The Tale of the Butterfly," the following is a breakdown of that spiritual allegory. Of course, if you liked reading it the way it was and don't want this added layer of intellectualism, then don't read this. Here's a link to some sweet sound healing instead.
Lost in Illusion
We meet out heroine, the butterfly, lost in illusion. At its core, this is the state that most of humanity is in. The butterfly is so lost to illusion that it's impossible for her to realize that she is not a bee or that there is another way of living other than the way that she is currently living. And yet, this life makes her miserable. She's terrible at it, but she struggles to continue doing it. In a deeper way, this is her gift. Because she doesn't like where she's at, she is more likely to accept a chance to be different. For people who are not only lost in the illusion, but feel that they're good at "making honey," they are even less likely to break-free of the hive and their lives.
So, here is one of those important themes in a lot of people's awakening experiences: pain. The butterfly's pain is part of what will help her to let go of her current life and to embrace a new one.
The Turning Point: The First Meeting with the Beloved
The butterfly's meeting with another butterfly is a turning point. It's that point in our lives when either we realize that something is wrong or something in life shakes us up. She denies the truth told to her by the other butterfly, who is acting in the image of the beloved. The Sufi master, Rumi, talks about the beloved and lover, and here I'm using this in a physical sense. Later in the tale, I move this imagery into the more subtle and therefore, truer sense. So our protagonist is enamored with the other butterfly and his beauty. But she is so lost in delusion and denial that she can't even admit this to herself. She can't even speak to him, and if he doesn't engage her, then she'd actually have missed this opportunity. The fact that he does engage with her is the element of grace that works in her life. Sometimes in our lives, grace comes and gives us an opportunity that we could not have consciously created. On a deeper level, we create most of the things that come to us in this lifetime (I'm not a big fan of believing that we create everything--I think that's too ego-centric of an idea). So, the subconscious level of the butterfly is already trying to break her out of her illusions, hence the dreams she has at night. In that way, a part of her would have been trying to draw out the beloved.
For most of us, we need an external representation of the beloved because our delusion is so bad that the understanding that we hold both the lover and the beloved within us is beyond our current grasp. So too, the butterfly draws in her beloved as another butterfly, and of course, she isn't ready for him. Many of you who have written to me have talked about meeting a significant other whom you weren't ready for. You turned him or her away to stay with the relationship that you currently have or to stay single. You probably had lots of rational reasons. The butterfly's reasoning is that this other butterfly is frivolous and stupid, but all he's done is to reveal truth. In this way, many people turn away from truth because they are lost to delusion and can't even acknowledge truth. She's quite rude about it, and later on in the story, she obviously regrets it, as she seeks him out.
The Misery Grows Heavier
Yet, this initial connection isn't enough, so she continues with her life. But a part of her has been activated by the beloved. This may be like when some of you have met a soulmate. A part of you that has been dormant is now ignited. You can't ignore it, and that ignited part draws energy away from all the things that you are doing that are not true to you. In this case, it's the butterfly's work and living situation. It seems outwardly absurd for a butterfly to be trying to be a bee living the life that she's trying to live, but that's the power of metaphor and allegory. So many people in life are trying to do things they don't love because they're just trying to make their honey or should I point it out more and say "make money." It's why the question of "What would you do if money was not an object?" is such a powerful one. Money is, however, one of several reasons that people stay in miserable situations that don't honor them.
The butterfly still won't take ownership of her life, so life takes ownership of her. She gets sent away from the hive, which in the external world looks like a cataclysm. On the spiritual level, it's actually her very first triumph. But she doesn't know it yet, which is why she tries to go back to that lifestyle again and again. We all have done this, have we not? We are such creatures of habit that we can't imagine that we could live a different way. The other bees she meets are even more confused by why she'd want to work and live with bees, so she doesn't get another chance to live in another hive. This too is yet another triumph, as her life is being transformed for her. This is another act of grace that helps create more misery to force her to the moment of truth.
