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Gillian Florence

What is your longterm vision?

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This week's question asks:

What is your longterm vision?

You can interpret this however you'd like to - perhaps your longterm vision for the world and collective at large or for your own life and the contributions you'd like to make. Where do you see yourself in 10, 20, or 30 years time? Or, where do you hope the world will be then?

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When I read this it caused me to pause. I realize that I don’t really have a specific long-term vision at this point in my life. My general vision is to bring people into my life that I truly feel I connect with.  I’m in somewhat of a dry spell. I’m looking to be inspired to head down new pads. I enjoy my friends I currently have but feel that they don’t bring out my full personality.  My vision for the world is that people would be able to pause to look inside and to be honest about who they are. Sometimes the world feels too busy and when things get busy it seems to deaden our soul.    I’m glad I discovered Mindfulness because for me it has helped me to go inside and to be honest with myself. I see how beneficial it is to me and want to see others discover that same richness. I also think some people are afraid to go in and look at themselves. And that’s not crazy because it can be scary. Being scared is OK. Sometimes we find things within our self that we wish weren’t there. The best thing we can do is friend them and understand them. It’s hard to think 10 20 or 30 years From now. With these uncertain times for me I’m just seeing what the next few months spring.  My hope is that we can start to resolve the racial injustice in America and have a country that truly cares about all of its citizens. My vision I would also say is that we would look to science and reason and not fall into politics and scare tactics to create the world.

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Hi Sandra,

Thank you for sharing your reflections on this question. I can definitely resonate with the experience of being connected to certain social groups that don't bring to life the full potential of our being. It can be tricky to navigate - and to find a social circle where there is common interest. While in-person connections are so important, I hope that communities like this one can remind us we are not alone in our deeper yearnings.

It can definitely be frightening for many to really take a look at what is within. I've been doing a lot of reading and listening to the work of Carl Jung lately. He talks a lot about the 'shadow', suggesting that it is only when we integrate the shadow parts of ourselves that we really begin to feel whole (maybe someone who has a deeper understand of psychology can share more on this subject). But in any case, it's that shadow part of ourselves that can be so frightening for some. However, I truly believe, like you, that being present to and listening to these more difficult parts of ourselves can help to ease us of this fear and to free us.

I also hope that more and more people will begin to take pause, to listen, and to delve deeper into themselves. I do think it's happening!

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“Or, where do you hope the world will be then?”

I tend not to indulge in fictions of hope because this chattering / craving distorts perception and erodes presence. 

Hope is storification that tends to feed avoidance / denial / ignorance of what actually is and what is actually going to happen (by way of cause and effect). It tends to generate dissatisfactoriness and delusion. It is a form of magical thinking that modern people have been conditioned to endlessly drug themselves with like small children do.

Based on many decades of explicitly clear and detailed science, by the mid-to-end of this century we’re looking at 60-90% of the world’s species extinct, a 3-5 C global temp increase with an exponential increase in catastrophic weather events, billions of people displaced, widespread famine due to heat-exhausted soil and declining seed viability, economic collapse, resource and territory wars, more pandemics, a collapsed civilization and a very active human existential crisis. We can hope all we want but hope isn’t mitigative or adaptive action ... it is escapism. 

IMO, mindfulness (and the larger body of knowledge / practices that it was extracted from) originally served to keep the human species ... which is innately embedded in and utterly dependent on a thin fragile layer of life in a tiny unstable speck of rock, fire, air and water that is whizzing around a colossal volatile flaming sphere in a infinite tiding ocean of space ... acutely focused on what we actually are, where we actually are, and how where we actually are actually operates.

In the oral tradition and social / moral code that mindfulness originated in, which was regarded as medicine, hope was contraindicated because it clouds perception of reality. It was explicitly advised that hope should just be noted as it rises in the mind and then released because it is just another reactive conceptual / emotional excretion and a very seductive feel-good lollipop.

The purpose of mindfulness isn’t to feel good. It is a refinement of perception so that it is an accurate reflection of what actually is. 

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Thanks for sharing these insights Jeffrey! It is definitely intriguing to ponder all of this. You raise a lot of very good points.

I completely agree and resonate with the statement that the purpose of mindfulness is not to feel good. I've written a few articles on the issues with the common, modern day phrase 'good vibes only' or this idea that meditation is 'working' when we feel 'good' about it. But I think that hope has its place. When I think about hope's opposite - hopelessness - I consider hope to be a valuable state to cultivate. 

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“When I think about hope's opposite - hopelessness - I consider hope to be a valuable state to cultivate.“

I’m interested in hearing more, if you (or others here) would like to share, about when you would advise ‘hoping’ to a student / client (or if you think it should be continuously generated on an ongoing basis), and also what you see as the perceived benefits of hope.

- - - 

I’m going to riff a bit more about hope / hopelessness because in this age of uncertainty, when everything is falling apart again, these two states of being are both pandemic. Many of our students / clients are driven and jerked around by them and have never considered a life free from them.

Hopelessness is interesting. It is a state of being, that we don’t like, tend to push away and that can happen when all our hope stories fail us and the hope cookie jar is empty. 

While recognizing that hoping can have some temporary and relatively minor medicinal value in early stages of trauma resolution, the act of  mindfully acknowledging the experience of ‘hopelessness’ without pouring our own unique brand of hope sauce all over the experience, for as long as it takes, can be very clarifying.

The potential side effect of hope stories is that they tend to be driven by conditioned patterns of thought and habitual emotional reactivity ... the same unconscious patterns that conjure up stories of hopelessness. If we tilt the mind just so, we can even begin to see hope and hopelessness  as causing and feeding off of each other. We can think of them as tennis rackets that bat us back and forth between them.  

 Just observing / noting both without being captured and dragged around by them, without pushing away or grabbing at, can help us see both clearly for what they are ... that is,  just more craving wearing different masks.

 

 

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Hey Jeff,

I absolutely agree that mindfulness can be brought to both hope and hopelessness, and to do so effectively means not to push away one and grasp for the other. To just be with whatever is present, even if what is present is heavy and painful, is indeed a beautiful practice and something we can gently surrender to.

For myself, I don't know that hope is something I would actively 'teach' or invite people to consciously cultivate in mindfulness teachings per se (at least, I haven't yet done so). But in my own journey, hope has arisen naturally as I've moved more and more out of a place of fear and anxiety about the world (I definitely still feel the latter from time to time however!). It's not a state I grasp at, but it is something I see arise within me each time someone or something surprises me in a certain way (i.e. when someone who had previously been closed off to their inner realm expresses their interest in learning more about who they really are). 

I'm also currently taking a course called Political Hope with Charles Eisenstein. It's not mindfulness-related per se, but I credit my mindfulness journey for opening up to Charles' words and teachings. One of the benefits for me of this course is connecting with other people who share a certain vision of the world and believe in a new paradigm of organizing ourselves (politically in this sense). In this way, hope inspires me to continue on the path I am on and to realize I am not alone in it.

I'm just going to share the introduction to the course here as I liked this invitation:

"I want to welcome all of these different voices that are inside of you, especially that part of you that has brought you to venture into this exploration. The part of you that is always hopeful and has never lost faith in the possibility of what I call the more beautiful world our hearts know as possible. That part can sit alongside all of the cynicism and all of the doubt. Maybe in a mirror of the world we see outside of ourselves, where sometimes it seems that everything is spiraling down into a descent into hell. That there is no hope for peace or ecological healing, social healing, racial healing, political healing, et cetera in this world." Charles Eisenstein, Political Hope, Day 1

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