Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Lucas Oliveira
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:07 pm

Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:21 pm

Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

昔者庄周梦为蝴蝶,栩栩然蝴蝶也,自喻适志与,不知周也。俄然觉,则戚戚然周也。不知周之梦为蝴蝶与,蝴蝶之梦为周与?周与蝴蝶则必有分矣。此之谓物化。
昔者莊周夢為蝴蝶,栩栩然蝴蝶也,自喻適志與,不知周也。俄然覺,則戚戚然周也。不知周之夢為蝴蝶與,蝴蝶之夢為周與?週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 (traditional)

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

Image

Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense!

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zhuangzi


:namaste:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/

Saengnapha
Posts: 1350
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:13 am

Lucas Oliveira wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:21 pm
Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

昔者庄周梦为蝴蝶,栩栩然蝴蝶也,自喻适志与,不知周也。俄然觉,则戚戚然周也。不知周之梦为蝴蝶与,蝴蝶之梦为周与?周与蝴蝶则必有分矣。此之谓物化。
昔者莊周夢為蝴蝶,栩栩然蝴蝶也,自喻適志與,不知周也。俄然覺,則戚戚然周也。不知周之夢為蝴蝶與,蝴蝶之夢為周與?週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 (traditional)

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

Image

Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense!

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zhuangzi


:namaste:
This legendary figure was always had an appealing fascination to me. His poetic description is a classic.

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1831
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:08 am

Lucas Oliveira wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:21 pm
Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

[...]

週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。

[...]

Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
Very mysterious ending line, isn't it?

I would translate 週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 as:

Zhōu and the butterfly however necessarily exist divided. This is called reification.

Zhōu refers to Chou, it is another way to spell the name of the narrator of the poem. I am also not a professional translator.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
Lucas Oliveira
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:07 pm

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:01 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:08 am
Lucas Oliveira wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:21 pm
Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

[...]

週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。

[...]

Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
Very mysterious ending line, isn't it?

I would translate 週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 as:

Zhōu and butterflies however necessarily exist divided. This is called reification.

Zhōu refers to Chou, it is another way to spell the name of the narrator of the poem. I am also not a professional translator.
reification is an interesting word

:namaste:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/

form
Posts: 702
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:23 am

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by form » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:35 pm

We think that we are awake but actually we are dreaming all the time.

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1831
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:09 am

Lucas Oliveira wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:01 am
Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:08 am
Lucas Oliveira wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:21 pm
Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

[...]

週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。

[...]

Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
Very mysterious ending line, isn't it?

I would translate 週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 as:

Zhōu and the butterfly however necessarily exist divided. This is called reification.

Zhōu refers to Chou, it is another way to spell the name of the narrator of the poem. I am also not a professional translator.
reification is an interesting word
If you are further interested in the word reification:

From the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā opening:

Neither cessation nor origination,
neither annihilation nor the eternal,
neither singularity nor plurality,
neither the coming nor the going,
dependant origination,
for the auspicious cessation of reification:
I salute the Saṃbuddha, the best of orators.


The reification IMO, in the Zhōu poem, is the division of Zhōu and butterflies, which "must necessarily exist". This "must necessarily exist" IMO is the reification being identified in the poem. Afaik this is a "standard" interpretation of the poem. Perhaps I am wrong though.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
Pseudobabble
Posts: 734
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:11 am
Location: London

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:30 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:08 am
Lucas Oliveira wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:21 pm
Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

[...]

週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。

[...]

Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
Very mysterious ending line, isn't it?

I would translate 週與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 as:

Zhōu and butterflies however necessarily exist divided. This is called reification.

Zhōu refers to Chou, it is another way to spell the name of the narrator of the poem. I am also not a professional translator.

I think you've nailed it with that translation.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

pyluyten
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:08 am

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by pyluyten » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:03 pm

well, i do not believe buddhism, at least not theravada, is to follow this kind of philosophy.

a dream is not a perception of the world.
a perception is not a dream.

there is an easy one : a perception comes from a sense, a sense is awaken by a material contact (exterior->interior).
if one cannot make this distinction, then he cannot understand dhamma.

it is not that Zhuang Zi is idiot ; it is a different approach than buddhism.
I know , not everyone is interested in putting people in different boxes, and some prefer to follow several philosophies. And it's quite fair. Also it's fair to say these philosophies are not that much compliant =)

User avatar
Pseudobabble
Posts: 734
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:11 am
Location: London

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:10 pm

pyluyten wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:03 pm
well, i do not believe buddhism, at least not theravada, is to follow this kind of philosophy.

a dream is not a perception of the world.
a perception is not a dream.

there is an easy one : a perception comes from a sense, a sense is awaken by a material contact (exterior->interior).
if one cannot make this distinction, then he cannot understand dhamma.

it is not that Zhuang Zi is idiot ; it is a different approach than buddhism.
I know , not everyone is interested in putting people in different boxes, and some prefer to follow several philosophies. And it's quite fair. Also it's fair to say these philosophies are not that much compliant =)

One of the nice things about the Pali suttas is their rigour - Daoism is much more poetic (and therefore confusing, to me at least), which I feel is reflected here.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1831
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:21 pm

pyluyten wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:03 pm
a dream is not a perception of the world.
a perception is not a dream.

there is an easy one : a perception comes from a sense, a sense is awaken by a material contact (exterior->interior).
if one cannot make this distinction, then he cannot understand dhamma.
Consider: "exterior->interior" --> "adhyātma -> bahirdhā(bhāva)"

adhyātmaṃ citte bahirdhā citte ’dhyātmabahirdhā citte cittānupaśyī viharaty/ 內心外心內外心心觀住

To quote Ven Sujāto:
Internally means in one's own self; externally means outside one's self; and internally/externally means seeing with wisdom that inside and outside are essentially the same, for example, that the earth element inside and outside are just the earth element.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1831
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:24 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:10 pm
Daoism is much more poetic (and therefore confusing, to me at least), which I feel is reflected here.
IMO translations of Daoist scripture are poetic and confusing. Try comparing literally any two translations of the Dàodéjīng at all. They will almost always be completely different.

