Why losing hope is part of the plan
Amid the global lockdown, it’s easy to lose heart. But what if the loss of faith is actually a sign that the new world has already been born?
“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”
Is there a better expression for where we find ourselves right now than ‘prisoners of hope’? It perfectly captures the ambiguity of a quality of desire and yearning that can both sustain and wound. Hope can rise and fall many times within an hour, as the shrill voices of crisis keep the catastrophe bandwagon moving. We might well say that we are all prisoners of hope having been ordered to shelter in place and gather our internal resources. This is the paradox at the heart of faith: how can the new world have already arrived – victory have already been achieved – when chaos reigns, and our human rights are under sustained assault.
Paradoxes are not answered as such, but reconciled at a higher level of consciousness, which is exactly what this global lockdown is ingeniously enabling. We are upgrading to a new operating system of perception, and believe it or not, this was flagged a long time ago as the call to repent. It turns out we haven’t just been constrained by language but deceived.
The noun ‘repentance’ is a misleading translation of the Greek metanoia, literally beyond (meta) the mind (nous). Superficially, it means a change of heart or mind, to turn around. Yet this is not the analytical mind but the mind of higher perception: the eyes of the heart. If we can look through the eyes of the heart – into the realm of pure consciousness – another order of reality can be perceived altogether. Some call it the Kingdom of Heaven.
For those of us who have felt hounded by repentance, judged and shamed for our inevitable human errors, discovering that repentance is not even the right word — and certainly not the good word — changes things. When human souls are on the scale, we need a full-bodied language more worthy of the exchange. Compared to metanoia, repentance is frail and sickly.
Hope, meanwhile, is choiceless, because we cannot cease hoping any more than we can cease breathing. It feels a travesty of natural justice that such an innate part of our experience can cause such suffering. But is hope betrayed or is it a symbol of a divine plan unfolding?
Imagine a love and intelligence so incomprehensibly vast that any claims to certainty must surely fall apart in the face of its elegant simplicity. This is key because even the loss of trust or faith in the plan is part of that same plan — and the same switching out of operating systems. How? Because we are dealing not just with a paradigm shift – throwing out the modern-day money-changers at the temple – but the end of history and the emergence of a brand-new reality.
Our loss of faith is part of the ego’s unravelling, the erosion of residual loyalty to decaying systems, so that we may enter the new world safely. We are being reoriented, in other words, from what is dying to what is being born; from what is unreal to what is real. A ‘fortress’, after all, is also a stronghold and nothing is by chance.
Trusting the plan
Culturally, we have a preference for the light, for knowing, as proof of our advancement. There is always the temptation to speak too soon and make a status artifact out of our experience, our insight and our insider’s information, allowing them to be co-opted by the spiritual ego. The subtext is the specialness of the chosen. But we are way beyond messiahs at this point.
It makes sense then that we must encounter the absolute necessity of defeat, doubt, failure and loss, as our narrow agendas are humbled before the fullness of this grand awakening. The veil of unknowing protects us from attempting to take control. Just as with the Dark Night of the Soul, the work of transformation, by necessity, is hidden from view. It is dark because the night works on unconscious patterning and hidden trauma. Yet we are protected from our own buried extremes. How then can this darkness be anything other than love?
While we shelter in place, our defenses are being stripped bare. We are being forced to reckon with what it means to live without security. Yet here is a truism that ought to break apart every polarity that maintains separation consciousness: the dark serves the light. Yes, even the dark that is the stuff of nightmares and maleficent systems of control. Because here we are, prisoners of hope, finding liberation from all the false powers, within and without.
This awakening is nothing less than the reorientation of our very place in the universe. From original sin to original grace, and from death orientation to life orientation. When we are fundamentally identified with our mortal bodies, this fixation with death — usually repressed, denied, projected, and deflected — manifests as a preoccupation with security and shoring up our finite resources.
When we are oriented towards life, that which never dies, nature takes its course as expansion and growth on a trajectory that will shatter all limitations, and break the addiction to all external reference points and authorities. It cannot be otherwise. Evolution doesn’t finish with enlightenment or awakening. Love only knows freedom. Trust the plan? It’s the only thing worth trusting, because we are the plan.
The Greek terms anamnesis means re-membering – that is, recognizing ourselves as belonging to one vast body. For the wounded healer, patterned on Christ, healing is not the pursuit of individual wholeness as much as a cosmic vision of a world returned to its true nature.
Our wounds and our sufferings are forged in the fires of this remembrance, because their purpose was always to sow love: a deeper love, a more inclusive and resilient love, a love that asks for nothing in return. Hope is fulfilled not in an outcome or attached to an object, but as the ground of love. That’s how the new world we are seeking is first born inside us.
Transcendent hope is a quality of the soul – not “cheap optimism” – that willingly enters suffering and the obscurity of not-knowing without an agenda. Instead of the either/or of duality, unity and multiplicity grow and evolve together in this hope and this prayer for all humanity. From that place, we are free to witness the plan unfold with the same perfection of its divine orchestrator. It is a victory not over anything, but with all of life. Because true prayer is participation in the one body which we all share, and we are already home.