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The Butterfly Dream

Jan 7, 2009

Storyteller: This is a serious but romantic philosophy story. It’s about a dream of Taoism Master – Zhuangzi. I am a  fan of Taoism philosophy. So starting with this one can give me some good luck, hopefully.

The Butterfly Dream:

Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. (2, tr. Burton Watson 1968:49)

Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterfly (or a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi)

Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterfly (or a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi)

This hints at many questions in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology. The name of the passage has become a common Chinese idiom, and has spread into Western languages as well. It appears, inter alia, as an illustration in Jorge Luis Borges’ famous essay “A New Refutation of Time”, and may have inspired H. P. Lovecraft’s 1918 short story “Polaris”.

Zhuangzi’s philosophy was very influential in the development of Chinese Buddhism, especially Chán (also known as Zen).

[Reference]
Wikipedia: link>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuangzi#The_butterfly_dream

[Recommended Reading about “Taoism”]
Amazon Bestseller Book:  Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

[Chinese Keyword]
庄周梦蝶

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