Please welcome Robert Bridges to the NewGen Faith blog. Robert is CEO at Robert Bridges Imagery (www.rbridgesimagery.com) and Teaches at San Juan Community College. Robert earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Denver and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Denver.
I practice Buddhism and ponder the nature of God seen through the lenses of Process theology and Nikon cameras. I do not call myself a Christian and if forced to declare some faith allegiance it would be to Buddhism to practices of mindfulness, beginner’s mind, insight, and cultivating a compassionate heart.
I was invited to write about Hope and initially I thought I might write about “hope and the human heart” and assumed it would be an enjoyable and do-able task. I tucked the thought away thinking something would pop up in a few days. But days passed and nothing, zilch, nada, and I begin to wonder what it is about hope that is so difficult. I mean after all, everybody knows what hope is and we all have it don’t we? So I think maybe I just need to put more energy out to get the creative juices flowing?
I take a drive to ponder hope and I am putting gas in the truck with not a care in the world when a big, RV towing a shiny new car pulls up disgorging a passel of obviously well fed children and a coiffed woman behind the wheel who does not seem to know where her gas tank is….and the thought arose: “She’s loaded,” quickly followed by another thought “if only I had her money…” and with one perception, an interpretation and judgment, my mind went spinning off into stories of being less than others. Buddhism knows this as “comparing mind” I know it as hopelessly lost in desire, want, and sense of lack. You may know it as getting lost in thought or daydreaming.
In Buddhism there is talk of feelings and emotions that mimic something else and we sometimes get confused. For example we often confuse sentimentality with compassion or we conflate hope with desire. When one feeling tends to masquerade as another it is called “a near- enemy.” I am of mind to say that I believe hope is a near-enemy of faith. Hope takes the mind into the future of what we wish life will be like or into the past remembering what we hoped might have gone differently. I am of a mind to say that hope takes one away from the moment and nurtures an ongoing story of how it was and how I want it to be. I am of a mind to say that hope is a dynamic that acts on a horizontal plane whereas the dynamic of faith rests in a vertical plane. My experience of faith is always in the moment my experiences of hope seldom are. Hope, masquerading as faith can lead one away from faith and from being present in the moment. Hope says “it’s not perfect yet but it will be” while “faith gently reminds us that eventually even grass becomes milk,” and invites us to rest in the heart, in the body and in the moment.
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