Perfection in Nature

I was looking at the sky this morning when i started thinking about how ‘perfect’ nature was and why that sort of perfection will not exist in a totally man-made construct or environment.

The important point in my head was the very definition of perfection. The idea of perfection differs between individuals and is heavily influenced by our biases. Perfection exists in form, function, systems and with regards to expectations and limitations.

  1. Form: when something looks it best and cannot be improved further. E.g. a computer-rendered image of a square; it is accurate to the pixel.
  2. Function: when something does what it is meant to do, and does so at the highest level. E.g. a compass that consistently points North
  3. Systems: when objects or parts of a system interact with one another seamlessly. E.g. the systems in a car that work together: engine, air-conditioning, radio, drivetrain, lock mechanism, brake system.
  4. Expectations and limitations: when something is not perfect in any of the above three ways but we regard it as so because the threshold must necessarily be lowered given circumstances, our expectations and naturally-occurring limitations which cannot be avoided or removed. E.g. when a row of uniformed men stand according to height, there is ‘perfection’ in the form even though the height increment between men is not constant and their body shapes are different along with their other physical features. Yet these are naturally occurring limitations so we disregard them.

To me nature is perfect in every sense because:

  1. Form: we are products of nature. We get our form and taste for good form from the world around us. Even our opinions are influenced by external stimuli. If the form of something affected its function, then in nature it is perfected.
  2. Function: things work, even when they don’t. Handicaps can still live, the laws of nature hold fast no matter the season, and no external hand is needed to get things functioning. They just do.
  3. Systems: Every single thing right down to the littlest detail is in harmony with the rest of the universe, and that is why it is still around. It was here way before us, and will continue to be here after us.
  4. Expectations and limitations: like form, our expectations and limitations are sometimes set by nature or based on it. And independent of all that, nature just is. Put simply it just doesn’t care what we think.

Perfection can be achieved, to a degree, in man-made constructs and environments, but what we lack is the ability to transfer the organic spirit to our creations. Even the most sophisticated of inventions rely upon some external force to keep itself alive. Take for example a highly advanced android:

  • Firstly the android has no real function in this world except to serve humans
  • Without humans its existence is meaningless
  • Should it live after us, it only needs to take from the environment what is needed to keep itself alive
  • It will likely cease to function one day, or reproduce if it was programmed to
  • But again, it will serve no real purpose except the preservation of its existence and the continuation of its kind. I should think it not part of any food web, but maybe time and science will prove me wrong

The biggest point for me is, to be honest, how nature just doesn’t care about anything. It will do and it will keep doing. Changing when it is time to change, things will die, new creatures born, and it will just go on. We too, are a part of nature, and will someday go, however fiercely we fight for autonomy, control and influence. We did not choose to be born yet we were brought here, that should be enough of proof that we are not the bosses.

And yet amidst all this mess and chaos, nature continues. There is no epic destruction to stop it in its tracks, except for the Divine, or any other Reason you might subscribe to or not.

This is something that needs more contemplation, and who knows what further revelations await.

Problems Are Openings 

When you’re caught in a terrible situation or phase of your life, ask:

1) how do you handle it / what is your response? 

Then reflect: 

2) What do I wish I was / who is it I want to be?

Then realize:

3) This is an opportunity for me to achieve that. I need to do know what I wish I could or would do, so that I can be the person I want to be.
Some say things don’t happen by chance, some people call it fate. Whatever you believe, it remains that the only thing you have full control over is what YOU do.

So control yourself and steer in the right direction, and not let circumstances and events push you around.

In this world but not of it

A few emotions have swept over me these few days, some of them tides from little currents that i have been feeling for some time now. After some reflection i will describe and explain in this order:

I’ve been feeling very down and drained by my current work environment. If i could change it i would, but my contract is such and i am stuck for awhile. It is a pretty unpleasant situation and there is a war within me:

Option 1: To be so dazzlingly bright and awesome that everything changes with me

Option 2: To just get through the time i must be here and then transferring out (read: i can’t beat ’em but i won’t join ’em)

I cannot settle for Option 2 because the stubborn part of me refuses to believe that any challenge is too big to take on. The practical part says that there are some battles we must walk away from. Quitting isn’t always a bad thing.

And just now as i was listening to a recording of a dhikr session (dhikr is Arabic for remembrance. Participants chant litanies, their speed, melody and lyrics varying greatly according to factors such as purpose, preference and culture amongst many others). Midway i was reminded of the pain cave – this idea that i read about in Tour de France cyclists.

The Tour is a gruelling race, a great test of mental and physical strength. What many cyclists find themselves in is a world of pain but instead of giving up they embrace it and go with it, their mind becoming a proverbial ‘pain cave’. The further they travel the deeper in they go. It is through this acceptance yet altered state of consciousness that they can power through what most people would consider an impossible feat.

What came to me was a dhikr cave. That i engage my tongue and heart in dhikr, bringing myself into my dhikr cave. Every morning as i walk to work instead of merely moving my tongue, my entire being must be in a state of remembrance. Then my feet will keep walking and although my eyes will be open they will not see this world but gaze further. And even then they will perceive what is in front of and around me such that my physical self can continue to exist and operate unharmed.

And if my remembrance is sincere, consistent, focused and as complete as i can make it, then i am sure tranquility will descend upon me and this tranquility will hopefully be felt by those around me. If i have felt it from others then it means i can be one of them too.

Honestly i don’t know how far a climb this is, because i only know i’m way down at the bottom. But i do believe with all my heart that there is always hope and the means and openings will match my want and expectation.

As much as i don’t like the place i am working at now, i have to admit, it is a good thing for me just as it was that i had chicken pox on my Umrah.

I am in this place now because my remembrance is lacking, my focus is waning, my temptations unchecked, my mind unsharpened and my heart not still. I have been put here, where i am so repulsed and upset, that i have no choice but to turn to Him, physically, spiritually, in my heart, my words, actions and thoughts.

The clock isn’t lying if its standing

Once again i took a glimpse at my older posts and i was pretty embarrassed and a little shocked at what i saw.

As recent as two years ago, my writing sounded very angsty, immature and… roller-coasterish. I’d sound frustrated in one post and strangely sagelike in another. Those eye-opening five minutes have inspired me to make a list of how i will write better posts:

  1. Slow down
    When i get emotional i tend to get carried away. If i slow down i can express my thoughts in a neutral/well-thought out manner.
  2. Write with a purpose
    Whilst my blog has sometimes seen me vent and simply throw up words, i need to move to more structure writing. Journaling and Writing-writing will be two distinct categories, and this blog will be for Writing-writing. produkc.wordpress.com is for Writing-writing-writing 😀
  3. Re-read
    This is painful for me to do sometimes but a necessary step to ensure i don’t make typos, go off tangent, or get longwinded.
  4. Keep some things to myself
    In some posts i have said some prayers and used some religiousy words and phrases; i have decided these things can mostly stay in my head. Somehow they seem off-putting, pretentious and plain annoying when i go back to read them. I should say such writing will be very appropriate in a different context: like writing an article for a Muslim publication, when discussing matters related to Islaam, or when the voice of my blog is consistently such. Even my teachers do not use these words all the time when texting, which truly made me think.

And this is how i start on a brand new path to the same-old destination. I’m excited. You wouldn’t be able to tell if you saw my face right now but really i’m feeling it.

DRFWZ

Train of thought

A day’s lapse OOPS!

I’m back! To talk about the religious people i mentioned.

To put it shortly there’s a teacher and the people are his students, and if you trace his teacher, and his teacher’s teacher, and go all the way up, it reaches the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I did attend one class, and this is how i can describe what my teacher taught:

It is both factual, obvious, yet bewilderingly enough things i have not realised. It preaches good, makes it clear who are enemies are (for the record he explicitly said ‘you have only two enemies, Shaitan and your nafs (self). These two will always pull you towards bad things and so you must fight. The Jews and Christians are not our enemies, please be very clear of that. What they want to believe is between them and God, it is not our problem) and it was all very clear and good.

I saw how he treated the children there (one of his student’s nephews) and there was an older man, first timer, whose demeanour and questions got a bit heavy to bear at times but my teacher was patient, pleasant yet firm with him the whole time. He allowed the man to speak, to question, yet made it clear what he misunderstood or said wrongly, in a polite way.

And all the fine gentlemen who were there? You could see they were at peace. There was a stillness to them and a light on their faces. These were good men, who were in life situations not unlike mine, but who lived theirs with more grace and beauty that i do mine. They were welcoming, nice to me, and some familiar faces. The familiar ones were the people i went for Umrah with (a minor pilgrimage, the major one being the Hajj) and they were the same people who showed care and concern for me when i was down with chicken pox, miles away from home (some fellow pilgrims kept their distance from me, but i do not blame them).

So the big question is:

If i have nothing against these fine men and have found a teacher such as himself, why am i not walking the path with them? Why have i not gone back for a second class, meditation session, anything??

