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   ”I was so anxious to meet God, I used to weep from morning til night. Even while working in my office, tears would involuntarily flow from my eyes and my office papers were spoiled by tears. I could not sleep at night. I would ask, “O God, what is happening?” At home, my family could not understand what was happening - I had recently been transferred from the place of my parents and everyone thought the tears were due to this. What can other people know of the condition of one’s heart? Once the enigma of the mystery of life enters the heart, a person knows no peace until it has been solved.” (Portrait of Perfection: A Pictorial Biography of Kirpal Singh, p. 1)

   “I will cry to Thee, and keep crying, till the milk of Thy kindness boils up.” - Rumi

   “My child, wash Christ’s feet with your tears, and He will in turn wash away your sins.” - Athonite Father Tichon

   “Ask for your share of the divine nectar and it shall not be withheld from you. Indeed, those who have turned from the peaceful hearth that is their due, to move through the gloomy houses of men to dispense it, have done so because of the dark flood of secret tears that break daily through the banks of human life.” - Paul Brunton (Notebooks, Vol. 12, Part 2, 5.42)

   “A shadow cast by the light of oncoming Grace sometimes appears as a fit of weeping. Without outer cause, the tears stream without stop or else sadness wells up without mitigation…He may be one of the fortunate ones who can call down upon themselves the workings of Grace. When he feels the urge to weep for no apparent reason he should not resist, as it is a sign of the working of Grace upon him. The more he yields to this urge the more quickly he will progress.” (Ibid, 5.283, 303)

   “I have dropped in a heap on the earth, crying, in the hope that I will feel a touch of his hand. I have fallen like a fish into deep water in the hope that the Friend will catch me in his net...If only in the middle of the night in place of these flowing tears I had you in my embrace.” - Hafiz (The Illuminated Hafiz)

   “The child cries and [the mother] comes to give him something to eat and again goes away. Again he cries until nothing satisfies him but the mother taking him in her arms. When you want nothing else Other than Him, He comes. Just as mothers always have pity, grace for the child, so it is with Master's Love. With His little thought, you weep like anything. Do you follow?” (Kirpal Singh, unpublished talk)

   Sri Ramakrishna:

   “Cry to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him. People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. They swim in tears for money. But who weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry.”

   ‘Where does the strength of an aspirant lie? It is in his tears. As a mother gives her consent to fulfill the desire of her importunately weeping child, so God vouchsafes to His weeping son whatever he is crying for.”

   “It is necessary to pray to Him with a longing heart. The kitten knows only how to call its mother, crying, "Mew, mew!" It remains satisfied wherever its mother puts it. And the mother cat puts the kitten sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on the floor, and sometimes on the bed. When it suffers it cries only, "Mew, mew!" That's all it knows. But as soon as the mother hears this cry, wherever she may be, she comes to the kitten.”

   Kirpal also spoke to this latter point:

   "If you wish to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, it is best to go through the water and not the dry desert sands. The dry sand is the way of the intellect, while the water is the flow of your tears. That is the best way to meet Him. Through weeping and wailing in the love of God or of your Master, you will meet Him very fast. Without weeping and wailing, no one has met God. God Almighty is controlled by the true devotee." (Sat Sandesh, July 1975, p. 27)

   Swami Sivananda on Ramakrishna:

   “When I first began to visit Sri Ramakrishna, I often felt like crying. One night at Dakshineswar, by the bank of the Ganges, I wept to my heart’s content. In the meantime the Master had been asking for me. When I returned to his room, he said: ‘You know, if you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.’”

   “St. Seraphim of Sarov is said to have sat on a rock and cried bitterly for three years over his sinful nature, imploring God for mercy. This is not just ignorant, self-pity, but true repentance of the broken heart.” - Padre Pio

   “My anguish of soul continued unceasing, day and night. The torment swelled into the same uninterrupted prayer even in sleep or when other people were about, although then something kept me from giving any outward sign. But as soon as I was back in my room, almost before I could shut the door, the tears would overwhelm me. There were moments when the pain of being separated from God cast me to the floor, and in the silence of the night I would weep for hours over my dreadful loss. The whole of me - mind, heart, even my body - contracted into a single, tight knot. And when the weeping exceeded a certain limit, the earth - the whole visible world - disappeared from my consciousness and I was alone before God.” (Elder Sophrony, We Shall See Him As He Is, p. 162)

