You'll often read posts of mine that make reference to the ‘grasping mind'. But what is this concept and what does it mean for your life?
The grasping mind is a state of mind characterized by never being content with what is here, now.
The grasping mind is never satisfied.
It is driven by the ego, by desire, greed and attachment.
For example, you may find temporary contentment in material things, but it isn't long before that thing you wanted so much is no longer as desirable as the new vision in your mind.
Consider buying a house with the perfect size garden, yet after 6 months and having seen a number of other people's gardens, thoughts begin to creep in that actually you'd be happier with something bigger.
What was perfect just a few months ago is now unsatisfactory.
Similarly, you buy a new car and feel a great sense of appreciation and excitement. Then, the following year a newer model comes out and you no longer feel content with what society now labels “the old model”.
You fall in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, but after 10 years she has aged and put on a few pounds. Suddenly, younger women are now far more attractive and your interest in her wanes.
The grasping mind is a vacuous entity. If you allow yourself to become trapped in its vortex, you'll never find mental peace.
There will always be something bigger, faster, prettier, and more exciting.
What is, is never enough.
The Grasping Mind – A Void that Can't Be Filled
Caught in this cycle, you can never be content. Because no matter what you have, there will always be a desire for something else. You will always feel a void.
If only I had a bigger house, a prettier wife, better behaved kids, a smaller nose, a better car, more money, etc.
The grasping mind holds onto the past, too, despite not being able to change it: if only I had more sleep last night, if only I didn't break up with that guy, if only I'd gone to a better school, if only I hadn't made that bad decision.
And so it rues the past and lusts after the future. It is never happy in the now.
Living in the Shadow of Others
As we compare what we have to that of others, the grasping mind becomes a cause of jealousy.
It does not allow us to be truly happy for others – their success and prosperity – because it convinces us to be unhappy with our own, and tells us that we would be happier if we had more, or were luckier in life.
Life seems unfair, even though their are many people less fortunate.
This can lead to a dark place, one that sees us find some sense of comfort in the misfortune of others. Although we may display sympathy, we are reassured that they are less fortunate and unlikely to have more prosperity than we do.
The grasping mind is perpetually discontented, and ultimately can become bitter.
Taming the Grasping Mind
Think of your mind as dualistic, with two personalities – one good one bad.
There is the grasping mind, which we have discussed, and then the pure ‘nature of mind'.
Of course, it is absolutely normal to get caught up in the midst of the grasping mind from time to time. But if you harness the nature of mind, then this will become a less frequent occurrence.
The nature of mind in Buddhism is described as follows:
Imagine a sky, empty, spacious, and pure from the beginning; its essence is like this. Imagine a sun, luminous, clear, unobstructed, and spontaneously present; its nature is like this. Imagine that sun shining out impartially on us and all things, penetrating all directions; its energy, which is the manifestation of compassion, is like this: Nothing can obstruct it and it pervades everywhere.
Non-attachment is the way to live through the nature of mind. Do not cling to that which cannot be clung.
Understand that material things are impermanent, and so is life itself. Things are in a perpetual state of change. Nothing lasts; it is nature's way.
The more you try to cling to the (seemingly) next best thing, the unhappier you will become, as contentment moves father away.
The true nature of life is obscured by over-thinking, by grasping onto things and clinging to thoughts of “When I have…what if I could…if I hadn't, then I…”.
Some Final Thoughts
It is not wrong to want better in life and to improve your circumstances. But when your happiness depends on having more than you need, and you find yourself feeling empty and in a perpetual state of desire, then the grasping mind is in control.
You will not find happiness in this state.
The question one should ask is: can I be happy with what I have now? Is this enough to be happy?
If the answer is yes, then allow that to happen.
Don't live in an imaginary world where the ego is constantly creating mental scenarios of having more: being richer, being more popular, being more adored.
This is not reality. You are living in a thought stream world that doesn't exist.
These thoughts have no truth outside of the thoughts that think them.
Pay attention in the present moment and meditate upon the blessings that make up your reality in the now.
Focus your energy on appreciation, kindness and compassion.
Invest in the nature of mind, and let go of the grasping mind.