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!
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