Linking in to previous topic about a Buddhist's response to engage or disengage

Continuing the discussion from An American Buddhist dissident disengages:

I have been keeping in mind the Lord Buddha’s advice about people coming together (DN16) and how this would strengthen a nation or group.

He didn’t use a political label, like ‘democracy’ or ‘constitutional monarchy’ or ‘republic’ etc. He just talked of people coming together to discuss and decide on their affairs and of how ethical motivations and behaviour underpinned this.

He never said it would be easy or infallible or immune to the laws of suffering and impermanence. As Buddhists I guess our Practise comes into it and it would certainly become a ground for learning, letting go, tolerance and patience and suffering - much suffering.

Here is an example of what might occur more often… It may not be enough, but it’s something…perhaps.

And here is an article about further possibilities.

I was inspired to post these as part of a response to @Rosie’s thoughtful and heartfelt post. But as I said in my reply to that thread, if this topic is not in line with what is appropriate, @moderators please take whatever action you deem to be needful. :pray:t5:

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First of all I thank you for the redirect which I thought was inevitable. But regard your point: Is Hope a Buddhist principle? Or does it lead to sorrow and disillusionment?

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Hello Rosie

I should first say, I just finished watching Planet of the Humans and really, I think my less than enthusiastic comment referring to Virginia’s clean power may have to be watered down a good deal more. :disappointed:

Which shows that disappointment is just around the corner for one with ‘hope’! And it would seem that it is the very fact that we can’t help hoping (wanting/wishing/craving), that is exploited by people who will sell us lies wrapped up in truth.

It all gets so complicated that at times we become the sellers, not knowing we’re pedaling false hopes. I am thinking of the documentary I just watched. But this applies to Dhamma too, I remember @Brahmali once teaching us what the Buddha said about his own Dhamma and its decline: specifically that one of the ways it would become corrupted was when people who knew a great deal about it, but had aspects of wrong view, would teach this slightly wrong path and sway many people off the right trajectory. It would look and feel and sound like the real thing, use the same terminology…but it wouldn’t take us to that final ending. I think there are plenty of incorrect ‘Dhammas’ out there, many given out of genuine faith and sincere motivations.

In reflecting on your question:

I go back to what my primary meditation teacher says about the two types of Buddhist meditation. Ajahn Brahm would start off by asking, “what are the two types of meditation in Buddhism?” Then he’d tell us, taking it right back to the core framework of the Dhamma, taking it right back to the Buddha, “Second Noble Truth Meditation and Third Noble Truth Meditation”.

I think this helps me to answer your question a little…

It depends on how you define ‘hope’.

If you define it as something based in wanting/craving (2nd Noble Truth), then yes, it will sometimes lead to sorrow and disillusionment and sometimes to fulfilment, achievement and happiness - all of it impermanent and ultimately, according to the wise, suffering. A lot of what we aspire for and hope for, whether wholesome or unwholesome, if based in our external world of the 5 senses, is unreliable.

If you define hope as something embedded within the context of the 3rd Noble Truth…well…that seems to be a whole different ball game. It’s not a hope with a linear (or even curved) trend that leads somewhere. It’s an inner hope that brings a smile and stops you in your tracks, dissolves shadows and makes life clearer. It doesn’t feel like ordinary hope, yet hope is a good word to describe it. It is the inner evidence of the Dhamma in action and how it helps you and therefore others. It is very hopeful because at every step it gives you feedback that the path (practised correctly) works. And one feels resourced, not alone, steadier; one feels a sense of agency. It fosters letting go, a decrease in consumption (this is where the new environmental movement has to go) and a different take on kindness. It’s not a hope that asks the world or it’s beings to be anything other than what they are… Which reminds me of Ajahn Brahm saying, “suffering is asking from the world what it can never give you.” This type of hope is the smile you get on your face when you give up the other type of hope, and it’s the smile that is the energy that powers you as you continue to cultivate the path. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy. Didn’t the Buddha say that overcoming our mind, is harder than overcoming an army?

So yeah, I think there’s hope in Buddhism. But two kinds - one we can’t help doing, it’s part of our mechanism of living and existing and will be there until the end and sometimes it gets in the way of the more helpful and nourishing kind, so much so that we rarely go looking for the helpful hope, rarely recognise it or it’s value. That second kind requires some hard work at times - a lot of time with our eyes closed. But it has a pay off. And I think the sense of the work being hard eases up more and more, but only if we don’t let up.

This is what we have to offer the world now. Even that’s only possible if we can give it to ourselves first.

Reflections on Earth Day 50th anniversary:

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Dearest Kay, thank you for such a thoughtful reply to my question. You make some interesting points.

Yes, I see a direct relationship between hope and disappointment. So one would think that the key to happiness would be a determination to ‘not hope’. Yet this is one of the most persistent facets of human personality. Can one hope without the suffering neurosis that accompanies hope? If we hope we necessarily cling to hope’s object. Hope exists as a means of dealing with our powerlessness as humans who know we will die.

Sorry if it seems like I am playing word games, but what you describe sounds more like confidence…or perhaps faith that if one follows the wisdom of the Dhamma, then one’s actions will bring lovely fruit.
Happy to be here, I wish you love.

Rosie,

This is a really interesting discussion and has sort of teased out a few different threads of direction for me…

…so please don’t apologise! :slight_smile:

Yes, I thought this too. But felt a distinction between the two and so felt confident to post as I did.

Your comment has sent me on a deeper trek into these two emotions.

Faith - even before I knew why or much about Dhamma - was never hard for me. It was a soft emotion that was easy to bring up. Hope, for me and in relation to Dhamma, is a new emotion. At present I see faith as a bridge between hope and wisdom.

This morning I played with observing these two emotions in meditation and faith has, for me, a quality of stillness that hope (which feels more active) doesn’t have. Faith is a sort of bright, soft, energetic thing.

Hope, based in the third Truth, is still tinged with that movement and vibration that comes with it’s coarse, often ugly, cousin based in the second Truth. It is the type of emotion, that perhaps at it’s least refined, an addict can relate to.

I think somewhere in the Suttas, Ven Ananda says that one has to use craving to overcome craving in an ultimate sense.

This is in evidence in many aspects of the 4th Noble Truth, i.e. the 8 Fold Path. Here, the energy of the 2nd Truth is used in combination with the Truth of the 3rd one. If I may elucidate a very little…?

Right View: there are wholesome and unwholesome states and these have specific root causes.
Right Effort: focus on learning how to activate these root causes as a support for our practice but also to benefit others

The entire Path really is about this. To reduce it to a statement that really doesn’t give enough detail: it’s about a focus on the positives.

Right Intention, Speech, Action and Livelihood: these 4 really take into account the fact that we can’t just look exclusively at the First Noble Truth. Otherwise, we’d curl up into a ball and never arise again. And to no avail because craving and ignorance propels us onwards to further suffering any way.

These 4 acknowledge that we must be in society. To whatever extent. We must interact with our environment and other beings. These externals mirror back the kamma we make and create the inner world that we must then interact with. So they aren’t about fixing society or the environment - because that is not in our hands except incidentally and perhaps accidentally, though often it appears deliberate. Actually, the primary motivation with these guidelines on how to interact with the outside world, is about the impact it has on our inner world.

Right Mindfulness: A much misunderstood thing. But one aspect of it is that it includes a quality of remembering what must be done. One knows as one goes along within the parameters of this factor, that one is going along correctly and one can feel the impact of this upon oneself. The more I observe this, the more hopeful I feel.

I always, weirdly, had faith in this Path and it’s potential for me; I had, and have, my imperfect faith in the Triple Gem.

But this hope is different. Before I felt myself waiting…not knowing why it wasn’t working for me in a way that I could see it continuing to. Why was it quite so stop start!? Frustration bred anxiety and hopelessness.

I’ve a long way to go. But now, I’m ok with that and I feel hopeful about this undertaking. I can see it’s working within me, gradually but surely. I can see I need to keep at - this is the condition. It’s a conditional and conditioned hope. But it’s hope. I have hope for myself as an emotional, spiritual being in a way I didn’t have before.

I see examples of how this kind of inner hope creates sturdy individuals who are empowered to act in the world - creating safe havens for others who can then in turn have the supported space to also grow their inner life. This gives me an external sense of hope - one I know is less reliable but still classified under wholesome states I think.

One person that comes to mind is the Dalai Lama. I am not a Tibetan Buddhist but I admire that after all he’s been through he continues with grace, gentleness and engages authority non-violently and persistently.

Another example is a little closer to home, but only in that someone in my family helped raise money for a person who was severely and perhaps permanently injured and had a family. We learned that all the colleagues who worked with him, at a financial institution, all contributed money from their own salaries, so that his family could still have his previous salary coming in. And the workplace was also assisting with transport to hospital. This is evidence of hope working in the world.

In both these real world cases, hope comes outward from inner places in individual hearts that have used it to some degree to resource themselves emotionally and spiritually.

I think spiritual hope is a rung on a ladder, as you climb up, you let go of the lower ones. (This is an old simile of Ajahn Brahm’s which I’m sort of re-purposing). It gets you to the cushion (or chair or whatever) and helps along the way whilst there - you can feel that energy. But at some point I think we let go of this too and move on to a more refined, yet also resourcing, emotion.

Hope is a quality perpetually separated from its goal. But it keeps me Practising.

