“Abandon hope” appears as a Buddhist teaching in various lineages and is one of the 59 Lojong slogans used for mind training in Tibetan Buddhism. In Western thought, hope is regarded as a positive concept which can help a person deal with life. However, Buddhism views hope with suspicion and Lojong slogan #28 rejects it - Abandon any hope of fruition. Don’t get caught up in how you will be in the future, stay in the present moment.
Here are fifteen reasons why Buddhism is skeptical about hope.
1. Hope is a form of fear; the fear that we are inadequate, incapable and incompetent of dealing with our present life.
2. Hope is denial . Rather than face and deal with what’s going on now, we shift our attention to some fanciful future when we hope things will be more pleasant.
3. Hope is an obstacle to action. Hoping something will go away or change by itself keeps us stuck with the issue.
4. Hope is childish, wishful thinking that there is somewhere better to be, someone better to be.
5. Hope pushes away bad news and clings to good news thereby missing the truth that something bad may offer an important lesson.
6. Hope deepens unhappiness. Hoping for something in the future keep us unhappy in the present.
7. Hope is self-paralyzing leaving us in an emotional coma hoping things will change.
8. Hope seeks what is comfortable and pleasant at the expense of relating to problems in constructive ways.
9. Hope prolongs suffering by promoting the view that everything can be changed, fixed, or removed.
10. Hope fuels the feeling of being powerless with it’s focus on how life is supposed to be.
11. Hope feeds the ego. Too often we work with ulterior, self-serving motives. For example, when we are nice to people we “hope” they will like us.
12. Hope erodes current peace and tranquility because hope is future focused - the good life is down the road, sometime in the future.
13. Hope keeps us in a state of agitation and anxiety by denying us the opportunity of simply releasing and relaxing into the present.
14. Hope breeds insecurity by it’s constant demand for reassurance that life is unfolding according to some plan.
15. Hope keeps us stuck in expectations of better outcomes while downsizing attention to our present circumstances.
Abandoning hope is not defeatist and depressing but results in patience and peace by living fully in the power of now.
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