Further Thoughts on Hope…

I had planned on writing a more detailed expose on Hope after my return, but demands on my time are many, and so for now my psyche can only bring forth this brief piece. I am confident that the rest will show up in some shape or form in my subsequent writings, for the part of the previously-latent universe which has become manifest, always finds its way in the material world.

Before I left, I had felt hopeful about breaking the code on the contruct of Hope. And what one hopes, or desires, usually unfolds in some form or another. Our wishes always come true, though not in the way we could have imagined. Sometimes, the unfolding isn’t to our liking, but knowledge does not, will not sweeten itself for our benefit. It presents its stark face so we may see the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

And so it was for me too. Some events unfolded in ways that left me psychically shattered, and other events unfolded in ways that were constructive. In some cases, my hope died. In others, my hope was strengthened. And because the construct of Hope was under my psychic scrutiny, I was able to watch myself, observe the unfolding, and come to an experiential understanding of the entire phenomenon of construction and destruction of hope, which, as I realised for the first time, is really a mind-body phenomenon. Thoughts morph into materiality, and move from the non material realm of the mind into the physical world so that can manifest their potency, and be “looked at,” very much like how art objectifies the internal trauma, and looking at art enables a better understanding of the trauma, and thus a consequential relief from the traumatic memory. It was an amazing experience, an amazing discovery, an amazing journey that leaves me super awed at the power and intricate workings of nature. I don’t even know if I have the words to describe the experience, or the journey, but let me try anyway.

As I meditated on the construct of hope,  the very first insight that became manifest, was the connection between hope and helplessness, and between hope and determination. Helplessness seemed to be a precursor to hopelessness, and as helplessness changed, it appeared to erode the hopelessness. Hope, then was a defence mechanism that the psyche brought forth to preserve its sanctity, and survival. The opposite of hopelessness isn’t hope, the opposite of hope is a state of no-hopelessness, a state of neutrality where one is not helpless anymore, one has the power and the ability to achieve one’s heart’s desires. Its a state of equnimity, a state of balance where the world seems beneficient enough for sustenance. It is the realm of the animals, plants, birds and infants. It is the state of purity. Then,a person may raise themselves above that neutral point, the benchmark, through their desire and hope. The desirous hope, then, is a source of discontent on one hand, and of pleaure on the other, which incidentally, are the two sides of the same coin. To be in the grip or pleasure or pain, craving or aversion, is to be in the realm of humanity, of mortality, of imperfection, to  be in the cycle of birth, and death, in the realm of suffering. Sufferings that are consequences of our desirousness, and hope. Hope, in that sense, is the source of human miseries, especially the unbalanced, unmanageable, unrealistic and unchecked hope. In moderation, it can become a source of inspiration and joy.

Human desire and hope is contingent on strong determination for its gratification. In the absence of determination, the hope is a mere daydream at best, a psychotic hallucination at its worst.  And so, this was the insight that greeted me in my time away – that hope requires strong determination to manifest, and in the absence of strong determination, it collapses into misery of hopelessness and despair. In that sense, it seems very close to being a Jungian Complex.

How then does a hope caese to exist ? I experienced the workings of the psyche first hand during the holidays. It dies as a consequence of a psychic working through. In other words, when the inner opposites are resolved, and there is an inner harmony and inner balance achieved, all desire to change the world, or our own life, changes. When does it die? When everything that lies under the hope and feeds the complex – our needs, our hurts, our longings and deprivations – have made themselves heard, and acknowledged. So hope is our psychic reaction to the unmet needs that knock on our doors of consciousness for recognition. Winnicot would say it is the transitional object that the psyche gives us to comfort and relieve our distress. When these past hurts have been heard, and attended to, when we can trust the universe, and ourself, when we can remain present to reality of the moment, without wanting more, or running away from less or disappointing, and we can accept what is unfolding in that moment without having a need to change ourselves, or the environment, or those that we love, or those who love us. When we are not hungry anymore, and when we relinquish control, then and only then our desires cannot rule our minds, and the cycle of hope disappointment, or hope fulfilment comes to a dead end. Paradoxically, this is also the realm of compassion, empathy, loving kindness. When you don’t need anything from the other, when you have no expectations on the other, then there are no disappointment, and love and compassion can flow unchecked. When there is no striving to change anything, the world cannot continue to be seen as malevolent and malignant, one can only see happenings, and becomings in such a world, no matter how uncertain, or incomplete they may be. Such a world moves in the same direction as us. Or perhaps we move in the same direction as the world. When actions are performed for the sake of actions, because they are our ethical obligations of the moment, without entertaining the desire for any particular outcome, those actions are wholesome, and fruitful. With such actions, undertaken with an intentionality that is pure and undemanding, the energies of the universe are at our disposal, in the form of synchronicities, and come to assist us in our endeavors. We are strengthened in the field of non attachments, and through maintaining a neutral stance towards desires and hope. And so, if the hope dies in a positive, soul-strengthening way, there is no sadness, or sorrow, just an inner awakening, a sense of compassion and kindness, even love. There are no dead bodies to bury. What dies naturally, dies so that there can be new birth, so that the world may evolve to a become a better place. It mingles with and becomes part of the universe. Death and destruction of such hope may weaken the ego, but strengthens the Self and the universe.

