I recently moved to Vero Beach, Florida into a wonderful, light filled house nestled in a jungle setting with a five minute walk to the beach. I have landed in a little piece of paradise after weeks of packing, weeding, sorting, hauling, organizing and an endless design with “stuff”. All of these dealings with my stuff came on the heels of almost two months sorting and sifting all of my late mother’s stuff which filled two houses. I sometimes felt I would snap if I had to confront one more decision about stuff. But finally, a deep sense of relief arrived as I emptied the last box. Within hours, a large dragonfly appeared on the floor of my living room. It was wounded, and I spent the remainder of the day immersed in the dying energy, and message, of this dragonfly…which I now call the Buddha dragonfly.
I do not know how this dragonfly got into my house with all the open doors and windows with screens. It was laying on the floor beneath a skylight, through which I imagine it deceptively attempted to escape. For the signs indicated it had crashed head on with enough force to snap off the top of its head which I found on the floor nearby. The poor thing now had no head nor eyes. I picked it up, held it in my hand knowing its life force would soon depart this world. I felt sad. I thought of a sweet spot where I could lay it for its departure, and carried it out to my Buddha by the pool where I laid it in the Buddha’s open hand. And there I sat with the dragonfly and the Buddha.
As I sat quietly, I realized the extent of my exhaustion and imbalance from the past weeks and months of material focus and distraction. Then I was overcome with gratitude for this dragonfly’s presence which had so suddenly called me back from the material realm…back into the deeper meaning of life beyond the physical and into the wonder of nature’s creatures. I could sense the impeccable timing of the dragonfly’s message: it was time for me to return to the land of the living with a deeper understanding of life’s impermanence, of the Earth’s wonder and wisdom and my need to stay grounded in loving kindness. While dragonfly symbolism is related to transformation, the unseen energies of spirit and illusions, the message of the Buddha is not so different. The Buddha message brings the wisdom of impermanence, the illusion of desire and suffering, letting go of our attachments and the cultivation of loving kindness. As I reflected on this vision before me of this dying dragonfly resting in the Buddha’s hand, I envisioned the love and peace of the Buddha carrying the spirit of this dragonfly safely home into the next realm. Yet, then I stopped and pondered the difference between the Buddha and the dragonfly. I considered how long dragonflies have been living on this planet…long before Buddha. I saw the spirit of the dragonfly as a direct creation of Gaia, the Mother Earth, and thus, a pure, untainted spirit untouched by man. I contemplated the whole concept of man made religions designed more to redeem and save us than to inspire us. And while I feel Buddhism comes closest to the truth of mankind’s divine gift of innate goodness, I felt at this moment my faith firmly grounded in the more Pagan and Gnostic wisdom rooted in nature…and the world of the dragonfly.
Perhaps the message of transformation associated with the dragonfly is not so much about our redemption as it is about the acceptance of our innate goodness. While Buddhism teaches that “there is no permanent self, thus there is no self to save“, the dragonfly confirms we are hard-wired to overcome our illusions through the transformation and metamorphosis of our perceptions. Our innate goodness is in there, buried beneath false conclusions based on misguided perceptions and flawed conditioning. Our metamorphosis demands a new way of thinking.
Dragonflies cannot impart their magic to us until they leave the murky waters of illusion, and soar with the freedom of new vision. We cannot receive the dragonfly’s message unless we, too, leave our erroneous perceptions and illusions behind, and embrace the wonder and wisdom found in the Earth’s spirit. My dying dragonfly Buddha had come to remind me, after my mother’s passing, after my long dive into the material realm and after so much change, that a new life and new vision were now being offered to me. It was time to make peace with my illusions through a correction in my perceptions. It would require a deep scouring of all my beliefs born in those murky waters, and align my perceptions with what I knew to be true. As daylight began to fade, I gazed one last time upon the Buddha’s hand cupping the now dead dragonfly. I placed a dead butterfly I found floating in the pool next to the dragonfly. I marveled at both of these winged creatures of transformation, and rested in the gifts of the Buddha dragonfly message and in the simple truth of knowing all life is one.