The Zen way of redefining and creating hope

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The Zen way of redefining and creating hope

Deep Hope: Zen Guidance for Staying… by Diane Eshin Rizzetto, Shambhala, US $18.95, Pp 176, June 2019, ISBN 978-1611804775

Our world is filled with sadness. There are human pain and misery all around us. This is not something new. Many centuries ago, Lord Buddha understood this reality but many of us refuse to face this reality even today. If you read or watch the news, as we all do, you realize that it is news of cruelty and pain around the world. In Deep Hope, Diane Eshin Rizzetto says that people are inflicting suffering on other people. When men are not inflicting suffering on fellow human beings, nature is playing with their lives in the form of earthquakes and flood and other natural disasters in myriad shapes. Human beings are quite capable of turning our efforts to meet the reality of what is, of taking compassionate action because it is the right thing to do. Diane Eshin Rizzetto says that, as we live our daily lives, we easily lose touch with our fundamental human capacity to bridge our perceived separations and connect with others and thus we isolate ourselves, planting seeds of suffering for ourselves and others. The more terror and pain we experience, the stronger our fear and our desire to protect ourselves and our loved ones become. Diane Eshin Rizzetto says that we become more selective about what who we will let into our awareness.

Diane Eshin Rizzetto offers a different way to meet and engage in the reality of our world. She tells us how we can reveal our deepest human capacity to give and receive, to patiently bear witness to whatever is arising at the moment, to take skilled action based on clarity and wisdom, to persevere with fortitude, and to rest in the silent stillness of each breath. It is not only a path to deep hope but a way to engage through deep hope. The question arises: What is hope itself? Diane Eshin Rizzetto says that the most common assumption about hope is that it is a kind of optimism or belief that particular events and conditions will unfold in a way that results in a particular outcome. Many religions of the world speak of having hope or not losing hope by holding firm to faith in the tradition, and many people find the strength to carry on in this deep-seated faith and hope. Generally, within the school of Zen Buddhism, hope is not encouraged because to focus on a particular future outcome turns us from fully realizing the present moment and thus leads to further suffering. Zen Buddhism actually asks you to give up hope.

Diane Eshin Rizzetto writes, “over the years of my Zen practice, I have come to understand ‘hope’ a little differently.” Diane Eshin Rizzetto says that Hope is multi-faceted. There is the kind of hope that looks toward a specific outcome, such as hoping that one more treatment might cure a life-threatening disease, or that a second, third, or fourth chance might be the one that turns our addicted loved one in a healthy direction. There is also the kind of hope that ties activity to a goal — if we work or study hard, we might one day be able to support our family better and give our kids the opportunities we didn’t have. It is this kind of hope she talks here. Deep hope springs from the energy of life itself. It was in deep hope that Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged us to keep raising our voices in solidarity and marching ”step by step.

Deep Hope is a highly inspirational book that is grounded in Zen Buddhist teachings. It is a much-needed book and is packed with a wisdom most of us lack. Diane Eshin Rizzetto gives us the kind of hope we really need in this chaotic world of pain and misery. As an experienced Zen teacher and practitioner, she provides new insights into Zen concepts and principles. Deep Hope, is what you need in your days of despair. Diane Eshin Rizzetto will show you light. Non-Buddhists need it as much as Buddhist believers.

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