There was once a little creature, and it was on the branch of a mighty oak. This great oak was the father of the forest. The little creature was sitting there sighing, and from time to time crying a little bit, and finally the old oak couldn't take it anymore. "Little creature, what is wrong with you?" The little creature was surprised. He said, "Well, I'm not sure. I just can't make it all come together in my mind." The oak said, "Why, little creature, what are you talking about?"
"I thought it would be different."
"What did you think would be different?"
"Being a butterfly. When I thought about being a butterfly, I thought to myself I would have no problems... but everything irritates me... and I'm afraid a lot of the time. I figured that if I were a butterfly, I just wouldn't have the fears that I used to have, but I still have those fears... and that's not all... the past -- it bothers me! I figured if I were a butterfly, the life that I had wouldn't be a problem for me anymore."
The mighty oak looked at the little creature and said, "Well, I can understand some of these things, so let me ask you a couple more questions. I want to get to the bottom of this because I may be able to solve this mystery for you." And the little creature said, "Oh, thanks so much!"
"Do you find yourself getting tripped up quite often?" the mighty oak asked. The little creature thought for a minute and said:
"You know, I do get tripped up. Yes! I do get tripped up!"
"And how about this? Do you spend a lot of time chewing over things?"
"Yes. I spend a lot of time chewing over things."
"Does it take a lot longer than you know to get out of your own way?"
"You've tagged it for me! Those things are all true."
"Well, I think I've figured out the mystery here. Are you sure you want me to solve it for you?"
"Of course I do!"
"You are not a butterfly yet. You are still a caterpillar."
Now, we must always come into the story. We are always all characters in the story, as we are in life. In this story we are taking on the part of the little creature. We are also the oak, but we don't know it yet.
God help us to be honest creatures and admit that we do get tripped up. One of the most difficult things any of us will ever do in life is begin to recognize that if I am what I take myself to be, if I am what I imagine myself to be, then by the very fact that I have to refer to myself as anything at all, proves that I am not that which I imagine. I don't imagine that I have a head on my shoulders. It is a fact. I don't have to imagine my hands, my mouth. They are a fact. Then why do I have to think about myself to know myself? The answer is that I am still a caterpillar, and the caterpillar has butterfly dreams as the caterpillar is created to have. As creatures on this earth, we are here with something that lives inside of us that the world hasn't answered, but there is also something that lives in us that all the time is saying, "Fly away. You are a butterfly now."
Caterpillars are afraid of everything, and well they should be, because they can't run. They are always carrying something behind them, always chewing over things. The tree recognized that this creature was not the butterfly it dreamed itself to be. It was still a caterpillar. That is what we have to start with as men and women. There is the eternal principle of the caterpillar and the butterfly, and it is that eternal principle that is Real Life. The caterpillar and the butterfly exist at once above the forms that we see. It is a divine principle: the Light into the darkness, and the darkness being transformed, constantly.
Have you ever hated yourself for being such a stupid caterpillar? "You big lunk-head, you! What's wrong with you?" Then what does that caterpillar do? It puts itself in a cocoon that it never comes out of because then it can protect itself from everything that is harming it -- and what is harming it is the fact that it hasn't lived up to discovering what it must go through so that it becomes the embodiment of this principle of the butterfly.
This process of going from a caterpillar to a butterfly is a beautiful illustration of the idea of rebirth in our world. What comes out of the cocoon has nothing in common with what went into it. It isn't a re-configured caterpillar. This change that has to take place is the same as letting go and living in the Now.
There is no living in the Now without learning to let go. The difference between living Now and living "then" is the difference between living in this thought nature, our false self, vs. our True Nature, this Now Nature, the God self, the Christ in us. We are in that nature, this Truth, this Now right now. It is perfect connectivity. Living "then" is the caterpillar life. Living "then" is remembering when, why, who. Living "then" is also thinking about the future. We can't think about a future without calling on our past, so most of what we call our future is just this nature looking back at what didn't happen, thinking how it can make it better later, and then calling that the future. Then we get the great feeling out of the new picture, but the picture turns out to be as empty as every other picture that same nature produced.
You cannot fail in your wish for Truth to come into your life, but there are parts of you that will rise up and tell you with every effort you make, "Look at you. Look at that." Anytime you hear anything in yourself denigrating yourself about yourself, don't think of it as being a light because it casts you in darkness. See instead that something dark is talking to you. Recognize it as such, and instead of letting it define and defile you, bring into that darkness -- that voice, that thought -- your awareness of its existence. Then you will watch it fade from view, because it has no authority over your True Nature when it comes to learning, to letting go, and living in the Now.