   “Jesus wept.” - John 11:35

   “There is a palace that opens only to tears.” - Zohar

   “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” - Psalms 126:5

   “There is nothing so whole as a broken heart." - Hebrew mystical saying

   “Wouldst thou make obeisance to thy master, my heart? He is there at every step, on each side of thy path: the welcome offered thee is thy master, the agony inflicted on thee is thy master. Every wrench at thy heartstrings that maketh tears flow is thy master.” - Bengali verse

   “O my friends, I wish that no one should be a victim of such a state of agony as is mine because of intense longing due to separation. If it were possible to take hold of this feeling of intense longing, I would have covered my Lord with it so that He should also know what intense longing is, and His eyes would also shed tears of blood and fire in the pangs of separation. But alas! this is not possible. I am full of pain and the feeling of intense longing is too much for me. Perhaps my mother gave birth to me so that I should suffer this intense longing. O my God, in my love for You, I am like a nightingale singing songs of lamentation, which bring tears of blood to my eyes.” - Hafiz, Philosophy of the Masters, Series Two

   A contemplation;

   "So many tears you have shed in samsaras realms
   When separated from your dearest friends,
   The teardrops from your eyes
   Would overflow the basins of the oceans."
- Nagarjuna

   “Which is greater, the tears that were shed from existence to existence while wandering this samsara, crying red and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing, or the waters in the four great oceans?” The Buddha gave the answer that the tears shed were truly greater.”

   “Long have you repeatedly experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while wandering this long, long samsara, crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing, are greater than the waters in the four great oceans.”

   “Long have you repeatedly experienced the death of a father...the death of a brother... the death of a sister...the death of a son...the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth...loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while wandering this long, long time, crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing, are greater than the waters in the four great oceans.”

   “Why is that? From an inconceivable beginning comes birth. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are being reborn repeatedly. Long have you thus experienced distress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries, enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.”
- Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya, Part II, XV3)

   Suffer the little children….

   “When the child refuses to be comforted by anything except the mother’s presence, she comes. If you want to know God, you must be like the.. baby who cries till the mother comes.”

   "There will come a day when you will feel totally helpless, a mere pawn of destiny, and then you will begin to realize that God alone is your haven of security."
(Paramhansa Yogananda, Journey to Self-Realization)

   "When one cries one's inside become cleansed, just as water cleans the outside. I said: "I am unable to do what you tell me to do. I simply do not know how. The only thing I can do is cry." She said: "By this all will be achieved." (Atmananda, a devotee of Anandamayee Ma, Death Must Die)

   St. John describes God’s purification with the following metaphor:

   "This purgative and loving knowledge or Divine light whereof we here speak acts upon the soul which it is purging and preparing for perfect union with it in the same way as fire acts upon a log of wood in order to transform it into itself; for maternal fire, acting upon wood, first of all begins to dry it, by driving out its moisture and causing it to shed the water which it contains within itself. Then it begins to make it black, dark and unsightly, and even to give forth a bad odor, and, as it dries it little by little, it brings out and drives away all the dark and unsightly accidents which are contrary to the nature of fire. And, finally, it begins to kindle it externally and give it heat, and at last transforms it into itself and makes it as beautiful as fire....It drives out its unsightliness, and makes itself black and dark, so that it seems worse than before and more unsightly and abominable than it was wont to be. For this Divine purgation is removing all the evil and vicious humours which the soul has never perceived because they have been so deeply rooted and grounded in it; it has never realized, in fact, that it has had so much evil within itself....This enkindling of love, however, is not always felt by the soul, but only at times when contemplation assails it less vehemently, for then it has occasion to see, and even to enjoy, the work which is being wrought in it, and which is then revealed to it. For it seems that the worker takes his hand from the work, and draws the iron out of the furnace, in order that something of the work which is being done may be seen; and then there is occasion for the soul to observe in itself the good which it saw not while the work was going on. In the same way, when the flame ceases to attack the wood, it is possible to see how much of it has been enkindled." (St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul)

   The metaphor of burning wood, driving out impurities, is found not only in the Christian tradition, such as in previous passage of St. John of the Cross, often copied by Fenelon, Madam Guyon, and others. In the book Tales of the Mystic East one finds the following story:

   "Sheik Shibli, accompanied by some of his disciples, was one day idly watching a piece of wood that was burning slowly on the top of a cooking fire. As the log was wet, the heat was driving drops of liquid from it at one end. After a moment or two of reflection, Shibli said to his disciples:

   “How can you who profess to have deep love and devotion for the Lord, truly say that you are burning in the pangs of separation from Him? I see no tears of sadness or longing in your eyes. To all of you I say, that you should take a lesson from this dumb and humble piece of wood. See how it burns and how it weeps.”

   Fenelon succinctly states, "One does not begin to know and to feel one’s spiritual miseries until they begin to be cured” - meaning that the disturbing and painful states that arise or are illumined as the spirit makes its way through the knot of self or egoic conditioning, are in fact signs of cure and not the opposite. Tears inevitably follow.

   “Tears of soft divine emotion are the panacea for all yogic ills.” - Shri Atmananda Krishnamenon (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, 622)

   Paul Brunton writes:

   “It is better for his real progress that his eyes should fill with tears of repentance than with the tears of ecstasy.” (1)

   “There is no entry here for the proud, the conceited, the self-pedestalled. They must first be humbled, shorn, and shamed. They must drop to the ground on their knees, must become weeping beggars and wounded mendicants.”

   “They believe it is possible to attain truth without tears, without discipline, and without training.”

   “Since the very “I” which seeks the truth and practiced the meditation is itself so illusory, it cannot attain what it seeks or even practiced with success, unless it also receives help from a bigger source. Only two such sources are possible. The first and best is the Overself’s direct grace. This must be asked for, begged for, and wept for. The next best is the grace of a master who has himself entered into truth-consciousness.”

   “When a spiritual teacher is asked to accept a student, he tries to discourage the seeker, because he knows by personal experience what a long and painful road it is…The essence of this path is the giving up of the “I,” the ego, which means that in a crisis the heart must weep tears of blood. Deep wounds are made, which only time can heal. They will be healed someday and when the storm of hurt feelings goes completely, a great peace arises.”

   “A shadow cast by the light of oncoming Grace sometimes appears as a fit of weeping. Without outer cause, the tears stream without stop or else sadness wells up without mitigation.”

   “He may have to weep for a mere glimpse of the soul. But this got, he will certainly weep again for its return. For he knows now by unshakeable conviction and by this vivid demonstration that the durable realization of the Soul is what he is here on earth for.”

   “He should become as a child at the feet of his divine Soul, humbly begging for its grace, guidance, and enlightenment. If his ego is strong, prayer will weaken it. Let him do this every day, not mechanically but sincerely and feelingly until the tears come to his eyes. The quest is an integral one and includes prayer alongside of all the other elements.”

   “Veneration is even more essential to the aspirant than erudition. Nobody need be ashamed to weep, for example, even despite his metaphysical training if he weeps for exalted things or in compassion for others or for the sacred presence. So long as he has not reached the last goal so long is he an aspirant. And so long as he is an aspirant he must be ready to weep for God, to yearn for divinity and to shed tears over its absence from his consciousness; in short, to feel. Indeed the acutest intensest feelings must be possessed and not killed off. Without them a man will never realize the goal. For God is to be felt in the profoundest possible manner, not as a cold intellectual concept.”

   The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Vol. 12, Part 2, 3.12, 5.42, 5.283, 5.122; Vol. 14, 7.130; Vol. 16, Part 3, 12.72; Vol. 12, Part 2, 2.11; The Wisdom of the Overself, Second revised edition,1984, p. 429

   "To meet your creator you have to cry. The tears in your heart will wash your heart, so it becomes innocent, as it always has been. As you have to wake up to the state of presence and to being, so you have to wake up to your soul, which is in the heart. You are a soul - this is your true image, the divine spark from the eternal fire, which journeys in the dimension of time towards the timeless...You are moved; you are touched by the Beloved; you are seen by the Friend...and you are blessed." (Aziz Kristof (anadi), Transmission of Awakening (Delhi,India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999), p. 116, 140)

   “When I was very young I went to the town where Siva first appeared to Manikovachagar. When I sat in the temple tears flowed down my face. Tears like this are often a sign of grace. When your tears are for God rather than for worldly things, the mind and the heart are purified. If you want God so much that you cry when you call on Him, He will surely come to you. When a baby cries, its mother comes to feed it. When a devotee cries because he is hungry for grace, God sends the grace to nourish him.” (Lakshmana Swami, Living by the Words of Bhagavan)

   “It is noteworthy that God is very ready to comfort and satisfy the soul in her needs and afflictions when she neither has nor desires consolation and satisfaction outside of him. The soul possessing nothing that might withhold her from God cannot remain long without a visit from her Beloved.” (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 10:6)

   “The saints have said that this is not a path of dryness. We have only to think of our Beloved, and tears of longing start to flow from our eyes. The mystics have described this as one of the signs of a true lover of God. When we are fortunate enough to meet the Master, to taste a little of his divine love, to become saturated with that love, then tears of love, repentance, and confession begin to flow, we become aware of how we have wasted our lives. Rabi’a Basra, the great eighth century mystic, was once asked if God came to her first and then she started her prayers, or if she started her prayers and then God came to her. She replied, “I can only say this: when tears start rolling down from my eyes in sweet remembrance of the Lord, then the clouds have come and the rain will follow.” Our tears pave the way for our ultimate communion with the Lord, and we can never be satisfied until we are fully drenched in His love.”

   "Remember He has taken a vow never to leave or forsake us until he takes us to our eternal Home. But we should also realize that we must go through the stage when we feel abandoned, when we must feel that the Master has deserted us. This is one of the features of the path of mystic love.
[Similarly Brunton writes: ”It is not only by the experience of feeling at times the presence of God that an aspirant may develop inwardly: it may also happen by the equivalent non-experience, by feeling quite deserted by God, quite left alone! This - the “dark night of the soul” - is just as essential.” (Notebooks, Vol. 15, Part 1, 3.71) ] We must go through this stage without a grumble on our lips, for this stage is in reality a gift from the Master himself to help us grow. Ultimately, it is for our benefit, for our own salvation. There is a divine purpose behind everything the Master does. We may have to spend a lifetime of tears to get his love. We cannot demand the gift supreme from our Beloved. The gift descends at the appointed hour." (Sant Darshan Singh, Spiritual Awakening, p. 186-187, 307)

   “When rain comes the clouds precede. If there are no clouds, there is no rain. If a fruit-bearing tree has blossoms, there is hope for fruit. If there are no blossoms, then there is no hope for fruit. The blossoms and the rain clouds are the foreshadow of the fruits and the rain. Similarly, in feeling separation, crying for God, your heart becomes full. Tears rain down like anything. This is a foreshadow to show that you are nearing God. God is coming to you.”

   “A symbol that in your love you are drawing closer to Him, is that you will feel separation. You will hanker to see Him. Your heart will become full and tears will roll down your cheeks. These are the symptoms to show that the fruit is ripening. These things are the blossoms. Ultimately when the fruit comes, you are for the Master and the Master is for you...The time will come when you will say, “who is living in this body? Am I?” You will see the Master in there. When you fold your hands, they will be the Master’s hands, not yours.
(2) That is the ultimate fruit of the goal.”

   “A Mohammedan Saint was asked whether he first saw God and then said his prayers, or whether God came after his prayers. He said, “God comes first, then I pray.” He was asked how he knew that God had come. He said, “When my heart becomes full, my eyes begin to shed tears, I then think that He has come, that He is dragging me from within, then I pray.”

   “Just as a man has been stabbed and feels pain, so should you feel pain for God. If that is not developed, we are nowhere. We are wasting our human lives.”
(Sant Kirpal Singh, Morning Talks, p. 31-32)

   “Hafiz, perhaps in pursuit of the pearl of union, you would form an ocean from your tears and drown in it.” (The Illuminated Hafiz, p. 113)

   “I wish that I had wept so much in my longing to meet the Lord that the tears from my eyes had swelled into a river, and every tear drop had turned into a spiritual pearl. Then I would have placed all those pearls before the altar of my Beloved.”

   “Look at the nurses who feed babies with their milk. They give the infant scarcely any milk unless it cries for it, because the milk in the breast of the nurses does not flow out unless the child attracts it by its cries. In the same manner so long as a devotee does not cry while praying to Him, the ocean of the Lord’s grace does not surge out.”

   “Man’s work in this world is nothing but to cry in intense longing due to separation from the Lord. Look at the infant. It cries as soon as it is born. It comes into the world crying. Therefore, just as a light burns throughout the night, in the same manner you should shed tears after midnight in longing for the Lord, and continue weeping and asking for His Light. Just as the wick of a lamp is trimmed, similarly you should trim the wick of your head (ego) so that the light in you increases. In other words, as soon as you learn to sigh while weeping, there will be a flood of light inside. God values the tears of His lovers as He does the blood of His martyrs...Tears in the eyes and pain in the heart are the two pillars between which we pass to go within.”
- Rumi (from The Philosophy of the Masters, Series Two)

   “He who spends not the midnight hours, weeping and waiting for the morrow, he knows ye not, ye heavenly powers.” - Goethe

   “One thought of faith is the basis
   which leads one to the way through many a rebirth.
   Pitiful indeed am I who know nothing of the Enlightenment
   piling up one heap of dust over another wherever I go.
   Wild grasses grow green when the season comes,
   the flowers bloom in mad profusion day after day.
   Longing for the Home and yet not knowing how,
   the tears flow and the kerchief is wet.”

   (The first of the ‘Oxherding Pictures’ in Zen, the “Awakening of Faith”)

   “I reached forty, the age when one is not supposed to be bothered any longer by doubts. One night, I decided to take another look at The Lotus Sutra. I got out my only lamp, turned up the wick, and began to read it once again. I read as far as the third chapter, the one on parables. Then, just like that, all the lingering doubts and uncertainties vanished from my mind. They suddenly ceased to exist. The reason for the Lotus’s reputation as the “king of sutras” was now revealed to me with blinding clarity. Teardrops began cascading down my face like two strings of beads - they came like beans pouring from a ruptured sack. A loud involuntary cry burst from the depths of my being and I began sobbing uncontrollably. And as I did, I knew without any doubt that what I had realized in all those satoris I had experienced, what I had grasped in my understanding of those koans I had passed - had all been totally mistaken. I was finally able to penetrate the source of the free, enlightened activity that permeated Shoju’s daily life.” - Hakuin (Norman Waddell, trams., The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin, p. 33)

   “The master, frustrated in his attempts to resolve the feeling of doubt which weighed so heavily on his mind, became deeply disheartened. Signs of serious illness appeared. He began to cough up bloody bits of sputem. He grew steadily worse, until death seemed imminent. He said to himself, “Everyone has to die. I’m not concerned about that. My regret is dying with the great matter I’ve been struggling with all these years, since I was a small boy, still unresolved.” His eyes flushed with hot tears. His breast heaved violently. It seemed his ribs would burst. Then, just at that moment, enlightenment came to him - like a bottom falling out of a bucket. Immediately, his health began to return, but still he was unable to express what he had realized. Then, one day, in the early hours of the morning, the scent of plum blossoms carried to him in the morning air reached his nostrils. At that instant, all attachments and obstacles were swept from his mind once and for all. The doubts that had been plaguing him ceased to exist.” (Norman Waddell, trans., The Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei 1622-1693 (San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1984), book jacket)

   “A devotee achieves communion with God by floating through the flood of his own tears...That eye is very fortunate through which pearls of tears are shed in remembrance and of the Beloved. That heart is blessed which is being burned in the fire of separation from the Beloved, because the tear-drops from the eyes, falling on the ground of the heart, are responsible for bringing forth the blossoms of the mysteries of God. Just as the merciful rain produces multi-colored flowers on the earth, similarly, the eyes that are drenched with tears of remembrance of the Lord bring forth flowers of spirituality. Hence, the status of love is very high.” - Hazur Baba Sawan Singh (Philosophy of the Masters, Series Two )

   “No one has been united to his Beloved through mirth. Whoever has attained communion with Him has done so after shedding many tears. If it were possible to meet the Beloved while laughing and in a state of comfort, why should one suffer the anguish of separation? The people of the world are happy, they eat and sleep. Kabir alone is unhappy, he is awake and crying.” - Kabir (Ibid)

   RAIN: In Tamil literature a rain cloud is a well-known example or metaphor that symbolizes the capacity of God or the Guru to bestow grace. How to receive that grace?

   Swami Shantatmananda offers one suggestion:

   “Devotees would often come to Sri Ramakrishna to seek spiritual advice. They would often lament that they don’t feel a deep love for God. All their spiritual practices appear superfluous and quite often they experience dryness of heart. Sri Ramakrishna would console them and advise them that one of the most potent ways of advancing in spiritual life is to practice the discipline of prayer...Sri Ramakrishna would say that to weep for God or to intensely feel separation from Him, one should establish first a loving relationship with Him. This is possible through prayer because in prayer a devotee tries to converse with God. He tries to express all his feelings and by constantly practicing this discipline, it is possible to slowly form a definite relationship with God. When this matures, it will manifest more and more as Vyakulata or longing or a deep desire to realize Him. In fact, this will ripen to such an extent that one would shed tears during prayers.” (SundayGuardianLive, June 2020)

   This article has explored both a stage and an integral part of the path of bhakti, or loving devotion, but is not exclusive to that path alone. (3) As the sage Atmananda Krishnamenon has said, “The head and the heart are not watertight compartments.” (4)

   Sant Darshan Singh, when asked about the copious tears shed by Sant Kirpal Singh, replied, “Yes, but at what stage?!” Yet Sant Kirpal Singh, late in life said, “Even now, when I remember my Master (Sawan, which means rain), I shed tears.” Thus ‘rain’ is both a stage and inherent part of the path:

   “The first tears of repentance are tiresome. The second ones are those of theoria (i.e., contemplation). The tears of divine love are not at all tiresome, but fill one’s heart with joy.” (An Athonite Gerontikon, p. 365)

   Rain may fall on anyone, anywhere, at any time. It is not meant as a technique an ego can use, but a natural response to inner ice melting through the fire of divine grace, invoked by the yearning and prayers and struggles of the earnest devotee. This loving grace may fall “as the gentle rain from Heaven,” or express itself in a torrent, either way causing a response to emerge from the eyes and heart of its recipient. For most of us, it is life-giving, as necessary for our growth as food and water. May you be so blessed.

   “One time we were sitting with the Beloved Master [Kirpal Singh]. He looked at us and said, “You know, you people don’t know how lucky you are to have a real Master, a true Master, a perfect Master - one who will never leave you or forsake you till the end of the world.” He told us, “Rest assured, I will take you back Home. Don’t you have any doubt in my words.” Often times Master would be shedding tears of love. “These are the tears of love for you all,” He would say.” (The Ocean of Divine Grace, 1976, p. 141)

Two Stories

   “Ryokan [a Zen monk who called himself “Ryokan, the Great Fool”] was one day invited home by his brother. The brother and his wife wanted Ryokan to reprimand their delinquent son. Thus after a long while Ryokan came to see his brother, and stayed there overnight. He, however, did not say a word to reprimand his young nephew, and was about to leave for his mountain the next morning. The nephew was lacing old Ryokan’s straw sandal when he felt a warm wet drop fall on his hand. He looked up in spite of himself, and saw his old uncle Ryokan looking down at hm with tears in his eyes. Ryokan, without uttering a word to his nephew, returned home to his mountain. From that day, however, his nephew changed to being good.” (A Flower Does Not Talk, p. 137-138)

   For over a thousand years the Holy Mountain, as Mt. Athos is known, has been an island center of prayer and meditation for a serious couple of thousand monks living in isolated monasteries and primitive retreats. Rough roads, no cars or phones ensure isolation.

   “Father Maximos told us another story in his usual casual manner:

   “During the first year I was a monk on Mount Athos, there was some kind of a misunderstanding between a young hieromonk and his elder. The young hieromonk was very upset because he heard a rumor that his elder was planning to change his work schedule. Being young and inexperienced he started bad-mouthing his elder. The rest of us, naive and younger than he was, would not waste a moment. We went straight to the elder and reported him. The elder’s reaction was ‘I’ll take care of him during vespers. I will make him feel so much shame he won’t know where to go and hide his face from the rest of us.’ We thought he was really going to reprimand him.”

   “I remember it was Saturday before vespers. The elder walked down the steps from his cell, which was on the second floor, and called for this hieromonk. ‘Come to the sanctuary. I want to talk to you,’ he said to him somberly. ‘Holy Mother of God, the rest of us murmured among ourselves. ‘Alas to him.’ The elder was going to take care of him right inside of the sanctuary. All of us were tense, waiting for the developments. We expected to hear raised voices and reprimands as the elder scolded him. I happened to be inside the sanctuary helping with the service as I had just been made a deacon. And what do you think I witnessed? As they entered the sanctuary, the sixty-five-year-old elder fell on his knees in front of the twenty-five-year-old monk, kissed his feet, and asked for forgiveness. ‘I am sorry, my brother,’ he said to the young monk, ‘I must have done something to cause you grief. Please forgive me.’ The other of course was shattered and began sobbing while asking forgiveness from the elder. By the grace of God, tranquility was restored in the monastery and a valuable lesson was offered to all of us.”

   “Father Maximos paused in reminiscience. “You know there was more to this story. On Monday I visited Elder Ephraim [another charismatic elder and spiritual guide to Father Maximos] at Latounakia. His hermitage was hours away from our monastery. The moment he saw me he became inquisitive. ‘What happened on Saturday night at the monastery?’ he asked me. ‘What do you mean?’ I replied, pretending I had no idea. ‘During my prayers,’ he explained, ‘I saw an angel putting a golden wreath over the head of your elder. Something must have happened.’”
(Kyriakos Markides, Streams in the Desert, p. 73-74)


(1) Mysteries of Tears by V.P. Rajiv, Kerala:

   “There are great secrets and mysteries behind tears which the physiologists cannot explain still. In ordinary cases tears are considered as the sole property of children. Tears come at times of happiness, gratitude, etc. which fall under the category of noble emotions as far as the human values are concerned. But from the religious point of view tears are more the property of the devotees, of course depending on the sincerity of their quest for the Lord. In spiritual life repentance and the devotion to God, especially that noblest type of devotion of the gopikas which made them reach right up to the portals of death due to separation from the Lord, are the causes of tears.

   The tears of pure devotion come from the outer corners of the eyes and have no saltish taste. But tears of mere human emotions are saltish in taste and come from the other parts of the eyes.
[Ramana Maharshi also said this: “Tears flow from the outer canthus of the eye of a man when he is very happy and from the inner canthus when he is sad.” (Face to Face with Ramana Maharshi, p. 254)]. Kirtans are the best means for the production of devotional tears. Sri Ramakrishna used to remark on the scarcity of even one drop of tear for God while gallons of tears are shed for worldly material wants. It is a most blessed experience to weep for the sake of God. Anandamayi Ma used to shed tears out of devotion during bhajans. It is believed that whenever and wherever the chantings and kirtans of Sri Rama are going on upon the earth, Hanuman, the humblest devotee of Him, used to be present with tears of devotion then and there.

   Tears of repentance due to intense devotion to the Lord are the greatest purifiers of the heart and the most expedient means for installing the Lord therein. Through tears of pure devotion to the Lord one can even attain the state of jivanmukta.”
(internet post)

   Tears and Samadhi, by Shree Atmananda

   “A great man has said that a devotee goes into samadhi with tears in his eyes and that a jnyanin comes out of samadhi with tears in his eyes. But I say that this is not yet the whole truth. One can very well both go into and come out of samadhi with tears in his eyes. This is definitely higher than the former experiences. The experience of the devotee was the result of contemplation (bhavam) of his ishta-deva. The second was the result of a short contact with the ultimate Truth. The third is the characteristic of the sahaja state of the established Jnyanin.” (Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #971)

   from An Athonite Gerontikon

   “It was midday. Outside of the chapel of St. Ephraim, I felt for the first time a special kind of tears and asked myself: ‘what are these tears?’ My soul felt full of divine love and in answer to my question I heard a voice both within me and without: ‘Kneel. As the bridegroom rejoices upon seeing the bride so has the Lord rejoiced with you.” (p. 366)

(2) Similarly to the quote of Kirpal Singh, (“the time will come when you will say, “who is living in this body? Am I?” You will see the Master in there. When you fold your hands, they will be the Master’s hands, not yours,”) in more philosophical language Paul Brunton wrote: “The ego to which he is so attached turns out on enquiry to be none other than than the presence of World-Mind [i.e., God] within his own heart. If identification is then shifted by constant practice from one to the other, he has achieved the purpose of life.” (Notebooks, Vol.6, 8:1.127)

(3) from Talks with Ramana Maharshi:

D. Hair standing on end, sobbing voice, joyful tears, etc., are mentioned in Atma Vidya Vilasa and other works. Are these found in samadhi, or before, or after?
M. All these are the symptoms of exceedingly subtle modes of mind (vrittis). Without duality they cannot remain. Samadhi is Perfect Peace where these cannot find a place. After emerging from samadhi the remembrance of the state gives rise to these symptoms. In Bhakti Marga (the path of devotion), these are the precursors to samadhi.
D. Are they not so in the path of jnana?
M. Maybe. There is no definiteness about it. It depends on the nature of the individual. Individuality entirely lost, these cannot find a place. But even the slightest trace of it being present, these symptoms become manifest. Manikavachakar and other saints have spoken of these symptoms. They say tears rush forth involuntarily and irrepressibly. I had the same experience when staying in Virupaksha cave.

(4) Shree Atmananda:

   “When you reach the Ultimate by following the path of pure jnyana, you experience deep Peace and Happiness expressing itself sometimes in the form of gushing tears and choking voice. This is not an experience of the head, but of the heart in you. On the other hand, there are many instances of Sages like Padmapada and Vatishvarattamma who have reached the Ultimate through the heart, and heart alone, directed to their Guru - the Absolute - with deep devotion. They have subsequently guided aspirants to the Truth, even on the Jnyana path, most successfully. Thus it is clear that what one experiences through either path is the same Reality, the one through the head and the other through the heart.”

   “The disciple who takes the Guru to be the formless Ultimate, is taken to the right Absolute. However, the disciple whose sense of discrimination is less developed, but who has a deep devotion to the person of the Guru, may well take the Guru to be the form. His love and devotion compensate abundantly for the lack of discrimination, and he is easily taken through the form to the formless, and thence to the Absolute even without knowing it. Revered Vativishvarattamma - an illiterate woman devotee near Cape Commorin, who became a reknowned sage by her sincere and earnest devotion to her Guru (Amma-svami, who was a great yogin Sage) - is a standing testimony to this class of Sages. Though the disciple directs his love to the person of Guru, the reciprocation comes from the impersonal which is the abode of love. When your limited love is directed to the Guru, who is love unlimited, the limitation of your love vanishes immediately.”

   “Love is the expression of the Self through the heart, and the heart is always wet. It takes you straight to the Self or Atma and drowns you in it. Language is dry and is the expression of the Self through the head or reason. It takes you only to the brink of Atma, and leaves you there, till the heart rises up to wet reason and ultimately to drown you in love. So when you begin to discuss love, it is impossible to proceed with the discussion when the heart wells up.”
(Notes on Spiritual Discourses, #’s 583, 690, 401)

   Sri Ramana Maharshi:

   “On scrutiny, supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same. To say that one of these two is a means to the other is due to not knowing the nature of either of them. Know that the path of jnana and the path of devotion are interrelated. Follow these inseparable two paths without dividing one from the other.”

   “Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”

   “The end of all wisdom is love, love, love.” “Love is verily the heart of all religions.”

   Ramakrishna Paramahansa:

   “Pure knowledge and pure love are one and the same thing. Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much easier.”

   Just so, all tears are good. If a basic sincerity is there, moreover, an artificial division of “worldly” and “spiritual” tears may in the end be unjustified. The quality may change as a person matures, but as they all bring one closer to the fount of one’s heart, and dissolve the encrustations of ego, all welcomed in love. As Charles Dickens wrote, in Great Expectations:

   “We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

   This line comes as Pip is finally leaving London with the hope of becoming a proper gentleman. When he sees his friends Joe and Biddy and is overcome with nostalgia, he begins to weep. He goes on to say: “I was better after I had cried, than before — more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.” It’s a sentiment that rings true even after 160 years.