Gratification & Dangers
Food, Medicine, Drugs
We can analyze everything that we consume (physically or mentally) in terms of its gratification and dangers1 to understand better. In general:
Drugs have instant or short-term gratification and bad long-term consequences.
Medicines may not have instant gratification, but long-term benefits.
Foods have some level of gratification and reasonable benefits.
Whether it is a food, a medicine or a drug, if the instant gratification is high, we easily get hooked into them. It takes clear understanding and proper discipline to move towards long-term benefits.
Meditation practice starts as a medicine for our suffering; and then it becomes a nourishing food. Since it does not offer any instant gratification, most people do not go for it or give up quickly or fall for spiritual materialism.
Physiological -vs- Psychological drugs
For the most part, people have a better understanding and awareness of physiological drugs (such as alcohol) and their consequences. Nobody thinks of them as a good medicine. Still people get addicted to them.
On the other hand, people do not have a clear understanding or awareness of psychological drugs (such as hope2) and their subtle, complex, long-term consequences. Hence people often praise and celebrate them. But they are the major source of our suffering. The world is still very much under their seduction.
When we are addicted to a physiological drug, we clearly recognize that we are its victim. But when are addicted to a psychological drug, it becomes part of our identity; we simply become its slave without clear awareness of it.
(How about music, movies, etc.3? Are they food, medicine or drugs? What kind of drugs?)
Seduction of Hope
Like alcohol, hope gives quick gratification and comfort. Hence we are easily attached to it. The main problem is that people often take it too seriously as a proper strategy. Hope is the fundamental commodity of all spiritual materialism. It is just playing on our weakness.
Hope is illusory, not real, not factual. It is an escape mechanism when we are incapable of facing reality just as it is. When we try to escape and run away from our problem, it only strengthens our fear. Hope is other side of fear of the same coin. With the cycle of hope and fear, we always have to keep running, never finding any deeper peace or well-being.
Hope is Not a Real Strategy
1. Buddha used gratification, danger & escape analysis for clear understanding and contemplation. Gratification is a trap, a bait; without it, we wouldn't be trapped in it and suffer. But there is an escape, a way to find our freedom from it.
2. Dictionary definition of hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. We use the word "hope" in many senses: as a simple wish, as being confident, etc. But, when we use it as an escape mechanism, it robs the present moment and our long-term well-being. When we take "hope" as a serious strategy based on mere beliefs and assumptions, it becomes harmful. Pema Chödrön makes a lion's roar, a courageous proclamation: "Abandon hope".
3. Depending on how we use music, movies, etc., they can be a healing medicine, or a nourishing food, or an addictive drug. As a drug, they can be categorized as sensual drugs (sense oriented drugs) and they can be placed in between physiological & psychological drugs.