The Second Noble Truth is that the cause of suffering is clinging or grasping-from the mental forces of greed and possessiveness, hatred and aggression, and ignorance and delusion. This clinging or grasping must be abandoned if we are to realize freedom.
We grasp at what we like, trying to hold back change; and we push away what we don’t like, wanting things to be different. We want to never grow old (consider the alternative!) and we don’t want to lose what we love or like. Although this may feel instinctual or natural, this means that we are in constant struggle and at war with the way things are. This agitation is the stuff of suffering.
When you’re suffering, see where there is attachment, grasping. Study how the mind is, moment to moment, each sitting. As attention deepens, we see grasping clearly – the persistent attachment to money, work, even spiritual beliefs (to mention just a few). Our whole sense of self gets created trying to control people and events, convinced that we are “right.”
To unclench the fist of clinging doesn’t mean that we don’t respond appropriately to the world or try to help. Yet we learn that we are not in control of all conditions and outcomes.
Can you stop the war, the constant struggle? Can you let go? As Ajahn Chah advised, “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace and if you let go completely, you will have complete peace.”