#339 Why Buddhism Is Inherently Hopeful (Despite All the Talk of Suffering) | Oren Jay Sofer

Ten Percent Happier
April 19, 2021
#339 Why Buddhism Is Inherently Hopeful (Despite All the Talk of Suffering) | Oren Jay Sofer
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Buddhism can get a bad rap as being hopelessly pessimistic -- in no small measure because one of the Buddha’s first principal pronouncements was, “Life is suffering.” But if you listen to the rest of his spiel, you will hear that the Buddha acknowledges that life can be hard, but then goes on to say that we can make it better. He then spells out a bunch of practical techniques for doing so, which makes Buddhism essentially hopeful. We’re now in week two of our two-week series on hope, where we’ve been positing that hope isn’t just some vague, rosy state of mind -- it is, in fact, a skill. 

Today’s guest is Oren Jay Sofer, a Buddhist teacher who has been meditating for nearly a quarter century. He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University and is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. Oren’s view of hope starts with the Buddhist notion of impermanence. Everything is changing all the time. That doesn’t necessarily mean he believes things are always guaranteed to get better. That brand of hope, he says, can lead to a sort of grasping that pulls us out of the present and ultimately feeds our suffering. Instead, Oren makes the counter-intuitive argument that in order to hope effectively, we have to detach from results and outcomes. 

Oren is also lending his expertise to our Hope is a Skill series in the Ten Percent Happier app. If you’re already a subscriber, make sure to check out our new meditations to hone your hope skills--including one from Oren. You can find it in the “Hope is a Skill” topic in the Singles tab, or by clicking here

And if you’re not yet a subscriber and want to check out Oren’s new meditations in our app, now is a great time to give it a go. You can download the Ten Percent Happier app here, or wherever you get your apps. Once you subscribe, you’ll have access to all the great resources in the hope series, as well as tons of content – meditations, talks, full-on courses – all designed to help you wherever you are on your meditation journey.

Where to find Oren Jay Sofer online: 


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