How Caterpillar Turns Into A Butterfly

Norie Huddle

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Image of the Week

If you kneel down on the ground and look at a caterpillar very carefully, 
you'd probably think he's a pretty nice furry fellow
with a rather boring life.
And you would be right.

BUT ... 
the caterpillar does have one big surprise for you,
which is the story of how he becomes a butterfly.

For most of his life
all our caterpillar does is crawl around on leaves and plants,
up and down, down and up, up and down,
eating and eating and eating.
Yum, yum, yum.

Until one day, our furry little caterpillar starts to spin long silky threads!
All around himself he weaves a beautiful little chrysalis
Round and round and round and round and round
until he is completed surrounded by strong silken walls.

After our caterpillar has finished weaving his chrysalis, 
there start to appear in his body
cells that have never been there before.

The caterpillar's new cells are called 'imaginal cells.'
They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells
that his immune system thinks they are enemies... and gobbles them up.

But these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them!
Pretty soon, the caterpillar's immune system
cannot destroy them fast enough.

More and more of the imaginal cells survive.
And then an amazing thing happens!
The little tiny lonely imaginal cells start to clump together
into friendly little groups.
They all resonate together at the same frequency,
passing information from one to another.

Then, after awhile, another amazing thing happens!
The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together!
A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cells,
all resonating at the same frequency,
all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis.
Then at some point,
the entire long string of imaginal cells
suddenly realizes all together
that it is something different from the caterpillar.

Something new! Something wonderful!
...and in that realization
is the shout of the birth of the butterfly!

Since the butterfly now "knows" that it is a butterfly,
the little tiny imaginal cells
no longer have to do all those things individual cells must do.
Now they are part of a multi-celled organism—
A FAMILY who can share the work.
Each new butterfly cell can take on a different job—

There is something for everyone to do.
And everyone is important.
And each cell begins to do just that very thing it is most drawn to do.
And every other cell encourages it to do just that.
A great way to organize a butterfly!

Norie Huddle has written seven published books on environmental issues and on transforming humanity.  Growing up in the woods of northern Virginia, doing a 9-month, 5000-mile bicycle trip across America, and now living in Ecuador have been been formative experiences for her. Above passage is from her 1990 book, Butterfly.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the process of transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly as a metaphor for your own journey? Can you share an experience where you could see your own emergence as similar to the butterfly's emergence? What helps you recognize that you are constantly emerging from your past caterpillar self into your present butterfly self?

Add Your Reflection:

9 Previous Reflections:

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    On Nov 3, 2020 Anilkumar Pandit wrote:
    Individuals, Communities, and Nations going beyond their bounds like the caterpillar tied to the tree trunk, and metamorphosing to developwings and daring to fly globally is true evolution of Human Family.

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    On Nov 3, 2020 stanford wrote:
    Ten years chronic fatigue, energy returning--filled with gratitude for life, family and the joy of the moment.

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    On Nov 3, 2020 mamta nanda wrote:
    Since the beginning of lockdown, this image of caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly has sustained me. When the lockdown first started to be lifted, I did not feel ready. I felt that the metamorphosis is not complete yet. At this time I am suffering from eczema like symptoms, where my body seems to be doing something that is unexpected. Reading this gives me hope that the deeper innate intelligence of the body, of the Universe, knows what is needed. I, and we, will get there. Thank you for sharing this at this time.

    1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
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    On Nov 2, 2020 Elaine Gotfryd Noonan wrote:
    The caterpillar intuitively knows it must change in order to evolve. Voila the chrysalis. Voila .. imaginal cells thrive ( no matter what the outdated " caterpillar" thoughts) .The power of the imaginal cells surpasses the attack of the immune system . Often people in our lives don't "vibe" with our transformation . New transitional vibes attract new "like vibes" into your life .. a new tribe is born and works together toward a new common good. Check out the book, Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus... my wings are ready 🦋 🦋

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    On Oct 31, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    I can identify with the caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly. The caterpillar went through major transformation inside the chrysalis and then broke out as abutterfly. I too have gone through major transformation inside the chrysalis of my life, began emerging into butterfly me, and am still emerging and taking form. For me there have been some major spurts or breakthroughs of inner transformation and emergence, but overall the process of inner transformation and emergence has been a long one and is ongoing. What helps me recognize that I am constantly emerging is the increase in my awareness and the clarity of my awareness and the increase in my freedom and courage to be me and fly. Like the butterfly, I'm of different substance, different reality, than I was pretransformation. For me the emergence continues.

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    On Oct 29, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    The central message of the story of the Caterpillar TurningInto A Butterfly is the story of transformation and emergence of ourselves as we travel in our life'sjourney. We all change. Nothing remains the same. The challenge is how the change transforms our ways of thinking, feeling and doing. It's a deep qualitative change, like the caterpillarturning into a butterfly. We all grow but in which direction of our life. Are we repeating the same cycle or we are getting out of the routine and move in an upward bound direction? I see myself growingslowly from childhood, to young age, to adulthood and old age. It has not been a steady journey of transformation. It has its ups and downs, its twists and turns. A couple of times I fell down. I leaned from falling down and moved on in my upward journey of life. As I look behind I see myself emerging and transforming. My outlook has been widened. I see myself unbound and freed from my judgmental stances of people different from me in many ... [View Full Comment] The central message of the story of the Caterpillar TurningInto A Butterfly is the story of transformation and emergence of ourselves as we travel in our life'sjourney. We all change. Nothing remains the same. The challenge is how the change transforms our ways of thinking, feeling and doing. It's a deep qualitative change, like the caterpillarturning into a butterfly. We all grow but in which direction of our life. Are we repeating the same cycle or we are getting out of the routine and move in an upward bound direction?
    I see myself growingslowly from childhood, to young age, to adulthood and old age. It has not been a steady journey of transformation. It has its ups and downs, its twists and turns. A couple of times I fell down. I leaned from falling down and moved on in my upward journey of life. As I look behind I see myself emerging and transforming. My outlook has been widened. I see myself unbound and freed from my judgmental stances of people different from me in many ways. My inner eyes have become clear and I see people as they are. As the Buddha says "see the isness."
    Cultivating healthy habits of mind and nurturing the mind in a healthy way has been very helpful to me. I keep my mind and heart open without tarnishing them with my preconceived notions. Practicing mindfulness meditation and non-judgemental awareness help me constantly emerging from my past caterpillar self into the present butterfly self.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'



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