A teacher of mine once commented that Buddhism had no room for hope – and he grounded this accusation on the understanding that hope is wanting things to be different than they are, and that Buddhist practice is about accepting things as they are.
Explained in that way it seems reasonable enough, but something about adhering to a hopeless religion seems iffy, especially when Buddhism has so many things which look like hope, but my own misgivings were much more personal.
I remember that when I first heard that from my teacher I felt very disappointed, because I had adopted a language of hope. I hoped others had nice days, I hope that people got good restful nights of sleep, as well as excellent hockey tickets and doubles from vending machines. Most importantly though, I hoped that good things happened to others, because I desperately wanted to stop wishing people “good luck.”
After all, I knew Buddhism had no room for luck! Things happen in accordance with causes, and golly gosh if there was no such thing as luck I might as well stop wishing this empty, false idea to be bestowed upon others. I had lived in a luckless world for quite awhile, and all was well. But, if the spectre of language correctness took my hope away, would there be no chance for well wishing of any kind?
I do suppose that practice itself is based on the hope that, through our own actions and our own effort, we can change ourselves and our karma to ease our suffering and find freedom. This seems like a different kind of hope, an active hope that seeks opportunities and makes the most of things. It seemed to be doing the best with what was presented instead of wishing for new and different circumstances.
Perhaps, if I refuse to allow language to just be language and to communicate a wholesome intention, I could say, “I would be glad if things happen as you would like them to, for it would make me joyful for you to find comfort, and I am sure you have the potential to succeed given the proper opportunity. Excelsior!”
That is what I could day if I got rid of hope – and I certainly hope that day never comes.