The Illusion Breaks and the Second Meeting with the Beloved
The clear pond is the clear sight of living in the real world. The butterfly has finally been forced to stop moving. That's why a meditation practice is so powerful for all of us. It's us voluntarily stopping the outward movement to cultivate this clear sight. She doesn't know what's happening initially, but she's in awe of how perfect everything is through the lens of the clear pond--through the lens of true sight and seeing things as they truly are. This is the start of a profound opening, and for many people, they get stuck here. When she looks at her reflection--which is the image of the true self--a couple of important things happen all at once. For one, she's meeting herself and seeing herself as she truly is. Secondly, this is a meeting with the beloved in a deeper way. The image of her beloved is no longer being projected on another, and as she reaches out to it, we have the diminishing distance between the fullness of her self. Her two halves are coming together on one level. In another way, she's transcending duality. The separation dissolves into oneness with the realization of who she truly is. She's a butterfly.
The Search for the Teacher
What follows after that is the classic flailing of the untamed mind and the remaining old ego. Having done no preparation for the spiritual path, the butterfly thinks she needs someone to teach her how to be what she already is. She immediately presumes that the other butterfly would know, and perhaps he would. But now, he's no longer the image of the beloved. He's the projected image of her own truth and inner teacher. So she goes on her quest for the teacher.
This has probably happened for a number of you who try to get back that relationship or situation that you could not handle before. Perhaps you can connect with it again. Perhaps not. A lot of times, these things serve a one-time only purpose, and when you find a beloved again, suddenly, they're not the image of perfection you thought they were. You may suddenly find out that you don't even like them. A lot of things may happen, and in this case, the butterfly's quest is a failure. On the level of the beloved, she's already merged together. There's no outward beloved to connect with again in the way that a part of her intellectual programming thinks she needs to. What she needs is the teacher, but also not in the way that she thinks she needs it.
In the quest, I'm also making fun of the gurus who live in caves, mountaintops, and ashrams in one of the sentences. You get the sense of the ardent devotee searching high and low, and she doesn't like what she finds or can't find what she thinks she wants. Her mind is fixated on the image of the other butterfly, and until she gives up and lets go, she's not ready to meet the teacher. In truth, she doesn't even really know what he looks like, and her image--her mental container for what a spiritual teacher is--is too small. When she does let go, her container can expand, and she can meet the teacher in the form of the toad.
The Master Speaks When the Student Is Ready to Listen
The toad can only appear when the student has burned out the external world focus, or if the teacher is going to preliminarily help someone, then that teacher helps the student burn out that focus until the student can truly listen and be present to what's important. Most students still think that spirituality is out there even if they intellectually understand that all their knowledge and everything of the most important nature is already within. Once the butterfly has gone through this phase, she can meet the teacher, and the teacher can tell the student that there's nothing to search for and nothing to do. The toad tells the butterfly that being a butterfly has nothing to do with doing anything. Now because she's finally willing to let go, she can hear this and embrace the truth. She is now ready to accept being, and she knows that there is nothing to accomplish to become a butterfly. It is what she already is.
From the reader's point of view, this seems like an obvious thing, right? Of course you don't have to do anything to be a butterfly, but I have to do something to become a doctor. Certainly, outward professions require training, but if you are truly a healer, that's something you already are. That's what you've been doing in your own way from playing pretend doctor as a kid to helping putting bandages on your siblings knees from playing too hard. From this standpoint, what this tale is also talking about are the core archetypes that we naturally hold that are part of our gifts to share in this world.
Back to the story, the toad leaves to find more food and nourishment. The idea here is that the toad is only interested in things that nourish it. On a deeper level, that nourishment is also love, truth, and wisdom. The toad isn't seeking as such; it has nothing it needs to gain. But it is engaged with the world, which is why it goes on looking for more nourishment to sustain it. What the toad doesn't do is go seeking experiences or getting involved in things that don't nourish it. That's an important distinction to understand about the spiritual teacher. The teacher has cultivated his or her awareness to know what nourishes and what does not nourish him or herself, which are the next steps of the butterfly's path of self-realization.
Embracing the Fullness of Being
The last phase of the butterfly's growth in this tale (there are other phases; perhaps I'll write some more stories like this if people like them) sees her embracing her natural talents and who she is. Things are initially difficult because she has not cultivated these things, and that happens for a lot of people who have to overcome the inertia of their lives. They've spent so much time living one way that they don't how to live in tune with themselves. Your story may require more time to learn how to fully "open your wings," but in this story, it happens very rapidly. From that, she finds the joy in the fullness of being who she is, and she realizes that no one can tell her who she is. In this last part, this is when we fully connect with our inner truth. In that connection, we can never been shaken. While things may be difficult or pleasant in life, we know who and what we are. And that's a powerful place to take action in the world through as well as a profound place of being that allows us to be as we are.
At last, the butterfly knows who she is and can fully live her life. The illusory separation between herself and her beloved has dissolved, and she has achieved the internal oneness. Now she can fly anywhere she chooses. What a beautiful thing to be able to do. Such a natural thing to be able to do all in accepting herself just as she is.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Feel free to leave comments and questions if something arises for you.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
She lived with bees, worked with bees, and slept with bees.
Her whole life was spent with bees, and she'd never thought anything of it.
Yet, she was never a very good bee.
She couldn't carry pollen well.
She was terrible at making honey.
And getting into the hive? Oh that was just a total nightmare.
All in all, her life was not a happy one.
She did her best to fit in, but it always seemed like she was bumping into someone or making mistakes.
The other bees would tell her, "Your wings are too big" and "Why can't you make honey like the rest of us?"
At night, she would secretly wish that she wasn't a bee.
She'd have dreams of floating on great big air currents without any concern for getting pollen.
The next morning, she'd always try to forget the dreams as nonsense and would struggle on with her life.
Then one day, she met a great big blue butterfly.
So stunned by his color and beautiful wings, she did not know what to say.
And she would not have said anything if he had not spoken.
"And where are you fluttering off to today?" he asked.
She was quite surprised by his voice, but feeling rather bee-ish, she did not like the term fluttering.
"I am not fluttering anywhere. I am busy working on getting pollen for the hive."
The big blue butterfly looked strangely at her.
"Why in the world are you doing that?"
"So that we can make more honey," she said primly.
"Honey? Why do you need to make honey?"
"Well, good sir, because I am a bee."
The other butterfly stared at her for a long moment, and what he next said changed everything.
"My dear. You most certainly are not. You are a butterfly."
But she was not ready to hear this.
Having gathered her courage with a little bit of indignation, she bade him farewell and a good day fluttering wherever he willed.
She had work to do.
But later that night, the dreams came back. Now she was fluttering with not just the other butterfly, but many other butterflies.
The other bees noticed her work got even worse in the next couple of weeks until finally the Queen called her in.
After a tearful discussion, the butterfly was let go.
She packed her things and got lots of other good wishes that she'd find a new hive with bigger hallways for her over-sized wings.
She wandered for some time, talking to other bees, who looked at her strangely for inquiring about working with them.
One day, she was sitting by a clear pond.
It was one of the clearest, she'd ever seen. The water was so pure. It reflected everything perfectly as it is.
She looked at the trees and the rocks and the clouds reflected in the waters.
The lines and contours were perfectly etched in the reflection. It was almost like the whole world was captured in its purest truth in that water.
As she looked at it, she finally paused when she saw this amazing butterfly.
She turned quickly around in case the stranger she met awhile ago had found her again.
But there was no one behind her.
She looked back at the water, and once again, there was the butterfly looking quizzically at her.
She turned around again. Was this a game? Was he hiding from her?
This went on for some minutes until she found her courage to reach out.
Slowly. Very painstakingly. She reached out to the water.
In return, the other butterfly slowly and very painstakingly reached out to her.
Her heart started to pound wildly. She began to sweat.
She could barely breathe.
Their hands met and broke the separation between the two worlds.
And she knew she was a butterfly.
But you see, her whole world was now completely upside down.
Or as it were, she was now completely right-side up.
Knowing the truth was one thing, but she had no idea what to do now.
What do butterflies do? How do they live? Even more importantly, how do they make honey?
She knew what she had to do. She had to find that other butterfly.
She set off immediately, recklessly, and hopefully.
She searched high and low, near and far.
She searched in caves, on mountain tops, and in other small communities of creatures said to be wise beyond their years.
Until she was quite distraught and ready to give up.
When a toad happened to hop up along beside her.
"You seem very troubled. What is the problem, my dear?"
"I am searching for someone, but I cannot find him."
"And why are you searching for this individual?"
"Because I need him to tell me how to be a butterfly."
