I have flying books; books of short stories, snippets and such like; manageable passages as my attention span evapourates at a high altitude (is it just me?). I was reading one the other night, a book called, 'Peace is Every Step' by Thich Nhat Hanh. It's full of interesting ideas that I like to let loose to wander around in my head. Read a bit, stare off into space, feel all yummy. Repeat as necessary. Seeing as it's been that xmassy time of year and the hassles that implies (well, for me), it been a good and needed choice.
But! I read something in it the other night that's rattled me, a good rattle! And has shifted my perspective on life ever so slightly, or maybe more, and I like that very much.
Here's a condensed version of it:
Hope as an Obstacle
Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us - to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God. Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.
Enlightenment, peace, and joy will not be granted by someone else. The well is within us, and if we dig deeply in the present moment, the water will spring forth. We must go back to the present moment in order to be really alive. When we practice conscious breathing, we practice going back to the present moment where everything is happening.
Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. Many religions are based on the notion of hope, and this teaching about refraining from hope may create a strong reaction. But the shock can bring about something important. I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough. Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment. If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you.
Though I'm not one who really dwells on hope, as in I don't pray and wish that things would get better; I try to 'do stuff' to make things better. Yet, I appreciate the idea of hope as an obstacle very much. It's a change in perspective that is subtle and huge and I love having my perspective twisted like that (as stubborn as I can be sometimes).
So, I don't hope 2009 will bring the best for myself and any of you; just have a great time right at this very moment! Now, that said, I still hope that one day xmas will just go away! haha... ;-)