Hope is a good thing

by admin Feb 26, 2006 15 Comments

Filed under: Knowledge,Moment of Zen,Zen

This article can also be read at thelittleendian.com.

Hope is a good thing–maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies.–Stephen King (The Shawshank Redemption)

Just finished watching The Shawshank Redemption, for perhaps the 4th or 5th time. What struck me this time? Stephen King can really invent good and evil at the same time. More importantly however, what stayed with me was the quote about Hope.

It is true, hope is such a good thing. Just like love, it never dies either. Each one of us lives by at least one hope. Some of use hope to make a better living, many hope to travel to an exotic place some day, most of us hope things will improve from however they are (good or bad) and it would be safe to say that all of us (republicans, democrats and immigrants) hope to pay fewer taxes this year.

Hope is probably the life blood of healthy, progressive human psychology. When there is nothing else, there is always hope. But more that just being an inner voice, an implicit force, and a solid support, hope is a great tool, perhaps the most overlooked one.

Winston Churchill was perhaps the most consummate craftsman of this tool. His now famous and admirable broadcasts during the second world war not only gave hope to his countrymen and army but helped take that hope to another level, known as faith, and help a people persevere through some of the worst times in British history. Not having known the man personally, I would have to speculate a little. But he would have to have had an ocean of hope and positivity within him to source it to the entire nation like that. What a monument to positive thinking?

Hope does get a bad name, though. Not because it has any bad characteristics in and of itself. I think hope gets a bad name because of lazy people. Hope without action, is only a wish.

People express hope in different ways. Most people tell others they care, about their hopes. Prayer is a another way to express hope to an unknown being. For a few though, hopes transform into actions. Those who take up a hope and make it their mission, those who follow a series of actions, form a strategy and address the solution that lies within their hope, are names you and I and everyone gets to hear of.


  • KarmaDude

    Feb 27, 2006 | 5:33 pm

    I guess I am not the only one who has seen that movie too many times, and I love that quote from Shawshank Redemptiom, always makes me think.

    But I like your inspection of hope

    “Hope without action, is only a wish.”

    What you say makes a lot of sense—we all hope for things, but unless we act on them, all hope can do is make us feel a little better. But the karma of hope can be a lot more powerful.

  • the little endian

    Feb 27, 2006 | 9:36 pm

    Karmadude, First of all thank you very much for the opportunity to write on your site.

    Yes, I do agree with you in that the karma of hope is indeed a lot more powerful. While stating that

    Hope without action, is only a wish

    I was merely trying to defend the virtue of Hope from those who make it appear weaker than it is.

    That brings up a good question though. Are feelings that inherrently “good”, inherrently innocent, what some would call ‘naive’ or even ‘foolish’, such as love and hope, are these feelings essentially for the weak? Do they exist solely in the minds of those of us who are weaker than those who do not need the support of such feelings? Or is it that this is just a function of the level of optimism and pessimism within us? Or rather the level of romanticism and rationalism within us?

  • A dude

    Feb 28, 2006 | 8:42 pm

    Why do we hope at all? Isn’t it because somehow the present is without charm and therefore we project the future where fulfillment is at hand? And we live all our lives in hope – of something better and always in the future. What happens when there’s no hope? By this I don’t mean despair or hopelessness as it’s known to us but rather the absence of the longing for fulfillment in the future. Isn’t hope’s trickery then exposed?

  • the little endian

    Feb 28, 2006 | 10:13 pm

    We hope to alleviate uncertainty.

    I hope that someone will read the article I posted, not just because I will eventually derive satisfaction and acceptance that someone read the article. While that may still be true, that is the end result of fulfillment of that hope. My hope though, stems from the knowledge that I don’t know if anyone will read the article I posted.

    Few years down the road, when I have established myself as a writer, and I get regular readership, I start to expect that someone will surely read my article. There is no notion of hope, for there is no need for one.

    We all live our lives in hope and we live all our lives in hope, because all throughout our lives we are faced with situations of uncertainty.

    When there is no uncertainty, then there is no need for hope and thus we move on. The ultimate end to this chain of “hope inducing” events that we call life, is the end of life itself. Within this metaphysical existence, as I understand it, there is no uncertainty after death – properly put, I have no need for hope stemming from uncertainty after I am dead.

    There is no trickery in hope, only warm fuzzies.

