Now and again I find myself thinking, wondering, not quite worrying about where the next story will come from. When I find myself in those quandaries I meander over to the computer and google (how DID we ever live without google?). So, recently I googled “social change” and “stories.” When that didn’t yield what I wanted, I tried “parables” instead. That lead to some interesting links. One was a parable about a bull and a butterfly.
In my version of the parable there was a bull named Butch who wanted to trash a china shop because the rumor around the farm was that the owner of the shop not only did not carry fair trade china, but also participated in human trafficking. But, Butch resisted the urge because he did not want to feed the ‘bull in a china shop’ stereotypes, and he didn’t want to wind up in the slaughter house becoming nothing more than burger meat for some fast food chain. So, butch stomped around the pasture storming and steaming, but getting nothing much done. As he paused under a tree, a butterfly, Mariposa, landed on Butch’s ear, and asked him what the trouble was. Butch twitched his ear, to be rid of her, but Mariposa was not to be dissuaded.
“Butch, what’s up with you today?” She persisted.
Butch was nothing if not a realist, so he told her the story.
Mariposa laughed at hearing the story, paragon of empathy and compassion that she is not. “Butch, you have been rendered impotent by your self-consciousness and social anxiety. Big as you are, I have more power than you. I am fast, I am nimble, I can flit, I can fly. I can render the butterfly effect. I flap my wings in California and incite a tornado in New Jersey.”
At that Butch laughed, and said, “Well, Ms. Mariposa, I suppose then we are about equal, if you have all of that power and don’t bother to use it.”
And the meaning of this parable? So many I suppose … impotence rendered by excessive worry about what others will think, by fear of consequences, by attachment to identities.
And, as I thought about the meanings and implications I found myself caught on the idea of attachments and identities, and I remember Chuang Tzu’s dream about a butterfly. One night Chuang Tzu dreamt that he was a butterfly, flying here and there and seeing the world from new heights, gaining a new perspective on life and living. He woke with a new sense of lightness. And then he thought to himself, “yesterday, was I a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or today am I a butterfly who dreams about being a man?” And, as he rose to greet the day, he said to the sangha, “last night I had the strangest dream.”
And, that phrase of course led me to remembering the Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and Simon and Garfunkel tune …
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
words and music by Ed McCurdy
Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room Filled with women and men And the paper they were signing said They’d never fight again
And when the paper was all signed And a million copies made They all joined hands and bowed their heads And grateful pray’rs were prayed
And the people in the streets below Were dancing ’round and ’round While swords and guns and uniforms Were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream I’d never dreamed before I dreamed the world had all agreed To put an end to war.
And I know that dreaming is not enough. But I also know that dreaming is a necessary first step. Dreaming, meaning making … and then action, yes? yes!
All of which led me to write this strangest blog.
And, so, please … it really is time to share! What meanings can you find in the parable of the bull and the butterfly? What meanings can you find in any of this? What actions are you taking for peace and justice?