Originally posted at http://rustus.blogspot.com
"How would I know it's you?", I remember asking the Monarch desperately, as he was about to disappear into the wind. "I will know you..." were his last words.
The month of February had been unusually cold and rainy in northern California, and the sun barely peeked through the clouds all month. The day the Monarch left with his followers, the winds were blowing at a breezy 10-15 miles an hour, much calmer than the storm in January that had brought in the clouds. He was headed east, towards the Sierra Nevada mountains. He had this calming effect on people, making them smile and reminding them of sunshine, warmth and love. Now, he was gone with no forwarding address.
The Monarch taught us that a journey worth taking, is a journey worth taking over many life-times.
His life was an example of his particular form of mysticism. "This body is a colorful cloth", he often said, "but your soul is even more luminous. You learn to love your clothes, but you are ready to discard them when they get old. Just like that, learn to love this physical body, but be ready to discard it and take on another one. The endless cycle of living and dying will continue. Your soul has to take a journey over many life-times to reach it's end state. Don't stop moving forward".
We went east to the Sierra Nevada to look for him, but he was gone. Some had heard that he had died there. Distraught and disbelieving, we kept watch for signs of him all over the mountains. Some said he lived by the fragrant milkweed plant, and we should go look there. Others said that he had reincarnated in a small, hapless little hungry creature. Still others remembered his talk of his insatiable thirst for the nectar of life that nourished him. No sightings, and certainly no way that I could find him now.
Months later, we got word from some friends in Oregon, just north of the California border. We rushed over to the grove where the Monarch was rumored to have gathered. As we got there, the air was aflutter with orange banners, floating freely in the sky. This was a familiar gathering. My heart jumped with joy at the thought of meeting the Monarch again. But how will I know him?
Like a floating angel, I could see his new form appear floating in front of me. "You are here, my friend", he said as he lightly dusted my shoulder. "You look a little different", I said weakly, "but it's always good to see you. Is this your final stop"?
"My soul will go on in this endless cycle, until I learn to break this cycle and stop this journey", he said. "Maybe that's something you should learn from a butterfly".
- - -
The Monarch butterfly is famous for being beautiful in orange, not different from the color donned by Hindu and Buddhist monks. This butterfly has a 4 generation annual migration. The generation that heads out from California goes to Sierra Nevada to have children and then die. The children then proceed on their migration to Oregon, where there give birth and die. The grand-children of the California monarchs spend two generations in Oregon and Washington states, whence they start their return trip to California.
My family was lucky to view the Monarch grove one winter in the Ardenwood farm in Fremont, CA. These memories have a big role in this story.
There are a lot of web resources to study these beautiful souls. My favorite is the PBS:NOVA program, and these couple of links. My original post on afterlife is here. Enjoy.