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The Fury and Compassion of Hurricanes

Do the restless outer edges of a violent hurricane know that they can find peace and tranquility in their own core?

The sheer enormity and brute force of recent hurricanes Irma and Maria were a humbling reminder that global warming is real and that mother nature is unforgiving in her fury if she decides to unleash it. It is at times like these that we find ourselves questioning the divine wisdom in death and destruction. It's not just the trees, the houses, and physical structures that get uprooted; thousands of lives are shattered and families are shaken to the core. Many either lose faith or come very close to it. The trail of pain and suffering that hurricanes leave behind is endless and Curiously, others find gratitude in the fact that what was lost was transient and that lives can be rebuild again. For them, glass is always half full. They are like the eye of the storm - calm and peaceful even as destructive forces circle around them viciously.

As violent and destructive are the outer edges of the hurricane, its core or the eye is rather peaceful. In fact, it's the warmest part of the hurricane with little or no rain. The eye wall, the most violent part of the hurricane, separates this calm center from all the turbulence that surrounds it. It is remarkable that amid the terrifying fury of a hurricane, there's a peaceful place where even birds take refuge during the storm. This compassionate core protects and offers a safe harbor to thousands of birds. In fact, if you look up through the center of this eye, you may see a bright blue sky or the stars at night. It's as if the Universe is helping us solve yet another mystery of the human condition.

There are stark similarities between the structure of a hurricane and our emotional and behavioral construct. Anger, hate, envy, abuse, jealousy, and even love are the storms that can be as overpowering and destructive as any hurricane. The trail of pain and suffering they leave behind range from anxiety, depression, addictions, physiological diseases, and even suicide. If we catch the moment when anger rises in us or when hate grips us or when extreme passion overwhelms our senses, we can feel it whirling out of control from what was once our calm and peaceful core - just like the violent winds at the hurricane's eye wall circling outwards. The blinding force and rage of such emotions overwhelms us to such a degree that we forget that bliss can still be found in our own core - just on the other side of our emotional wall. The energy it takes to feed these emotions can leave us completely drained and exhausted.

Similarly, in order feed its rage, the hurricane can suck in oceans of water leaving behind surreal sights of dry ocean beds that foretell the story of the coming doom. Does it even know that peace still resides just on the other side of the violent eye wall - in its own core? It's just like the restless surface of the ocean that has forgotten that it can find peace and tranquility in its own depths. Birds know this fact about the hurricanes and fish know this truth about the ocean. Then what makes the storm and the seas forget their own nature? Is it their ego and their desire to prove their unrelenting power over others?

We humans are no different. We are also overcome by our ego and our desire to prove our supremacy over others. It's only when we reach the calmer land, our core, our soul, our inner self, our higher self, that we begin to see the light again. Then and only then can we hope to lose the shadow of our ego. Like Mikahil Naimy says in The Book of Mirdad, "The shadowless only are in the light. The shadowless know only one God. For God is Light, and only Light alone is able to know Light."

There is, however, one big difference between a human being filled with rage and a vicious hurricanes. Knowingly or not, a hurricane still offers a safe harbor in its core to bird life. It is here that the compassion of a hurricane lives. It is here that those who would otherwise be destroyed in its path are protected. Unfortunately, a human being's fury does not offer such a refuge to anyone.

All those who come in the way of our raging ego are generally destroyed. I wonder how many lives would be saved and nourished if only we could offer the same safe harbor to those who lie in the path of destruction, suffering and pain. Perhaps, what's needed is a perspective that's far removed from our being. Then our ego will appear to be irrelevant similar to a hurricane when viewed from a far distance in the Universe. What will emerge, instead, is unmatched beauty that shines even against the darkest of skies as a body of hope, life, and love.

Just like renewal follows the death and destruction that a hurricane brings, could we not shift our lives in ways so that we may become catalysts to renewal? I wonder about these possibilities during the darkest of storms and I am filled with hope. We all know that It is only possible to see the light during hours of darkness but somehow we all forget it and become overwhelmed by variety of human emotions. Trailblazers like Martin Luther King, Jr. could see this fact as evident from his words that, "We can only see the stars in darkness." It is in the eye of the storm where the stars are shining bright. Let's go there.

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