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I never was a "caterpillar,"
I have always lived in a "cocoon."
Will I ever be a "butterfly?"

The process of spiritual transformation is described similarly in all traditions.  The various, and sometimes many, steps in this process can be combined into three stages: the period of life before enlightenment, the enlightenment itself, and the life after enlightenment.  The pre-enlightenment period is described as a life of conformity to one's family, community, and/or nation.  We move away from this narrow sense of "us,"  through a process of "individuation" (according to Carl Jung), eventually, if the process gets completed, we become part of a more inclusive, more compassionate "we."  --- from "us" to "I" to "we."

Asperger's syndrome prevents some of us from ever being part of an "us."  Autistic children describe their early lives as trying to escape from their environment, which is mostly other family members.  This might have been my experience since I have no clear memory of participation in the life of my family though I was supposedly a "part of it" for eighteen years, 20 percent of a total livetime!  Except for the years from 1942 to 1945 I never had any sense of identity with "a people" or a nation.  I was always me, for better or (usually) worse, what ever the hell that meant.

Now that I am in my seventies and seeking a more spiritual way of being, I feel a sense of gratitude that I do not have to go the process of separating from a past life, "burying my dead," in order to wait to see what lies ahead.  People with aspergers syndrome can be passionate about what they are interested in at the moment and pretty indifferent to everything else.  At this moment, and for many moments in the last ten years, I have been interested in finding and walking a spiritual path.  Will I still be interested in it a moment from now?  Now that I know how my mind and body work I can choose to maintain that interest.

Sue Monk Kidd (While the Heart Waits), uses the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly as a metaphor for spiritual development.  The caterpillars ("us") climb over each other, each waits a season in its individual cocoon, then each is transformed into a butterfly.  If I wait and meditate and pray and serve, perhaps I will be transformed.  I wonder what I will morph into?  A zen koan says: before one is enlightened a tree is only a tree and a mountain is just a mountain; during enlightenment a tree is no longer a tree and a mountain is no longer a mountain.  After enlightenment, a tree is a tree, and a mountain is a mountain.  So what will change?  Will I be an autistic butterfly? or perhaps the family cat (apologies to Patrick McConnell). Or maybe just a  less arrogant, less egotistical, more compassionate version of myself., Or something altogether different?

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bobby1933
bobby1933

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