Pandora’s box and the audacity of hope.

The myth of Pandora is as relevant today as ever before.

Pandora and her mate Epimetheus lived in a world of bliss. There was only happiness and ease. No disease, no trouble. The archetype of Adam and Eve in the garden before they ate from the tree of knowledge. Life was rich and plentiful, full of wine and song. Just like it is for so many privileged people living in a consumer society. Buying stuff, bigger houses, TVs, toys, dining out. Drunk with the ease of it. As if this state will go on forever.

When Jupiter’s messenger, Mercury, was spotted carrying a large box one day, Pandora could not contain her curiosity. The question of what was inside triggered an insane desire that could not be sated. She wanted to know, and she wanted to know now! Instant gratification. Sound familiar? No patience, no reward for effort. “I deserve to know!” As if deserving was a supreme right. So she opened the box, without a second thought to any consequence. We can worry about what happens later after we get what we want and have a good time.

Having been warned not to do it, she took a quick peek.

A peek that changed the course of human affairs.

Imagine that? Instant gratification, entitlement, lack of consideration of long-term effects, and greed to know – cause a severe challenge to life and human existence.

Out flew all the vile and nasty creatures and thoughts that had not lived on earth until now. The plague, the crash in the economy, greed, strife, corruption, pain, death, poverty and disease.

Pandora was horrified. What had she done? What had her thoughtless and callous actions unleashed on the world? It was the first time she had to suffer the effects of her actions – and the first time she got to taste the consequences that hurt so many others.

She and all the world’s people suffered for the first time in agony and despair.

Suffering – is it necessary for the maturing of humanity to suffer? Can we evolve without it? When we make suffering wrong and something to be avoided, we attempt to dispose of the hands that shape our human clay. 

Existence requires polarity. Suffering is the polar pair of happiness. When we finally recognise this, we no longer see suffering as an experience to be rejected but as the beautiful instrument of our becoming. To rise above suffering while suffering is happening within us and around us is to hold the shape and tensegrity of life. Reaching this place is a journey worth taking. Ironically and paradoxically, suffering is the way to achieve it. The gods are laughing.

Meanwhile, calling from the box was a small and musical voice–begging to be released. Wild with grief and pain, Pandora initially did not hear this voice. The world was being consumed by nastiness. Finally, at the depths of her despair, Pandora sat in front of the box, the place of her crime, seeking relief from the guilt that racked her. Finally, when her sobs had exhausted her, and it was quiet, she heard the whisper. “Let me out, let me out!” Terrified, least it is more trouble, but wondering if it were possible that there could be anything worse than was already unleashed, Pandora carefully considered the consequences. She decided there was nowhere deeper or darker to go, so she opened the box again.

In a rush of light and music, a tiny silver-winged creature called Hope flew out. Hope was the antithesis of all the other evil and nasty creatures that inhabited the box. She was beauty and light, laughter and song. And in her presence, while still inflicted by the vile and nasty creatures, the world was rebalanced – with beauty and love, time with family and friends, music, poetry, laughter and song, finding a place to dance amongst the shadows.

Hope is the counterfoil to the evils of the world.

Hope is not some bland sentiment but alights the question of possibility within us. Hope opens our minds and creativity and has us ask questions, seek answers, and challenge assumptions.

Hope is a cool drink in the desert of despair.

Pandora’s box is wide open. The shadow of our excess is tormenting the world. It always was unsustainable. We know now that we have to find better ways. We have to tackle the issues we have been avoiding. The ones we have tried to keep in the box. Not just the environment, our use of fossil fuels, or the economy, but population growth, our money systems, governance structures, legal codes, measuring and accounting systems, education, the military-industrial complex, corporatism, capitalism, fascism, polarising nationalism, and our own integrity.

Large, seemingly hard, entrenched systems and structures underpin a world breaking.

When I tell people that we in Syntropic World are up to do precisely this – redesigning the very systems and structures that have become our global operating systems – we get one of the following responses.

  1. Eyes glaze over. Cannot be done. Foolish to try. And besides, I have too much of my life invested in the status quo to rock the boat. (But do not tell anyone I said that!)
  2. Who do you think you are to even attempt this? (I am nobody and everybody. Someone has to start.)
  3. Really? Are you crazy? (Yes, proudly crazy)
  4. Tell me more. (Happy too)
  5. I want in. Where do I start? (Take the Syntropic Masterclass)

At the bottom of the box lies Hope. Ever present, ready to be released. Hope lives in the world of the non-linear, non-rational. She cannot be diced, sliced, dissected, measured, or pointed to. She is the miraculous. The synchronistic. She defies explanation. 

Hope asks us to follow our inner whisper, the truth that speaks with aeons of wisdom beyond our mortal selves. Hope is the connection to that very field – the source of all creation. Hope knows that it will be touch and go because that is the nature of humanity – to push everything to the brink. Yet Hope asks us to change our inner and outer world because Hope knows everything is possible.

When we lose Hope, we are lost.

Timing matters.

Kairos time partners with Hope. Kairos time is non-linear time that connects the mysterious and unexplainable. Kairos time is the exact, unpredictable time that birth commences, death arrives, and we are broken down. Kairos time assumes that there are no accidents, for all is connected to the field of all creation.

Kairos time – the clock of the heavens

When we shut the door to possibility and reduce our world to simplistic cause and effect, we remove the miraculous and mysterious.

We deny ourselves access to a world where a perfect stranger walks up to us in the street and smiles when we need it most.

The field of Grace on the wings of Hope is one of the most significant forces operating in the world.

Like all things, she requires intentional cultivation within us and as an expression of what we say and do in the world.

Without Hope, we are lost.

First published in 2008