Prelude to a Dream – Do Caterpillars dream?

The Cockcroach fills the night with noise, walks around, eat, marries, have children – dies.”

Oh, lowly caterpillar,
do you dream of freedom.
Do you look up into the sky
and wish for wings.
Do you see rainbows of colour
in your dreams?
Or do you see
only the next leaf
to devour?

Life is not an intellectual process – life is a feeling. – Theun Mares ”

In the retrospect of his long life Jung writes;
“The world into which are born is brutal and cruel, and at the same time of divine beauty. Which element we think outweighs the other, whether meaninglessness were absolutely preponderant, the meaningfulness of life would vanish to an increasing degree with each step in our development. But that is – or it seems to me – not the case. Probably, as in all metaphysical questions, both are true: Life is – or has – meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle.”

I started writing with the question “What is the meaning of life?” I started life with that question ingrained with burning intensity in my intent. Like the Selchie stranded on dry land, I was aware from the young age of seven, of a fierce yearning, a hunger for something unattainable. Like Jung I have come to the same conclusion, Life is both meaningless and meaningful.

We could be given the most brilliant intellectual discourse on the meaning of life, and to our intellectual reasoning mind it makes absolute sense, but if you turned inward, and looked at your own life and see no meaning in it, then emotionally you would still feel “life is meaningless”, and you would find it hard to continue being active in the world. Emotions are filters. Whatever emotion you are experiencing colours your experience of the present  interpretation of the past, and future views. Emotions also channels or restrict energy flow. When you are apathetic you have for example a low energy flow.

How we feel about ourselves is what filters our perceptions of the world. This a truth that was recognized by wise men and women throughout the ages. Yet, it is not as simple as it seems. Many pop-psychologists dangles the carrot of “eternal happiness”, to their followers, but it is a concept that is static in time. Happiness can only be achieved in an ‘out-of-time’ environment, or zone.

Life is meaningful or meaningless according to our season, and both serves a purpose.

It is known that even the most advanced among us, still experience emotions just as we do; they just process them much quicker than we do, with a wider vision, and perspective. So one must conclude, and from all that I experienced, that they too experience the dark side of emotions. They too will have a preponderance, a season in their inner world, to see life as meaningless.

For me the experience of the world as meaningless, cruel and brutal, is a call from the Dark Mother, to turn inside, and enter that which we fear; to enter the meaningless void, the nothingness of existence. It is a place we fear because we are afraid that we may never return from that nothingness, that we may sink into the swamp of despair, never to see the light again.

When you have entered that place with full consciousness, without resistance to its call, and returned a few times, you fear it no longer. It takes practice like everything else, and you start to develop something which I call night vision. Although all you you experience is dark and meaningless, you know that the miracle of the light of insight will come, and with it a gift of inspiration that will lead you to the next phase of your learning. It becomes the crucible of your personal refinement as a human being. The seed of our next hunger, the next lesson of your unfoldment.

I know all this may sound very esoteric but it is also reflected in the normal experience of our emotions. A feeling once it reaches a certain intensity, will always seek to reach a peak before we can rationally look at it. Whether we like it or not, a feeling must run its course. They build up slowly, or abruptly; they peak; and they release. Everyone’s intensity threshold is unique, reflecting differences in temperament, family values, the manner of expression of feelings, personal experiences, and so on. But once the feeling intensity reaches a point of no return, the feeling must fully travel its course, building to a peak, then at last reaching a a point of release. Once we pass the point of no return, we enter the non-thinking zone. It is then when we can say and do things we regret later. When you are in that zone, do not try to understand, or rationalize, just feel, know that you will reach the clear thinking zone, after the release. It is because of this that it is not a good idea to try and suppress the hurt, the meaninglessness of life, you feel, because whether you pretend not to feel it (we are very good at denying it to ourselves), it still rages inside, and then you ignore your personal guidance system, which helps you establish balanced boundaries. It is also like learning how much wine makes you drunk, for some it takes one glass, for others …

“After a feeling peaks, there is a natural release of intensity, the feeling completes its cycle, and we can think clearly again. The clear thinking zone is the source of powerful insights, because here we are most in touch with soulful desires, dreams, and understanding. An insight gained from an experience felt becomes ‘lived wisdom.’ Intellectual ideas from books or other outside sources have little true effect on our behavior; the insights we gain from the clear-thinking zone bring the most lasting change. Many couples report that after a good ‘argument’, meaning that both partners have voiced their real feelings and felt heard, they experience closeness and intimacy.” – Don & Jean Elium

Just so the opposites within us needs to have a good argument, where both felt heard before we can feel whole, and intimate with ourselves again. This also applies to our our sub personalities, or archetypes within in us.

In the esoteric traditions there exist a concept of the ‘diamond body’, which is the ultimate transformation of the physical body into a light body. Yet, as with everything else in the realms of the metaphysical, it has multiple layers of meaning. We are literally rough diamonds, as someone said, “Gods in Embryonic Form”. Through our inner work, our psychological self-evolution, we refine ourselves. The more of the rough layers we remove, the brighter our light starts to shine and reflects through the masks we wear in our ordinary lives in the real world.

It is one thing to understand something intellectually, but it takes ‘walking your talk’ to experience it, and know its truth. We feel something is the truth; we do not think something it is the truth. Until the thought, the understanding of a concept has been assimilated into the emotional body of ourselves, there is no knowing, and it will remain just a tantalizing thought, but really without meaning to our inner world.

Changing your conditioned self, the rough layers that cover the diamond is a slow, step by step process that cannot be forced. Trying to always think positive thoughts, and hastily give up your negative thoughts that comes your way, may give you the illusion of having at last made the breakthrough, but it can also prevent you from really getting to the core of your hunger, your pain, our your inherent wound. Until we really get to the core of ourselves, and that means entering our shadow, acknowledging it, we can never be sure when Heyhoka will come and turn our lives upside down. Just when you thought your life have meaning, Heyhoka will come and show you the meaninglessness.

