Discover: This is what I do to know something.
Hiking as a teenager, I found a Caddisfly larva in a gurgling stream, clinging to a rock for dear life. It had covered itself with the debris at the bottom of the stream to go unseen, and it was, initially, indistinguishable from the rest of the clutter around the rock. I teased apart the hanging debris, the bits of leaves and sand that came away, to get a better look, until only the stuff that still stuck to the little creature inside remained. At this point, I already knew something had gathered all these particles to itself. I knew that I couldn’t just dig away at the creature or I would harm it. Its outlines started to appear and I saw it move. The more debris I removed, the more actively it squirmed. It clearly did not want to be exposed. So I put it back into the water to be washed down the stream and do what it had to, to restore its own sense of safety. As a younger boy, I might have explored too much and would have ended up discovering less.
Many years later, I can still see the ‘Meeting with the Caddisfly’, shining in the background when I go about discovering anything. I still start from a place of wonder. I absolutely know that there is something more vital inside than the initial evidence of the senses reveal. I still use many tiny nudges of intuition to separate and remove insignificant pieces of debris that only obscure the truth. I care for the creature inside and really don’t want to remove anything that is essential to it. Eventually I get a living response, and I honor its need, not my curiosity. I let it be itself, not something I want it to be. I end up feeling like I have made a heart to heart connection. I carry it with me in the form of a living memory that becomes more perfect with time and eventually illuminates other things I explore. That light shines increasingly brightly as my soul matures with it.
I feel like everything is, in a way, covered with the ambient debris that is the only thing visible to the senses, and is waiting inside to be dis-covered. Once we really know something at its core, it is this knowledge that illuminates everything else that awaits to be discovered.
As I have grown through the years along with the light of the Caddisfly glowing in me, I have come to appreciate that, in nature, none of that debris is without importance. To live, this creature needed to get back to the business of clothing itself far better than I had left it. Naked, it had lost essential elements that made a healthy relationship with the greater world possible. The Caddisfly gently corrected me. And I heard the admonishment inwardly. Nothing was really debris. Every scrap and crumb was indispensable.
Though I own that I explore in order to know the essential being, I have come to honor the importance of all the material evidence ‘in my way’. It is part of the signature of that spirit that lives within. Within me as well. It is all significant. I now know, that it would have been better for both the Caddisfly and me, had I been able to peer beneath the borrowed pieces of its shell without disturbing the confusing clutter. All would have been better, had I waited and watched until it emerged and revealed itself in its own good time. Again, this is the light of the Caddisfly shedding more of its brilliance upon my understanding. I can’t just probe away at the spirit, careless of its material manifestations and expect to satisfy my youthful curiosity. I have to let it reveal itself to me when the time is right. In most cases, this comes when I am more ready for it; when the light has really started to dawn in me. Now, when my understand shines its light, I hardly need to explore at all. Just a glimpse of a tightly wadded cylinder of debris in a swiftly flowing stream will let me let me see the whole Caddisfly in my mind; just ‘A word, to the wise, is indeed sufficient’.
In the mean time, I am not going to stop studying the signature, and wondering, and knowing in my heart of hearts that some hidden greatness is written in the language of the senses. I want to know the heart of the author; I have to keep learning to love both of the languages she speaks; both the outward one and the one that rings true from inside myself.
Of course, that other language, which rings inside my soul, is the voice of intuition, the deeper voice I can truly experience as my own. Yet, somehow, it was in that same voice and language that the Caddisfly larva let me know that its squiggling meant “let me go”. I felt for it in its vulnerability. I was momentarily transported into its skin where I took the same place its being took. How else could I have understood? It is possible that I understood it more than it understood itself. I had no illusions that it actually felt the complexity of emotions I know as vulnerability. Yet it was vulnerable, and it knew it. I knew it.
This voice of intuition also deciphered the larva’s emerging outline as I picked away at the casing. I knew through intuition that the creature was alive and that it had gathered the debris to itself. I knew that it needed cover, and why. In short, I understood the larva without having it explained to me. Even if I had been prepared by seeing things like this before, it would still have been the voice of intuition that made the connection between my knowledge and my knowing. I even intuited that the creature had just a rudimentary sense of vulnerability, but that, for it, this knowing was a dominating urge to escape and get back to the business of hiding. I didn’t have to know why I knew, I just knew.
Last night, as I lay in bed mulling over the day’s discoveries, I recalled a quote from Einstein; “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why”.
We sometime awake with more understanding that we had the day before. It can come to us through the most un-premeditated connections. This morning, while reading, I just happened to come across another Einsteinian gem: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” The intellect will tend to explore with the eyes and dissect with the hands, to take the casing apart completely without noticing what the little voice (that we both share) is saying. Wonder, on the other hand, listens with the heart. No wonder… Nature is in trouble!
By being attentive to this very human dialogue between the language of the sense world and the voice of intuition, I learn ever and again, to know what I wonder about. New discoveries and understandings continually lead me to new wonders. And like so, on it goes. I am always ready to let the sense world correct my original interpretations, improve my inner vocabulary, reveal that the ‘debris’ is in fact the chosen ‘clothing’ of the being I am trying to get to know. The voice of the intuition speaks with authority and authenticity if I can temporarily get some of my own intellectual debris out its way.