Is hope a distraction?

I enjoy watching the “Last Airbender” cartoons with my children. I enjoy the series because they do a good and reasonably accurate job of presenting principles related to mindfulness and interdependence. I was watching one episode with my kids this last weekend, where Ang, the young monk avatar, made a statement that has been bouncing around in my head and thoughts ever since. Ang said that the monks (by whom he was raised and trained) used to say that “hope is a distraction.”

That statement caused me to ponder. Hope is such an important concept in so many cultures and religions, as well as in the practical living of one’s life. As I have bounced the idea around in my head I have come to see the truth that hope can be a distraction, depending upon what it is that is the focus of one’s hope. If one is hoping (i.e. desiring) for present circumstances to be different than they are, well then I would have to agree: “hope is a distraction from what actually is.” As a person who practices elements buddhism/taoism, my goal is to increasingly be mindful and aware of what is, to let go of the things to which I cling or seek to avoid, to
be balanced, compassionate and loving to all sentient beings in the present. Anything that leads me to focus on other than what is, would be a distraction.

On the other hand, my practice of meditation, by which I hope to train my mind to be increasingly more mindful and aware, is something that I practice with “hope” that it will lead toward greater understanding and enlightenment, make possible a balanced life with happiness, and peace. That hope, I believe, is not a distraction.

<So I guess the question is in what is one hoping and does that hope distract from living mindfully in the present.

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One thought on “Is hope a distraction?

  1. Hope is the belief that things will be better or different in the future. When we are concerned with the future, we’re not present for now. By hoping that you’ll be enlightened in the future thru your meditation practice, you don’t see the reality of right now; the basic nature of mind is enlightenment. Enlightment or freedom is not something one gains. It is something discovered when all things blocking it are let go.

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