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Observations placeholder

Dr Donald Hoffman – The metamorphosis of a caterpillar



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience


From the video transcript of Donald Hoffman on the fundamental nature of consciousness

The meditation process for me is what i can imagine it's like for a caterpillar to go through metamorphosis.  It turns out, that when the caterpillar is inside the chrysalis, the immune cells of the caterpillar attack and try to kill , and in fact they do kill, the cells that are responsible for the transformation into a butterfly.  They attack and kill, attack and kill, until they're overwhelmed and then the structure of the caterpillar liquefies and then it's reformed into the butterfly,

From the point of view of the caterpillar that can't be fun and the immune system response  indicates that it's not welcomed by the caterpillar at all, it's  fought to the death by the immune system until the immune system's overwhelmed.

But from the point of view of the butterfly, it's a brand new creation, so it depends on whether you take the point of view of the caterpillar or the butterfly.

Most of the time I've been the caterpillar, but I'm starting a little bit to welcome the destruction of everything I know, the destruction of deeply held beliefs, the destruction of my fears and so forth , letting all that stuff slowly be destroyed just in pure silence and then watching whatever new might come up.

I mean it's hard to imagine that the caterpillar has any idea what it's going to be turned into, it's just fighting it to the death until it can't fight anymore, and then it liquefies.  So from the caterpillar's point of view, it's just all loss and death and destruction, but there's a rebirth and that's the way I feel about meditation, that I'm allowing a transformation to occur and I'm arbitrarily ignorant about its true nature and I can only tell you after I've taken the next step what it was like.


The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Contemplation and detachment