By Thomas Odhiambo
THERE IS AN IMPRESSION SOME PEOPLE HAVE that during silence nothing is happening. There is no movement, no engagement. My own experience is that a great deal is happening during silence and that, in fact, it is a profound experience. A good analogy here is that of the butterfly.
Scientists who have studied the life cycle of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly can tell you that they seem to be almost entirely different species. A caterpillar is a voracious feeder -- a massive eater, eating almost continuously 24 hours a day. It eats several times its weight in volume of food. It feeds so fast that those who are studying it closely can literally see it grow in the 10 days or so that it is a caterpillar.
In contrast a butterfly is a very selective feeder, flitting from one flower to another feeding on nectar which in some cultures has been referred to as the food of the gods. The butterfly is a very delicate animal.
In between these two – the voracious feeder and the delicate feeder—is the pupa, the chrysalis. It is totally immobile – totally. It does not feed at all for the three or four weeks it is in that stage. It does not move at all. Maybe it will wiggle its tail, but that is the extent of its movement. My point is that biochemically and physiologically a profound transformation is taking place during this period. The whole organism is being transformed into a totally new animal. That is why in the old days people thought that a caterpillar and a butterfly were totally different animals that didn't share anything. But now we know that it is the same animal…transformed in the silence of the chrysalis.
The point of my analogy is that during silence, when you have gone inside, a transformation takes place in you, and by the time you finish the silence you are a different person – transformed profoundly.