Hope is emotionally necessary in a crisis. It’s one of the chief ways our minds protect us. Yet hope has a hard time being felt when every disaster is instantly communicated around the world. And hope is rarely pure. It is always mixed in the tangled hierarchy with other emotions, including those opposed to hope, such as despair, fear, anger, and vengeance.
Because of this tangle, hope has often been a cloak for violence. We have lost touch with the reality of hope, which is a powerful force when it has a spiritual source but a deception when it doesn’t.
When hope serves as a means to reach deeper into yourself than anyone could predict, or than anyone believes possible, it is a spiritual force. There are certain hallmarks of remarkable recoveries: The person is without fear. There is a belief in an extraordinary outcome. The search for a cure doesn’t depend on outside opinions. Often there is an unshakable certainty that a cure will be found.
These same qualities apply to any situation that is considered hopeless by the majority of observers. To rekindle hope, one must find a path to the extraordinary. This requires a shift in oneself.
The trick is not to despair, and yet since we despair so quickly in our current condition, avoiding despair can only happen by going deeper into the spiritual value of hope.
The Sufi mystic and teacher Meher Baba once remarked, “The only prerequisite for enlightenment is complete disillusion.” Illusion keeps us in the grip of denial. It coaxes us to rely on our false friends instead of our true ones. If you can see with open eyes when hope is a false friend, you are moving ahead spiritually, because spirit doesn’t need hope once it can have reality instead.
Adapted from Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).