Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Knowledge & Imagination - a lesson from a caterpillar

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.”

 Most of us are familiar with the metamorphosis of the butterfly. 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.

So 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

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.

Every one of us is blessed with this amazing capacity for self-renewal, this gift of the mind…. Imagination. You have, indeed, in your mental nature a power that can transform your life; first in thought and afterward in action. But, unless you have before your eyes a vision of the things of life as they might be, and as they ought to be, there is a subtle tendency to accept without protest, things as they are.There is something inside of you that needs to be expressed and if you can imagine it, it exists. If not right now it exists as potential.

You have the capacity to imagine yourself being or doing whatever you can imagine, and this precedes you actually being or doing it.

So if your imaginal cell is a quiet little thought somewhere in the silence of your mind dreaming that you can become greater than you are right now, of doing something greater than you are right now, know that this thought will immediately come under attack by your current knowledge and understanding, creating layers of resistance. As you ‘let go’ and hold fast to your willingness to dream and continue in full faith to imagine the new person you are about to be, doing the things you want to, new thoughts will begin to emerge. When you commit yourself to these new thoughts they will begin to cluster together into new patterns of thinking, and the layers of resistance will fall away. Creating themes of  healing change, growth, of  becoming something completely different than who you were before. When you recognize the reoccurring themes of those tiny little imaginal cells creating inspirational thoughts within your mind, you will discover new images of possibility combined with your latent resources, replacing the images of what you used to know and understand.  

It is here that you awaken to the beauty that is within and discover that you are not guided by the world but by your heart, creating new images of potential, so that you too can fly and inspire others to look within at their own imaginal cells.

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls butterfly".-Richard Bach

Now Let us Go Into the Silence......
and Go On In Full Faith
Donald Carty

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Letting Go - a lesson from a chimpanzee

Letting go is simply making a choice: to no longer allow the beliefs and attitudes that prevent us from experiencing the joy of the moment, to continue to have their grip on our feelings and behaviours and to imprison our thoughts.

A few days ago I happened to come across an old classic film from the 1930’s, Tarzan Escapes, and there is one particular scene I would like to share with you. The scene opens with a shot of a box of raisins and then cuts to a shot of Tarzans pet chimpanzee, Cheetah, enjoying himself stuffing raisins into his mouth.

After consuming those raisins that had been scattered about Cheetah looks around and moves very quickly over to an opaque vase-like container, and peers quite curiously inside. Cheetah then sticks his hand inside to grab hold of what he had seen. You then see cheetah jumping up and down to and fro frantically screeching with his hand stuck inside the container. You can see very clearly that there is a rope tied around the lip of the container and no matter where Cheetah tries to run or how hard he attacks the container, bangs at it, jumps up and down, screeches, tries to shake it, pull and tug at it he is unable to free himself from its grip. The camera then pans the length of the rope to reveal that it is fastened, quite securely, to a tree. With Cheetah now off camera not only can you hear his screeching, you can still see the movement and tension on this rope from his frantic struggle to escape the trap. Still screeching and struggling off camera, the scene fades to Cheetah inside a cage holding onto the crossbars, jumping up and down. Now confined, the camera cuts in and out several times to show Cheetah now struggling, and fighting with this cage within which he has now become imprisoned.

Now, at any point in time, could Cheetah have actually escaped? Of course he could. When he tightened his fingers around the raisins, his fist became larger than the hole in the container. All he had to do was to let go of the raisins. But Cheetah only knows he doesn’t want to let go of the raisins and that his hand is stuck. He doesn't see the connection and he cannot change his perspective. As a result, Cheetah loses more than just his raisins…he loses his freedom!

It’s not just chimpanzees who get trapped by what they are unwilling to let go of.  We too, get trapped, emotionally. We are trapped because we are unwilling to let go of something, some belief or attitude,  which is working against us all the while whining, fighting, complaining, struggling and tugging at it. While, most of us would not be tempted by raisins or sweets in a container, it’s amazing the things we will hang on to, rather than let go of them so we can move on. This, then becomes an obvious example of a situation in which our complex, conflicting thoughts and feelings are providing the framework for our behaviour.

Life is a series of choices about how to behave. Often we make these choices automatically, without really being aware of what we are choosing or why. But no matter what we do in any aspect of our life, it is still a choice we have made. And, of course, in making choices we also make mistakes. It is from those mistakes that we learn about ourselves and others. And we learn how to make different choices next time if we remain open to the process of making mistakes. But one thing stops us learning from choices and that is fear. Fear of judgement and criticism, which is usually felt as shame or guilt.

We have so many beliefs that prevent us from being in the here and now, from being content and peaceful within. The most important point to understand here is that making a choice is not making a judgement. It is just saying, ‘I choose not to behave in this way, at this moment’.

So, Stop and be still!. Just as when you stop stirring and shaking river water, the mud settles and it’s innate clarity emerges. If we could stop struggling and tugging irritably at the knots of our own entangled thoughts and feelings, and choose to let go for the moment, there would be more room for things to fall into place and for what really matters to us in the long run to make itself clear.

Now Let us Go Into the Silence......
and Go On In Full Faith
Donald Carty