The toad laughed at this. "But my dear, do you not already know this? Are you not already a butterfly?"
"All my life, I thought I was a bee. So that's what I did. How do I be a butterfly when I have never done it before?"
The toad nodded knowingly and patted the butterfly on the back.
"Because what you do has nothing to do with what you are. Just be you, and it'll all work out fine."
Then the toad hopped away on its path to find food and water and other nourishment it saw fit to enjoy.
The butterfly thought about what the toad said, and she began to do all the things that she'd dreamed about.
She spread her wings wide, as wide as they could go, no longer hiding them.
At first, she still flew like she used to.
Her wings were atrophied and stunted from being collapsed and trying to fit into small spaces.
But soon, they expanded out into their natural form.
And the wind would come and pick her up and carry her around.
She fluttered about and drifted on different currents for days.
She found everything to suddenly be so easy, so effortless.
She did all of the things that felt most true in her heart, and she forgot about hives, honey, and pollen-gathering.
She fell into a deep ecstasy with each moment of just being who she was.
And she realized that all the stuff she'd been searching for was already inside her.
No one could tell her who she was.
Because she knew she was a butterfly through and through, and that was the truth.
(For those interested, you can read an interpretation of this tale on this link.)
Friday, December 16, 2011
The Road to the Mind Is Just One Checkpoint
Initially, cultivating right thinking (as the Buddhists might say) is an incredibly important thing in life. In so many ways, the mind has very sacred and quite useful functions to help us live in this world. Just pause and think about all the important stuff that you know...the important stuff. Not the useless crap about the latest teen pop star or what the neighbors are doing at 3am in their bedroom. Important stuff like knowing how to clothe yourself or what to eat. Memories and how-to knowledge around fixing things that break and building relationships. All this information is stored in your noggin, and that's a very good thing. Colleges and universities help us go further with critical thinking to be able to "objectively" evaluate a lot of things--obviously the "objective" perspective in the academic world is more subjective than that venue of people would want to admit, but it has a lot of value to it. All of these things are important ways to be able to move through your life and make good decisions.
When the Tool Loses Its Usefulness
But then, we start using this tool for other things, and it gets lost in the consumption of information. The Internet is an amazing place, but you can constantly be filling your mind with junk. The 24-hour news cycle and 5 million channels of nonsense on TV add to more noise. There is so much garbage out there, and the undisciplined mind will consume all of it constantly, leaving you with a blur of fuzz and static in between your ears. Along the way, your mind has been creating perspectives and points of view about everything, and combining these with a whole bunch of personal attributes, you have created a very complex ego. And the more intellectually focused your ego is, the more it consumes information in a specific way. It shuts out other interpretations and things that don't work within its limited perspective, and it focuses the mind further. This is part of how we get lost. This part of the reason why we don't really see other people because in addition to focusing, we start to project out what we want to see onto our worlds. We create this little ego and intellectual bubble that we think will somehow protect us, and we have it feed us the same types of stories over and over again.
Until one day, something or someone pops it...like a spiritual awakening.
The Bubble Bursts Once...It May Have to Burst Again
And then the spiritual path unfolds before you, and you want to bring this tool with you too. And you can. And you should, but there are limits to what it can do. Because regardless of having a profound spiritual awakening or not, your limited ego wants to come along and start doing the same BS to the spiritual path. It wants to pick and choose what experiences it can accept. It wants to have the fun enjoyable ones and not the unpleasant ones. Or it'll only deal with the unpleasant ones if it thinks it'll get rewarded by doing so. There are whole levels of issues that people try to bring onto the spiritual path. It's like trying to bring all of your luggage--5 million pounds of it--onto the little turbo-prop plane that can only handle 50 pounds of your baggage. You're going to have to let some of this stuff go.
Refining Your Intellect, Putting Things in their Place
If you don't refine your intellect, you can become one of these spiritual philosophers. It's not a bad job. I hear the pay is good. :) But it doesn't get you very far on the spiritual path. Because you're still playing an academic game. If being an academician made you enlightened, then universities would really be the most amazing places to go, but the last time I checked, they were still pretty full of booze, unfulfilling (although admittedly fun) parties, scandals at the administrative levels, apathetic teachers, apathetic students, and so forth. Obviously, they're not enlightened; they're just very well academically and intellectually trained, and the mind needs to understand the difference.
