Is There a Way to Overcome Sorrow?

How can I overcome pain and sorrow?

—T.W.

Being made in God’s image of joy, we were not meant to suffer pain. Pain first appeared in man as a way to warn him of the advent of inharmonious sensations detrimental to the body.  Later, instead of proving itself to be a friend or a guide, pain turned out to be a veritable torturer, causing mankind’s tears to flow.

Pain and sorrow, although they accompany bodily sensations, are not the product of bodily stimuli or sensations. They are the product of mental habits born of wrong hereditary and environmental influences.

Feeling is that faculty which passes judgment upon the experiences of the senses. It expresses itself in terms of the pain or pleasure of the body, or sorrow or happiness of the mind. Consciousness of physical or mental pain is purely mental, and the result of long-standing mental habits.

Man’s body must be made pain-proof until it expresses, not the painful, changing qualities of matter, but the blissful, unchanging qualities of Spirit. Consciousness cannot hurt consciousness without acceptance. Thought can never be painful unless feeling overpowers it. God made man and God made joy, but man made pain.

Divert your mind during pain by directing it to engrossing work. Keep calm and do not dwell upon bodily sensations. Association with strong-minded or less pain-sensitive people is also beneficial. Sorrow is overcome by joy, not by sorrow. Sometimes we like to indulge in sorrow, but do not let sorrow remain with you too long. If you do, it will rob you of the richest of your soul’s possessions — perennial bliss.

From Inner Culture, February 1939.

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Answers on Spiritual Subjects from Paramhansa Yogananda