Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of January 2, 2012

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Hope

(Sacred Impulses: Facet 2 of 8)

The universe is not indifferent. The Sacred Impulse of Hope has been defined as the growing perception that the Divine power, the Force that creates and sustains this universe, is benevolent, not just in a general sense, but personally benevolent to each of us. Hope is our sense that the Creator cares about us, about you and about me.

Obviously, hope connects us with the future. It is hope that allows us to set goals, start projects, and work toward their culmination. It is hope that allows us to marry and have children. Hope gives us the optimistic attitude that, despite the inherent uncertainties, despite the entropic inevitability of decay, dissolution, and breakdown of all that we know, despite all that can go wrong, the future, our own future, will go well, will be good and positive, will bring us further fulfillment.

Yet this is not a matter of trusting in blind luck, for we can make our own luck by our intelligent and determined work. Hope gives us a sense of possibility, of opportunity, which we can meet, not by lazily waiting for our lottery number to come up, but by creatively and persistently working our way toward a better future. Indeed the worst aberration of hope is procrastination, followed closely by gambling, excessive risk-taking — including smoking — and unrealistic expectations about the future. Lotteries are popular because they sell hope.

The future may be broken into several domains. One gives us the determined or almost-determined future that may be predicted with high probability, such as tomorrow’s sunrise. Another is the partially determined future, such as the one that is influenced by our choices, some conditioned by habit and circumstance and others free and creative within the bounds of rational action.

The third domain is the unpredictable future. This includes the results of the nearly infinite complexity of the world, from all the interactions among its various parts and inhabitants: the butterfly effect of a wing-flap here causing a hurricane there, the choices made by any and all of the billions of people on this planet, the gyrations of uncontrolled, broad-based markets, and so on. Hope is mainly about this unpredictable future. Because it is inherently uncertain and unpredictable, we sense that it is open to the influence of higher powers as well as to our own concerted and persistent action. Where higher powers can intervene, there is room for Hope.

After Pandora released all the evils from her box, one powerful, countervailing factor remained behind, namely Hope. We open ourselves to Hope and allow Hope to inform our inner world, to affect our choices, to usher us toward our future with confidence. We go forward doing what needs doing, what we can do, and what we choose to do. With Hope in our heart, we try and try again, we practice and practice more, we learn and assimilate new knowledge and skills, and we put all that to good use. Hope is a beacon of the Sacred. When we can hope wholeheartedly for something, without our conscience taking exception to any selfish motivations behind that hope, then Hope does indeed align us with the Sacred.

Whereas wish is about aspirations, hope is about possibilities. Hope perceives that what we seek is actually possible for us. Thus hope reinvigorates our wish and our efforts to actualize what we hope for. If we are ill, we hope to be restored to health, but we also pursue medical care and lifestyle changes as necessary. If we have goal and have hope of achieving it, then we work indefatigably toward it.

In the spiritual path, one way to look at hope is as the impulse that connects us with our possibility of the Sacred entering us. Many things must happen for that, including purification and completion of our soul. Hope keeps us focused on that possibility as a real possibility.

For this week, look at the role of hope in your life.


     

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