Faith seems deeper, quieter, more linked in with a sense of deep trust and a feeling of knowing something is ‘so’. I think faith becomes deeper and deeper, more automatic. I think it starts off, like hope, as a useful important crutch; but unlike hope, I think it becomes a side effect that grows and grows without our deliberate intention for it to do so.

Thank you Rosie for the conversation.

With gratitude and metta :heartpulse: :pray:t5:

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It’s odd actually, because I remember when this was something I didn’t want to face at all. I had less hope at that time. Now, I don’t believe I am fully facing it; but I am facing it and the reality of impermanence alot more than I ever did before. Yet I have more hope.

I know, on some level, I will die. Whatever is or isn’t beyond that, I can’t say I know. But I have hope in my ability to face that now or if it comes now. The catch is, I have to keep being ethically, kind," in the now".

But it’s only little old hope, useful and to be used; it’s not the end of the path.

Hope, as an emotion, offers no guarantees. In facing that too, I find, rather oddly, that I have more hope! It offers no guarantees because there are none - except those that the Buddha offers, but those are conditional upon our actions. But if seen for what it can be, a tool in our emotional-spiritual tool kit, it can be useful.

In my own experience, I found that it was making Practice a more consistent, frequent priority in my life that brought it to life. Part of this process was dismantling more of that desire to want and consume and control my outer life. I still do of course - it’s part of living in this world - but so much less than I used to. Living more simply and with less and more regular time with eyes closed have been key; I know if I let up on any of these conditions - hope and it’s usefulness will disappear very fast.

Well, I think that’s about all I’ve got on that now! I hope it helps! :slight_smile:

:heartpulse:

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Only if you give it up. If you’ve reached sorrow and disillusionment then you are no longer hopeful. So one answer might be, don’t give up hope. Cultivate unconditional hope for all beings.

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“Bhikkhus, there are these three kinds of persons found existing in the world. What three? The one without expectation, the one full of expectation, and the one who has overcome expectation.

2(1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the person without expectation? Here, a person has been reborn in a low family—a family of caṇḍālas, bamboo workers, hunters, cart makers, or flower scavengers—one that is poor, with little food and drink, that subsists with difficulty, where food and clothing are obtained with difficulty; and he is ugly, unsightly, dwarfish, with much illness: blind, crippled, lame, or paralyzed. He does not obtain food, drink, clothing, and vehicles; garlands, scents, and unguents; bedding, housing, and lighting. He hears: ‘The khattiyas have anointed such and such a khattiya.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will the khattiyas anoint me too?’ This is called the person without expectation.

3(2) “And what is the person full of expectation? Here, the eldest son of a head-anointed khattiya king, one due to be anointed but not yet anointed, has attained the unshaken. He hears: ‘The khattiyas have anointed such and such a khattiya.’ It occurs to him: ‘When will the khattiyas anoint me too?’ This is called the person full of expectation.

4(3) “And what is the person who has overcome expectation? Here, a head-anointed khattiya king hears: ‘Such and such a khattiya has been anointed by the khattiyas.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will the khattiyas anoint me too?’ For what reason? Because his past expectation of anointment subsided when he was anointed. This is called the person who has overcome expectation.

5“These are the three kinds of persons found existing in the world.

6“So too, bhikkhus, there are three kinds of persons found existing among the bhikkhus. What three? The one without expectation, the one full of expectation, and the one who has overcome expectation.

7(1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the person without expectation? Here, some person is immoral, of bad character, of impure and suspect behavior, secretive in his actions, not an ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. He hears: ‘Such and such a bhikkhu, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will I, too, with the destruction of the taints, realize for myself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwell in it?’ This is called the person without expectation.

8(2) “And what is the person full of expectation? Here, a bhikkhu is virtuous, of good character. He hears: ‘Such and such a bhikkhu, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it.’ It occurs to him: ‘When will I, too, with the destruction of the taints, realize for myself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwell in it?’ This is called the person full of expectation.

9(3) “And what is the person who has overcome expectation? Here, a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed. He hears: ‘Such and such a bhikkhu, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will I, too, with the destruction of the taints, realize for myself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwell in it?’ For what reason? Because his past expectation of liberation subsided when he was liberated. This is called the person who has overcome expectation.

10“These, bhikkhus, are the three kinds of persons found existing among the bhikkhus.”

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I found MN50 oddly hopeful. Here, Māra Dūsī roasted spitted in hell for 50 thousand years, slowly being pierced by 100 stakes:

MN50:22.3: Then the wardens of hell came to me and said, ‘When stake meets stake in your heart, you will know that you’ve been roasting in hell for a thousand years.’

And yet, since he went to hell, one day he would leave. There is hope in that.

DN14:3.11.7: ‘Everything that has a beginning has an end.’

Sometimes it takes 50 thousand years to overcome expectation.