Finding Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

I was recently talking to a friend who told me that they were feeling very disappointed and let down with the state of the world. My friend had been picking up litter on his daily walks, and yet, every day when he went on his walk, more had taken its place. It was as though his actions were making no difference at all.

I’ve been exploring what it means to be a good leader while on the path. To me, being a good leader means not having any intention to lead at all. Being a good leader means living your beliefs, your dharma, without forcing it on others. Being a good leader means leading by example, and not by force.

But at some point, we all look around and I even making a difference? Or worse, we feel let down, hopeless and convinced we are not making any difference at all.

You pick up trash outside and the next day there’s new trash taking its place. You walk an extra half mile with heavy glass jars to refill with food only to see the person in front of you buying every vegetable and fruit imaginable wrapped in plastic. You go vegan and yet walk by animals for sale in cages at public stores.

An inevitable part of walking down the spiritual path is feeling this sense of hopelessness from time to time.

This is, in part, because the yoga teachings tell us that the ultimate goal is to let go of any desire for result, for progress, from our actions, but this is really hard practice. So instead, when you find yourself wondering ‘what the f is the point of all my efforts?’ Try to see the smaller picture. The one that’s in front of you right now.

There are always, immediate results if you’re willing to narrow your vision. For example, my friend pick up trash every day on his street and there’s always more there. Well imagine how much would be there if he never picked any up at all? Or sure, it seems like one person cutting down their waste seems small, but the average American makes 4.5lbs of waste per day. That is adding up before your eyes.

Choosing to see the small victories right in front of us help us keep the faith in the face of hopelessness. It keeps up on the path.