What is Hope? Hope and False Hope


In our Hindu mythology, there was this story where for the first time, Gods and Demons work together, they churn the oceans and the seas in search of precious treasures, and during such a feat the first thing to come out of the oceans was a devastating poison. Lord Shiva intervenes, he drinks the poison and contains it within, the gods and demons continue to work relentlessly and find many a rewarding possessions which they divide among themselves amicably. They keep on tasking until finally they get hold of the divine nectar called ‘Amrit’. Sages have referred to this story for eons in context to hope.



Hope is not simply a wish subject to the whims and fancies of a being of higher stature; it is the conviction that things are going to be favorable. It is the belief system where one assists the enemy to get what he wants. Hope is certainly not blind-faith upon some mysterious old man high above the sky, it is the will to take up things in one’s own stride and let time act its due course. Hope is not folding two hands and wasting ten minutes daily, it is utilizing those ten minutes to strategize the division of efforts.

Many a yogi can remain alive even without air for 30 minutes, without hope I dare him to live a second, hope is something that is deeply rooted into our system, we may never realize how hope eases our expenditure of time waiting at a railway station, how hope motivates us to re-attempt the Common Law entrance again, how bold and heroic it makes us when we achieve something after listening to it.


Nietzsche exclaimed that, “hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man”. What he was speaking about at that instance must be false hope. False hope obviously has malice, false hope as the name suggests warns us not to delve deeper into it to find satisfaction, false hope is associated with denial. A cancer patient, for example, may have false hope that doctors are going to find a cure immediately, because he is important/rich/unique. No, that is a false hope as he himself is not sure of such a landmark discovery, moreover as he is not contributing any such effort necessary to bring about a cure.
False hope borders on wrong facts and the false promises we make to ourselves. A hope can do wonders only if we can see through ourselves and our courses of actions we propose for the immediate future.

We should never indulge in wronging ourselves with vague or shallow undertakings, just to be able to put our faces forward.

To mention one of my personal trysts with hope I recall there was this time in my 10th standard when after a lot of difficulty I gathered 800 rupees and I bought an old cycle from a friend who got upgraded to a newer one, and as he didn’t need it anymore I got it for a good bargain. I rode the cycle far and wide over the city and it used to occupy most of my off time, during one fine day’s course it went missing, it was the saddest thing ever, to be honest I never felt that sad at someone’s demise or other’s misfortunes. All the day I hoped that some of my friends must be behind it, and they would return it to me after seeing me thoroughly upset, but that was false hope, as I wasn’t in a position whatsoever to be conducive towards finding it again and I had given up actively searching for it. The falseness the hope had, I never found it.

In the story of Pandora when all the evil flew out of her box, hope came out at last to comfort those who were suffering from hate, malice, pain, starvation, etc. Neil Gaiman wrote a comic called “Sandman” and one of the episode arcs had the Dream King stuck in Hell. I can’t remember it exactly, but he was in a contest with another demon, a debate, and the subject of hope came up and the demon he was debating said “there is no hope here, hope has no power in Hell.” And the Dream King replies that Hope is powerful and there would be no Hell if those stuck there could not dream and hope of better. I’ve always thought that was a powerful statement.



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