“Hope is hearing the melody of the future. Faith is dancing to it.” Rubern Alves
Both optimism and pessimism can be understood as stories we construct to help us cope. They are expressions of the small, fear-based self. Optimism deals with fear by selecting out and reducing reality to only those experiences and interpretations that make us feel good. Pessimism deals with fear by selecting out and reducing reality to only those experiences and interpretations that confirm our bleak outlook. (Paradoxically, this provides a kind of sanctuary of equanimity where I am no longer buffeted about by the ambiguities and uncertainties of the real world.) Both end up being a refusal to engage the world as it is. We bring it down a notch, to a size that our small self can manage.
I am imagining hope as an alternative to both. But this hope must be grounded, not in another story we tell ourselves to help the small self cope, but in our own direct experience of Reality. Hope must be shaped in gnosis, a knowing that includes, but is beyond reason, if it is to have functional power in our lives. We have sufficiently identified with the creativity and resiliency of the evolving universe so that we refuse to underestimate this power. We realize that this Spirit-animated cosmos has come through many ordeals in its 13.7 billion years. It is unwise to ever count Spirit out.
With this in mind (and in heart) we may proclaim our sacred stories — such as the gospel — not as a system of beliefs, but as a narrative that corresponds with our own experience and with the evolving story of the universe. This gives it power and authority. Authentic hope is the fruit of Big Self (True Self) grounded in the experience of the Holy One and Holy Oneness working through an evolutionary cosmos, and through us as occasions of that creativity and love.
As people of Spirit, we begin with first principles. These orient ourselves to reality as it comes to us, on a daily basis, in the news, in our relationships, and in the dreaded medical report. Start with the Mind and Heart of God pouring itself out in the creative project of fashioning a world. This fashioning is an inside job and the strategy for birthing this emergent world we have come to call evolution. Track the evolution, through deep time, from the Great Radiance, to the formation of galaxies, our solar system, Earth, life, animals, and human life. Now, realize that this evolutionary unfolding has an interior dimension. Consciousness is also complexifying, growing a heart, expanding into the Mind and Heart of the Ever Present Origin, always and everywhere emerging. You are That.
Try not to race by those last three words. You are That. Breathe. Ok, we’re in Big Self.
This is not an abstraction or a romantic ideal. You are the presence in human form of Infinite Potential experiencing Its/His/Her own manifestation in the world of form and consciousness. When we get this directly — get that this spiraling dynamism is animating us from the inside, seeking to be the True Source of our security, the Artist of all our creativity, the Will that guides our personal will, the Unconditional Love that is the context for our personal loves, the Vocational Arousal that shapes what we should do with our lives, the Mind that is expressed only partially through reason, and the Consciousness that connects us to All That Is — then we know what it is to feel hope.
We feel hope from the inside-out because this Presence, Creativity, Love, Will, and Intelligence will never stop being what It is or doing what It does. Never. Of course, it will stop doing and being eventually in, through, and as the particular self-organizing process and occasion that I call Bruce (fill in your own name), or that we call Earth in all Earth’s various forms and processes. But when we begin to increasingly identify with All of That, we begin to take a God’s-Eye perspective. This doesn’t less our passion to be agents of conscious evolution in the domains of self, culture, ecology, and in socio-political arena. Rather, this becomes our prime directive. But it does shift our modus operandi from one of anxious striving to patient and loving allurement.
Heart and Mind is undeniably, irrepressibly bringing forth new worlds, and I would say a new species. We are living through a transitional time when this awesome Creativity, this glorious Love, this Infinite Potential — the same Power that animated Jesus of Nazareth — is birthing a new kind of human presence. You are That.
Reoriented in our Deep Self, we take life as it comes to us. We learn to suspend judgment (this is good, this is bad). We simply feel all that comes our way. We may be devastated. We may be elated. We feel whatever is ours to feel and then take it all into this coursing, animating, evolving Dynamism of evolving Heart and Mind as information for our learning. We resist making up a story that issues in the small self orientation of pessimism or optimism.
Last night I listened to a CBC radio program featuring four of the world’s most distinguished economists. Two thought that we could continue to grow the economy and green the planet. The other two disagreed. But hope was present in the collective intelligence represented by this conversation. Universe and Earth was showing up in these brilliant people rising up to meet the challenge of our time. It’s this collective dimension of evolutionary intelligence is a force that we chronically underestimate.
We return to Source, and feel directly the undeniable urge to show up as the presence of this evolutionary intelligence in holy conversations across the planet. We choose into the unique future that needs us to emerge, and we do this over and over again, day by day, minute by minute in response to all that comes our way. And as we learn this practice of remembering (our identity), reorienting (which gives us a map), and responding (on purpose), we evolve into the very presence of Hope. And then we proclaim the gospel, burning with hope (as disciples of the Fire who is the Christ). “He is alive!” Yes, and She is calling us to transcend the discourse of despair and the false hope of optimism to take life as it comes, and fashion from it an offering of our lives to future generations, human and other than human. And as we do, a river of eternal creativity, love, and power flows through us.
We remember that from within an evolutionary paradigm it is the presence of crises and potential cataclysm that will evoke the necessary intelligences to keep the adventure going. None of this comes with a guarantee. We could choose darkness. But there is a track record of creative advance into increasing complexity, consciousness, and empathy. As a spiritual practice we might return regularly to that story of deep time and the story of how the same light that shone in Jesus, now lights us up as future-forgers.
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