And this is where i find myself puzzled. It’s as if a precious gem is held in front of me to take and i’m just turning to walk away. Questions in my head are:

  • is it really a gem as my intellect says it is?
  • am i truly turning away or perhaps not ready to take it
  • are we ever ready
  • could this just be my nafs and shaitan whispering to me

With all these feelings i truly have gotten much closer to understanding how some people can be so exposed to Islam yet not embrace it, or know so much of what they should do yet neglect it; it’s just this… gap. A void of nothingness, there’s no pull to cross it yet there is nothing keeping us from standing at that cliff’s edge and just looking over, admiring the beauty of what’s beyond the chasm.

When i probe deeper, a curious view of me emerges: that the me who is to be isn’t a religious scholar or saint or anything of that sort, but more like their helper and assistant. I see myself more as the muscular right-hand-man ready to do their beckoning, first to step up to get any dirty work done. Maybe because i’m that much more crude than these pure people, or i am too noisy and excitable to be a totally calm and stately teacher. Either way i am intrigued by what my mind says.

So in the present, my way forward is to continue with the daily litanies prescribed, and to pray for guidance and for my path to be open. And then with every step i take i will know and believe that it is not truly me who chose to act in that way rather it was chosen for me and i have responded.

This path is a mysterious one and i don’t know where i will end up. But one thing i am sure of is my gratitude for having had the honour and pleasure of being in the company of so many great people, and that at least a few of them now know me. With their prayers and blessings, i am fine; i am looked out for. He brought them into my life, so i am thankful for His gift.

DRFWZ

 

Train on the train

I’m gonna take some time off my podcast listening on my commute back to write, cos that’s my mission and clearly I’m a man on a mission.

Who do I wanna be?

A rather huge part of me wants to be this mega rich, influential and famous person – I love attention and do well when given it, so maybe it isn’t just a common fantasy.

I also wanna be a doctor largely cos my grandfather thinks I’m one… And i don’t wanna disappoint him.

And lately I’ve been very obsessed by all things space, or rather my latent obsession has surfaced and space things keep falling my way for some reason (law of attraction?). Do I wanna be an astronaut? Or is it just a massive curiosity of the unknown.

Lastly, there’s that slightly religious part of me that feels guilty. Why don’t I wanna be an Ustaz or scholar or Saint? Why doesn’t that appeal to me so strongly as does having influence? Haven’t I found a group that preaches truth, sets an example according to what they teach, and I myself do not deny the tranquility I see in their faces and feel in their company.

More tomorrow.

DRFWZ

It won’t be so long till next time

I haven’t been here in ages and i’m taking, no, MAKING some time to write now cos ‘awesome writer’ is one of the things i wanna be in the future and clearly the future starts now. Just a coupla minutes! It is worth the time (even though i really did plan on sleeping much earlier tonight)!

As part of my quest to be a better homo sapien i’ve started taking cold showers. No heater no nuthin’. The only exception is when i shower after dusk i’ll use slightly warm water cos well my folks convinced me that showering in cold water at night might not be a good thing for future me. And thinking about it, i have to say it makes sense. I don’t know if people of the past really did shower at night, cos like, no sunlight and whatnot = no work and you get the picture.

The thing about cold showers is that i honestly don’t enjoy them. I’m the kinda guy who’ll be perspiring and secretly uncomfortable on a REALLY hot and humid day, only to go back home to take a hot shower. Cold is not really my element and yesterday morning, my first early morning cold shower since i started this thang, i was this close to cussing. I was seriously mad pissed at myself and grumbling in my head about why i had to do this and omg what am i thinking.

Truth be told i didn’t feel good after the shower. Not really fully refreshed. My eyes were very open, but my body still felt kinda tired and it actually really made me feel like going back to bed.

But i guess i’m proud of myself for having stuck to my plan even though i found it supremely uncomfortable to do so. Growth happens when you’re outside your comfort zone.

The cool thing is within a couple of days i’m getting pretty used to the cold; it doesn’t take that long for me to feel okay under the cold water anymore (famous last words… tomorrow morning… another day, another cold shower at 6.15 a.m….).

Another thing is i’m gonna start calling myself Doctor. It’s cos i want to be a doctor someday.

BUT HERE’S WHERE IT GETS COMPLICATED

I wanna do so many things but i’m conflicted over some; do i really want them? Am i pursuing them out of guilt or some other feeling?

Typing this i feel like i’ve said these things before but oh well i can be a broken recorder… next time.

Now that i’ve accomplished my mission (in 8 minutes, that’s not too bad) i’m gonna turn in. The whole ‘my life is an adventure but i don’t know which adventure it really is’ post will happen tomorrow.

Till then, take care of one another.

DRFWZ