Hope Leans Forward

Braving Your Way toward Simplicity, Awakening, and Peace

Hope Leans Forward

Braving Your Way toward Simplicity, Awakening, and Peace

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Find spiritual insight for developing courage and meeting life's broken-open, pulled-apart times for anyone seeking hope.

Daily we are asked to move toward bravery, to stretch in the direction of goodness, kindness, forgiveness, patience, and vulnerability. Yet life's tender fragility, fear, anxiety, and our own practiced self-sabotage can derail us from growing and thriving, leaving us fractured and afraid.

Ordained Buddhist teacher and Quaker Valerie Brown invites us into the heart of compassion, insight, and courage. Filled with Quaker wisdom, mindfulness meditation practices, and portraits of real people living out simple yet life-affirming bravery, Hope Leans Forward is a guidebook for all of us who are on journeys of self-transformation, self-discovery, and spiritual discernment. Centering small, everyday acts of bravery with diverse stories from marginalized communities, Brown's unique perspective as a Black Buddhist Dharma teacher in the Plum Village tradition and her extensive leadership experience shepherd us in navigating life's essential questions to discover true aliveness and meaning. When we focus on cultivating clarity and discernment in our purpose, we begin to understand that we are truly connected to--and that we contribute to--a larger whole.

Written through a period of profound personal loss and in the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, Brown's spiritual insight and life- and spirit-tested wisdom offers a new source for anyone seeking hope, and seeking to alleviate suffering within ourselves and our communities.


"This extraordinary book is like a great river that delivers nutrients to all those on her shores. I have sat with the wisdom that Valerie Brown has shared in this remarkable volume and been uplifted and also grounded as she opens the heart of her reader through the courage and hope that she shares."

Roshi Joan Halifax, abbot, Upaya Zen Center

"Hope Leans Forward is a deeply personal and rich book that does not hide the mud from which lotuses grow, but at the same time shows the lotuses in all their splendor.... As the author shows, our hope lies not so much in the future but in the present, for there we can listen to the voice of our soul in order to live in the service of a more compassionate life."

sister true virtue, Plum Village, France

"To read this book is to feel more grounded and alive; to practice the wisdom within it is to open yourself to the possibilities of your own life."

Barry Crossno, general secretary, Friends General Conference

"In this moment, when our interconnectedness and mutual vulnerability are more evident than ever, Valerie Brown's Hope Leans Forward offers a path luminescent in its pragmatism, crystal in its invitation to shared responsibility, gentle in its guiding steps and full of grace for each of us."

Sarah Willie-LeBreton, provost and dean of the faculty, professor of sociology and Black studies, Swathmore

"Each chapter of Hope Leans Forward by Valerie Brown is an exploration of one of seven factors of awakening of Buddhist teaching and practice--mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity--in dialogue with Quaker tradition. In particular, Brown writes as a Buddhist-Quaker grounded in her practice of Kundalini Yoga. The end result is an excellent example of how the practice of interreligious dialogue more often than not expands one's faith journey in unexpected and creative ways."

Paul Ingram, The Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies

"This wonderful book invites you in with its mix of warmth and empathy skillfully blended with a sense of adventure, discovery, and fun. It is rich, yet meant to be carried lightly. Practical, but in the service of the journey toward unknowing. Filled with helpful practices and powerful insights, it will help anyone chart the course toward spiritual maturity."

Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares, executive director, Spiritual Directors International

"Hope Leans Forward is equal parts inspirational and practical offering an abundance of wisdom and guidance at the intersection of multiple religious and spiritual traditions."

Lynn Screen, managing director, Institute for Transformational Leadership, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies

"In Hope Leans Forward Valerie Brown intimately weaves her own story and those of others to explore in a very deep way the seven factors of awakening in Buddhism and the inquiry and reflection of Quaker spirituality to provide a reader's guidebook to explore life's deepest questions, navigate life's inevitable rocky waters and hurt places, and cultivate clarity on the way to their true self."

