The Difference Between “Never Give Up” and “Grasping”


Helen writes: At the moment I am pondering the difference between “never give up” and “grasping”. Perhaps you can help me.

Lama Surya Das: This is a juicy subject, well worth pondering.  Holding on too long is one problem, for sure; on the other hand, letting go too soon and too easily is another extreme (unbalance) or mistake.

Firstly, never say never. Or don’t say it much. Or say always much, either.

Discovering right action and appropriateness for yourself as an active agent and being responsible for your own life (and family etc.) is key, via the pathway of your own experience and discernment, inner wisdom and intuition, etc.  This is a moment by moment and day by day process, as well as in regard to decisions with more long term ramifications— like marriage, commitments and projects, leave-taking, divorce, moving house or whatever.

Some people find it quite hard to say no, as you must know,  or to maintain healthy boundaries and balance in relationships, etc. Yet sometimes saying ‘no’ can be quite affirmative, as in learning not to spoil children. Sometimes one makes errors of omission by not doing what actually needs doing, which can be equally destructive—or just unsatisfying—  as errors of commission. Sometimes saying no to someone or something includes and implies a big yes to yourself or to something else more valuable.

Giving up might sound negative, yet letting go and equanimous nonattachment is often helpful and even prescribed.  And surrender of the right kind (and time and place, and for right reasons INCLUDING NO OTHER VIABLE CHOICE) can have great spiritual value and meaningful purpose.

I would say: Never give in to discouragement, and always cultivate an open and clear heart-mind and attitude—IF pressed to use totalizing words like always and never.

Submitted via on April 22, 2013