Waiting Without Hope: A Small Zen Meditation

Waiting Without Hope: A Small Zen Meditation January 15, 2022



Today at our Saturday morning Empty Moon Zen gathering we were engaged in our once a month book discussion group. Currently we’re reading that classic text in our emerging Western Buddhism, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödren. When discussing one of the points, Tom Wardle, one of our senior dharma teachers called us to T.S. Eliot’s “Wait Without Hope,” a section from East Corker, itself the second part of his magisterial Four Quartets.

I’ve been meeting with a friend who has suffered a cascade of strokes leaving him seriously impaired. He’s asked me for words to help him on his way.

In response I said what I had was pay attention and let go.

I fear this didn’t fall on his ears in a helpful way. And, I struggle with wanting to help, and, well, needing to let go. For me. For him. Pointer and practice.

As I went back to re-read this part of Eliot, I can see why people stumble upon this cycle and sometimes think a person on the Zen way. Certainly a person on the intimate way. And one offering a subtle and important teaching for all of us.

Thought you might want to revisit, as well…

Wait Without Hope

By: T.S. Eliot

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

T.S. Eliot, East Coker

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