Bill Pullen, MSOD, MCC, academic director, Institute for Transformational Leadership, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies

"My beloved sister in the Dharma, Valerie Brown offers all of us a beautiful stream of living inspiration and wisdom born of experience. Enjoy these precious and practical life stories. If you wish to be uplifted, this is a worthy read."

Dr. Larry Ward, The Lotus Institute and Buddhist Dharma teacher, Plum Village

"Valerie Brown's story of her journey helps me to see my own path in greater clarity. I am inspired by her courage, her boldness, her clarity. I will be using this book in my classroom and in my practice with clients."

Dr. Peggy Rowe-Ward, coauthor of Making Friends with Time and Love's Garden, The Lotus Institute and Buddhist Dharma teacher, Plum Village

"If you are ready to lean into 'the discomfort that foreshadows transformation,' then this book is for you. If you are not ready for that discomfort, this book is for you. If you don't know whether you're ready for the foreshadowing, this book is for you. If you think you leaned too far into transformation, this book is for you. If you think you need to lean backwards, this book is for you. If you are not sure about your body's posture toward courage, this book is for you. In each case, Valerie Brown shows us how transformation, with just a slight pivot, is within our reach."

Pamela Ayo Yetunde, ThD, coeditor of Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom

"Valerie Brown invites readers on a pilgrimage to the intersections of vulnerability, community, and courage--to our own soul stories. Journeying with us across challenging terrain as companion and guide, she brings the voices of other travelers she's met on her path, as well as trustworthy practices that will support and encourage us along the way--ones we can turn to whenever we need to come home to ourselves."

Kathryn A. McElveen, executive director, Center for Courage & Renewal

"As manager of QuakerBooks of the Friends General Conference, I am regularly asked about books on settling in, focusing, centering, etc. Many Friends and seekers know 'why' and they need to know 'how.' Hope Leans Forward will be my answer. Valerie Brown invites the reader: 'Sail with me. Let this book guide you.' She certainly delivers. Her meshing of Buddhist practices with the Quaker Way, in clear and concise words, is a gift that will guide many to mindfulness."

Audrey L. Greenhall, manager, QuakerBooks and QuakerPress, Friends General Conference

"Reading what Valerie Brown has written is a pilgrimage in itself--in the company of a wise, compassionate guide. The beautiful weaving of story and practice, the dance between Buddhist and Quaker practices, the simplicity of it, the elegance of it, the stories of Valerie's life, the stories of others who have been on this path--all these rich elements woven together in a tapestry create an experience of life's pilgrimage. I read it very slowly, allowing it to nourish me. I didn't want it to end."

Judy Sorum Brown, poet, writer, and leadership development expert

"I am beyond grateful for Valerie Brown's book Hope Leans Forward. Read and take in her wisdom. Begin to create your path toward bravery. We will all be better for it."

Yvonne L. Moore, philanthropic advisor, catalyst, and change agent

"Valerie Brown has written a heartful and generous book that weaves together her spiritual journey as a Catholic-Quaker-Buddhist Black woman of Cuban-Jamaican descent into a tapestry that leaves nothing behind, that honors every step of the journey--joyful and challenging alike, and that centers the voices of ordinary, extraordinary people living lives of courage and compassion in communities across the country."

Elaine Retholtz, licensed acupuncturist and teacher, New York Insight Meditation Center


"With a mix of wisdom, mindfulness meditation practices and inspiring stories of everyday people, Brown hopes to provide a source of hope for anyone who needs it."

The Root

"Brown writes that she hopes readers will 'let [Hope Leans Forward] surprise, inspire, and warm your heart.' It set mine on fire."

Friends Journal

"Perfect for those who want to progress on their spiritual journey."

Library Journal

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506478371
  • eBook ISBN 9781506478388
  • Dimensions 5.25 x 7.25
  • Pages 275
  • Publication Date November 8, 2022