By Nancy Thompson
Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron describes hope – December’s ministry theme – as an addiction to the idea that things would be better if they were somehow different. That keeps us from seeing and working with things as they are, which is the only way we actually can create change.
“Abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning,” she writes. The hope we’re giving up, she says, is the idea that we could “be saved from being who we are.”
“Without giving up hope – that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be – we will never relax with who or where we are,” she writes in When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.
When we do relax and look around without a judgmental eye, we begin to see what is there, to realize that we are sufficient and the world is not out to get us. Life becomes workable.
Pema notes that hope is the other side of fear, and that pairing is the root of our pain.
“In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the music, because
something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep
looking for alternatives.”
If instead we stay with the feeling of discomfort, get to know our true selves, we can find confidence in our basic nature and our ability to be ourselves in the world. We can identify the source of the discomfort, rather than escaping it or covering it over, and work with that.