Free Yourself from Hope

The hope that there’s somewhere or someone better to be imprisons us. Without giving up hope, we will never relax with where or who we are.

I am abandoning hope. With tears in my eyes I listened to a beautiful book reading of Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart today. The last few days I felt lost. I was searching for meaning, and when I couldn’t find it, for external validation in the shape of thumbs and hearts. I felt unhappy with where I am in my life. It simply wasn’t good enough.

We are in a collective crisis of sorts, facing an uncertain future. Chödrön writes, “Anyone who stands at the edge of the unknown, fully in presence without reference point, experiences groundlessness. The present moment is a vulnerable place, completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time.” Hearing these words broke the spell for me. I could finally permit myself to give up trying to know. I felt exhausted, but relieved.

In Tibetan there is a word for this: ye tang che. It means “totally worn out”. It describes an experience of complete hopelessness, of completely giving up hope. When we abandon our hope for our imagined, projected future, suffering begins to dissolve.

I realized hope imprisoned me. The hope that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be. If we are willing to give up hope that uncertainty and pain can be exterminated, we can have the courage to face the groundlessness of our situation. Without giving up hope, we will never relax with where or who we are.

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