  • A dude

    Mar 2, 2006 | 8:35 pm

    Uncertainty created by hope surely. One hopes for outcomes and they in turn create anxiety and that in turn fuels further hope. And when the desired outcome does not materialise, despair sets in and the new cycle of hope begins.
    Life itself has nothing to do with hope. Life can never be known. All we can know is what has been imposed on us by our surroundings, by society, by the whole movement of the past.

  • Amit

    Mar 3, 2006 | 8:25 am

    Nice blog!

    It’s such a strange movie to love (which I do too) because it is about prisoners and in particular the survival of one innocent man within that prison. But on a deeper level, because it transends just the mere physical represenation of prison life, and challenges the intellect into thinking about issues like hope, love and a lot more to boot.

    I’ve seen it at least two or three times and everytime I can’t help but hold back the odd tear (which I’m not afraid to admit) especially when you see him going through that sewage pipe!

    You’re so right, sometimes there is nothing but the hope of some greater event or glory and that in itself and push you that little bit harder to achieve!

    Keep up the blogs guys! 🙂


  • the little endian

    Mar 3, 2006 | 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the comment A Dude. But here’s the paradox that confronts me, when I read your comment:

    Each one of us comes into being, and in a fairly short amount of time (by the age of 2 or 3) starts expecting to be busy at something, anything. I have a 18 month old daughter. She’s full of life and energy and love. The best part about her is she’s always busy (as all children of her age usually are). She’s either playing with some toys, or singing (or both) or running around the house. She “expects” to work – sure at her age the “work” is really all having fun. But as she grows, she becomes more and more “busy” doing real “work”. Isn’t she entitled to “expect” an “outcome” from all this activity.

    I am not even going to call it “effort” but just activity. Every activity has its goal – even if it is spiritual. When you meditate the goal is to calm your mind, loose all thought, in essence the goal is to forget all goals for that time during meditation.

    What are goals other than expectations of “outcome”?

    Going back, thus, if our whole essence of existence is in pursuit of outcomes why does hoping for a certain outcome amount to trickery?

    Perhaps you are confusing “expectation” to be “hope”.

    I understand “hope” to be something beyond “expectation”. Some thing more than I deserve !! Perhaps, just perhaps, “hope” is really a glorified or subliminal form of “greed”. A benign way to want more.

    As for your observations on life – and life being “unknowable” – I am not sure I understand what you mean by that. Can you be more elaborate? I would love to understand.

    Thanks again for your comments!

  • KarmaDude

    Mar 3, 2006 | 1:09 pm

    the little indian and A Dude, I feel the urge to get into the debate that’s going on between you, but I think I will sit back and enjoy it for now, both of you bring to light very fresh and thought provoking arguments.

    Amit glad you liked our blog, and thanks for the encouragement. I don’t know about tears, but I have felt spellbound by some of the scenes in the movie, especially the captivating ending.

  • A dude

    Mar 3, 2006 | 7:36 pm

    Can the distinction between hope and expectation be drawn? Do they not arise simultaneously? The moment the expectation of an outcome arises, hope is there already. Perhaps the sense in which you’re using hope is for the fulfillments that you long for and that you know may never happen (and yet are within the realm of possibility) but would be oh so nice to have. However these are extremely subjective (my hope, in this sense, for something might seem mundane to Paul Allen, for instance) and no distinctions can or need be drawn.

    Desire is the cause of all action and action is undertaken only for its fulfillment. We can “know” life only along this axis. Life exists and countless beings have searched for a so-called meaning and have come a cropper. In being there’s no knowing and in aligning with life, one simply is – in this “is-ness” if you will, knowledge is suspended as it were; there’s no knower who knows anything.

    Whether one hopes or not, life goes on marching along merrily to its own rhythm. The “knower” can only react and in that reaction he misses beats of the rhythm and he’s ever out of sync.

    As for your daughter, I’m not so convinced that she has as many expectations now as she will do later. The very knowledge that you (have) put into her (your view of how the world works – and this is the same as society’s or culture’s view) will change her consciousness of the world and her place in it.

  • Amit

    Mar 4, 2006 | 1:42 am

    This is turning out to be quite an interesting debate and so I would like to contribute my two cents and present a clear distinction of the difference between hope and expection as I see it.

    When someone mentions or says aloud the word “hope” or “expectation” they will mean something different to all of us. The sound associated with the words will conjour visions and images in the mind based upon experiences that we’ve had in the past or are experiencing within this very moment.

    So to understand this deeper, I sat down with my laptop infront of me and started writing but then I lost my focus, so I took a step back away from my laptop, closed my eyes, centered my mind, my body and my soul and then asked the universe about those two words and their meaning and here are the answers that I got.

    Hope – The Desired result of and event, before energy has been put into the event itself. E.g. – I hope for world peace – but I have yet to do anything about it yet. So the hope is there but I have yest to put into action any event upon which to bring about world peace.

    Expectation – is the desired result after I have already put an event into motion and have completed. (which is why expectation is so bad, because is destroys the powerful energy of hope that initiated the event). I can think of one clear examples which is a bit of silly one but I am so guilty of. That is when I’ve been to the gym. I am so guilty of “expecting” to loose weight after going to the gym for just one session and of course that is never going to happen and so that expectation can destroy my hope of being fit and healthy which was my initial hope before I even began my training.

    I’m not sure if any of that has made sense but when I’m posed with a question that involves deep definition particulary in the difference of two powerful words such as hope and expectation I have to consult my subconscious and get a clearer understanding of what they mean for me.

    As I said earlier, these words will always hold different meanings for all of us based on our experience of them and that is the beauty that I see in the world. We all see things with different vision, our reality will always be different and unique which is one of the things that I will always love about this planet.

  • A dude

    Mar 4, 2006 | 8:02 am

    Perhaps one could give a mathematical definition of hope.

    Hope (H) + Expectation (E) = 1.

    If E is 0.01 (for world peace) then H= .99 (one mostly hopes).
    If E=.99 (I’ll get up tomorrow morning) then H = 0.01 (who’s hoping?!)
    And so on for other events/outcomes.
    One may even have subjective weightings x and y such that
    xH + yE =1 where x and y are based only on the individual in question!!

  • Amit

    Mar 4, 2006 | 5:22 pm

    Are you saying that hope and expectation are co dependent in a sense and that one cannot exist without the other? If so, I disagree, I believe that are totally different.

  • KarmaDude

    Mar 13, 2006 | 11:09 am

    Here is a quote by Epicurus which I came across today:

    Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

  • the little endian

    Mar 14, 2006 | 1:02 am

    Its very easy to confuse between hopes and dreams or hopes and wishes. That which one cannot control, one can dream or wish for. That which has the potential to be a direct result of ones actions is worthy of hope. Amit had an example of “World Peace”. He hopes for World Peace. I think this is optimistic at best. There is no hope for world peace, one can only wish for it. For example, if Amit started to act on this wish and working towards achieving world peace, the goal is so lofty, that for him to hope that his efforts will actually lead to the achievement of this goal are unrealistic. He can continue to wish for World Peace and have satisfaction in the knowledge that he did something about it. This is not to discourage Amit from working towards a rather admirable goal, but to make a point. The point being it is easy to confuse between whats attainable and whats not. Thus, dreams can become hopes and vice versa depending upon the psychology of the person. What Amit’s statement tells me that Amit is an optimistic person, for he truly hopes that if he works towards it, World Peace is achievable.

    On the other hand, some pessimistic person (not me) may think that I wish there was World Peace in this world, but there is no point on me doing anything about it. Therefore it remains as a wish – subconsciously even. There is no hope.

    Thus, hope is a positive feeling. A lot like love, it is benign, genuine and perhaps pure. Some folks are labeled to be fools in love. Others may be labeled as dreamers. The dreamers who beleive in their dream and plan for it, convert their dreams into hopes, and in some cases into reality (at least they come close).

    There is another important aspect to hope. And that is Will. There is no Will associated with a wish (unless it is a very very strong wish). However, there is will power behind hope. And as they say, where there is a will, there is a way. A hopeful person, therefore, has the hope (no pun intended) to find a way. A hopeless person has descended into the darkness of pessimism and therefore has lost the will to find a way.

    All in all, I do not agree that hope has any trickery associated with it. Rightfully acknowledged by many before me, hope is the one pure feeling that drives a human being in his/her continuous pursuit for excellence.

  • Counterjumper » Mov&hellip

    Nov 9, 2006 | 4:25 pm

    […] Both counterjumper.com and karmadude.com have been restored from my backups, which were a couple of weeks old, and so there is some data loss, but not as severe as I thought it would be. I have recovered some of the lost data, but I have lost some of the recent posts. I am hoping eleven2 will be able to recover some of the lost data. If you notice any weird behavior or dead links, do let me know, so I can resolve it. […]

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