In my last post about Kate Bornstein I mentioned briefly the idea that grasping is suffering. This idea came about when Kate was asked about a woman who has offered unkind ideas about transgender people. What would you say to someone who believed unkind things about you? Kate said something to the effect of she wishes she is at peace. Then she went into this idea of grasping is suffering.*
In this case, this women was grasping at an idea of being a woman. I have been thinking a lot about gender as reality and how we grasp to hold on to what we know about gender. The harder you grasp, the more you suffer.
Let’s say you have a very firm understanding of what being a woman is. A woman looks a certain way, a woman behaves a certain way. We are in a place in time where those ideals are being questioned. Daily. In every single way. Now a woman can have a penis and be a CEO. Now a woman can choose not to have children. Many people hold on to ideas of what a woman is because that is the very fabric of their reality. Trying to hold on to that idea as it slips from their fingers causes this suffering. The suffering is then released in the form of anger.
Is this true in other ways? As I thought about it, I compared it to love and sex. The harder we grasp on to love the more we suffer. If our ideas of what a relationship are supposed to be are cemented, we will be disappointed over and over again as we realize our relationships are flexible or fluid over time. If we believe sex is supposed to look a certain way and grasp for that, we may suffer as we learn that satisfaction may come in waves.
I have always believed that the most angry people, the meanest people, are the ones that are suffering the most. This idea of grasping helps me put these ideas into perspective.
What makes someone cruel? The suffering that they have inside of themselves but cannot see.
*Apparently this is a buddhist idea. I would love to read more about it if anyone has any resources.