Today he sits on the sidewalk, in minus degree temperatures, holding a ragged sign which reads “give me hope.” It’s a familiar sight that I’ve become somewhat desensitised to; I don’t think I can truly understand his situation. Seeing him sleeping rough, a few people throw in some coins, someone else gifts him a Costa coffee, while an occasional passer-by stops to offer a few comforting words. All nice gestures. But, my heart says, what he really needs is hope.
In that sense we are all beggars – we all need hope. Without the conviction of a brighter future what drives us to continue on in life? Hope, faith, inspiration and enthusiasm, which give us the hunger for life, are perhaps our most precious assets – if we have those, we have everything.
The raw reality is that on the material level, there is no hope. There may be positive thoughts, determined affirmations, optimistic plans and elaborate arrangements, but it all eventually crumbles away as the ruthless laws of nature indiscriminately take over. True hope can only come from deep spirituality. That transcendent dimension brings a deeper purpose, divine presence and irresistible empowerment that shifts our consciousness entirely. A mentor once described the spiritual reality as the realm of ‘unlimited possibility.’ He told me that if I’m patient, I’ll witness how divine plans are way better than our cherished dreams. I was moved – at the time it was hope-giving, and over time I’ve realised the weight of that statement. There is more beyond our mind, beyond our life, and beyond this world – when we are awakened to that, we live, full of hope.
Undeserving as I am, I’ve been blessed with teachers and friends who filled my life with hope. They gave me spiritual vision and generous injections of encouragement at every step. I can’t believe anyone who says they are self-made – we are products of grace. It’s a humbling thought, and now I realise that this is perhaps the greatest gift we can give someone – the gift of spiritual hope. It reminded me of the story of two prime ministers. After meeting the first, you left the room thinking “that man is wonderful!” After meeting the second, you left the room thinking “maybe I could also do something wonderful!”
That is the difference between a good friend and a great friend – the great give encouragement, empowerment and hope. They give the vision of a brighter future. May we encounter such great souls again and again, and may we share the hope they give us with many others. And, as Nelson Mandela reminded us, “may our life choices reflect our hopes, not our fears.”
Jun 25, 2022
Radhapriya Chawla, ISKCON Toronto Communications