Martine & Stephen

Batchelor

When teaching a retreat, this is the second time in recent days that I am told about this sentence a vipassana teacher is supposed to have said:  “You have not truly meditated until you have cried on the cushion” or words to that effect.  I am generally asked if this is true.  And I reply:  “No, it is not necessarily the case.  I have been meditating for 31 years and I have never cried on the cushion.  In Korea as a nun I sat 10 hours a day for 3 months at a time twice a year, and did this for about 9 years and it never happened.  Does it mean that I have never meditated?  I do not think so. 

People come to meditation with different conditions and circumstances.  If people before coming to a retreat had something painful and shocking happen to them, they might cry on the cushion.  If someone has had deeply sad circumstances in their life, they might cry on retreat.  If a person is very sensitive and cry easily at beauty or other things of that nature, they might cry when meditating.  But otherwise I would not associate sitting in meditation with crying.

I cry at sad movies.  I cry when other people are sad.  I cry at funeral.  I do not cry on the cushion.  When I meditate, I cultivate concentration and enquiry, this generally leads to calmness and clarity.

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