Life, in simple terms, is wholeness of being. In ancient cultures, the butterfly, the exquisite glider beyond compare, symbolised such wholeness. The wise, old Greeks contended that the gorgeous butterfly represented our soul, the symbol of life and its wholeness. They also believed that the multihued insect’s decorative wings represented change. One could interpret such a metaphor, in today’s context, as the essential dynamics of life, or entropy — derived from the Greek ‘entropia,’ for ‘turning towards,’ or ‘transformation’ — that directs and leads every natural process in our universe towards chaos.
Chaos is not only a mathematical framework; it also abounds in all branches of learning, more so philosophy. It is, in terms of phenomenology, representative of sensitivity to the most infinitesimal change in initial conditions, or random and changeable behaviour that follows specific rules. As Aristotle, who was blessed with the insight of something that modern science calls ‘sensitive dependence,’ observed, “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand-fold.”
You’d call such a pristine credo as the ‘butterfly paradigm,’ where the colourful young insect emerges with its animated wings through the cocoon. This holds a simile for us — the more we hone our mental wings and strengthen our physical muscles, the better it is for us to expand our horizons. This isn’t merely emulating the butterfly exemplar. It also corresponds to refining our ability to live, flourish and succeed, through a myriad of natural attributes that we are all endowed with — the foremost among them being our inner resources. You’d think of this sophisticated aptitude to navigate through calm or turbulent waters with poise, courage, and persistence as our own butterfly aptitude — to float through good and bad times, with equanimity, minus the feeling that we are journeying through a never-ending celestial spectacle. In other words, the more we think of life’s innumerable vagaries, or ups and downs, as colour effects, in our mental and physical wings, like the butterfly’s visage, it provides us with a distinctive capability to surmounting our existential problems — and, ‘letting-go’ things that we can’t change in life, career, or relationship.
What does this signify? That all of us ought to use our mind-body dynamics towards achieving wholesome balance, just like the butterfly which flaps and balances its four wings to fly with consummate ease. It also reflects our psyche — where each of us requires a certain prerequisite to balance and progress in life with pragmatic vision, diligence, fidelity, and commitment. You’d call it the guiding light, or compass, that steers our ‘mindful engines’ of good hope and optimal success. It represents the foundational realm of our spiritual mysticism and transcendent alchemy too — of who we are and what we can be.