Updated On — 2nd Feb, 2021
Tears just flowed from my face when I heard Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate at only 22 years old, stride up to the microphone in front of an anxious worldwide audience and recite her emotionally moving poem The Hill We Climb during the inauguration yesterday.
I have wept often in my 64 years, and yesterday’s weeping is staying with me very deeply in my heart.
On my first really intensive thee month retreat as a young monk in Asia there were a few days when I couldn’t stop weeping.
My robes were soaked in tears.
My long deceased Thai meditation master just said to me this is “pure crying, with no clinging or aversion.”
And he said pure crying meant I was taking baby steps on the path.
I recall a poem composed spontaneously while speaking to his monks by one of the greatest meditation masters of the last century, the Thai monk Ajahn Chah:
Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
When you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
If you haven’t wept deeply, you haven’t begun to meditate.
I wept deeply yesterday with the self described “skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother” who dreamt of becoming president “only to find herself reciting for one.”
I wept deeply when she declared:
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
Sadness and joy can indeed coexist.
I seem to burst into tears when I read, hear or contemplate something that is ultimately and fundamentally true. That was Amanda Gorman’s gift to us — showing us what is ultimately and fundamentally true.
We all face sadness, grief, loss, disappointment. We all have days where all we feel is pain, anger and misery.
The Buddha never sugar coated this path. He urged us to explore our suffering in an open and vulnerable way.
Suffering is neither an accomplishment or a failure on our path together. But from my 45 years on this path, the deep, profound and “no clinging-no aversion” experience of our own human suffering is a vital aspect of our growth.
Thank you Gautama Buddha.
Thank you Ajahn Chah.
And thank you for yesterday, dear Amanda Gorman.
May we all be well, happy and peaceful.