And why did Hope alone choose to remain with the mortals when all virtues fleed Pandor’as Box? I felt Hope chose to remain not out of any sense of compassion for mankind, but because of a narcissistic need. Only mortals gave her the love and respect that she desired. In the Heavens, where gods live, there is no reason for, no place for Hope. Hope needs sadness, sorrow, death, dying, and sickness to flourish. It feeds upon hopelessness. Gods accomplish through definitive power, they do not need Hope. So there was no place for Hope except on earth, with the frail and fragile mortals. Hence she stayed back when all other virtues fled to Heaven.

Quite a few people have asked me over the last few months if I merely use these words, or I actually experience, and follow my own words. To them I would like to say that everything I write is from the psychic depths of my own unconscious – whether personal/subjective or collective/objective. It has been experienced either in meditation, or in analysis, or in my relationships. I have an acquired (or learned) disability to write from cognition, from conscious effort. The topic chooses me, and expresses itself. And do I follow, or practice  everything I write, yes, to the extent I am able to, and willing. Having access to insights and wisdom of our heritage doesn’t take away from my humanity, and subjectivity. It can only complement that subjectivity. The subjectivity remains – and if I try to eliminate my shadow, I would be inflated, attempting perfection, striving to usurp the kingdom of gods. My imperfections, like friction, are the irritants that creates avenues for insights. It is only the pain, the trauma, the sadness that separates us from our internal gods of eternal bliss. That alone enables us to illuminate the divinity within.

My circumstances had led me away from my family for Christmas, but my thoughts were with them. As were my hopes for them. I hoped that in spite of the separation, I would remain in their hearts, as much as they were in mine. See how I fall from the pedestral where my own insights would like me to be? Occasionally, I wouldn’t have it any other way! An expression of that desirous hope (to be remembered and loved) was this piece of writing that arose in my mind on the Christmas eve, as I imagined them safe, and happy.

For My Sons

I grow weaker with every day
And my strength becomes yours
My dreams carve yours
My memories, hobbies, love
Slowly morph you
Into shapes that make me proud
Of my own accomplishments in motherhood

The tears in my eyes are
Those of joy
And satisfaction
I could give you more, materially
But you are crafted from my lifeblood
My gods are shaping yours
And soon, one day
You will take this treasure trove of my loving aspirations
And change it in ways that will separate you from me
A better, more refined version
Of loving kindness, ethics and morality
The reflection of which, my son, I will see
In the eyes of my grandchildren

To you, my darling,
I offer the gifts from my sufferings
With a hope that it will shape you into the gold
That I could not become.

Acknowledgements: The writing is based on personal experiences and draws from Buddhist principles and practices of non attachment, and insight meditation of Vipassana.

5 responses to “Further Thoughts on Hope…”

  1. Madhu.
    I see in you all the Gold you already are and it starts to shine through more and more with every effort you put in, driven by truth and the love you hold within.

    As you I believed that overcoming my spiritual limitations would also help my offspring so it was an incentive on my path, now I know we are not able to choose those who will follow in our footsteps as they all have their own obstacles to overcome to lay aside all that which hides the Gold in each of us.

    Wishing you and all your Loved Ones a golden year.
    With Love and Light

    1. Martin!

      What a pleasant surprise! Your last sentence gave away your identity….then I saw the email address…

      Thanks for responding, with such kind words too. Yes, I agree with you completely. Each one of us has to work towards our own growth. There are no short cuts.

      As a parent, I can only hold a hope for them, which is like a slender light in the darkness of the world, and that dim, slim light may guide him/them in his/their path, if they should choose it. I can only strive to create some good samskaras, that is all I can do….nothing more…Lot of love and best wishes for the new year.


  2. Hi Madhu
    Love your response and it makes a lot of sense, ie the distinction between no-hope and no-hopelessness and links with BG. I think I am poised between no-hope and no-hopelessness – that is, I have both cravings and aversions (ever-shifting) to overcome. Sounds like a place of balance, haha – it only means I need to look over my shoulder in both directions!
    I thought that was what you mean by body-mind phenomenon but I had a different feeling about what that meant.
    Hope and connection is a growing theme for me. My second post I have realised is all about really or potentially severed connections and how to manage the pain, fear of that and the hope the connections may continue. I am pursuing a no-hope/no-hopelessness path in two specific examples – for one indefinitely, for the other perhaps timebound. I am sure there is an underlying link with mortality and loss of those one is connected with and loves. Connections made via the internet give a whole new take on this for me.
    Looking forward to more and any of your comments, particularly on my most recent post, will be savoured.
    Go well and write what is right for you in the moment,

