Does Hope Always Come From Conditioned Mind?

Howdy, friends!
The other day somebody asked me this interesting question:

“Does hope always come from conditioned mind?”

For many years I would have responded, “Yes.” I don’t see it that way anymore, however. I’ve realized a couple things along the way that have shown me that this simple question, like everything else in life, in actuality is not so simple.

Here’s the first thing I’ve realized. You can’t really say that anything is anything all of the time. What a thing is, as we perceive it, depends upon our point of view–or, to say it better, what a thing is depends upon what we make of it out from within whatever assumptions we import. If you want to know what a thing is, in other words, you must first ask yourself about the place you’re looking from. That will determine what you see.

There are many different perspectives we can assume, many different places to be looking at things from. It’s possible, though, to divide all those perspectives roughly up into two: we can see the world and act in the world from our authentic nature, or we can see the world and act in the world from our social programming. That’s the essential understanding of this practice that we do: we can be here, in the moment (to say it another way), or we can be out of the moment and out of touch with anything real because we have become lost in assumptions and abstractions.

The second thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to be a human. It’s okay to have human desires, human feelings, human failings, and human needs. Somehow I got the idea at the beginning of my practice that to move to Center and align with my authentic nature would be to transcend the human nature that I have. This, I can see now, is absurd. It’s a tragic thing to attempt to overcome our humanity, and it can’t be done. Spiritual practice, done correctly, will lead a person to a full and unconditional acceptance of their human nature, not a rejection of it.

So if I take these two things together and consider this thing we call “hope”, here’s what I see, and here’s what I told the person who asked the question. No, hope does not always come from conditioning. It is natural and authentic to hope for health and happiness in all its forms. It’s good and wise to want for things to go our way in life, to have as little trouble and pain as possible, and to be well. It’s good and natural to hope for love, and friendship, and happiness, and peace. There’s no conditioning at all in that, from what I can see. If we hope for things that are not natural and good, however; if we want to be right, to be superior, to avoid the natural pain that comes from our growth and transformation in this life, to avoid taking responsibility for the things that are ours, and other unhappy things, then indeed we are acting from our social conditioning. It depends, in other words, upon who is doing the hoping.

This practice is about learning to live from truth and authenticity. This whole life, in fact, at least so far as I see it, is about learning to live from truth and authenticity. Let us each do that work to the very best of our ability. And let us hope that we may succeed, that we may thrive as a result, and that we may experience the peace and joy that comes from this noble effort.

In peace,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.