Finding Hope in the Face of Yet Another Senseless #Shooting

After the latest horrific shooting, this time at a #Jewishsynagogue, most of my social media friends have understandably been losing their minds. And it’s easy to see why. So, I feel a little like an unwelcome guest at a honeymoon when I talk about the importance of finding #hope.

As a relatively sincere Jewish Buddhist (on Halloween, we’re called JewBoo’s), I looked for encouraging words. The Rabbi of Lelov, according to the book The Spiritualism of Imperfection, said to his Hasidim:

“A man cannot be redeemed until he recognizes the flaws in his soul and tries to mend them. A nation cannot be redeemed until it recognizes the flaws in its soul and tries to mend them. Whoever permits no recognition of his flaws, be it man or nation, permits no redemption. We can be redeemed to the extent to which we recognize ourselves.”

My Buddhist mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, said, “If we could see it, there’d be no need for trust or hope. But, hope is not avoiding what is going on in the world. Instead, fostering hope involves looking directly at our reality and making the decision to improve it.”

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A nice place to find hope — image by the author

He continued with, “The kind of hope I am referring to is not grounded in wishful thinking. In fact, powerful hope — what’s been called ‘active hope’ — may not be possible without going through despair. It is during the darkest days that we need to persevere — trusting that hope is ahead. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us. And our capacity for hope can actually be expanded and strengthened by these difficult circumstances. Hope begins from this challenge, this effort to strive toward an ideal, however distant it may seem.”

I believe that the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather, it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up on our own possibilities for growth.

The problems that face our world are daunting in their depth and complexity. Sometimes it may be hard to see where or how to begin. But let’s not be paralyzed by despair. Instead, I think we need to take action toward the goals we have set and in which we believe. Rather than passively accepting things as they are, we must embark on the challenge of creating a new reality. It is in that effort that true, undying hope is to be found.

Václav Havel (pronunciation: Vatslav Heh-vell), in his essay, “Orientation of the Heart,” describes hope as “a state of mind, not a state of the world.” Further, Havel says hope allows one to live with “dignity and meaning” in situations where both are in short supply, for example in his experience of Soviet suppression under seemingly impossible circumstances.

Another aspect of active hope is the importance of setting a course that benefits as many people in the world as possible. Ikeda, has said, “If you have wisdom alone and lack compassion, it will be a cold perverse wisdom. If you have compassion alone and lack wisdom, you cannot give happiness to others.”

As difficult as it is, I’m going to continue to try to contribute a little more each day to a more harmonious and peaceful society. And to remember as

Gandhi said, “Good travels at a snail’s pace.”

Hope is a promise that the worst thing is not the last thing. This promise, that there is always a way out of the muddy swamp of daily life, can give us the power to proceed. And is what we mean when we talk about hope as a resource deep within us that has the power to transform ourselves and the world around us.

Through a persistent spiritual practice, maybe a therapist or two, and good friends, we can manifest our more enlightened nature. The choice is ours. And that is why we should never lose hope!

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