Beyond Hope and Fear


You may, along with many others, be feeling anxious, and unsettled. It's important to manage your fear and not let it run wild. And it may be helpful to see fear and hope as two sides of the same coin. Both have to do with expectations you have about the future. Those future events have not yet happened. And none of us really knows what will happen in the next moment. The heart of our lives, is our living which unfolds moment by moment. 

When you are gripped by fear, you expect something catastrophic to happen in the future. All of us have this voice of the lawyer that imagines the worst case scenario. If you give this voice too much power, it can become a bad habit. Fear is very powerful, so you need to manage this fear and notice with mindfulness that it's almost always about some projection you are making about something that hasn't yet happened. 

Hope is also about some expectation you have. You are hoping that something better may happen in the future. But again, you really don't know. And if that expectation doesn't arrive, you will probably be very disappointed or even angry. 

So let go of hope and fear. Do you really need either to live your life? Do you need either one to fix your breakfast in the morning? Perhaps it would be helpful to reduce your life down to small steps. Pay attention to what is happening in front of you. 

A regular meditation practice will serve you well. It will help you be more mindful of how you project into the future. It will help ground you when the world around you seems to have turned upside down. 

And finally, it's important that you take good care of yourself. Often when we are discouraged or despairing, we can be very hard on ourselves and those around us. So be gentle with yourself and others. Don't isolate yourself.

At our Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago, we have weekly public meditations as well as a wonderful Sunday Morning Zen program where you can meet warm-hearted, like minded friends who can help support you in these difficult times. 

Roshi Robert Althouse