The Importance of Struggle

January - February, 2004

There was once a man who, on a tree outside his home, noticed a beautifully woven cocoon. He carefully watched the cocoon every day in order to catch the first glimpse of the beautiful butterfly he knew would emerge.

Finally, one day he saw a tiny hole in the cocoon which grew quickly as the hours passed. He sat watching the butterfly break her way out of the cocoon. However, suddenly he noticed that it seemed the butterfly had stopped making progress. The hole did not get any larger and the butterfly seemed to be stuck. The cocoon was bouncing up and down on the branch as the butterfly tried to squeeze herself, unsuccessfully, through the hole she had created. The man watched in dismay as it seemed his butterfly would not be able to emerge. Finally, he went inside, took a small pair of scissors, and carefully cut the cocoon, allowing the butterfly to emerge easily. However, the butterfly immediately dropped to the ground instead of soaring gracefully into the sky as he imagined she would.

The man noticed that the butterfly's stomach was swollen and distended and her wings were small and shriveled, explaining her inability to fly. He assumed that after some time, the stomach would shrink and the wings would expand, and she would fly in her fullest glory. However, this was never to be.

The man didn't know that it was the very act of forcing her body through the tiny hole in the cocoon which pushed all the fluid from the butterfly's stomach into her wings. Without that external pressure, the stomach would always be swollen with fluid and the wings would always be small and shriveled. His butterfly would never be able to fly.

In life, so frequently, we avoid challenges, looking for the easy way out. We pray to God to remove our obstacles. We shed tears of despair at any hurdle that comes our way. We look for people who will "cut our cocoons," so that we never have to work and push our way through anything. However, little do we realize that it is going through those times of difficulty which prepare us for the road ahead. The obstacles in our path are God's way of making us able to fly. With every bit of pushing and struggling, our wings become fuller and fuller and only then do we learn how to fly in our true glory.

So frequently, people come to me and say, "Oh, why has God given me so much strife? Why has He put so many obstacles in my path? Why is He punishing me? Please remove these obstacles from my path." We must realize that challenges and hurdles are not punishments. Yes, the law of karma plays a large role in what we receive in this lifetime, but even things which may seem like "bad" karma, are actually opportunities for growth. Through pushing and struggling our wings become fuller and we become able to soar through life. Even an extra small hole to squeeze through is actually an opportunity for our wings to expand to great lengths.

So, let us learn to take our challenges for what they are, rather than looking around for a "different" hole, or for someone with a pair of scissors. These things may help us quickly through the cocoon, but we will be unable to fly in life.

Let us appreciate and celebrate our challenges and realize that God has given them to us in order that we may grow into our full potential.

With love and blessings.

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







All Content Copyright ©
India Heritage Research Foundation