Crying Perfectly OK

Today, a laywoman panelist got a bit weepy at the start of her talk because she felt so touched to be able to present her paper at the conference.  She seemed a bit embarrassed by her tears, but we fellow women in the audience totally got it.  Most naturally and reflexively, the audience members started clapping to give her encouragement and she was soon able to continue.  It was such a simple moment, but to me it really encapsulated the difference between how women and men respond to open displays of emotion.  If we were a male audience, we might well have squirmed in our seats and reaffirmed our view that yes, women are overly emotional and irrational like that. In my own experience, when I have had moments of ‘losing it’ in front of male monks, even ones known for having lots of metta , I can sense how they immediately freeze up a bit and withdraw into themselves, then quickly throw out some nugget of wisdom to ‘solve the problem’ that presumably started the waterworks so sensible conversation could resume. But the way the nuns and other women in the audience responded this morning was totally different – to us, the presenter’s tears were totally not a big deal.  We’ve all been overcome by emotion and had spontaneous outbursts like that. Nothing for us to feel uncomfortable about, and certainly nothing for her to feel chagrined about.    A few moments later, the tears dried up, the presentations went on, and that was that.  Crying is perfectly ok here. This is what is special about being among women and among nuns.


— SN


2 responses to “Crying Perfectly OK

  1. Charlotte Collins

    We need to stop using the masculine modifier “fellow,” as in “fellow women.” Are we uncomfortable with “sister women” or “sisters” when these are possible alternatives? The entire point of this entry is that it’s okay to be as we are as as women. We are not fellows–and don’t say that “fellow” means “sisterly” also. The language we use can undermine our message.

  2. “Crying is perfectly ok here. This is what is special about being among women and among nuns.”

    Dear SN,

    May I disagree with you a tiny bit? It’s not only among women that we can witness such beautiful acceptance of emotional expressions but also among kind-hearted men as well.

    In April, I visited Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth. I went to the Sala (hall) where laypeople were offering dana to the monks. I bowed to the Buddha at the same time as Ajahn Brahmali (the deputy abbot) was chanting the Sharing of Merits. And then my tears just poured out… I sobbed so loud that people turned to look at me, and when I told them that I was simply happy to be there. They – both men and women – smiled with understanding. Ajahn Brahmali also smiled with much metta.

    Another most memorable incident was when Ajahn Brahm gave me five precepts for life, I wept so much so that I could not repeat what Ajahn Brahm said. After that, I apologised to Ajahn Brahm for crying, but he kindly said that it was ok. It was tears of joy and I should always remember this moment: the moment of happiness when I decided to commit myself to following the teachings of the Buddha.

    Having cited the above incidents, I agree with you that in an ordinary society, we usually find kind acceptance and warm support more from women and nuns.

    Yours in the dhamma,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s