At this beautiful time of the New Year, it is the time when most people pray that the New Year will be easier, better, more successful than the year which has passed. However, at this time when we pray and make our own resolutions, it is so important to remember the ultimately the purpose of our lives is not just to have things be as easy as possible, nor to be as successful and/or prosperous as possible. The point of our lives is to realize our own true divine nature, to awaken and unfold into the divinity of ourselves. In many cases, that process requires both inner struggle as well as patience.
There is a beautiful story of a man who noticed, on a tree outside his home, a beautifully woven cocoon. He carefully watched the cocoon every day in order to catch the first glimpse of the butterfly he knew would emerge. Finally, one day he saw a tiny hole in the cocoon which grew quickly as the hours passed. He sat watching the butterfly break her way out of the cocoon. However, suddenly he noticed that it seemed the butterfly had stopped making progress. The hole did not get any larger and the butterfly seemed to be stuck. The cocoon was bouncing up and down on the branch as the butterfly tried to squeeze herself, unsuccessfully, through the hole she had created.
The man watched in dismay as it seemed his butterfly would not be able to emerge. Finally, he went inside, took a small pair of scissors, and carefully cut the cocoon, allowing the butterfly to emerge easily. However, the butterfly immediately dropped to the ground instead of soaring gracefully into the sky as he imagined she would.
The man noticed that the butterfly’s stomach was swollen and distended and her wings were small and shriveled, explaining her inability to fly. He assumed that after some time, the stomach would shrink and the wings would expand, and she would fly in her fullest glory. However, this was never to be.
The man didn’t know that it was the very act of forcing her body through the tiny hole in the cocoon which pushed all the fluid from the butterfly’s stomach into her wings. Without that external pressure, the stomach would always be swollen with fluid and the wings would always be small and shriveled. His butterfly would never be able to fly.
In life, so frequently, we avoid challenges, looking for an easy, quick way to the goal. We pray to God to remove our obstacles. We look for people who will “cut our cocoons,” so that we do not have to work and push our way through. Ultimately the key in life is to realize, experience and manifest those wings so that we may BE the soaring, beautiful butterfly. We must realize that it is those times of difficulty which give us our wings. That difficulty has been placed in our path specifically because it is exactly what we need in order to take the next step of our own awakening, what we need to unfold another petal of the divine flower we are born to be. The obstacles in our path are God’s way of showing us how to fly. With every bit of pushing and struggling, our wings become fuller and fuller and only then are we able to fly in our true glory.
So frequently, people come to me and say, “Oh, why has God given me so much strife? Why has He put so many obstacles in my path? Why is He punishing me? Please remove these obstacles from my path.” We must realize that challenges and hurdles are not punishments. Yes, the law of karma plays a large role in what we receive in this lifetime, but even things which may seem like “bad” karma, are actually opportunities for growth. Through pushing and struggling our wings become fuller and we become able to soar. Even an extra small hole to squeeze through is actually an opportunity for our wings to expand to great lengths.
So, let us learn to take our challenges for what they are, rather than looking around for a “different” hole, or for someone with a pair of scissors. Let us appreciate and celebrate our challenges and realize that God has given them to us in order that we may truly recognize and then embody our divine fullness.
At this auspicious time of the New Year, I pray that, regardless of how small or big the hole in your cocoon seems, regardless of how quickly or slowly you seem to be pushing through it, and regardless of whether you can yet envision the glory of who YOU really are, you may all have the courage, patience, understanding and full faith in the Divine to keep moving toward the light. The world today needs all of YOU, in your fullest, most awake, most realized way. Our world is in the midst of such despair, such darkness, such rampant devastation. Only if each of us moves – with courage, fearlessness and dedication – toward the light, toward the truth of our Selves, toward our own divinity, can we serve as torchbearers of that light for the rest of the world.