Patience is a Virtue: How the Caterpillar Becomes a Butterfly

About a year ago while driving, I listened to an NPR science program about the newest scientific understanding of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I was also reminded at a spiritual event last weekend about a well-known parable of ‘the Emperor Moth’ which focuses on how important it is to not force a butterfly or moth to emerge too early from its cocoon.

Scientists have found that when a caterpillar enters into its pupae stage inside a chrysalis, it appears to completely dissolve! If you open the cocoon at that point there is no structure there, no organs, just a gooey substance. Then out of this primordial ooze a butterfly takes form, an entirely distinct, new creature altogether! This staggers my understanding as a waking dream story, a metaphor for my own or others’ deepest life transformations.

What this metaphor of the chrysalis says to me is that I have to be patient with myself, and with others, to allow a complete transformation process to reshape the conditions allowing positive growth and birth or rebirth to transpire naturally. You cannot rush change without impinging upon the fullest realization of the change potentials.

I have had ample opportunities lately to find or practice patience. As a new homeowner, it seems like every time I turn around another emergency pops up! The nice new washing machine I was grateful to have stopped mid cycle during a power outage and now does not spin or drain. The marvelous sliding door to my pretty little deck has been letting the rain in onto the beautiful wood flooring in  the living room! I have slathered on sealer but still yesterday more water splattered in with the rain. And my dear Sophie had a bee sting during a walk that she was terribly allergic to, developing dangerous hive blisters all over her body during the 24-minute trip to the vet for a shot of antihistamines.

But, you know? The washing machine snafu has led me to purchase a good home warranty policy. Even though that takes a month to kick in so I am going to a laundromat for awhile, there is a laundromat not too far away and the dryer still works, and the warranty could save me a bundle and get me through plenty more glitches down the road. I have a professional handyman fixing the door as I write, and that should be a good job for not too much expense. And Sophie is okay after her emergency, so now I am more vigilant on her walks and keep her away from tall grasses.

images are from

There is a deeper lesson I am gaining from all of these events (and some others not mentioned here), about detachment and the importance of maintaining a higher perspective. I choose not to be stuck in my head or let daily annoyances or needs hold me down in a negative state of worry.

I have been watching alot of NOVA programs about Space this month, plus contemplating daily, and I find that focusing on Mars or Jupiter or the Cosmos helps to lift my attention out of the immediacy of practical concerns. My favorite film, Contact, has been showing this month too and I have watched it again twice. Talk about patience! In Contact, Eleanor Arroway (played brilliantly by Jodie Foster) is a SETI scientist who spends hours and days and months and years sorting through one distant region of the galaxy after another in a seemingly futile search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.  After Eleanor does actually make contact, this launches her on the journey of many lifetimes where she is shown a depth of reality no other earthling has physically encountered. Even so, like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, very few believe her when she tries to communicate about what she has seen. So, she returns to her life of patient observations.

“Small steps” is the message of Carl Sagan’s Contact. I am finding that principle applies to my life, daily!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!




A Better World Community: Contact II


One of my favorite movies ever, Contact, ends with a determined ambivalence. Carl Sagan, the world famous physicist from TV’s Cosmos who wrote the book, is raising questions about science and religion in relation to the linking concept of “the pursuit of truth”.  As the movie ends, Dr. Eleanor Arroway returns to her SETI radar array in New Mexico, coaching a visiting tour group of youngsters with Carl Sagan’s own insight from the book:

The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”

There should definitely be a sequel to Contact. Maybe it would go something like this:

Eleanor and Palmer Joss marry; that much follows clearly from the film.  Their marriage is symbolic of the inherent convergence of cosmology with a universalist, non-sectarian spirituality.  Dr. Arroway writes a book soon after her life-transformative journey, recalling her otherworldly encounter in great detail and raising her own unanswered questions about what the reality she alone was privy to might mean in both scientific and humanistic terms.  Then she and Palmer Joss write another book, together (nicely paralleling Sagan and Ann Druyan‘s real life collaboration). This book unifies quantum physics with ideas and practices from mystical traditions from around the world.

At the same time, the 16,000 pages of encyclopedic knowledge that have been transmitted from Vega are fully translated, supporting the emergent ‘new paradigm’ of Unification Cosmology. Federal agencies, finally acknowledging the validity of Dr. Arroway’s journey through a wormhole and her encounter with alien intelligence, reveal the actual footage beneath the static on Eleanor’s video.  The principles and forces that had created the wormhole effect become the basis for a much accelerated, interstellar space exploration program. The Earth’s scientific communities combine, as they must collaborate and delegate to develop the global resources and energy needed. Earth’s humanity comes to transcend the myopic, fragmented religious doctrinarianism it had once exhibited, as science expands its focus to embrace the potentialities of consciousness itself as reflecting a Grand Design. Telepathic spiritual contact with other-than-human modes of consciousness both within our universe and across multiple dimensions leads to new forms of interdimensional and even inter-universal (Inter-Brane) noetic awareness. This results in a holistic transformation of conscious existence and sentience itself, not even fathomable with our current, limited language.  All I can close the sequel with from our present level of understanding comes, most appropriately, from J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1/ Chapter 1:

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the Door where It began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing It with eager feet,
Until It joins some larger Way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then?
I cannot say.