The Surprising Connection Between 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and the Taoist Journey to Enlightenment!

After last week's foray into my undergrad roots of overanalyzing children's literature, I was keen to give it another go. Fortunately, I was reading a book with my 1-year-old and a thought struck me...

What if we were to explore the Tao of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'?

Eric Carle's classic children's book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", tells the story of a caterpillar's journey to becoming a butterfly. While this may seem like a simple children's story, there are actually many similarities between the caterpillar's journey and the Taoist journey to enlightenment.

Taoism is a philosophy that emphasises the importance of living in harmony with the natural world and achieving a state of balance and enlightenment. The Taoist journey to enlightenment involves a process of self-discovery and transformation, much like the caterpillar's journey.

In "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", the caterpillar begins its journey as a small, voracious eater. It eats through a variety of foods, getting bigger and bigger with each meal. This stage can be seen as the caterpillar's indulgence in the physical world, similar to how people may become attached to material possessions or physical pleasures.

However, the caterpillar soon reaches a point where it can no longer continue its consumption. It must enter a cocoon and undergo a period of transformation. This is a crucial moment in the caterpillar's journey, as it must let go of its old form and embrace the unknown.

Similarly, the Taoist journey to enlightenment requires individuals to let go of their attachments to the physical world and embrace the unknown. This can be a difficult process, as people may fear losing control or not knowing what lies ahead. But just as the caterpillar emerges from its cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, those who undergo the Taoist journey to enlightenment can emerge as transformed, enlightened beings.

Another similarity between "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and the Taoist journey to enlightenment is the importance of balance. In the book, the caterpillar ultimately becomes a butterfly by striking a balance between its physical and spiritual needs. It needs to eat to survive, but it also needs to transform in order to fulfill its true potential.

Similarly, the Taoist journey to enlightenment involves finding a balance between the physical and spiritual worlds. Individuals must learn to appreciate the physical world while also recognizing its limitations and focusing on the spiritual realm.

Overall, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and the Taoist journey to enlightenment share many similarities. Both involve a process of self-discovery and transformation, as well as the importance of balance and letting go of attachments. While the book may be a simple children's story, it carries a deep message that resonates with Taoist philosophy and the search for enlightenment.

If this had whetted your whistle for some deeper overthinking of children's books, I recommend The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet, both by Benjamin Hoff. 

Carl Headley-Morris

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