“Hope” is a word I hear a lot nowadays. After the initial shock and devastation that many people in the world felt after the US Elections, “hope” is the new keyword. Hope is something to cling on to. Hope that it all won’t be so bad. Hope is what drives away that feeling of despair and uncertainty.
As a monastic, I live on the basic requisites of almsfood, robes, dwelling-place and medication, given to me by kind donors.
I need daily medication for my survival and I realized today that if I had been a US citizen, I would most likely have been dead by now. I would have been one of those 1 million US citizens who have died because they could not afford the basic healthcare they needed. I’m very lucky to live in a country with a good social healthcare system, and I have never appreciated that enough.
But it also made me realize that I have taken this for granted. Basic healthcare has been within my reach all my life, and I never stopped to think that this might not always be there. Until today.
The US Elections have sent a shockwave through the world. It has been a wake-up call. Suddenly everything we always took for granted is not so certain any more. Nobody knows where this will go. We never knew anyway, but we just did not like to think about that.
Looking at it realistically, I can see that I took something for granted that might not always be there for me. This social healthcare system is something that most citizens in the world never had. It only ever existed for a very small part of the world population. And I have been extremely lucky to be born in that part of the world. I feel immensely grateful to all those people who set up this system and who have kept it going all these years. But how realistic is it to assume that it will keep on existing forever? Even the next decade, the next year?
There comes a great sense of freedom with the realization that I will die. Without a future, without any perception of certainty, there is only the present moment. Every day is a gift. And whatever I can do in that day to help other people only brings more joy.
Maybe this sounds a bit over-dramatic and maybe I am a bit emotional at the moment. But the only certainty in life we have is death, in whatever form that will come. It is never sure when or how we will die. But realizing this gives a great sense of freedom. Death is our greatest teacher.
“Hope” then gets a new meaning: it is the freedom of not asking of the world what it cannot give, of having no expectations but only gratitude and joy for what is given.
The fruit of hope fulfilled is bliss;
How differs loss of hope from this?
Though dull despair her hope destroys,
Lo! Pingala calm sleep enjoys .
With much metta,