it became a butterfly
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Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly

OK, so I am starting this new category off with one that has been doing the rounds on the internet for some time now. However, I like it and this is my blog so there 😛

This particular quote seems to have its origins from a centuries-old Taoist philosopher named Chuang Tzu, and like all of these things, it has a much deeper meaning than what we may imagine upon the first contact.

Chuang Tzu is regarded as one of the towering icons in Taoist thought, just behind its founder Lao Tzu. One day Chuang Tzu fell asleep and had a dream.

He dreamed that he was a butterfly.

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He flew about enjoying himself as the butterfly and did not know that he was Chuang Tzu, but just knew that he was a butterfly flying around. Suddenly he awoke and became Chuang Tzu once again.

However, he did not know whether it was Chuang Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly, or whether it was the butterfly dreaming that it was Chuang Tzu.

This is an interesting situation to be in and one that throws our ideas about reality into question. How do we know our dreams are dreams and our reality, reality?

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This also seems to be a question that pops up in various guises every now and then throughout history. For example, Chuang Tzu lived around the 4th century in China or as it is sometimes known, the warring states period. But there is also another famous philosopher and thinker, who is relatively more modern times, also pondered this idea.

His name was René Descartes and he decided upon a foundation of reality as:

Cogito ergo sum

Or I am thinking, therefore I exist (I think, therefore I am is not a good representation of it). This is another person who has questioned his place in the universe and tried to figure out what reality he lives in.

To bring it right up to the (kind of) present day, the matrix is a very modern take on this idea and really visualizes it and puts it into a science fiction setting.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly

So what does this mean to us, what does it mean to me? Well, the caterpillar was going around minding its own business and then it felt a great change coming.

It thought that as it was slowing down and could see the end in sight.

It knew that it was going to die, the world starting to surround it as a cocoon and starting to envelop it with every second.

Then silence.

Peace.

Not long until the complete annihilation of existence and then its eyes shut, for what the caterpillar is sure of being the last time.

But then just when the caterpillar thought the world was over…eruption! Born again as a new being. Alive and beautiful and also now it has wings! It can fly and flutter and blow in the wind.

Not dead, but reborn.

Not dead, but a different being.

Not dead,… but alive.

If you can imagine what the last few thoughts of the caterpillar may have been, you can imagine the feeling of loss and lack of control. How frightening; how sad.

But now imagine how it felt when it emerged from its slumber, life anew and ready to take on the world. From a slow death and transformation, the creature went from a small animal into a magnificent creature that can fly and float on the breeze.

I look at this quote as a way to really know that anyone can transform themselves into anything they desire and truly become great.

Just you think that life has dealt you some really shitty hands and everything is spiraling out of control; along comes something amazing that can give you new life.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it found a new life as something truly beautiful. You can be reborn without physically dying.

You can emerge from your lowest point a butterfly of such tremendous color and splendor, that you will instantly forget the problems that ailed you.

For this, meditation can help and finding some kind of path in your life to follow will really help you to focus on your dreams and goals.

So what do you think, am I way off, have mumbled on a bit without giving any kind of substance? If any of that, or to give your interpretation, or even just to say hi, let me know in the comments below!

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13 Comments

  1. I absolutely love your thoughts here! This is one of my favorite quotes that helped me with healing with loss, which I finally learned to deal with while undergoing substance abuse recovery. Thank you for your beautiful insight!

    1. Hi Katie,

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment and I am really happy that this quote managed to help you 🙂

  2. It was very beautiful I saved it as a bookmark on my screen was beautifully worded descriptive beautiful and sad just perfect

    1. Hi Amber,

      Thank you for you r kind words 🙂 Very pleased that you got some pleasure from it.

  3. My son and daughter in law gave me a cup with this quote on it for my birthday, right after my 3rd chemo treatment for breast cancer. That was 4 years ago. EverytimeI I use that cup I smile and remind myself how true this quote is in so many ways.

    1. Hi Susan, I am glad you liked it and that is a really beautiful story 🙂 Sometimes some simple words can be enough to lift you out of the darkness.

  4. I absolutely agree with your thoughts here, and this quote is what helping me to overcome what seems to be the darkest time in my life.

    1. Hi Irina,

      Thank you for your message and I am really glad to hear that this quote can help. Quotes can be powerful things if you really get meaning from the, so I ti wonderful to hear that you are finding some kind of solace from it. You are very welcome to email me directly using the contact form if you need a random, impartial ear to speak to, however I am not any kind of professional so will not be able to give advice. But sometimes just getting things of ones chest can be cathartic 🙂

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