i dreamt i was a butterfly sumi-e painting by Patricia Larkin Green
How do we know if life is not an illusion…
and what difference does it make?
Chuang Tzu, a contemporary of Mencius, is universally regarded as the greatest Taoist after Lao Tzu. His butterfly dream is probably the most celebrated dream ever to be recorded in the history of Chinese Philosophy, which makes it almost impossible to omit in any serious expositions of Chuang Tzu’s works. Whether or not the dream actually occurred is not a matter of great importance. What is important is that it has captured the minds of generations of Philosophers
Chuang Tzu, however, preferred something more compromising: “When I say you are dreaming, so am I.” In other words, we are all dreaming. This is best illustrated in his butterfly dream story. ‘The passage:
Once upon a time, Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly, flying about enjoying itself. It did not know that it was Chuang Chou.