Over at Zendotstudio, Carole has a good post on hope and Buddhist practice. She writes:
The Oxford dictionary defines hope as "expectation combined with desire." Hmm, from a Buddhist point of view, we're not starting with the best recipe ingredients, are we? Hope implies something we want in the future. It may be something perfectly wonderful, like world peace or a new subaru station wagon. And baked into that hope are the seeds of suffering, if we don't get what we want.
Pema Chodron says something like, "we bounce back and forth between hope and fear", this is the common human state. When we hope we may also feel afraid that we won't get what we hope for. And then there is the disappointment when we don't get what we hope for, which inevitably happens if we're filling our shopping backs with a list of hopes. And after a while we feel the bruise of all this bouncing back and forth. In fact we may feel like a human bruise.
Lately, I've been noticing that hoping seems to come out of a kind of laziness. When I'm lost in hope, I actually am trying to conjure up a future reality, and the hang on to that picture, regardless of what's actually happening. I'm not willing to put in some work, take some risks, and let go of results. It's just "I hope this will happen or that won't happen" and then, usually, some perseveration on possible outcomes I don't want to happen.
In fact, what I have also noticed is that when I'm actively putting in some effort towards something, and/or living without attachment to a particular outcome, hope doesn't really enter into the equation. It's entrance into such a place would be just extra, like adding sugar to already naturally sweet enough apple juice.