I wrote awhile ago about how awakening quiets the intellect a long time ago. When it's allowed to, the energy will balance out naturally. Your mind does know what it's role is, and as it is refined, the subtle information that the mind can interpret via intuition is pretty profound. But most of you haven't done this work yet. You probably don't even know the difference between the many internal parts and pieces of your mind that yammer at you all day. And all of that will be one of the many possible starting points. You're going to need to know what's going on in there before you can put anything in its place. Start with a journal, and pay attention to all the inner conflicts and discussions you have with yourself. It may be illuminating and potentially disturbing to bring awareness to all the discussions and stories that are actively playing out inside you.
Balancing Your Energetic System
I often talk about the wisdom and natural intellect of all aspects of us. Our hearts have wisdom. Our bodies have wisdom, and of course, our minds have wisdom. The wisdom of the soul runs through all of these spaces, and that wisdom can only be activated through placing awareness there. Depending on all the crap that you've got in the way, there may be quite a bit of discipline and self-work that's needed. For others of you, you may be surprised how quickly amazing information and understanding starts to flow out of you just by giving it space to do so. Obviously, fear, sadness, and anger will get in the way. Fear is one of the worst because it'll paralyze you. You'll say, "But I can't really be a doctor. I'm not smart enough." In this space, the mind is not serving it's purpose, and it sounds like it's blocking the wisdom of your heart. I'm sure you can think of other examples, and that may seem daunting initially, but if you don't put the intellectual mind into it's appropriate place, who will?
The Gift of the Well-Trained Mind
The great gift in all of this is that you're making space for a lot of wisdom to come through you. There's so much information within you and in the world that is right at your fingertips if you do the work to make space for it. The well-trained mind can work through the slush and debris of the New Age world as well as the business world to find truth and what feels right. A lot of people are telling people a lot of things about awakening, and not all of it is helpful or particularly accurate. Your intellect can help to see through the shams and the fakes. It helps you to make space for your own wisdom so that you no longer need to go searching for anything because ultimately, there's nothing to search for anyway. There's nothing you need to know. You already know it.
Monday, December 5, 2011
The Road Gone Before and the Road Ahead
So much of our families' histories is to travel the same road again and again. The road behind us and the road in front of us are not actually roads; they're loops. We travel around the same tracks, and regardless of the amount of "success" we have in the external world, we play out the same types of issues with intimacy, scarcity, abuse, and general habits. Some families resemble each other's energies so much that I can't really tell that there are different people there. That's not necessarily bad--it just depends on what your soul path is. But for most people, that similarity isn't a choice. It's a default setting. How do you know what other choices you can make until you do something other than your default setting? How do you know you really love being a plumber when that's all you and your family have ever done? Similarly, how do you know if you were raised well or not until you look at other examples of how families work.
The Exploration of Family Dynamics
There's nothing like having a child on the way to get you looking at family dynamics in a new way. Children are often all of our biggest wake-up calls, and for women, I can think of few other physical rites of passages that can possibly equate to the process of child birth. Child birth is a dramatic statement to every level of a woman that things are now different; you are now a mom. Men don't have an equal physical process for a life shift quite like that, which is why so many rites of passage for men in the past were so physically arduous. Men have needed something profoundly physical to let their bodies know that they are no longer boys, and without those rites, many males simply live out their lives as boys--acting out childish fantasies like making lots of money, having lots of sex, etc. While a rite of passage doesn't change all of that, it does give men a firm place to start out and realize themselves in a different way.
Subsequently, it's been easier for fathers in the past to not feel connected to the whole process of pregnancy. They've been so disconnected from themselves that they can't possibly feel the connection with their partner of a growing fetus. So, it's been easy for them to walk away or consider the whole situation a burden. Obviously, there are also many deeply involved dads, but the new level that's coming to men is the gift of feeling that creative connection beyond the initial conception. This is a process--an ultimately it's always been like this, but more consciousness is going to be coming to it--that has always involved both partners through conception, birth, childhood, and well, most of the rest of our lives. Why do you think as adults on the spiritual path that we spend so much time dealing with both issues of our parents? Those lines of energetic connection are still there, and so we all have to learn how to heal them as appropriately and as best we can so that we can fully come into our own energy.
