What is it that keeps us going if it’s not hope? Without hope for a better tomorrow (future) or at least a tomorrow that is as good as today (if today was a good day) most of us would not likely continue living.
There’s a lot of suffering in life, we all suffer, even the free and the rich. But we live for the hope of joy. What happens to someone who has little or no joy left? Without hope that their joy will return one day, they are likely to end their life, rather than going through many years of suffering just to die anyway.
The other thing that keeps us going is fear. When hope and joy are absent, fear can still keep people alive — fear of the unknown after death, fear of punishment, fear of hell. But if fear of hell dissipates and hope is not restored, it’s not hard to see why some people kill themselves.
So how do we restore hope when it is lost — hope for more joy, joy that makes the suffering worth it, or at least durable?
We have to start by turning off the negative dialogue in our mind and remove ourselves form contaminating influences. We have to choose to let go of the negative forces and influences in our environment and in our own mind. We have to create space for hope and joy to get in.
Sometimes hope and joy will push the negativity out on its own, but sometimes we are so resistant and so distracted and self-deluded that it cannot get in. So we have to consciously make room.
That conscious effort, that will to go on, to not give up, is faith. Faith is not an act of grabbing onto something and holding it tightly, it’s actually the letting go of the illusion of control. Once we give up on our ability to solve the problem, we leave room for the problem to begin to work itself out.
This faith, this letting go of what’s disturbing us is the way out, the way out of darkness and leaves room for light to eventually find its way back in.