August 10, 2013

No metaphor

Witnessed an intense drama today.  Heading up the hill where the trail curves up from the creek into the woods, I stopped at the old bench to catch my breath and have a sip of water.  In a patch of sunlight beyond the other side of the trail, I don't know how many dozens of feet from where I sat, in an open area between the trees a few times my height above the ground, I noticed a large dark butterfly fluttering fast but not going anywhere.  As I looked at it, my eyes gradually focused on the faint strands of the web in which it was caught.  I couldn't quite see the whole thing, but it had to've been a damned big web, because it was a very big butterfly.  Amazing, too, how strong a spider's web is, because that big butterfly was putting up a crazed struggle to break free.  I got up from the bench and walked down the trail a bit to a point where I could see it better.  From that angle, my eye was caught by something a ways above the web-- a little blob that was illuminated bright acid-y, lime-y green by the sun.  Hanging on an anchor-line that I couldn't see was the spider.  After another minute or two, the butterfly suddenly stopped its flapping and hung suspended at the bottom of the web with its wings spread wide. The spider began to crawl down the anchor-line towards the web, which the butterfly must have felt because it began its violent fluttering and pulling again.  This routine of rest, advance, response went on one more time before the spider reached the center of the web.  The spider stopped there, the butterfly stopped as well and hung deathly quiet for a while, then suddenly went crazy again and I watched as the spider turned back and began climbing back up the web, back up the anchor-line, back to the spot where I first noticed it.  Even when the butterfly stopped and hung for the longest minutes yet, the spider just sat, as if it knew it wasn't yet time.  I wondered how many other people would stop to watch something of this sort.  How many would even realize what was going on?  At a glance, all you'd see was a butterfly fluttering.  How many would look long enough to realize it was trapped?  If you didn't focus your eyes just right, you wouldn't even see the web and the spider, just the crazily flapping butterfly and the trees of the woods beyond it.  I looked up at the spider again and began to think of patience, of how wonderful and powerful a thing it is to have, and how simultaneously horrible and frightening it can be if you're the butterfly trapped and panicking to be free.  But perhaps that's anthropomorphizing a bit too much.  Finally, when the butterfly went into convulsive flapping so violent that it caused the spider all the way up on its anchor-line to bounce around in the air, I turned away and headed up the trail.

This is not a metaphor for anything. It's just life.  Just something I saw.



The Crow said...

Hello, Buddha.

KaliDurga said...

Wasn't there a book or article once that said something about if you meet the Buddha, kill him...?

I remembered later another similar-but-different event I once saw in the same spot. May have to write about that one sometime, too.

The Crow said...

I had just watched the PBS program, The Buddha, moments before logging onto Blogger, so the lessons expressed in the film were fresh in my mind. I immediately made the connection from the Buddha's teachings to what you were witnessing and sharing.

It was well, I suppose, that you didn't interfere with the struggle, though I confess to hoping that you did. I have many lessons to learn on my path to enlightenment.

Buddha didn't need to be killed. When he reached Enlightenment, he also escaped the Wheel of Life and was freed. (Or, so I understood from the film.)

KaliDurga said...

Ah, I need to see if that PBS program is on Netflix! Someone else asked me if I wanted to try to save the butterfly-- It was at least 20 feet above the ground, I couldn't have if I had wanted to. But I didn't. I've seen similar things, a snake with a frog halfway down its throat, a hawk grabbing a jay (the other incident along that same trail), and whose side do you choose in such a situation? The one that we commonly perceive as "innocent"? Both are following a basic instinct for survival. Plus, I think I've listened to this way too many times--

I think the premise of the "kill the Buddha" idea was that we need to kill our attachment to the Buddha as a symbol because the man was not as important as his teachings.

The Crow said...

Your explanation of the 'kill the Buddha' concept makes sense, based on the film.

I'm a Quaker and we are encouraged (challenged, depending on who you encounter) to try always to see the Light within each person, "that of God in the other." Buddhism teaches the same thing, to try to see that the spirit of Buddha, the potential for Enlightenment, dwells in us all, connects all of us, one to the other.

I'm going now to the link you provided. Will visit again.

The Crow said...

Wow. That. Video. Was. In. Tense!

KaliDurga said...

Yes, Maynard (singer/lyricist for Tool) has definitely got an interesting take on things.

Just queued up PBS' The Buddha on Netflix. Thank you for mentioning it, Martha.