Part of the butterfly's actualization is its struggle to leave the cocoon, which develops the butterfly's strength and enables it to fly.
We're all at different stages of life regarding our spiritual development.
Some people wish to remain at the caterpillar stage. They don't yet want to confine themselves in a cocoon.
And while in the cocoon, it's best to just leave the metamorphosing caterpillar alone to complete its task.
When you look at people, it's very good to realize that the plodding little caterpillar you see is actually a beautiful butterfly in the making.
However, to treat the caterpillar as if it's already a fully formed butterfly is a big mistake. For example, a caterpillar cannot fly. It also needs to eat leaves and many types of caterpillars can only eat one type of plant as other types will harm it. A caterpillar also needs to eat a tremendous amount.
On the other hand, butterflies fly and cannot eat plants. They can only survive on liquid, particularly pollen, but also tree sap among other naturally occurring liquids, and it doesn't need as much of those as a caterpillar needs its chow.
Potential & Present Ability: They aren't the Same
What happens if you insist that a caterpillar fly or that it must stop eating so much or eating plants and instead live on a delicate liquid diet?
Well, you'll put the caterpillar on the defensive. (Caterpillars do have defense mechanisms.) Or you'll kill the caterpillar.
Also, getting a caterpillar to weave a cocoon before it's ready simply won't work. The caterpillar needs to eat tons of leaves in order to accumulate what it takes to weave and develop within the cocoon. This process cannot be forced on the caterpillar, either.
What if you decide that the caterpillar needs to leave its cocoon and live life? Maybe you're a fellow caterpillar who can't understand why your friend decided to exude a bunch of silk and snuggle up in there.
Or conversely, what if you're a butterfly and think it's time for your cocooned friend to break out and spread his wings like you?
Obviously, if the cocooned fellow listens to either of you or you guys decided to liberate him by force, he either comes out as a deformed and debilitated butterfly or he dies.
Cultivating the Process
And butterflies should not be forcing caterpillars to already act like butterflies, just because caterpillars have that potential.
And neither should try forcing a caterpillar out of its cocoon. It will emerge in its own time.
However, butterflies and caterpillars can talk about cocoons and the metamorphic process that occurs within. Caterpillars can and should be informed and reassured about this stage, that it's something to aim for and engage in at the right time.
And a caterpillar should be told that he is more than just a caterpillar.
He should know that his current stage is just another step toward becoming a butterfly.
But he's not a butterfly yet.