Monday, January 28, 2013

A Way Without Hope

Scott Bradley


What's next, a way without love? Sure, why not? I've already suggested a way without faith and a way without grace, so why not without love? But let's drive a stake through the heart of hope first.

But no, I have misspoken — we need not drive a stake through the heart of anything; for if it is, we would do better to keep it alive that we might better understand and perhaps even nurture it. I suggest a way without hope because sometimes I wake up without any. Why get out of bed? So, I can write a post about a way without hope, of course (and hope it matters).

Hope buds eternal. Why is that so? Because where there is life, there is hope. And why is that so? Because it is the nature of life to live, and living, in the human expression, would seem to require a sense that it is worthwhile doing so. But is it? Life 'thinks' so. But it does not tell us what it is. And we, somehow perceiving ourselves as something other than life, seem to require that it should. Thus, though we might say that life is a hoping, that kind of hope does not meet our needs; we need a hope perceived and articulated; in short, we require a raison d'etre, a reason to be. We are, as Wu points out in reference to the perspective of existentialism, "condemned to meaning".

So, let us begin there. This is part of what Zhuangzi quotes as "the lord's dangle", the tenuous nature of our human experience. It never behooves us to deny our experience. Whatever our responses to life may be, they are best when informed by our experience of it. And the best way to be informed by experience is to live it. There is, at least in my experience, a gnawing hunger in the heart of living that cannot be satisfied. Rather than denying it or attempting to bury it beneath the clutter of 'living', authenticity requires that we live it and let it teach us.

But, as Tonto said when the Lone Ranger remarked that they were surrounded by Indians, "what’s this 'we', Kemosabe?" It may very well be that my life's choices have left me more vulnerable to an absence of hope than most. Most folks don't have the luxury of 'existential despair'; they've got kids to feed and put through school, house payments to make, stuff to do. Whatever ‘medicine’ might be suggested here is solely for those who feel the need.

That medicine is this: All “life’s persistent questions” are answered in life itself; not ‘by’ life, but ‘in’ it. Zhuangzi always directs us back to the life that we are. Instead of trying to live life, he suggests that we let life live us. This requires a return to a pre-cognitive expression of life; we release our grasping after our need to know, and follow along with life itself.

There is faith, grace, love and hope; only they are not objectifiable realities separable from life itself; they are life.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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