bumper sticker I saw the  other day. It read: “ Don’t blame me, it was on fire when I got here!”


 “ The conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions already in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control.”


Let’s net it out: the end of control is the end of hope is the end of fear. That ends a lot of suffering in one fell understanding. And that realization begins a shifting into a whole new paradigm of ultimate reality.

 We are hopelessly abandoned to life. To live! To a fully lived life, the  living flow of which rests  totally out of our hands because we no longer labor intensely to grip it. We are free to be and to let be! To live this kind of double life of a bipedal creature formed in human nature, combined with  the inspired and formless nature of our divine selfhood. We come into our own, our  body draws its breath without our will; our mind thinks its thoughts without our attachment; our hearts resound with pure joy in living. Where formerly we thought we would die without hope, we now know we can only live without it!

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