  3. Hello Madhu
    Good to have you back! I had hoped to read something from you soon – but then I have been pondering on this kind of hope, related to you and one or two others, and had worked through to a partial acceptance of silence in the moment. I had thought I could send silent good wishes in the meantime.
    For me hope links with connection. Severed or intermittent connection engenders unhelpful, even possibly helpless, hope.
    I like the relation of beyond hope to non-attachment.
    So I wonder what is the subtle difference between no-hope and no-hopelessness? Or maybe that’s just semantic. I feel comfortable with a state of no-hope as being an experience in the moment, a being with what is. No-hopelessness is a more positive frame though.
    I also immediately chimed with the idea of the construction and deconstruction of hope as being a mind-body experience (you say phenomenon). The springing of hope, as the phrase says, comes from the heart and/or the gut – and can be tangibly felt. Whereas the state of no-hope or, as you prefer to put it, no-hopelessness (if they are the same) is for me more of a warm spreading out from the heart, a stronger, steadier and more comprehending sensation, more linked with being grounded.
    The Buddhist saying, ‘hope and fear chase each other’s tails’ complements what you have written. I commented on this in my second most recent post, Cleo’s Tale.
    Warm wishes for 2011,

    1. Hi Karin,

      I returned on 2nd, but the silence and stillness within was too loud to ignore. And it would have continued for a little longer, had I been able to maintain it. A friend of mine asked me to write an article on Corporate Change, and I agreed. Little did I realise how difficult it is for me to now write consciously. The topic chooses me, and the writings flow. But when I choose a particluar topic and attempt to write it, there is soooo much psychic resistance. A few months ago another friend of mine had asked me to write something on Shadow. To this date I have been unable to do so. It is so embarrassing to have to acknowledge that Ihave no control over my writings ! LOL! This piece was a consequence of psychic rebellion – the psyche wanted to do what it wanted to do, and it didn’t want to write that designer article….LOL! After 2 days, I still am unable to finish it. Thank you for your good wishes…maybe they enabled this pieces? I wrote furiously during my vacation though – amost 500 handwritten pages – most of it is yet to be transcribed, and a lot of it is of personal nature…

      Interesting relationship between connection and hope. I have to meditate on what this really really means.

      The difference between no hope and no hopelessness is significant. A healthy no-hope attitude (that which does not come from a place of sorrow, fear or pain related dissociation) is a pathway to non attachment, and Buddha would say to Nirvana, or in Hinduism, to Moksha. It is the essence of Bhagvad Gita where one goes about doing their stuff without any expectations of any particular outcome. There is no motive. For example if I help an old lady cross the road without expecting that I will get brownie points in heaven because I did a good deed, then that is to be in the land of no-hope. If I associate selfish motives – aka I will go to heaven if I do good deeds or that I must do good deeds else I will go to hell – then there is attachment and aversion respectively. If I measure myself against my neighbor for example, than I am i the land of attachment or aversion as well – thru judgements. One is either running towards heaven, or running away from hell, or one is in shame or arrogance. It is a fear based or a gransiose deed, not a deed born out of purity of volition and intentionality. Its a Pavlovian response to a stimuli – what we do with kids to train them, and it creates inflation and arrogance – “I help old ladies cross the road” and “I will go to heaven” or even “I (or everyone) should always help old ladies cross the road” etc etc. Since all statements are in relationship with something else, what is left unsaid in these sentences is “you don’t help old ladies cross the road, so I am better than you” or “you may not go to heaven unless you too help old ladies cross the road,” and many more possibilities of the kind – always.

      Contrast it with the intentionality of helping an old lady to cross the road only because it is a moral and ethical responsibility of mine in the moment and it so happens I am able to handle it in the moment. I am unconcerned with what I did in the past, or what I will do in the future, or what others do, because the law of karma will apply to everyone equally. I need not concern myself with anything except with living a life to the best of my ability *in the moment*. No personal benefits linked to it. No priviledged treatment in heaven. No comparasion with self and other. It leaves the psyche in a more balanced place, for we have not done anything “good” per se, it is simply our very best in that moment. There is no arrogance, no judgement about those that do not live like us, or even our own selves in the past. It is an acceptance of the unfolding moment to moment. That to me is no-hope, and no longing and no aversion, and no judgement. The psyche doesn’t have to work overtime at these other associations, so it generates minimum junk in the unconscious.

      No hopelessness is a bit different. It demands an effort. It requires a will. Practically speaking, it requires a greater intensity.

      But on the surface though, one is moving towards, and one is moving away. So no hope can be perceived as an overcoming of our cravings, and no hopelessness can be perceived as overcoming of our aversions. And this may be my particular psychic configuration, derived from my own early object relations, but I find overcoming aversions is a more labor intensive effort. It is possible someone else may feel cravings are more difficult to relinquish/overcome.

      I called it a mind body phenomenon because I experienced it as a phenomenon – I could see the thoughts as contents of my mind, separate from the mind itself, and separate from my own identity – and those contents the mind than transformed into a body sensation. Thought is non material, just like internet content it. But sensation is a physicality, it has a physical existence, it can be quantified, it is like hardware. And to witness that transmutation of thought into a material object was really awesome. The actual changing of mind into matter, and matter into mind – amazing. I had a great time experimenting with this in many ways.

      I haven’t got round to reading your writing yet, although I did quickly scan thru the titles. It needed concentration that I was lacking at the time. Maybe over the weekend.

      I hope you had a great Christmas. Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year. May great things happen in this year for all of us….


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