Jellyfish, Immortality and Self Development - what on earth do they have in common? One of the most common questions is “Is immortality possible? Will humans live forever one day?” Turritopsis nutricula (the Immortal Jellyfish) is believed to be the world’s only immortal creature. The way it achieves this has some great lessons for your own self development.
What is the Immortal Jellyfish?
Jellyfish have been around for over 650 million years and there are about 200 species of them. Their bodies comprise 95% water with no brain or blood system. Their eyes consist of two little photosensitive dots and their bodies move via jet propulsion movements in the water.
The Immortal Jellyfish originates from the Caribbean but has spread to warm ocean waters worldwide. Like other jellyfish (or jellies), it exists in two forms – as free-swimming adult medusae and as anemone-like polyps. It is just 5mm long and very unique.
It is said to be the only animal that can regenerate its entire body continuously. Its cells undergo a process of cell development called trans-differentiation in which the state of a cell is transformed into a new cell. You may have heard of animals undergoing limited trans-differentiation like lizards re-growing limbs. From a medical point of view this tiny jellyfish holds the secrets of regenerative medicine (age related ailments, our own mortality, etc) and self development lessons.
How does the Immortal Jellyfish achieve immortality?
Like other species of jellyfish it is either male or female and it reproduces the usual way - free-floating sperm make contact with eggs and free swimming larvae are created. These drop to the ocean floor, settle on a hard substrate (rocks, etc) and develop into polyps (sea plants or buds).
The polyps feed on plankton to grow large numbers of identical polyps until a colony is created which can stay attached to a rock at its base for several years. They then mature into free-floating medusae - the jellyfish we recognise as a tiny parachute with 8 to 24 tentacles.
However, unlike most animals that eventually die after sexual maturity, in times of stress (food shortage, etc) the whole process can also be reversed with adult medusae changing back into polyps which form a polyp colony and produce new jellyfish. The Immortal Jellyfish achieves immortality as it is able to move from medusa to polyp (and back again) forever. In reality, most disappear because they are eaten by other animals, are poisoned, are polluted or become diseased.
The Immortal Jellyfish and Self Development
So as you can see, when the going gets tough the Immortal Jellyfish simply reverts to another state. It continuously remodels itself, phasing out its ‘older self’ and starting afresh. Whether you feel that these jellyfish are truly immortal or just self replicating (cloning), they constantly regenerate into new beings.
And how does this relate to self development? Self development (or personal development) is all about:
* Moving constantly with change
* Getting back up after every failure
* Continuously making way for new ideas
* Reinventing yourself when the need arises
* Staying ‘young at heart’ whatever your true age
* Constantly moving from one learning curve to the next
* Tweaking or even restarting your life when barriers get in your way
As a ‘student’ of self development you grow and develop your ‘self’ continuously. In a way, you never feel that you have reached adulthood as you are forever young at heart and curious about the world around you. In essence, like the Immortal Jellyfish you are an immortal student of life.
Jellyfish, Immortality and Self Development - Summary
Turritopsis nutricula (the Immortal Jellyfish) is believed to be the world’s only immortal creature and it can teach us much about our own self development. Just as this unique animal is able to continuously revert to its younger self and never grow old within, self or personal development keeps you in a cycle of self discovery and self empowerment. Keep this jellyfish in mind as you constantly develop your ‘self’ and continuously move with change.
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