Turning Psychological Pain to Sweetness

“These pains that you feel are messengers.
Listen to them. Turn them to sweetness. The night
is almost over. You were young once, and content.
Now you think about money all the time.

“You used to be that money. You were a healthy vine.
Now you’re a rotten fruit. You ought to be growing
sweeter and sweeter, but you’ve gone bad.”

~ Jellal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273),
Persian poet and Sufi master,
in The Essential Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

Most of us run from our pain – or at least we try to. Just as we might take an aspirin to ease our pain, so to we take too much food, television watching, internet surfing, video gaming, drinking, drugging, gambling, etc. to numb our soul’s inflammation. It’s natural; as animals we seek pleasure, and avoid pain. Yet some pains we feel are emissaries, sent forth by our deeper nature as guidance to a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Perhaps you are in a dead-end job which is like rough sandpaper to your soul. Perhaps the person you spend sleepless nights beside long ago became a stranger to you. Maybe the despair of your continuing unemployment daily shreds your self-worth. Or like a deer in headlights, you stare into the Unknown, accompanied only by a life-threatening illness. Or you wake up each morning, yet again tricking yourself with the promise to never drink again. Or perhaps you just feel hollow inside. How could such pains be messengers?

Psychological and spiritual pain can tear us apart. But many times for good purpose, as represented by the astrological symbol of Saturn. Astrologers consider Saturn “The Great Malefic” or bringer of misfortune and pain. Yet the Saturn symbol reveals a psycho-spiritual process of hope.

The symbol is dominated by a long cross of suffering. As we encounter our pain at the top of the cross, if we attend to our pain, rather than run from it, we might try this rationalization for our situation or that quick fix. They don’t work. The pain persists or deepens. We try something else. It doesn’t work. Again we try something else to relieve the pain.. and again… and again… and again, until we have exhausted every way we know to relieve the pain. The pain has exhausted the known, and thereby depotentiated the ego.

At the bottom of the cross, our egos now stand helpless before our pain. Pain has done its work; it has stripped us naked of the self-image, the identification with a role or situation, or the misbelief which previously thwarted our unfolding. Then, when thereby freed of the past, we are willing to be changed. Then, as the symbol depicts, in the immediacy of the present, there can be an upsurge of unfolding of our authentic Self, of new livingness.

Just as physical pain calls our attention to something which would best not be ignored, so too our psychological and spiritual pain calls us. As Rumi suggests, we might listen to it, and ourselves be turned to sweetness. How long your cross will be, will be determined by how long you refuse to listen to your messengers.


Are you experiencing a discomfort with your life, a persistent unhappiness, or personal pain besides which you might pull up a chair, and listen to its whisper of hope?


Share your support of authentic living -

2 comments to Turning Psychological Pain to Sweetness

  • […] ~ Jellal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273), Persian poet and Sufi master, from “A Man and a Woman Arguing,” in The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks ~ and see the post, “Turning Psychological Pain into Sweetness” […]

  • […] The psyche (Greek for “soul”) does have an agenda: that we discover, articulate, and contribute to our community’s diversity the unique, authentic, individuality that we bring into existence. When we do not, the symptoms of soul-sickness arise which as the Persian poet, Rumi, notes are messengers (see “Turning Psychological Pain into Sweetness”) […]

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





Amazon in Print and Ebook

A resource to support your living authentically