Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” But he goes on to say, “For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”
When you look up caterpillar in the dictionary or encyclopaedia, we find it described in terms of the butterfly; what it WILL BE. Consider this… imagining how an angel looking up our own species might find us described, since our own “metamorphosis” will be far more radical than that of the caterpillar.
Most of us are familiar with the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly. So, let’s take a short walk you and I along this path.
From the moment a caterpillar hatches it eats, stores and grows, consuming everything it can. Before it is ready to shed it’s skin for the last time it has an instinctual urge to stop eating, and wander until it finds a safe place to ‘let go’ and willingly enters into a not-yet-known condition.
Now, here is what biologists are telling us about this ‘not-yet-known’ condition. When the caterpillar sheds its skin for the last time, a chrysalis emerges, into which the caterpillar now commits it’s form in full faith.
This chrysalis, not only restricts the caterpillar’s previous form of activity, it also serves as a protective shell, a place of silence, free of distraction that contains all it might yet discover and create.
Although this chrysalis looks lifeless, near death, the over consumptive body of the caterpillar inside is literally liquefied, turned into a soup. And within this soup there are a number of cells, that scientists actually call “imaginal cells.” Scientists say these cells are dreaming, they are imagining the birth of a butterfly.
These cells are so completely different from the original cells of the caterpillar that it’s immune system perceives them as enemies, a sort of virus and immediately attacks them. The imaginal cells though continue to appear, in even greater numbers, recognizing each other, bonding together, until the new cells are numerous enough to organize into little clusters. And one day as more of these clusters discover and connect with one another, they reach a critical threshold. On that day, from this apparent “death”, beyond what was not-yet-known to the caterpillar, a gene that has lied dormant and asleep, awakens. This gene contains a new information code, a new pattern, and what was once the essence of a caterpillar now becomes the creative culture medium for a new form….. A butterfly.
I believe Richard Bach explained this transformative process best when he said "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,the rest of the world calls butterfly".
The ancient Greeks used this transformative event to signify the human soul’s capacity for self-renewal, and thought of the soul as a butterfly, a creature that once dwelt crawling on the earth, but later made a marvellous change into a creature of the air, a creature with wings, able to fly upwards from the earth into the realm of spirit.