Looking at the world today, it is easy to feel despair. A kind of powerlessness seems to be the prevailing mood in the world.
Decisions about important issues all seem to be made somewhere beyond our reach. What can one person accomplish in the face of the vast forces that run our world?
The current of the times can seem so fast flowing and complex as to be overwhelming.
Everything Begins with Us
I do not believe that people are powerless. The philosophical tradition that I embrace teaches on the most fundamental dimension — that of life itself — that each human life partakes of the limitless life force of the cosmos. The same power that moves the universe exists within our lives. Each individual has immense potential, and a great change in the inner dimension of one individual’s life has the power to touch others’ lives and transform society. Everything begins with us….
An inner change for the better in a single person — one person becoming wiser, stronger, or compassionate — is the essential first turn of the wheel toward realizing peaceful coexistence and fulfillment for the whole human race. I firmly believe that a great human revolution in just one person can be the start of a transformation in the destiny of whole societies and all human kind. And for the individual, everything starts in the inner reaches of life itself….
Hope Is A Decision
Hope, in this sense, is a decision. It is the most important decision we can make. Hope changes everything, starting with our lives. Hope is the force that enables us to take action to make our dreams come true. … Hope is a flame that we nurture within our hearts. It may be sparked by someone else — by the encouraging words of a friend, relative or mentor — but it must be fanned and kept burning through our own determination. Most crucial is our determination to continue to believe in the limitless dignity and possibilities of both ourselves and others.
Mahatma Gandhi led the nonviolent struggle for Indian independence from British colonial rule, succeeding against all odds. He was, in his own words, “an irrepressible optimist.” His hope was not based on circumstances, rising and falling as things seemed to be going better or worse. Rather, it was based on an unshakable faith in humanity, in the capacity of people for good. He absolutely refused to abandon his faith in his fellow human beings.
Keeping faith in people’s essential goodness, and the consistent effort to cultivate this goodness in ourselves — these are the twin keys, as Gandhi proved, to unleashing the great power of hope. Believing in ourselves, and in others in this way — continuing to wage the difficult inner struggle to make this the basis for our actions — can transform a society that sometimes seems to be plummeting towards darkness into a humane enlightened world, where all people are treated with respect.
There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.
And our capacity for hope can actually be expanded and strengthened by difficult circumstances. Hope that has not been tested is nothing more than a fragile dream. Hope begins from this challenge, this effort to strive toward an ideal, however distant it may seem.
The Tragedy Of Losing Hope
It is far better to pursue a remote, even seemingly impossible goal than to cheat ourselves of the forward motion that such goals can provide. I believe that the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather, it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up on our own possibilities for growth. …
Real hope is found in committing ourselves to vast goals and dreams — dreams such as a world without war and violence, a world where everyone can live with dignity.
The problems that face our world are daunting in their depth and complexity. Sometimes, it may be hard to see where — or how — to begin. But we cannot be paralyzed by despair. We must each take action toward the goals we have set and in which we believe. Rather than passively accepting things as they are, we must embark on the challenge of creating a new reality. It is in that effort that true, undying hope is to be found.
Thank you, Daisaku Ikeda
From the Council of Love and channel, Linda Dillon: