Monday, September 08, 2008

Caterpillar or Butterfly

I’m always talking about transformation; it is one of my favorite buzzwords. My idea is that we must be other than we are; that we must transform ourselves into that which is not ourselves. But what if I’m wrong? What if transformation is just one of those words that takes on a life of its own without any link to reality?

Can we really transform ourselves? And if we can, who is the self that is doing the transforming? Can I use my right hand to change my right hand? Can the “me” I am changing into be a “me” I’m not? If Einstein is right that the mind that causes a problem cannot be the mind that solves that problem, how are we to change minds? Do we have to be changed by an outside force, or are we like caterpillars designed for transformation into butterflies?

I think the answer lies somewhere in between these two options. There is an outside force, a force greater than ourselves that must do the work of transformation, but this force does not act outside of us but inside and through us. So maybe the word “outside” should be dropped in favor is “greater;” a force greater than us that at the same time includes us is needed to drag our caterpillar minds into our butterfly potential.

But is being a butterfly better than being a caterpillar? Not at all. First, we need caterpillars if we are to have butterflies. Second, each is a necessary part of nature and we could not do without either. So maybe we need our egoic, fearful, ignorant, and violent self (to name but a few legs that comprise caterpillar mind) to set the stage for transformation. Maybe there is nothing wrong with us except that we haven’t finished becoming fully who we are.

But this puts transformation into time, and I am not certain that is right either. When I simply sit still and look, I find that the “me” I think I am disappears. There is just the looker and the looked at in one unbroken unity; there is only “looking.” When I sit still and listen, I don’t hear the egoic chatter, but the global buzz, the humming of the planet as a whole, life itself; there is only listening. My voice is caught up in a symphony of voices, and I can sit back and marvel at the concert.

My normal mind is the “transformed mind.” It is my egoic mind with its caterpillar legs running in all directions at once that is the butterfly. When I see this I don’t need to be caterpillar or butterfly. I don’t need to be anything at all. I am it already.

So maybe all of our rushing around trying to be other than we are is the problem rather than the solution. Maybe what we need do is sit down and sit still, and leave both caterpillar and butterfly alone.

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