Some people criticize those who retreat into themselves feeling the need to search inwardly and practice spiritual disciplines, as ego-centered and anti-social.
What they must understand is that for many this is the road to * true selflessness, * which allows for real service to society.
As long as we have not found our inner center of strength, security, self-worth, values, beliefs and life motivation, we will have little to offer to those around us. We will mainly need to take.
We will be “social” because of what we get rather than out of desire to give and serve.
The caterpillar lives a life of taking. It eats and eats all day long and doesn’t offer much to the world around it. Then it closes into a cocoon and is transformed from an earth-bound, not very attractive, being into a beautiful butterfly, which eats little and offers much beauty and happiness through its appearance and movement.
In the same way, many on the spiritual path reduce their external activities and temporarily close themselves into a cocoon of spiritual practices, so as to get in touch with their inner-self.
Then they eventually come out of this transformational stage with wonderful qualities such as peace, love, wisdom and a desire to offer to those around them.
Thus we have three stages
1. The socially active consuming caterpillar.
2. The caterpillar which is taking refuge in the cocoon.
3. The beautiful butterfly.
The cocoon stage of * inner work * is usually a prerequisite to becoming a butterfly.