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Hope as an Obstacle

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Thich Nhat Hanh wrote an amazing piece about Hope as an Obstacle.  This information has had a profound effect on my focus in my life.

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s  book Peace is Every Step he writes: 

that hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  But that is the most that hope can do for us- to make some hardship lighter……he goes on to discuss the tragic nature of hope…..since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment.  We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future…..Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. (pg 41 in Peace is Every Step). 

He reframes the concept of hope so that rather than helping to create the change, hope becomes an obstacle to our actual opportunities, capacities and actions for change in the present moment.

I like to think about this in this way – Hope moves us into a passive place whereas Faith has an active quality and moves us back into the present moment. 

When we have faith we are actively focusing on the thing we are desiring while simultaneously working on creating that thing.  Being in faith also increases our availability to compassion and forgiveness.

Change can only occur in the now, the present. 

We can only change what we can identify; and we can only use the tools presently available to us.  By taking ourselves out of the present moment (hoping) we put ourselves into the future (hope for something better to come) where we have no actual power. 

Our only power over the future is in the present and what we do in the present. 

How we act in the present can change the future but waiting for change (living in the future – hoping) puts us into a passive, unempowered role.

Living mindfully is the most empowering tool available to us for actual and enduring change. 

And the most important avenue for staying mindful is getting to and remaining neutral, or in your center, so that you can respond mindfully.

Hoping takes us out of the present and so out of our center, faith allows us to remain in our center.

So try this. 

Think about something that you are being passive about – or trying to control but that you don’t have power over and you are hoping will turn out as you wish.

Try changing the word Hope to Faith and see if you find something that is empowering that you can do or focus on in that situation.

You may find that you have increased resources and energy to change your situation in a positive way toward what you wish. 

If you are wishing for something that is out of your control, you have to focus your faith and your energies on shifting your response to the situation in a positive way.

See you tomorrow.


Author: instinctivehealthparenting4u

Author, Integrative medicine practitioner, psychotherapist. Albuquerque, NM practice, focus on return to balance and the integration of spirit, mind, and body through meditation and mindfulness. Monthly trainings, & professional and personal development coaching. Find more on my website Read my books, Turning NO to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness, Turning ME to WE: The Art of Partnering with Mindfulness (, for increased internal wellness and alignment with your spiritual purpose, and to activate joyous love and light, bg

One thought on “Hope as an Obstacle

  1. That was beautiful Beth, and just what I needed to hear today! I have not read Peace is Every Step in quite a few years, and am going to revisit that book again today. Thank you so much for your writings!

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