About imaginal cells & future
There are different ways of looking at what is going on in the world actually. What if we look at every crisis in the world as a crisis of consciousness and a crisis of leadership? What if we are reaching a radical breakdown, nearby a shift point in the evolution of humanity? The old system is struggling to stay a caterpillar system. A new butterfly energy is emerging where imaginal cells and discs are getting activated, start connecting, collaborating and contributing.
At the same time, imaginal cells are called to take care of the caterpillar, because this caterpillar is so critically ill, sometimes sick to death. Tumours of anger and frustration are the biggest threats of our caterpillar society. Deep gorges of separation and inequality threaten the continued existence because of loss of common good. Exclusive self-interest is deadly for a caterpillar, and hence for the butterfly. It sounds like a a vicious circle and downward spiral, but this is not in the dna of imaginal cells.
Inclusive growth is part of the dna of imaginal cells. Connection and collaboration happens on a different level and creates contribution to a new collective awakening. The more imaginal cells are activated, the more the imagination of the new butterfly is growing. They celebrate beautiful moments of butterfly experiences. They see a butterfly reality because they believe in a butterfly potential. They create a radical new world where people are remembered that they have wings, where people are inspired to learn to use them and fly.
Let us go back to the caterpillar and the imaginal discs. As I said, by clustering and connecting, the imaginal cells create an energy that resonates at the same frequency, different from the caterpillar energy. From the moment that all the imaginal cells, clustered in togetherness, realise that they are different from the caterpillar, the new butterfly is born in their realisation. With this new consciousness and collective intelligence, they all start guiding the transformation process of the chrysalis.
Every imaginal cell has the blueprint of the butterfly as a vision of the whole new future. When the imagination of the butterfly becomes a realisation, every imaginal cell discovers its own contribution to the new future. This is another beautiful example of natural collaboration toward transformation. Each imaginal cell does just that very thing it is most drawn to do. And every imaginal cell encourages and inspires other cells to do just that. A great way to co-create a butterfly.
If you can expect miracles, you will see them occuring. If you can feel vibrating the frequency of an emerging butterfly in yourself, you will experience some resistance from immune systems in your environment. At the same time you will experience possibilities of deeper connection with other imaginal cells on a different level of expanded consciousness. The more you recognize each other, bond together and co-create new butterfly systems, the more Laloux’ teal will colour your world and our society.
When enough imaginal cells have created imaginal discs, butterfly systems start to become more clear and the immune system will become more and more overwhelmed. The caterpillar body becomes a transparent chrysalis upside down, a breeding ground for the growth of the butterfly. The process of transformation transcends all limits of the past. The growth toward freedom has an organic timing: a natural pause button creating breathing space.
This pause button is the chrysalis stage: the caterpillar literally becomes ‘fluid’. It has to let go of all old structures. Then, out of that chaos a higher order emerges: the butterfly. The old order has to die for the new to arise. Is that the reason why organisations resist transformation so much? Jan Bommerez inspired me with his books and workshops about transformation and flow. How to teach a caterpillar to fly? How to make the impossible possible? How to make the potential visible?
Organisations are complex living systems with co-intelligence. This superior intelligence is not located in the members of the system, but in the relationships between the members. We see co-intelligence in nature: a flock of starlings or a termite mount. In humans, this co-intelligence depends on EQ, not on IQ. The type of communication we need to make co-intelligence emerge is what we call ‘dialogue’. Dialogue brngs emergence in human energy fields. Dialogue upgrades imaginal cells to imaginal disks as a sign for a flying future, a butterfly future.
What do we exactly mean by ‘imagination’? Is it really a process in the mind where we create new images, ideas, concepts that don’t exist yet in real? Two reflections. First, the mind refers also to our beliefs and they can be limited, while imagination is so powerfully unlimited. Is it ok to talk about imagination as a creative field of the heart? Next, when is something real? When does something exist? Is it possible that imagination is a kind of reality in another dimension? The new butterfly exists already in the caterpillar, by the presence of the imaginal cells. How does that sound?
