A butterfly emerging from a chrysalis
“We must let go of the life we have planned to be able to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
Metamorphosis is a total change of form, or morphology. We are familiar with the caterpillar that spins a cocoon and is completely transformed inside the chrysalis, changing from a crawling creature into a majestic being with glorious wings. In biology the chrysalis is the hardened outer shell that protects the vulnerable caterpillar as it goes through the stages of transformation. Symbolically, the chrysalis has been used to represent a sheltered state or stage of being in which something or someone is utterly transformed.
For those who are committed to spiritual growth, it seems that life is a constant chrysalis. The Buddha taught that life in form is temporary, and if we cling to the form, we suffer. We are constantly challenged to leave the past behind and embark upon an unknown journey. We are often tested by what life presents, and I believe the measure of our “suffering” is equal to the amount of our resistance and expectation. We have to be willing to surrender in order to be transformed–willingness changes everything.
We live in a time of profound change, even turmoil, and if we are to survive we must also be transformed by the change occurring around us. Joseph Campbell also said, “You enter the forest at the darkest point where there is no path. Where there is a way, it is someone else’s path. If you follow someone else’s way you won’t realize your potential.” I find those words equally thrilling and terrifying. Entering that dark forest takes courage, but our willingness to take the unknown step leads to metamorphosis.
A Chinese proverb states that a teacher opens a door, but we must enter by ourselves. Looking back at times of profound change in our lives we can see how our choices made all the difference and where courage changed our lives. As we face the dark forest, or ponder an unknown path, we have a choice. We can cling to the familiar but illusory safety of the ground, or embrace the dissolution of our earthbound consciousness, pass through the open door of transformation, and soar on wings of spirit.
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