In his memoir Walden, Thoreau writes
Everyone has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leave of an old table of applewood, which had stood in a farmer's kitchen for sixty years, first in Connecticut, and afterward in Massachusetts, -- from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn.
From this story of the buried egg, Thoreau creates a parable:
Who does not feel his faith in a resurrection and immortality strengthened by hearing of this? Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages under many concentric layers of woodenness in the dead dry life of society, deposited at first in the alburnum of the green and living tree, which has been gradually converted into the semblance of its well-seasoned tomb, --heard perchance gnawing out now for years by the astonished family of man, as they sat round the festive board,-- may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society's most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last!And finally, Thoreau concludes with a meditation that suggests this tale of transformation is akin to the realization in a given moment that there are more moments to come embedded here in this moment. The realization of those moments comes through transformation of perception.
I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.Thoreau and his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson were well read in ancient Eastern texts, and such texts may very well inform Thoreau's ideas about transformation and perception expressed in this passage. What I particularly like about the piece is its hopeful tone, its embrace of mindfulness ("only that day dawns to which we are awake"), its wonder at endless possibility. Who indeed "knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages...may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society's most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last?" I think we practice yoga to find out!