Principle 76

This entry is part 73 of 98 in the series Principles

The Butterfly Principle

We’ve all heard the story of the good-hearted guy who noticed the butterfly struggling to break out of its cocoon and decided to help. After giving his assistance and breaking open the cocoon, instead of flying away, the butterfly whimpered and died. Disappointed, the poor guy did not understand what just happened.

The truth is that the emerging life needs the strength gained from the struggle to emerge as a healthy and strong butterfly.

The same principle applies to the little chick struggling to break out of its hard eggshell. The struggle gives the baby chicken the additional strength it needs to survive and thrive in the world.

This principle also applies to us and is illustrated in the popular story about Socrates.

There was once a student that came to Socrates saying, “Socrates I want wisdom and knowledge like you have; what do I have to do?”

Socrates said to the student, “Come out with me and wade in this lake about waist high and I will show you.” The student agreed and they wandered out into the lake about waist high. Suddenly, Socrates grabs him by the head and pushes him under water and holds him there about a couple minutes and then brings his head up.

The student asks, “What in the world did you do that for?”

Socrates replies, “When I had your head in the water what did you want more than anything else in the world?”

He said, “Air and the longer I was down there the more I wanted it!”

Socrates replied, “When you want wisdom as much as you wanted air you will have all the wisdom you need.”

Now if Socrates just assisted the guy and gave him a few wise sayings very little would have been done to aid the student. He would have made the same mistake as the guy who assisted the butterfly. Instead he gave the student the greatest lesson of them all which is the Butterfly Principle which could be stated as follows:

Personal power and strength is gained through encountering those energies, forces and obstacles in the way of the goal in mind and overcoming them through the power of will, persistence and struggle until success is achieved.

The principle was seen by Maimonides who said:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

It is human nature to desire the easy path, to sit back and let others do the hard work. Some call this the good life. Others think that heaven will consist of just taking it easy and being served by virgins or angels for eternity.

Few realize how unsatisfactory heaven would become if there were no new goals in the future that would require struggle to achieve.

Think back to the happiest moments of your life. The chances are some type of intense struggle preceded them.

Examples of happy moments following struggle are.

The athlete winning a crucial match or game after much struggle.

The person who wins the love of his life after numerous failures.

A graduate obtaining his degree.

A writer getting published after many rejections.

A worker getting the promotion he sought.

A businessperson making the business a success after many setbacks.

A seeker obtaining inner confirmation that he is on the right path after passing through a dark night of the soul.

Periods of rest are fine, but after obtaining sufficient rest the wise seeker will desire a new achievement of some kind. He will be wise to take full responsibility for his success and tackle with gusto the hurdles that lie before him and master them so he may have joy.

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,           

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Copyright 2015 by J J Dewey

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