Of Fish and Butterflies

Two fun Taoism tales to share:
Happy Fish
Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”
Huizi said, “You’re not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?”
Zhuangzi said, “You’re not me, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”
Huizi said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish — so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”
Zhuangzi said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy — so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”
(Burton Watson translation 1968:188-9)

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, solidly and unmistakably 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.
(Burton Watson translation 1968:49)

This latest (Butterfly Dream) story was adopted by different cultures, each claiming it for its own.
Regardless, these fables present the question of what makes reality. It is a conundrum that stems from Chuang Tzu’s argument that while life is limited, knowledge is not, and that using the limited to pursue that which is unlimited, is foolish if not dangerous.
Until recently I perceived the idea of limited as an aspect of time (as in our lifespan,) but at current I realize that limited refers also to our senses, the constraints our words and language, and even to our cognition.
Now let me flap my wings and take off before my super short life as a butterfly will be over…

Learned from: the writings of Chuang Tzu (aka Zhuangzi)

Zhuangzi-Butterfly-Dream

About Ronen

Ronen Divon had been walking spiritual and holistic paths for well over thirty years. Born in Israel, educated in New York, and currently residing in North Carolina, Ronen had traveled the world, spending time with teachers, masters, healers and guides. With wisdom that spans multiple traditions, including the Far East, India, Israel, Brazil, Peru, and Native America, Ronen remains a student, learning and adding modalities that will best serve his clients, each according to their own unique needs. Ronen is also a published author, a Yoga, Meditation, and Tai Chi instructor.
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