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Hope is as Hollow as Fear

Wed, Jul 03, 2019 at 1:00AM

Written by: Ben Fairbrother 

Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

 

Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell, Chapter 13

It also happens to be from my favorite page in the entire book. If you talk to me at length, there is a high probability that I mention this book or a quote from it. Each page is a chapter, that appropriately captures the depth of the ideas on each page.

Oftentimes hope is seen as a very good thing, vital for continuing on or struggling through hard times. We use it as a way to motivate ourselves with ideas of the future, that it will be better by gaining something then which is perceived as lacking right now.

Yet this book equates hope with fear, what could they be getting at?

Hope and fear are two sides of the same coin, they both stem from attachment to the idea of the self. Hope largely represents attachment to ideas and imaginations of a better future, while fear represents attachment to ideas and imaginations that those hopes don’t come true and that unfavorable situations will manifest instead.

Quite literally, hope and fear build off each other. They relate to either gaining or losing worldly possessions, experiences, or relationships.

I have noticed that the more I hope for something, the more potential I find for fear. By projecting myself into the future through hope and its imaginations, I set the stage for fear to alter those imaginations from a happy ending to a sad one. When I focus on the future, I make myself vulnerable.

So if not hope, then what?

Trust.

Where hope and fear are hollow, trust is solid. It is firmly rooted in the present, leaving no room for fear.

I find it helps to remind myself that I got here, to this moment, just fine despite all of the hopes and fears of my life. There is always the potential along the way for any number of things to happen, those will be dealt with in the moment as they arise. In fact, the most significant lessons I have learned in life have come from great adversity, so why should I be fearful of it?

By trusting in the way things are, I release attachment to the outcome of my action. Attachment to the outcome is the root of both hope and fear.

Instead of projecting my consciousness into the future, I use it in the present so that I may take the best action available. That is the most I can do to direct and create my experience of life, and it is all that is ever needed.

In conclusion, the Tao tells us to:

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

 

Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell, Chapter 13

  • Hope is as Hollow as Fear

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