Hope has been defined as the wish for something desirable, combined with an expectation, however faint, of that wish being ultimately fulfilled. It is surely a matter for wonder and congratulation that we can so detach ourselves from our present circumstances as to be able to dwell in thought upon an object that is outside the range of our experience. The power to form a mental picture of a wished-for ideal is a divine faculty, and the first step in the act of creation. The mental mold must first be made, and at a later stage it is projected into "this too, too solid world" of physical matter and mechanical forces in which our daily, waking lives are passed.
But the great and glorious thing about Hope is the expectation of final satisfaction. The mere wish for a future good will help us little, and may indeed only add to our distress; but a positive expectation is like a raft in a tossing sea, that gives the shipwrecked mariner a firm support.
In a very real sense the man who has an expectation of a future good, already occupies the Promised Land he seeks; and while others have barely discerned it in the far-off distance, the man of hope is already a settler. The passport to this happy land is a firm conviction, gained from a study of general history, or derived from personal experience, that, "the Soul of things is sweet," and that a driving impulse towards a higher stage of progress lives in the heart of every atom on its upward way.
The government of this country spends a good deal of money, and employs a large staff of highly-trained workers in the study of something, which, from the standpoint of the practical man of affairs, is absolutely non-existent — tomorrow's weather. And, in a somewhat similar way it may be said that the man in whom the light of hope is burning, and who believes in a golden future for humanity, lives already in that future, which, for the great mass of his fellows is an unsubstantial dream.
However dark the path we tread, the light of Hope can always shine and drive away the gloom; and this light is no mere will-o'-the-wisp, but a clear shining that has its source in the Central Sun of our Universe.
Once we become convinced that the Universe has a divine origin, and that its vastness is pervaded by intelligence and love, and life and will, Hope like a radiant dawn begins to shine.
The light of Universal Hope can never pale, and even when Pralaya, or the dusk of Cosmic night comes on, and Nature sinks into her periodic sleep, Hope still survives, and with unclouded vision can discern vistas of glory far ahead, for evolution never will attain a final goal.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE