Hope and Fear — The Imposters of Life
What Are Hope and Fear?
Hope and fear are two sides of the same coin. When you have one, you necessarily have the other. For example, we hope to live for eternity, yet we fear our death. Fear is an illusion. It is the imagination of things that you may hope to happen sometime in the future yet dread the possibility of our unfulfilled hope. One especially true example is within the hope of a relationship. If you always realized your expectations, there would be no divorce.
Spinoza says, “hope is an inconstant joy born of the idea of a future or past thing whose outcome we to some extent doubt” (Ethics Part 3, Prop XII). He also says that “fear is an inconstant sadness born of the idea of a future or past thing whose outcome which to some extent doubt.” (Ethics Part 3, Prop XIII).
You Have No Control
There is never hope without fear nor fear without hope. However, all these things depend on our imagination of a future. If we are aware that we experience and only exist in the present, we understand there is no future. Therefore, we understand that there is no reason to hope or fear anything. Nevertheless, I exclude imminent danger here, where there is no planning, and you have to get out of the way of the danger as fast as possible. Yet, that is a threat that is occurring in your immediate experience. It is not a product of your imagination. The art of living is in maximizing your potential in the moment, which means making the most of your power.
This understanding does not mean abandoning your plans, yet it does mean abandoning your expected outcomes. Your expected outcomes will only cause you pain because you will never be able to realize them precisely as they are in your imagination. So, you will always be disappointed.
Your plans are an illusion that will give you a sense of power and control. Yet, there is no such thing as control of the future. You can no more control the future than the orbit of the earth around the sun or an asteroid about to hit the earth. It is an illusion, and therefore both fear and hope are illusions because they only exist in your imagination.
Fear Of Failure
People don’t often do something because of the fear of failure. What stops you when you become frozen in fear? It’s usually one part of you bullying the other. Martin Butler calls these the policeman and controller. The beast is the ID, the controller is the Ego, and the policeman is the Super-ego. When you allow the controller to be in charge, you are limiting yourself because nothing ever goes to plan, and you will always fail in achieving your expectation. Your failure may be that your outcome will be less, it may be that the outcome achieves more, or it may be simply that the outcome is different from your expectation. At some stage, these possible scenarios lead to disappointment.
Planning comes from the controller but is another illusion, like expectation. We plan at the moment as an act of our imagination, forming the outcomes we desire. Drop future expectations because they’re not helpful and are only imagination which leads to sadness. You cannot control what happens in the future — allow yourself to go with the flow with power.
Give A Bull A Large Field
Fear of failure will prevent you from trying many things, and it will limit you to stay doing things that do not challenge you and are safe. This internal conflict is one part of you bullying another. The policeman (Super Ego) gives the orders of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts,’ and the controller makes you safe because it plans for the future and judges what actions you need to take to achieve your expectations. Why would you do this to yourself when that future never arises, and you’re always in the present.
The controller doesn’t take chances, but the beast (Id) does. The beast wants to have as broad an experience as possible. Give a bull a large field, and he will be happy. He doesn’t try to control his experience. He just goes with it. When this comes to trying (experiencing) different ideas, go with the flow. Start several projects because that’s what the beast likes and carry on with the one(s) that work. Discard the projects that don’t seem to bear fruit for you regardless of whether the policeman and controller tell you what you ‘ought to do because they have planned for a good outcome. This idea is simply in your imagination.
You Have The Power to Be Yourself
The policeman and controller want you to do it right because they have expectations of you, but it’s not just about what you want, but it’s also about what you don’t want. When rejecting something that feels wrong or uncomfortable, face those feelings head-on rather than pretending that they are not there.
Your police force does not like you to change. Your reptilian brain wants to return to comfortable, familiar things, and the controller needs predictability — the two conflict with your beast. The controller wants to plan your life so that the life you get is safe. If you want to try new things, you will have to fight this urge and stand up to all the little voices inside telling you what to do and realize that there is more in life than what they have experienced.
Admittedly they have their place and purpose, to keep you safe, but do you want to live your entire life boxed into a safe zone? We have recently experienced safety from deadly diseases, but do you want to live your whole life in fear of death — until you finally die without ever having lived!
You are not what you think, feel, or do, but you have a powerful influence on all three. The authentic person is found in your understanding, not in those areas where your imagination and feelings are involved. That is where most of your power lies. Like two sides of the same coin, fear and hope come from your imagination.
Being Authentic to Yourself
If you can allow yourself to step out of the Ego’s control, be the one who wants more, there is always something more. When you understand that the present moment is all that exists, you can lose the past and future. When you do this, you prevent them from limiting your understanding. Otherwise, they will destroy you because they will immobilize you with hope and fear. There is no real power but in who you are, what you stand for, and what you do.
You are not what you think, feel, or do, but you have a powerful influence on all three. The authentic person is found in your understanding, not in those areas where your imagination and feelings are involved. That is where most of your power lies. Like two sides of the same coin, fear and hope come from your imagination. If you can allow yourself to step out of the Ego’s control, be the one who wants more, there is always something more. When you understand that the present moment is all that exists, you can lose the past and future. When you do this, you prevent them from limiting your understanding. Otherwise, they will destroy you because they will immobilize you with hope and fear. There is no real power but in who you are, what you stand for, and what you do.
Here, I am not talking about religious fervor but instead having faith in yourself. Faith is not an idea but a commitment to something you cannot see. To act on faith is the greatest challenge of all — you must remain open. Go with the flow and maintain this stance, stay present, and not criticize or condemn yourself for not doing things in a certain way. Life is constantly changing, but you can also stand still and let it happen to move you forward in new ways, places, and situations.
This trust is true faith. It is not about religion or dogma; it is about having the freedom to be and have goodwill towards yourself. Faith is your courage to act as though, even when you cannot see your vision come true. It is faith that guides us through all kinds of doubt and discouragement. Faith comes without expectation. The more faith you have, the stronger it becomes. Any doubts you have about your faith will diminish it. Faith is not the choice between letting go and holding onto something or even holding onto nothing at all — none of this makes any sense.
When you let go of hope and fear and open to faith, it means that you must be able to stand up for what you believe in and accept responsibility for it. To be able to do this, you must know yourself — your beliefs and your ideals. If they are not clear, how can you accept the responsibility that goes with them? It is not easy to face up to the truth of who you are and what you do. You will need much courage, but if you know who you indeed are and exist as this person, your faith will grow stronger. Faith in yourself and your experience as it occurs from moment to moment, without judgment, is a magical thing.
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