Click for audio: Love and Self-Preservation
After last week’s talk, a question was raised about our strong and very natural instinct for self-preservation. This came because of my commenting on the process of letting go of the needs and desires of the self-image so the soul may emerge as our true basis of identity. The principle involved here is one of letting go of the lesser for something of greater value.
This principle is illustrated in a variety of ways in the Gospels. Jesus told the rich young man that selling his possessions, giving the money to the poor and following him would give the young man eternal life. Another instance involves the man who discovered a treasure buried in a field and in joy sold all he had to buy that field. Jesus taught that a seed dropped in the ground must first die to bear fruit. And, of course, the crucifixion itself illustrates the shedding of the mortal for the immortal.
Each of these cases involve surrendering a confining condition to one that allows greater expression. We might also think of the caterpillar and butterfly transformation. The caterpillar weaves itself into the confinement of a chrysalis and emerges as a very different creature. If we think of our self-image as the caterpillar and our soul as the butterfly, we get a good sense of how we may approach our own transformation.
Like the caterpillar, our self-image is the product of its earthbound environment. The caterpillar spends its days drawing from its environment the needed elements to sustain its identity as an earth-bound worm. The instinct to preserve its caterpillar self dominates, manifesting as a voracious appetite. Somehow the caterpillar knows it is destined to become something more. The day comes when it stops looking to its environment for fulfillment and surrenders to this mysterious urge.
We can think of love dissolving the caterpillar’s urge to sustain itself as an earthbound creature while simultaneously stimulating the innate knowledge required to encase itself in the chrysalis of transformation. It is responding to the universal desire for greater expression and freedom, the same desire shared by every person.
The caterpillar instinctively responds to this transforming process. Our choice is not if but when we will respond to this same impulse. We will strive to preserve our self-image until we place more value on the expression of our soul. When we are ready to surrender to the greater process of transformation, love will lead our way.