When you are paralyzed into in-action

How to put the dynamic of hope into action. You have the same DNA as Gandhi, Václav Havel and Goenawan Mohamad

DAVID RICKEY — Hope is a great four-letter word, but it gets lost in the shuffle of our lives if it isn’t bonded with action.

Václav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic, said ‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out’.

It is this certainty that allows — even emboldens us — to take action.

We have all faced survival uncertainty since the Great American Recession of 2008, and that uncertainty — can, and has — paralyzed some of us into in-action.

meditation-junkies-tile-orig.jpgA world in financial, diplomatic and moral crisis is telegraphing to each of us that now is the time to expand a personal spiritual practice.

Adopting a daily time-out for meditation, for example, can quiet the chatter of the ego-driven mind, and open us to deeper resources of wisdom and compassion.

It’s not about where you want to be in five years

Developing self-awareness can create a gap between our thoughts and impulses, and the choice for reactive or responsive behavior.

Reactive behavior is driven by those thoughts and impulses. Responsive behavior comes from that deeper place of intelligence that is aware of the larger picture.

Looking deeply at every experience in our relationships can be an opportunity to practice our “skillfulness” – an inward-working, rather than an outward-changing, of the “other” in your life.

Goenawan Mohamad in “Of Hope, Faith, and Frailty” expresses the difference between hoping and expecting:

We are ‘with-hope’, even if we do not want ‘to hope’ or ‘to expect’. . . There is a world of difference between hoping and expecting. ‘Being with-hope’ is not intentional and purposeful. It implies humility in the face of space and time. Muslims associate this with ‘taqwa’. This is a unique concept, because it simultaneously contains two conflicting tendencies: ‘submission’ and ‘resolution.’

Hope is living in uncertainty with certainty

It is the willingness to act in faith/trust without having any sense of outcome. It therefore requires both a submission to uncertainty and the resolve to dedicate your life to hopeful action, what Christians traditionally call a leap of faith.

There is a delicious tension here. As we move into a new year we cannot just wait in hopeful anticipation to see how it will turn out. Gandhi has said “Be the change you wish to see.”

We must work from within ourselves to embody the future we want. We choose to live from the deepest principles of Love and Compassion without focusing on the outcome. We can take action, first internally then out in the world to create the future we want.

Here is the trick of the mind

We can’t claim to know where our actions will take us, or what the results will be. We have to submit to the larger intelligence that lies at our very core, that will take all our skills, indeed all our wills, and use them beyond our own intentions and desires.

My experience is that when we stay open — trying to live from deep truth — the universe does provide, nurture and sustain, even protect us. It’s not magic, and it’s not a sure thing, but it seems to be true.

In this way we truly become servants even as we seek to be agents of change.


David Rickey was a psychotherapist in New York for two decades, before moving to San Francisco in 1997 to become the rector of an Episcopal church. A priest with a Jungian approach, he continues to help couples and individuals as a pastoral counselor. Follow David on Twitter.

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3 Responses to “When you are paralyzed into in-action”

  1. A wonderfully inspiring piece to read ahead of the new year and the challenges awaiting us in 2009. May we all live with certainty in these uncertain times.

  2. another stellar piece by david rickey! why isn’t this man writing a book? or maybe he is? get on it david!

  3. Thanx David a really inspiring peace for the New Year at a time when people are traditionally “giving up things” or “changing things”. If everyone who signed up for the Gym in January all actually showed up at the same time you’d need to open up Candlestick for Pilates class.
    It’s interesting to me that people want to change what they see in the mirror, not the way they feel about what they see in the mirror.It’s very confusing to me the messages that we recieve and transmit in our daily lives. One week Oprah’s happy with her weight and the next week she’s endorsing another diet? they say a Goldfish has a 7 second memory perhaps she has a 7 day one.
    All I know is 18 mths ago I gave up trying to change the world and everyone in it and just tried to change the way I reacted to things and thats where hope comes in.I can’t make people change to suit me, but I can hope they can.I can’t make people love themselves more ,but I can keep on loving them ,even when they make it really hard and hope they learn to love themselves more. Because whether your Oprah or just a normal Joe( Mick) like me at the end of the day when you get into bed and you’re alone in your head, you have to ask yourself in a “Clint “voice
    ” Well are you happy now?” …. ” Well Punk are you?”………..I hope so!

    Happy Noodles! see y’all at Pilates( if I’m not there start without me)

    Slainte Danny Boy