Growth ~ the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly


By Cailin Grant-Jansen

Growth does not come without its challenges like many of us have probably noticed. Most of us do not just wake up one day feeling completely free and awakened. We actually have to go through a whole process of restructuring and rewiring our whole system. Sometimes it can feel like our whole life gets thrown upside down and becomes even more challenging then before. Just know that this is all part of the process. Change might not feel comfortable in the beginning, but it is the only way to birth a new reality. A new expression of ourselves, with greater intelligence, creativity, connection, love and happiness.

I love the metaphor for transformation based on the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly.

-from a passage of ‘The Global Heart Awakens’ by Anodea Judith.

“When a caterpillar nears its transformation time, it begins to eat ravenously, consuming everything in sight. (It is interesting to note that individuals are often called “consumers” and one of the largest manufacturers of heavy construction machinery is called “Caterpillar, Inc.”) The caterpillar body then becomes heavy, outgrowing its own skin many times, until it is too bloated to move. Attaching to a branch (upside down, we might add, where everything is turned on its head) it forms a chrysalis—an enclosing shell that limits the caterpillar’s freedom for the duration of the transformation.

Within the chrysalis a miracle occurs. Tiny cells, called “imaginal cells,” begin to appear. These cells are wholly different from caterpillar cells, carrying different information, vibrating to a different frequency–the frequency of the emerging butterfly. At first, the caterpillar’s immune system perceives these new cells as enemies, and attacks them, much as new ideas are called radical, and viciously denounced by the powers now holding center stage. But the imaginal cells are not deterred. They continue to appear, increasing in numbers until the new cells are numerous enough to organize into clumps. When enough cells have formed to make structures along the new organizational lines, the caterpillar’s immune system is overwhelmed. The cells of the original body then become a nutritious soup for the growth of the butterfly.

When the butterfly is ready to hatch, the chrysalis becomes transparent (much as the Internet is making many hidden actions transparent). The need for restriction has been outgrown, yet the struggle toward freedom is part of the process. Were the chrysalis opened too soon, the butterfly would die. As the butterfly emerges, it fills its wings with liquid, (a “right wing” and a “left wing,” we might note), and then flies away to dance among the flowers.

The awakening of the global heart results from transforming the body politic from the unconscious, over-consuming bloat of the caterpillar into a creature of exquisite beauty, grace, and freedom. This coming of age process takes us to a new mythic reality, a larger story, ripe with meaning and direction. It takes us from the naïve egocentricity of childhood into a larger reality of interdependent reciprocity.

It is not a passage that ends in the gray grimness of adult responsibility, denying the colorful spirituality of childhood innocence. Rather, it is a reclaiming of wholeness that denies little, and embraces all. It is from this abundance that we can love and cherish our world”

Mahasoma Meditation