Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hope: full or less?

More than likely most readers are much more concerned about their own emotional stability than matters of philosophy, or for that matter spiritual issues (Zen included). And this priority is not  incorrect. After all, anyone’s emotional stability (or the lack) is something that everyone lives with day in, day out. Learning about, what at times may seem arcane, be it philosophy or aspects of any particular spiritual discipline, are means to the end of emotional stability (or the lack). If any philosophy or spiritual practice doesn’t deliver the goods, even if such disciplines are revered or considered holy, it’s time to face what lies in front of our nose’s instead of some esoteric belief system that promises one thing or another on the far distant horizon.

For the most part emotional stability isn’t so difficult to develop and maintain, so long as we begin and continue with two simple matters: hope and self awareness. How we relate to hope, establishes much. Should we be hopeful, hopeless or some other combination? What we hope for is a future matter and concerns expectations. Hoping for a bright future (when up to our necks in chaos and disaster) may or may not be an appropriate state of mind. Being glum and negative in light of abundance and joy doesn’t seem like an appropriate attitude either. Conditions are constantly changing and when we subject our emotions to changing conditions, our emotions bob up and down like a cork in the ocean.

Then how can we establish and maintain stability at the same time everything changes around us? The answer to that rhetorical question depends on how we understand ourself. IF your sense of self is firm and stable, your emotions follow suit. IF your sense of self depends upon the tides, then you’ll flow with the tides. Ultimately, whatever way in which we understand our selves determines our emotional state of mind. If we rid ourselves from expecting one outcome, or another, hope becomes a meaningless matter. The best way of arranging our emotional life is to be concerned about one thing only: doing “whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it.”⎯end of the Kalama Sutra.

After the choice that benefits one and all, our job is finished and we can maintain emotional equanimity and let the chips fall where they may. When we base of responses to life on getting what we hope for (or wish to avoid) we’re in trouble from the very beginning. 
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