Old Lines of Familial Energetic Connections
I've spent a lot of time talking in blogs far past about issues from my family around scarcity. Scarcity is the idea that there isn't enough. It leads to miserliness and a whole lot of fear. It breaks the cycle of giving and receiving that is so important to keep us all nourished. Much of my work has been to clear out that fear, and subsequently, children that I have in the future will have much less influence from those old fears. My parents and grandparents have also done bits and pieces of work around other issues so that they wouldn't come to me, and that's part of what we're talking about today. Doing your work to clear away old abuse issues, fears, anger, and other things is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children. Children are such little sponges and are so connected to you. When they are developing inside of a woman and through a lot of their early years, they soak up everything. EVERYTHING. You know this already if you are a parent. And the deepest connections will always go first and be there the longest. The energy and the stories that come through your being and presence will be the most profound, which is why doing your work to know yourself and all the family issues are so important. The more you work to break those unhealthy connections and those patterns of fear, the more freedom you offer to your child.
For instance, let's say that your family has a history of believing that you're intellectually smart. You consider yourself to be stupid. Then education becomes part of how you break that cycle. It's a profound thing in Western Culture because education offers so much social mobility. You undoubtedly will have to face a lot of self-esteem issues around not being smart enough, and maybe you'll even want to quit school. This is doing your spiritual work in the real world, and it offers your children so much future freedom (and I'm not talking in your ability to make more money). You'll carry with you a sense of accomplishment and a new belief in your intelligence that no one else in your family has ever had. That's part of breaking the cycle and creating freedom for your children.
Being a Spiritual Parent Starts With Being a Spiritual Person
We all know the "do as I say, not as I do" mentality is a load of crap, so don't try it. As I just illustrated above, you need to do you work. Face your fears. Heal your wounds. That's step one to being a great spiritual parent. It will help you to get in touch with your inner knowing, which will be invaluable as you make difficult decisions at times for your children. Being clear about what feels true helps from everything such as when it's time to put your child down for a nap and to what school to send your children. Intuition has a lot of purposes. As always, it should be balanced by logic and gathering facts. Together, that's a very powerful decision making tool, and it's a very powerful tool for your children to learn and see in you.
Spiritual Guidance for Your Tots
Some women have been woken up spirituality from the process of childbirth, and some men have been awoken in preparation for being dads. You're both more likely in the category of offering spiritual guidance and teaching to your children. You have to know by now that a new wave of very aware children are entering and about to enter the world during this time of possibility and shift. While I don't care to make up another annoying spiritual label like Indigo children (labels get in the way of fully seeing and appreciating individuals), there's going to be another generation like that. Many of you are being awoken to be the divine mothers and divine fathers to shepherd them into this world. Many of these children will be very delicate and won't like the crudeness of the world, so it'll be up to you how you help them to assimilate. Assimilation is key because you can't hide them away from the world. Most of them are needed to be very active in the world vibration, which is not a comfortable one by any means. So your challenge will be to help get them the spiritual tools along the way for them to stay energized and healthy while shielding them at times from the difficulties that they aren't ready for yet.
Still others of you may have been gifted with a very aware child, but you don't feel like you have the tools to do a lot of this. Perhaps, you'll need to find a spiritual teacher to help your children from time to time. Meanwhile, you still will need to do your own work, and you'll need to own that this is a social/spiritual contract with this child that you've chosen. It should never be looked upon as a burden, but that won't mean that it won't challenge you. Any parent reading this today knows that raising a child is always a challenge. They'll hit your hot buttons on every level, which is why especially with very aware children, they may become your greatest spiritual teacher ever.
Letting Go of Right and Wrong in Spiritual Parenting
After you eliminate the big issues like physical abuse and verbal abuse, you'll simply have to trust yourself as a parent. I think this is true for all parents, but especially with those of you bringing spirituality into the new family you're creating, it may seem very unknown and uncertain. Trust yourself. Do your own work to stay clear about yourself and what feels right, but then you have to have faith. A lot of faith and a lot of love are so important in many aspects of life, but especially with raising children. They'll be all right, and you're already doing a beautiful job if you care enough to try and bring spirituality into your role as a parent.