We are all caterpillars and it is our misfortune that, in defiance of nature, we cling with all our strength to our condition, to our caterpillar appetites, caterpillar passions, caterpillar metaphysics, and caterpillar societies. Only in our outward physical appearance do we bear to the observer who suffers from psychic shortsightedness any resemblance whatsoever to adults; the rest of us remain stubbornly larval. Well, I have very good reasons for believing (indeed if I didn’t there’d be nothing for it but to go off and dangle from the end of a rope) that man can reach the adult stage, that a few of us already have, and that those few have not kept the knack to themselves.
–René Daumal, A Night of Serious Drinking
One shouldn’t put to much weight on a metaphor, but caterpillars only reach their adult form by passing through a cocoon stage. So might death be a human’s cocoon stage? In order to reach their adult form, caterpillars do literally “go off and dangle from the end of a rope!”
I prefer to think of it as something that can be accomplished in this lifetime, but that’s just me.