Imagine reading Pāli suttāni and no two translations resembled each other!
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

form
Posts: 702
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:23 am

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by form » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:34 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:24 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:10 pm
Daoism is much more poetic (and therefore confusing, to me at least), which I feel is reflected here.
IMO translations of Daoist scripture are poetic and confusing. Try comparing literally any two translations of the Dàodéjīng at all. They will almost always be completely different.

Imagine reading Pāli suttāni and no two translations resembled each other!
The buddha did clearly mention in the sutta, there is a stage when the dharma is not to be clinged on to.

At that stage and beyond, words will not be applicable to describe something that in reality keep changing. Language is a very fixed coding.

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1831
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:08 pm

form wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:34 pm
At that stage and beyond, words will not be applicable to describe something that in reality keep changing. Language is a very fixed coding.
From the same text quoted in the OP:

荃者所以在魚,
A fish trap is used, therefore there are fish,
得魚而忘荃。
there are fish and forgotten is the fish trap.
蹄者所以在兔,
A rabbit trap is used, therefore there are rabbits,
得兔而忘蹄。
there are rabbits and forgotten is the rabbit trap.
言者所以在意,
Words are used, therefore there is meaning,
得意而忘言。
there is meaning and forgotten are the words.
吾安得忘言之人而與之言哉。
Where is the word-forgetting man, so I may have with him words?

The constant irony of Buddhist forums! Sometimes many words = few meanings.

I think it's easy to see why this verse and others like it were much loved by the Chán Buddhists, venerating as they do what is believed to be a wordless transmission from Śākyamuni Buddha to Mahākāśyapa. The apocryphal Chinese tale 拈花微笑 ("The flower plucked and the faint smile") records this:

世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾
The Bhagavān dwelt at Gṛdhrakūṭa with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching.

眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心
The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Bhagavān spoke: "I have the treasure of the true dharmacakṣu, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta,

實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I know dharmatā animitta, the subtle dharmaparyāya, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa."


Chán/Zen Buddhists' doxy & praxy are informed by a number of points foreign to Theravāda Buddhism, but the notion of Dharma-transmission as truly wordless I do not think, in and of itself, is a thoroughly unBuddhist concept.

These learnt, they became intoxicated with pride, thinking to themselves: “The Supreme Buddha knows just the Three Piṭakāni, and we know them too. So what is the difference between us?”

-Ja 245
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:16 pm, edited 9 times in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1831
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:41 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:21 pm
pyluyten wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:03 pm
a dream is not a perception of the world.
a perception is not a dream.

there is an easy one : a perception comes from a sense, a sense is awaken by a material contact (exterior->interior).
if one cannot make this distinction, then he cannot understand dhamma.

Consider: "exterior->interior" --> "adhyātma -> bahiddhā(bhāva)"

adhyātmaṃ citte bahirdhā citte ’dhyātmabahirdhā citte cittānupaśyī viharaty/ 內心外心內外心心觀住

To quote Ven Sujāto:
Internally means in one's own self; externally means outside one's self; and internally/externally means seeing with wisdom that inside and outside are essentially the same, for example, that the earth element inside and outside are just the earth element.



If I may offer some contextualization to the above.

I think that one of the reasons why this parable of the man and the butterfly is so famous in East Asian Buddhism is because it can be construed to be about the artificiality of satkāyadṛṣṭi.

As you mention, there are differences between perception in dreams and perception in the world, such as the nature of the sense objects, or mental objects, one is interacting with.

But consider, have you ever had a dream in which you were an animal? Or perhaps you were simply "another person"?

I dreamt I was a cat one time. To the best of my memory, as reliably as I can recall the dream, I believe my mind did its best to guess what the existence, mentally and bodily, of a cat might be like.

When we are in dreams, we do not always have access to the reflective knowledge to realize that we are in a dream. Sometimes in dreams we are even different people. Sometimes in dreams we are the same person as we are when waking, but we act, behave, or perhaps think very differently.

Some people have dreams in which they go on murderous rampages, only to be horrified upon waking. They would never do that.

But in the dream, when Zhōu was a butterfly, Zhōu really was a butterfly inasmuch as his mind told him. He, surely, was also a sleeping man on a bed. But he was also a butterfly, albeit in mind/dream-only. Consider the ending line in light of that, "Zhōu and the butterfly however necessarily exist divided. This is called reification." The reification, the division, is perhaps between the sleeping man dreaming and his experience of dreams.

When we have a dream, "we" are really in that dream. We are really dreaming. As much as we are "really" driving a car or "really" sitting at a computer reading a web forum.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
Lucas Oliveira
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:07 pm

Re: Zhuangzi and the Butterfly

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:05 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:24 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:10 pm
Daoism is much more poetic (and therefore confusing, to me at least), which I feel is reflected here.
IMO translations of Daoist scripture are poetic and confusing.
I am reading the Tao Te Ching with the comments of each verse. and Taoism seems more organized.

some explanations of the Tao resemble the explanations of Nibbana.

this butterfly story is very beautiful and can help any practitioner of any path to understand the illusion of this life.

:namaste:
I participate in this forum using Google Translator. http://translate.google.com.br

http://www.acessoaoinsight.net/

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 70 guests