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The Dream of Life

Chuang Tzu

How do I know that the love of life is not a delusion?  How do I know that he who is afraid of death is not like a man who left his home as a youth and forgot to return?  Lady Li was the daughter of the border warden of Ai.  When she was first taken captive and brought to the state of Chin, she wept until the bosom of her robe was drenched with tears.  But later, when she went to live in the royal palace, shared with the king his luxurious couch and sumptuous food, she regretted that she had wept.  How do I know that the dead do not repent of their former craving for life?  Those who dream of a merry drinking party may the next morning wail and weep.  Those who dream of wailing and weeping may in the morning go off gaily to hunt.  While they dream they do not know that they are dreaming, In their dream, they may even try to interpret their dream.  Only when they have awakened do they begin to know that it was a dream.  By and by comes the great awakening, and then we shall know that it has all been a great dream.

Once upon a time, Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly, a butterfly fluttering about, enjoying itself.  It did not know that it was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he awoke with a start and he was Chuang Tzu again.  But he did not know whether he was Chuang Tzu who had dreamed that he was a butterfly, or whether he was a butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu.  Between Chuang Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction.  This is what is called the transformation of things.

from Readings from World Scriptures - by Prof Andrew Wilson


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page uploaded 14 October 1999, last modified 21 November 2003