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The Blessing in Destruction

All of us try to avoid disaster, but sometimes destruction is the pre-requisite of a happiness we could have never imagined within the confines of the status quo.

We think we’re only creative and productive when we're in a good mood, when things are stable and we get to sit down at a neat a tidy desk and get to work. Far from the truth. In those moments we are creative only within the walls and confines of a specific set of variables.

But actual tears down those walls and forces us to etch out a totally new framework. It may sound sadistic and negative, but from a purely rationally perspective, destruction is integral, even awesome. It is one of the greatest gifts we can be given as human beings. Otherwise we rot in the status quo. Consider nations, companies, teams, individuals who get so big, so strong, so powerful that nobody can destroy them. Nobody can send them to their knees crying. What happens to them? They rot from within. Actually, if they had mitigated their growth and recognized that being invincible is a liability, they would have allowed themselves to face the occassional defeats needed to keep growing. If you never cry, you'll never think outside the box. This is why empires rot from within. They don't get defeated from the outside.

Being too big has another problem: too big to see the little things, the signs of things to come. Bad things don't just happen in a snap. There are little signs and symptoms, often times very minute and hidden in the details. Entities that get so big can no longer see those details. It's a major liability. You're operating on less information than everyone else. Have you ever wondered how dictators can be so infuriatingly tone-deaf? They literally can't see the problem until it's too late. What did David use against Goliath? Not a huge stone. A small rock. He was so big, he had trouble seeing something small.

When you recognize those liabilities, you can appreciate the value of desctruction. It clears the brush. Tears down the illusions that past successes erected. Forest fires for bad as they look, they're actually very beneficial to the ecosystem. The ashes of burned trees serve as nutrients to the soil. In the same way, the tears of pain are nutrients to the soul.

But beware of getting side-tracked. Destruction needs tools. Something must be used to tear down those walls. Often times, it's our own sins, mistakes or ignorance. Sometimes--most painful--it's someone you thought was a freind. Other times, it is purely a tragedy of randomness with no evil involved. Whatever it is, it is foolish to get side-tracked and dwell on the tool instead of thinking about the purpose and the lesson: 'This storm blew my roof off. The next house I'll build I'll spend double on roofing.' Or 'I got beat up at the bus stop; I'll take karate lessons.' And that's how advancement happens. Notice that advancement is limited to the species amongst whom evil exists. In contrast, gogs, cats, eagles, dolphins...they are today as they were a thousand years ago. When there is no evil there is no reason to advance. Humans though, we get better after every storm, be it evil or tragedy.

The rebuild begins in the heart and mind. Imagination. The soul, now nourished with tears and no longer burdened by walls (or ego), can start imagining a new reality. If you imagine something with your heart long enough, you attract it. It comes to you. The universe has been likened to water: it will move out of the way to bring you what your heart has constantly imagined long and hard enough upon. There is no way to prove this, but enough people have testified to it, and you yourself may have experienced it on some scale. Some day a physicist will tell us that we have things in our hearts that can bend time and space. 

The compass that leads to this new reality lies in the heart in the form of feelings. New beginnings are born by closing your eyes and dreaming about a fantasy scenario that makes you feel better. That's where it starts. Within the confines of Guidance, what makes us feel better is often times exactly what we need. The heart in that respect is like a compass directing us where to go.

What we dream of, fantasize and visualize might be totally untenable, but that doesn't matter. It's not the point. The point is that it fulfills the function of salving the wounds of the heart and expeling anger, hatred, desperation and a variety of negativities that can even block our iman from growing, and cloud our vision. The awliya imagine the akhira, which is permanent. But if that seems to far off, there is no harm in imagining a better situation here on this earth. Say, who has prohibited the good things Allah created" and "By the bounty of Allah and His mercy, they should be happy." The bounty is anything good Allah created for us. And, the hadith, "This world [has in it what] is  green and sweet." All of these imaginings can fall under husn al-zann billah: believing Allah will bring us something better.

The chances are, we are so short-sighted that the dreams we visualize--if they came true--would actually be nightmares. "The human being prays for the bad, thinking it is good." But it makes no difference, because the real point of visualization and positive thinking is that is cures the heart from the bruises and injuries of the bad things that happened. Sometimes you just need a distraction, for enough time to pass for all the bad memories to go away. If Allah brings what we imagine, then good. If he does not, then He is bringing something even better. The mu'min is always in a win-win. I recently read something amazing: "Iman is that when something happens, the believer knows it happened FOR him, not TO him."


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1 Comment

Really loving these blogs. I'm working my way through each one from the oldest to the newest. This one is particularly beautiful. The irony is that were it not for some negativity [destructive back and forth debates on YouTube and Twitter between a few key names] I saw elsewhere on the internet, I would not have been led to this blog to investigate the written works of this believer. Sincerity, humility and mercy always leads to ones ability to find the khayr in a situation eventually if not immediately. Alhamdulillah.

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