Monday, June 23, 2008

Am I the butterfly?

Just the other day I was browsing the Internet and came across a rather familiar story. It read like this:

The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu once dreamt that he was a butterfly fluttering here and there. In the dream he had no awareness of his individuality as a person. He was only a butterfly. Suddenly, he awoke and found himself laying there, a person once again. But then he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?"

I was wondering there should be more to it and researched a little more because that is not how I remember the story. The original story seems to be:

The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu had many disciples of which one was very dear to his Master. The other disciples were rather irky about this fact because they did not really understand why. Chuang Tzu knew about this and one day decided to teach the other disciples what it is.


He chose to do it when his dear disciple was out of town. was sleeping on a cot, suddenly woke up and started crying. All the disciples were shocked and wanted to know what happened. Tzu explained to them about his dream where he was a butterfly flying high and wide in the beautiful forest. Suddenly he woke up but did not know if he was the butterfly dreaming as a man and he was the man who dreamt about being a butterfly.


None of the disciples could solve this mystery - most could not even understand what their Master was saying. The chief disciple came back from his work and found his Master crying. He came to know of the reason from others, went directly to his Master and just slapped him hard on his face. Chuang Tzu just stopped crying, smiled and blessed him.


No one could understand what was happening. On one hand they were shocked to see the disciple hitting his Master and equally flabbergasting was why the Master blessed him for it. Then Tzu explained to them that only the chief disciple had the clarity of thought, awareness of what is real & what is not and absolute will to just 'be' with his Master, enabling him understand things which could not be said or taught. This is what makes him dearer to his Master.

Any time I read this story or remember it, I can't stop wondering am I the butterfly dreaming as a man?

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