Hopelessness and Confusion Can Be Our Friends

I don’t recommend feeling hopeless and confused but if you feel that way just stop for a minute and see what good it can bring. Many of our problems are caused by our tendency to be stuck in a variety of endless and often mechanical loops. We have major or minor addictions, self-justifying narratives that make us right and others wrong and so on. Many spiritual teachers have pointed out that most of us, once we achieve maturity, tend to become automatons. We deaden contradictions, we buffer reality by seeking “security”, by seeking only our self-interest by participating in the endless cycle of entertainment and amusements that paper over the big issues. Or many of us medicate ourselves through illegal or legal drugs. At some point, perhaps, we realize that our situation is hopeless and despair and depression can set in. Actually that moment can be “used” to break us out of our patterns and to view existence itself in a fresh way without the usual buffers we use to keep the truth away.

In Zen training the object is to achieve complete confusion to bring you into this eternal moment. Because Zen offers a conceptual framework to see confusion as a method towards clarity and, also, forces you through the act of sitting still no ability to reach for a pill or turn on the TV or your computer a form of clarity often can be achieved–of course, this can dissipate once the training period is over. You don’t have to be in a Zen training session to do this. You can “wait” for this feeling of confusion and hopelessness to appear and notice that it also enables you to actually, sometimes, force you into this moment fully without a strong “story” or the usual distractions to emerge. If you can create for yourself a conceptual framework where your goal is to be fully present in your life without a need to “get better” or a need to cling to hope for a better future or another you then these negative moments can be spun into gold.

My own experience in this taught me that when this happens when these negative moments are fully experienced without buffers that enlightenment naturally emerges like the sun rising in the east. The keyword is “fully.” These moments need not occur in negative moments, thankfully, but also can happen in feelings of being “high” which are not necessarily drug-induced, in fact better if they are without drugs. These moments can open up the world of eternity. When Jesus talked about “the Kingdom of Heaven” he meant the ability to stand inside eternity in the moment. If you can do that you need never worry because, in Jesus’ teachings, you will then be with the Father and He will never let you down. So when you are in a dark moment use it to understand the verses below in the New Testament.

From Matthew, Chapter 6:

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

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