Friday, 8 October 2010
I dreamt I was a butterfly
I dreamt I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke.
Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a
butterfly dreaming that I am a man? - Chuang Tzu*
*Chuang Tzu's butterfly dream is a Taoist parable on the interchangeability between appearance and reality: 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)
Transformation of Things proves that differences between things aren't absolute. Most meanings we seek in this world are bound up in apparent contradictions.
You can read more about Chuang Tzu's dream here.
And about how chasing butterflies is so much more than what the eye sees here.