I have a friend who will tell you how having a heart attack was “the best thing that ever happened to me.” Because it allowed him to break from the life that led to that trauma.
This is actually quite common. You probably know someone who’s experienced something similar—getting fired, having an affair, hitting bottom—or perhaps you can point to some terrible thing in your own past that you can now even laugh at and admit was actually a good thing.
Why is this such a common story? The Veda has an answer. From the Vedic perspective, the long march of history is not a struggle between good and evil. Rather, there are three forces that govern the flow of evolution: creation, maintenance, and destruction. And those three forces are meant to be arranged in that order.
But we live in a society that puts maintenance in the pole position. We are taught to hold on to things that are no longer working. To grit our teeth and gut it out. So we pour our energy into protecting what we have. We are taught to not make a move until we are certain that what’s next will be better. And so what happens is that we move along a path that we know is unsustainable. We know a job is killing us but we keep at it because we’re afraid to try something new. We fight the good fight in trying to make a failing relationship work and end up embittered and angry.
And when maintenance is first, destruction is next in line, followed by creation. That’s why there are so many stories implying that [the divorce, getting fired, hitting bottom, having a heart attack or nervous breakdown] was the best thing that ever happened to someone. That destructive event cleared away the irrelevancy, creating space for something new and more relevant, more life-sustaining to sprout.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Progressive change doesn’t require drama. There are two ways to step off of an unsustainable path. One, we can recognize the situation and step off. Or two, we can ignore the signs, barrel ahead, and fall off a cliff—or in the case of my friend above, have a heart attack. Both are effective. One is way easier. But we have to be able to see the signs.
A daily practice of meditation can help us see those signs. It helps us find the clarity and calm that is always there, just below the choppy surface of the mind. Because it’s in those moments just after meditation, before we let life stir us all up again, that we can see things for what they really are. And meditation also allows us to see options, other paths, if you will, that can be impossible to detect when we are caught up in the hustle and bustle, in the busyness of our daily lives.