The Non-Grasping Mind
Bear with me here. I am going to try to explain something difficult to explain. It is at the heart of the philosophy and art of Gung Fu (or Kung Fu). It is this: In mastering the martial art of Gung Fu or in mastering the art of overcoming any adversary or obstacle, one’s mind needs to see or to watch the drama unfolding without rigidly holding on—to anything. The grasping mind is the one that ego dominates, which can be commandeered by anger or regret or fear. The non-grasping mind observes and acts based on unfolding forces and events, but always using, rather than opposing with brute force the energies that run counter to one’s goals.
To use a metaphor, the non-grasping mind is the ball that floats on an incoming tide, rather than the rock smashed by it , again and again, and, ultimately, worn away by it.
The non-grasping mind is the mind of the person who, faced with the Covid pandemic, does not lose itself in fear or despair, but, instead, wonders what service to one’s fellow men can be rendered amidst the calamity. The non-grasping mind is the mind of the person who, faced with the pandemic, re-engineers her business to create products needed by others (and perhaps does lots of good while doing very well). The non-grasping mind is the mind of the person who sees violence on the streets and wonders how to hold up a mirror to that violence (perhaps metaphorically, but perhaps literally) in order to allow those who are violent to see themselves.
The non-grasping mind, as Bruce Lee, the legendary martial artist and philosopher put it, “grasps nothing, yet . . . refuses nothing; it receives, but does not keep.”
Lee has noted that Alan Watts, the late philosopher, writer and speaker, put it this way, “[Non-grasping mind is] a state of wholeness in which the mind functions freely and easily, without the sensation of a second mind or ego standing over it with a club.”
Imagine allowing the mind to function in this non-grasping way in business—receiving a threat to a massive project without the impulse to panic or the impulse to fire back at the competition. Instead, the non-grasping mind would note the threat and respond to it dispassionately, with surgical precision and no alarm or hatred or fear. The tennis ball on the tide, still floating or watching calmly from the sand, after all the furious waves crash.
The beauty of the non-grasping mind is that it is not inactive. It is massively active, on its own, without being driven by ego. The mind sees things which the overheated mind does not. The non-grasping mind allows for effective actions that the clenching mind does not. The non-grasping mind dances life’s difficulties out the door, rather than trying to throw them out the door.
The non-grasping mind is not the mind of a victim. Far from it. It will even absorb blows while tiring out its opponent and waiting to strike back. Because it knows when to stand firm and when to bend, all the while knowing it must and it will prevail, or be back to try, again—and again.
Buy this book. It is only a beginning, but a good way to start.
Dr. Keith Ablow