My spiritual master, Swami Bhoomanandji, comes to Delhi every year in the month of October/November. After public discourses for about two weeks, he pays house visits to his close devotees. Normally these visits exceed the originally planned number due to last minute requests. Devotees consider his visits a privilege and invite their friends and relatives to attend them. Swamiji undertakes such visits with great fondness and usually speaks on subjects which are highly relevant to day-to-day life. This generates a lot of interest and he receives requests for more visits. Of course, he tries to accept them to the extent possible.
During one such visit in 1992 held at a posh colony of New Delhi, I was also present with many others. Swamiji gave a short talk and thereafter invited devotees to ask questions. Among the devotees present, there was an elderly lady whose husband had died recently. The husband had been a diplomat and had held several important posts. He had lived a full life. It appeared that there had been a deep bond between the husband and the wife. Naturally, this death came as a great shock to her, which she was unable to bear. She was not able to accept the reality and sought Swamiji’s guidance in the matter. She told Swamiji that she felt like weeping all the time and memories of her husband occupied her mind constantly.
Swamiji could understand the grief of the lady. He tried to console by telling her that death was a natural phenomenon, more so when one is in an advanced age. One of the spouses has to go first and in her case it happened to be the husband. He saw no cause for undue grief in such a natural happening. He did not go into the philosophical aspects of death and dealt with her problem in a humane manner. He also told her that if she felt like weeping, there was nothing wrong with it. After all, nature has provided us with tear glands for a purpose and we must make use of them whenever necessary. There should be no feeling of guilt in weeping. In fact, he advised her to weep regularly till she overcame her grief. However, he added that more important than weeping was her attitude and tears should help in making it positive. Fortunately, this had an impact on the lady and after about a week she invited Swamiji to her home. I happened to be there also and found the lady greatly changed. This set me thinking about the role of tears in life, including my own. Normally, I am against weeping but I distinctly remember to have wept bitterly on a few occasions in my life and every time I emerged a stronger person. In fact, such occasions turned the course of my life and, needless to say, it was for the better.
Here, I would like to classify weeping into two kinds. One is negative weeping and the other positive. If the process of weeping leads to depression, fear and frustration, I would call it negative weeping. It changes life for the worse. On the other hand, if the process of weeping leads to introspection, courage and determination, it can be called positive weeping. It turns the life for the better. Thus tears are the turning points in life. It is up to us how we use them for our elevation or depression.
Coming to the attitude towards weeping, it can be said that a wise person, having understood the fundamentals of life will see no occasion to weep. For him good or bad events of life are alike. However, this kind of attitude is not expected from ordinary mortals. For them there is a clear distinction between good and bad events. It is for them that weeping helps. In fact, it is healthier to weep than to camouflage grief. Weeping helps in overcoming grief and if such a person gets the company of the wise, tears turn the life for the better. This is what happened to the lady who came in contact with Swamiji in New Delhi.