Many years ago, I was introduced to a phrase that both intrigued and confused me. It is a familiar phrase in Buddhist texts: “the place beyond hope and fear,” a state of awareness that frees us from suffering.

In today’s global culture, where we’re incessantly told to strive for achievement and success, to be positive and hopeful, why would we ever want to give up hope? It seems incomprehensible that this would be a good thing. After all, Dante defined Hell by writing, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter herein.”

Nowadays, we live and breathe hope. It doesn’t matter what religion you were raised in, hope plays a central role, often ...

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