Our country and our world are experiencing a time of great darkness and upheaval. While we are in the midst of a holiday season that celebrates Hope, we may find ourselves struggling with Hopelessness.
We live in a dualistic world, a world of good and evil, pleasure and pain, life and death. And from that dualistic perspective, it seems desirable to run toward the positive and away from the negative. Hope feels better, promises more, and sometimes provides the the strength just to get out of bed in the morning. Hopelessness brings depression, despair, and paralysis. Sometimes it brings anger and violence.
And yet it is precisely this perspective, this either/or choice, that keeps us riding on the dualistic merry-go-round, always running away from hopelessness, even though sometimes it inevitably catches up with us.
But consider for a moment the idea that Hope and Hopelessness are just two sides of the same coin.
They are both strategies we choose to cope with and defend against the vulnerability of living in a world where pain and cruelty lies down right beside joy and beauty. The vulnerability of acknowledging the uncomfortable fact that we are powerless to change that reality. Sometimes we choose hope thinking we will receive the goodies in return, and other times it is easier to avoid disappointment by never hoping to begin with.
What if we experimented with letting go of hope, dropping fully into the pain and brokenness of hopelessness, and then dropping even deeper by relinquishing that strategy too… by surrendering all strategy?
What if we embraced Life without knowing what could or should happen? What would we experience then? What would guide our thoughts, feelings, and actions if just for a moment we stopped looking at Life through a dualistic lens?
In surrendering all of our masks and defenses, we come face to face with the core of our very being. We encounter the Love that holds all happenings without judgment, the Peace that passeth all understanding. We realize that the Divine lives in every moment, in every being, in every happening. It can’t be exterminated by hate, and it can’t be controlled by our will.
It can only be surrendered to. Our only real choice is whether we will allow ourselves to be a channel for this mystery to flow through us and into the world, or whether we will separate from our awareness of it.
I am reminded of the famous lines of Rumi, which I have paraphrased and modified here:
“Out beyond ideas of hope and hopelessness there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”
Hope does not lie in something outside of ourselves that will save us from our vulnerability. It is our vulnerability that will save us from the polar extremes of hope and hopelessness, and bring us home to the divine light that lives and reigns inside each one of us. When we say “yes” to this great mystery, we don’t need hope because WE ARE THAT which we hope for.
Often it takes great pain and suffering to bring us to our knees and open to that Love that always and already holds us all. It doesn’t have to be that way, but honestly sometimes that seems to be what it takes to tear down our walls.
All this can sound like airy-fairy spiritual bypassing. Because the truth is we do live in a dualistic world. So on the human level, I will still have hope for a world that expresses Divine Reality. I will actively work for that vision that I hold. And I will have other times when I feel hopeless, worthless, and impotent. And that is ok. Because the unitive level doesn’t extinguish duality. It includes and transcends it.
And I can return to that field whenever I want to. Won’t you join me sometime?