We tell our kids to stop crying, and we tell ourselves that crying is a sign of weakness. Outdated colloquial expressions like, “men don’t cry” can still be found hiding behind macho beliefs. Even without that, most people see crying as something they’d rather avoid.
The insight is that crying is a breakdown of the ego identity. That is why those with very strong egos rarely if ever cry, unless they reach a catharsis in their lives; then the flood is on because it all comes apart suddenly. Have you noticed that after going through traumatic experiences that shakes up your identity (like a divorce for example) crying is a constant companion? You cry for no reason. It takes a while for the ego to reshape, and the crying episodes ebb away.
Every tear is a brick in the wall of your ego coming loose.
We can also see this in devotional behavior. Spiritual seekers will burst into tears as they gaze onto their master, guru, pope, statue of the divine, or object of worship. This is because in that moment, there is no ego, and they feel totally surrendered.
Then there are countless accounts of saints who arrive at significant desperate crossroads in their lives, crying for help and guidance, and are lifted above their mortal form. They go through this crucible and are transformed.
Crying is a letting go, a release. It’s a way to shed baggage. It is a purging.
Also consider being overwhelmed to tears by a piece of music, or art, or nature. These are instances when the small self disappears, and we feel at resonance with something larger and more sweeping than ourselves. Or have you ever had the experience of crying and laughing at the same time?
If we are seeking liberation, then opportunities to cry away our conditioning should be seen as a welcomed opening. But it’s only an opening if we yield into it. Sometimes we cry because we are struggling with a situation and trying to resist. That is the ego resisting, so the question is this: Are we willing to submit? Of course, we also cry because of loss, and there the question is: Are we willing to let go?
“Let your tears come. Let them water your soul.” – Eileen Mayhew
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