Do you have any caterpillars in your life?

I recently bought a big pot with a nice, healthy, organically grown basil plant and one of thyme. I’ve been following the activity of the guys growind and selling the plants for a while on Facebook and I liked what I saw.

I’ve bought several smaller basil plants from different sources before and they all died withing days after getting them home.

So now I bought these plants – ordered them in a private message on Facebook, left my phone number and address and the next day I got them delivered to my office.

The guy told me how to take care of them, how often to water them, how much sun they need and other details. (I’m telling you the details of this transaction to show you that you can buy and sell stuff solely through Facebook.)

I had to leave them for about a week at the office before my boyfriend managed to bring them home by car, because they were way to big to just carry them.

Anyways, I’ve been so happy to look at them, smell their fragrance and occasionally eat a few leaves of basil on my avocado and cherry tomatoes sandwiches.

But in the last couple of days I noticed the basil looking sadder and sadder. At first I tought it didn’t have enough water. But I checked the soil and it was humid.

Then I looked closer and I noticed small crumps of dirt on the leaves and holes in the leaves, just like something has been eating it.

My basil plant before discovering the caterpillars
My basil plant before discovering the caterpillars

I looked closeer and I saw a small spider like insect. I thought that was the cause, but it was soo tiny to cause so much damage.

So I took a few pictures and I sent them to the guy I bought the plants from. This happened at around 22:30, just when I was about to go to sleep. I wrote to him what I’ve noticed and asked for advice.

I thought I would get an answer the next day, taking into account I wrote to him at such a late hour. Then I went to bed and I noticed I got a message. The guy answered me in great detail and asked me questions to figure out the problem.

The first one was to put some garlic cloves in the soil to get rif of eventual aphides.

The next was to check the plant for a hungry caterpillar.

So I chopped some garlic cloves and pushed them in the soil.

Then I started looking for the bad guys. It took me a couple of minutes to discover the first one.

It was so well disguised, having the exact same colour as the leaves, just like a cameleon. I took it away, removing that leaf alltogether.

I wrote to my plants supplier, together with a picture, showing him the bad guy.

He said to look some more, there might be a gang there.

I kept looking for a few minutes and suddenly I saw another one. Off he went, on its leaf, into a jar, next to its mate.

I kept looking and removing all half eaten or dried leaves but I couldn’t find another one.

The presence of the hungry little ones it’s a good sign, it means the plant is healthy and clean, the guy told me.

As far as the thyme is concerned, it might be too late for him. I noticed it started having dry leaves at the bottom. The guy asked me if I watered it too much. I said I didn’t, but some other people while it stayed in the office, might have.

He told me to not water it anymore until the soil is very dry. It might help it, but it might be too late. Apparently when the thyme gets too much water it enters a phase that makes him dry. So we’ll see, I hope it will get better in the end.

Coming back to discovering the cause of the illness of my basil plant.

I was able to see the caterpillars only after I knew what I was looking for.

Only after the guy told me what to look for.

The signs were there – the dirt like excrements on the leaves and the holes in the leaves.

But because I was not sure what to look for, I didn’t see them at first. Even after the guy told me what to look for, it took minutes for my eyes to recognise the shape of the bad guys.

We can’t see the caterpillar in the basil leaves until we know what to look for.


We usually can’t see the caterpillars in our life

So once again I realised how our perception of reality is shaped by our knowledge.

Once the mind knows what to look for it begins to recognise that thing in the physical reality.

Before that, it is like it doesn’t exist. Even if that thing leaves marks – like the excrements and the holes in this case – one can’t see it.

I feel like this is such a good real life metaphor for the Buddhist teachings on karmic seeds.

To put it simply, my good and my bad deeds, words and thoughts are creating my current reality, just like a seed put in soil creates a plant.

It can be a nice plant or a weed, depending on the type of seed.

And because we keep doing this ever since we’re born, we forget a lot of our past deeds, either good or bad ones.

And the only way we can figure out that we must have done something in the past, is to follow the signs, to pay attention to what is in the present moment.

If we experience something similar to excrements and holes in our lives, it means we must have a bunch of past bad deeds that created that, just like the hungry caterpillar hidden in plain sight created the bad state of my basil plant.

And although the signs were there, I didn’t notice them for a few days, until I really payed attention to the basil.

I kept looking at it and noticed its leaves were hanging lower than normal, and that its general aspect looked sad.

Only after I paid attention I saw the signs and then I acted towards helping the plant get better.

And the guy who sold me the plants and who’s an expert on all things plants, has been like a teacher that helps his student see new things.

A teacher that tells what to look for and thus expanding the mind of the student with the right knowledge.

But he didn’t find the caterpillar for me.

Same with the teacher-student relationship: a true teacher tells the students what he knows and points them in the right direction and then lets them discover on their own what they need to discover.

He/she stays by their side and keeps giving them advice but they have to get their hands dirty. Sometimes, litterally! 

Also, my “teacher” cheered me for asking for help as soon as I saw a problem.

He told me sometimes clients tell him after a month that one of their plants had died. Well, than that is too late to do anything. Not even a plant expert can help the plants if we let them die.

So, to wrap-up what I’ve learned from this little caterpillar story:

  • If something bad is happening in the now, I shouldn’t ignore it and hope it will pass by itself. I need to look down the rabbit hole for the true root causes of the problems. I know for sure that I am the cause and the solution in the same time.
  • I ask for help if the situation surpasses my knowledge.
  • I listen and act upon the advice I receive immediately, even if that means getting out of my comfy bad in the middle of the night to try and save my basil plant. 🙂

So that was my experience with the real caterpillars.

Now I’m all fired up to finding and removing the virtual ones.

Do you have any caterpillars in your life? Drop me a line and tell me what are you going to do about them.

Love & light, 






P.S. no caterpillars were hurt during the making of this post, they ended up in the garden in front of my building 🙂

Drop your email address below if you wanna stay in touch. 

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