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Metamorphosis: the journey of the cosmic caterpillar
What the sun and a caterpillar have in common.
Oṃ pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
That is whole. This is whole. From the whole the whole becomes manifest. From the whole when the whole is negated, what remains is again the whole.
The sun makes a sacrifice
Vishvakarman had a daughter named Sanjana, she was spiritual consciousness. She married Surya, the sun, who became too bright for her over time. Vishvakarman stepped in and cut away one eighth of Surya’s body. The fragments fell smoldering to earth, where they became the discus of Vishnu, the trident of Shiva, and many other divine totems.
In this story we witness spiritual consciousness, born from ultimate reality, influencing the Sun to sacrifice some of his brilliance. From his light body matter is created. He becomes both the manifest world and the light energy that allows us to see it.
Energy is mass (multiplied by twice the speed of light)
Billions of light years later, a rather intelligent man named Albert Einstein would look up at the stars with disheveled hair and proclaimed, “E=mc2!”
The Solar Caterpillar
Those miraculous stars Einstein once gazed upon are billions and billions of Suryas. They are born from cosmic gases and dusts that are mutually attracted by the invisible force of gravity. The particles rubbing against each other eventually cause enough friction to create fusion. A star is born, fusing the most abundant gas in the universe, hydrogen, into helium. The energy created pushes out from the star’s core, keeping it from collapsing inward, while lighting the darkness.
The Cosmic Cocoon
After about ten billion years, the star begins to run out of hydrogen. Its core weakens, and it collapses in on itself. The fusion in the center stops while the outer layers continue fusing and expanding. For a while, it becomes a red giant. Eventually the outer layers burn off, and what remains is called a white dwarf.
If the white dwarf is large enough its core will again become a reactor, fusing heavier and heavier elements and radiating energy outward. Once it fuses everything up to iron, the twenty-sixth element in the periodic table, shit gets real. The fusion of iron uses more energy than it radiates, and the star rapidly collapses in on itself.
The Interstellar Butterfly
The star becomes as condensed as the laws of physics will allow, but the outer layers keep collapsing inward. The resulting backlash is an explosion we call a supernova. Supernovae are responsible for life as we know it. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson poetically describes the process:
“They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy. Guts made of Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems, stars with orbiting planets, and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.”
The Hindu myth of the sun sacrificing part of himself to give us life is not far from the truth
To fuse the scattered elements of our mundane life into the higher purpose of radiating spiritual wisdom, we need time spent in introspection. Knowing ourselves intimately, we are able to give a part of ourselves to the greater good. There is no need to be overwhelmed by this thought. Just take one step at a time.
The next time your yoga teacher tells you to press down into your index finger knuckles in downward facing dog, remember the butterfly effect. The energy you place into that seemingly small movement will bring muscular tone to your arms. Your strengthened arms will support your heart to open. The fusion of molecules building muscles in your core will support your spiritual awakening. The contractions that strengthen your foundation will fuel the convictions radiating your wisdom. Your confidence and joy will ripple out from you like sonic waves from the explosions of stars. You will propagate the elements that support the life of your community. From one right action, the world is forever changed.