I dreamed I was a Butterfly

Once I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed that I was a butterfly and was happy as a butterfly. I was conscious that I was quite pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was Tzu. Suddenly I awoke, and there I was, visibly Tzu. I do not know whether it was Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that it was Tzu. Between Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction [But one may be the other.] This is called the transformation of things.

For me to look at the meaning of anything, I must look at the full cycle of a thing, the process and unfolding, of what was hidden in embryonic form in the seed of the initial concept, or idea. The I that I became aware of was but the initial concept of the I that I could become. What indeed does the caterpillar know about it will become, but for the fierce hunger that it must appease. (But then again what do we know of what dreams a caterpillar dream?) Does the hunger of the caterpillar give it’s life meaning? Perhaps to the caterpillar it does, for while we feel the hunger we cannot rest, and must search. I had to find the meaning for my deep hunger, my yearning, for it in itself contained the direction of my path through life

Then one day the caterpillar’s hunger cease, and a new hunger fills its purpose, to find a sanctuary where it can await the death of its transformation. But what does it know of the awaiting transformation? Does it merely become aware of the need to lay down its quest in quiet submission to its fate, to its death? Does its life cease to have meaning?

In 1944 Jung broke his foot, which was followed by by a heart attack, while he hung on the edge of death, he experienced deliriums and visions, from which it was very hard for him to return. It was as if the caterpillar was given a premature vision of our hunger.

“In reality, a good three weeks were to pass before I could truly make up my mind to live again. I could not eat because all food repelled me. The view of city and mountains from my sick-bed seemed to me like a painted curtain with black holes in it, or a tattered sheet of newspaper full of photographs that meant nothing. Disappointed, I thought, “ Now I must return to the ‘box system’ again.” For it seemed to me as if behind the horizon of cosmos a three-dimensional world had been artificially built up, in which each person sat by himself in a little box. And now U should have to convince myself all over again that this was important! Life and the whole world struck me as a prison, and it bothered me beyond measure that I should again be finding all that quite in order …”

Although the circumstances of my premature dream of my future self was very different to those of Jung, the effect was the same. To return to the harsh and cruel reality of the present seemed to me unbearable. I felt no more desire for anything on this world. There was absolutely nothing I felt I wanted to aspire to, for it all now seemed so meaningless, and nothing mattered anymore, and I felt nothing. My present ego had loss all meaning. The butterfly found itself in the body of the caterpillar, and had no desire for the things that would feed its body. It had the hunger of the butterfly. I longed for oblivion, to still my unattainable hunger. I felt as if nothing in my present could possibly appease the premature hunger.

Yet, I knew that if I did not feed my present form, I would die. I also knew that if I died in my present form, my longed for future self would be still-born, and the hunger never appeased. I would be like a Banshee wailing at the crossroads of the twilight zone. “Why!”

‘Be still my child,” said the million-year-old man, “within meaninglessness lies the seed of meaning. Accept yourself as you are, now.”

“ It was only after the illness that I understood how important it is to affirm one’s own destiny. In this way we forge an ego that does not break down when incomprehensible things happen; an ego that endures, that endures the truth, and that is capable of coping with the world and with fate. Then, to experience defeat is also to experience victory. Nothing is disturbed – neither inwardly nor outwardly, for one’s own continuity has withstood the current of life and of time.

I have also realized that one must accept the thoughts within oneself as part of one’s reality. The categories of true and false are, of course, always present; but because they are not binding they take second place. The presence of thoughts is more important than our subjective judgment of them. But neither must these judgments be suppressed, for they also are existent thoughts which are part of our wholeness.” Jung

Before you can forge the diamond body, you must forge the diamond ego.

Before I can forge a diamond ego, I must accept myself just as I am right now.

The paradox of life is that before I can make or bring any changes, I must accept everything just as it is right now. Everything is meant to be exactly as it is right now.

“… for between the yesterday and the today we grow and change. What once seemed like simple truth suddenly takes on an entirely different angle…and so we are set upon a renewed path of thinking, of pondering, of questioning.” Wing-Tsit Chan


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  1. #1 by contoveros on July 16, 2010 - 6:43 pm

    Not sure to whom I am addressing this comment. Thought I was still with Sophia.

    I’m new to this site, but like what I’ve read. You sure are prolific. And smart!

    Where to begin? Jung saw meaninglessness in his life when he bordered on death during a three week period in the 1940s. He did not quit, but saw some sort of light that pulled him back to meaningfulness, otherwise we would not have all the great work published after that period.

    Have you too felt meaninglessness in your life? Or are you quoting someone else in some of these passages?

    I see meaning in life everyday. I also see how pain I endured years ago kinda prepared me for who I am becoming today. A Vietnam veteran who can weep unashamedly when moved by Love, beauty and the touch of the Divine.

    Think I’ll back up a little. Kinda dark here. Seems there is more light where Sophia is now hanging out.

    No offense to you. I could learn a heckuva lot here. But, I’m into the Kabbalah now and I haven’t seen too much surfing these posts by Essorant.


    michael j
    Conshohocken, PA USA

  2. #2 by verewig on July 16, 2010 - 7:37 pm

    Michael, thank you, I will answer this one first. The Essorants are just links to other posts. I did indeed experience “meaninglessness” but it was not that life has no meaning “meaninglessness,” rather it was experiencing an emptyness, a pregnant pause, between what was and what is to come. Rather a letting go of all expectations. It is a necessary step in any process of transformation. In my posts on the dark night of the soul I explained the process.


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