Abandon Hope is about not being attached to the outcome of whatever you’re doing. You might succeed or fail but focusing on either possibility takes you out of the present moment which is the only time in which you can act.
The original lojong slogan is: Abandon any hope of fruition, which means letting go of achieving specific results. In mind training and meditation that means you don’t hope for enlightenment or even any kind of improvement.
This seems quite negative on face value. Surely having a goal or something to aim for is a good thing. If you don’t believe you can improve, why would you bother trying in the first place?
But it doesn’t mean you should give up having goals or doing things to change your life. A sense of purpose and achievable goals can help to keep you motivated, but in reality, you don’t know what will happen in the long run. You don’t know if you will succeed or fail.
This slogan tells you to abandon hope but that also means abandoning fear. You have no more reason to despair for the future than you have to hope. You don’t know what will happen. You only know what you’re doing right now.
So this is about being focused on the present moment.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering that writing involves a lot of trial and error. The experience of failure is built-in to the process of writing, so you can’t write without failing. Over and over again. But it’s that process of failure that helps you to learn your craft and eventually produce work that is good enough to succeed.
And you can only write your best work when you’re focused on the present, not the future. When you concentrate on what you can do right now, it stops you from getting caught between the twin fears of success and failure and worrying about things you can’t control.
So abandon hope of publication, fame and fortune. Don’t even hope that you’ll finish your latest project.
Exercise: What is your ultimate hope, your main dream? In your slogan journal, write about how you would feel if you never achieved it. What can you learn from this?
More in the book – available now: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers