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Lions Roar : January 2019
teachers of our time, explains that when we truly experience this deep well of sad- ness, it comes with vast joy—enough to make one weep. “With your joy you also bring your tears,” Kornfield writes, “because both the unbearable beauty and the ocean of tears that make up human incarnation will present themselves to an awakened heart. So at times you weep. Then you reach your hands out in spontaneous compas- sion to do what you can to alleviate the sorrows of others.” How do we reach out a hand in spontaneous compassion? That’s where compassion practices come in handy. Teachings on metta and tonglen help us embody compassion by doing exactly the opposite of what ego wants. In his teach- ing, “In With the Bad Air, Out With the Good,” the late Tibetan Buddhist teacher Gelek Rimpoche offers an instruction in tonglen that might just bring you to tears. AS A JOURNALIST, it’s my job to keep up with the news. As a human, that can be really hard. The other day, I was talking with my wife about some of the painful, disappointing, and scary things going on in the world. She commented that I didn’t seem upset by any of it. I was surprised, because I felt deeply affected. I then realized I hadn’t let myself show it. In trying to hold myself together, I had appeared callous and disaffected. I often want to cry, but I feel like I can’t. I suspected I wasn’t the only one feel- ing this way, so I went to the experts for advice. In a teaching from the Lion’s Roar archive, “This Floating World,” Zen teacher Joan Sutherland offers advice on how to relate to the dreamlike nature of reality. Sutherland explains that sadness is always accessible, because each of us contains the whole of existence—includ- ing all of its sorrow. That is awe-inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking. “In this dreamscape of a world, heav- ens and hell realms are a thought or a phone call or a news broadcast away,” she writes. “Children turn into adults you never could have imagined they car- ried inside them. The sky over the sea is full of pelicans, and then they almost disappear, and now the sky is full of them again, because humans started using DDT and then stopped. On any morning, what happens on the other side of the world can make you weep over your breakfast.” In an interview with Lion’s Roar editor-in-chief Melvin McLeod, Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist WEEKEND WISDOM The Joy of Crying SAM LITTLEFAIR discovers the tears that bind us. “Visualize the person right in front of you, and think of their suffering; the disease they have; or the mental, physical, and emotional pain they are going through,” writes Gelek Rimpoche. “When you really see your friend suffer- ing with unbearable pain, tears will come to you. That is true caring. It may not be great compassion, but it is a true feeling of compassion.” It turns out crying may connect us to each other, and our world, in ways we hadn’t imagined. “Perhaps we are made up of landscapes and events and memo- ries and genetics,” writes Sutherland, “of the touch of those we hold dear, our oldest fears, the art that moves us, and those sorrows on the other side of the world that make us weep at the break- fast table.” ♦ MAMABELLEANDTHEKIDS/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM Weekend Wisdom is a new department featuring favorite selections from the Lion’s Roar Weekend Reader. Every Friday, the Reader explores important themes and highlights related articles from our archives that you can enjoy over the weekend. Go to lionsroar.com/newsletters to sign up and to read the full articles referenced in this essay. SAM LITTLEFAIR is the editor of lionsroar.com. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 20 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE