When it comes to saving the world, this ain't quite the idea. Image courtesy of Nottinghack via flickr.com

Let’s say we’re making a machine that will save the world. Don’t ask me how, let’s just say that’s what we are doing. Let’s say that’s our responsibility and our destiny.

Let’s say that while we’re working on this machine we have in our fingers a special little gizmo, a transistor, say, that is the key element to making this fantastic machine work. Let’s say that a butterfly lands right on the special transistor and for a moment, or for many moments, our attention is drawn away from the unbelievably wonderful machine to the wonderfully beautiful butterfly. All of our attention is absorbed by the butterfly.

During those moments the butterfly is more important than the machine.

Let’s say the butterfly doesn’t fly off with the special transistor, let’s say it doesn’t poop on the transistor rendering it useless, let’s say we don’t capture the butterfly in a jar, punch holes in the lid and take it in the house to show mommy, let’s say the butterfly simply flutters away. The butterfly is gone but we retain the memory of the butterfly and go back to working on the machine.

Have we wasted those moments contemplating the butterfly, in the face of the enormous significance of building a machine that will save the world? I don’t think so, but if the world were to abruptly end while we are contemplating the butterfly then I’d have to admit I was wrong. On the bright side, it wouldn’t be the worst way to go.

Let’s say we share the thought of the butterfly with others. They are as jolly about it as we are. Good things happen.

Do you smell a metaphor coming here? Ha, ha! You are right.

Let’s say the process of building the fantastic world-saving machine is meditation. Let’s say the butterfly is a thought. Let’s say this might be one of the most awkward metaphors either of us has ever encountered. Never mind.

In meditation we are likely to have thoughts unless we happen to be Swami Supermandananda, and if a thought, like a beautiful butterfly, is worth remembering then we ought to keep it.

We can have the fantastic machine and we can have the idea of a butterfly, too.

Let’s call the thought, or a whole bucket of them, contemplation. Contemplations that spring from that rich source of union with the universe may be very useful. They are about as pure as thoughts can be. Not like the thoughts you might have about doing the laundry, or thoughts you might have in a poker game about killing your opponent, or at least maiming him.

Contemplations that spring from meditations may very well lead to the greatest of inspirations.

Let’s say you believe that we can fulfill our responsibilities and realize our destiny through meditation. Let’s say we do it now.