Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Awakening to the Dream 1

Awakening to the Dream 1
by Scott Bradley


Perhaps the best known story in the Zhuangzi is the one in which Zhuangzi dreams he is a butterfly, and when he awakens he is unsure whether a butterfly is dreaming Zhuangzi or Zhuangzi dreamt that he was a butterfly. The intent of this story is, I believe, to demonstrate the intrinsic un-fixedness of identity. There is a sense in which Zhuangzi is both the butterfly and the man, but in that case, he is not really either. Having ‘no-fixed-identity’, he experiences both identities but does not attach to either though he can enjoy both.

The story concludes: “Surely Zhou and the butterfly count as two distinct identities! Such is what we call the transformation of one thing into another.”

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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