Do you see any similarity between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Can you imagine a world full of caterpillars, with only life close to the ground? A world surrounded by an unlimited space of unrealised potential, as the air would be empty. Caterpillars would have no clue of flying. They would explain you crazy if you start talking about wings and ‘it’s all within you’. Within their framework and mindset, there is no space for a butterfly consciousness.
I can’t stop my imaginal writing. What if one of the immune system cells is or becomes an imaginal cell? What if an imaginal disc gets intertwined with (part of) the immune system? Would this create a dilemma of loyalty? What if the immune system knows about the butterfly before the caterpillar realises it? What if more organs of the caterpillar get involved in the imaginal process? My imagination goes crazy as I see the planet as a global butterfly garden.
Let us go back to the natural process within the caterpillar. In the beginning every imaginal cell operates independently as single-cell organisms. They are the seeds of future potential and contain the blueprint of a flying creature. As I told you already, they are perceived as an enemy and are attacked and destroyed. But an important quality of the imaginal cells is persistence, they don’t give up. They keep on coming back with a natural evidence, because they are driven by an inner power that gives them wings.
The more they start connecting and collaborating, the more they share inspiration and resonate at the same frequency. This powerful vibration brings them to a tipping point that they become an imaginal disc. That means that they are no longer individual imaginal cells, they become a multi-cell organism. This is a pre-transformation process that almost guarantees the birth of a new butterfly. Not one individual imaginal cell is able to transform a caterpillar into a butterfly. There is no flying future without togetherness.
Do I help your imagination if I give a few more biological details? A caterpillar becomes a larva and a butterfly can be a moth. The chrysalis is a kind of silky cocoon, the last realisation of the caterpillar. Was this a digging his own grave or could the caterpillar have any suspicion of a future with wings in another dimension? How would a caterpillar remember a near death experience? How could a caterpillar stay motivated to be a caterpillar if he knew about his next life?
Imaginal discs are highly organised groups of cells. In some caterpillars these discs stay dormant until the cocoon stage. In other caterpillars, imaginal discs grow for every adult body part of the upcoming butterfly: a disc for the eyes, one for the legs, one for the wings. All this preparation work happens within the existing structure of the caterpillar. Discs start taking the shape of butterfly parts, while the caterpillar walks around and on the outside, you have no idea of what’s going on inside, even the caterpillar itself hasn’t.
These imaginal discs are able to create a new inner structure without damaging the current culture of the caterpillar. If they did, they would shorten the caterpillar’s life, with the risk that the whole system collapses before the cocoon stage. In that case there would be no butterfly and thus the imaginal cells/discs would be self-destructive. This is a risk of sudden and rapid changes, what we call REVOLUTION. If we can respect the organic time of a process of transformation, we are part of the EVOLUTION.
John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ keeps on resonating in my head while I’m writing these words. This song describes and creates the space for evolution, for personal and social evolution. The personal evolution starts for every human being the moment we are born and continues until the moment we die. Or using Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ metaphor: until the moment we transform to a butterfly. The inspiring drive of this lifelong process is within the word:
How shall I describe the quality of the imaginal cells as synthesis of this part? The word that comes up is FIRE as acronym for Flow Interdependence Resilience Empathy. Here is my approach for each of the four value words. Flow is passion and inspiration in action. Interdependence is the result of their connection, collaboration and contribution. Resilience is what they need to keep the purpose clear and to resist the immune system. Empathy refers to the deeper feeling and understanding of the caterpillar from its perspective.
What about the so called butterfly effect? Is it true that when a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world? The idea comes originally from weather forecast calculations. Here again I go for the metaphor approach. Small changes in our thinking, in our energy can have a massive impact on the process and the result. Therefore I can say very confidently to every imaginal cell, including myself: Yes, you have within you and I have within me the power to change the world.
Thank you Elisabeth, Barbara and Norie for all your inspiring knowledge about caterpillars, butterflies and imaginal cells. Extensive personal Google research expanded and deepened my perception and experience. Encouraging to find that also Gita Bellin, Deepak Chopra, Jan Bommerez and Bruce Lipton and others are using this metaphor in their transformation work. Let all the butterflies colour our future with wings. And Rabindranath Tagore reminds me that a butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.