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ZHUANGZI (Zuang Zhou)

Zuang Zhou And The Butterfly

Zuang Zhou in dream became a butterfly,

And the butterfly became Zuang Zhou at waking.

Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?

Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?

The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea

Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.

The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,

Was once the Prince of the East Hill.

So must rank and riches vanish.

You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?

Distinguishing Ego from Self

All that is limited by form, semblance, sound, color is called object.

Among them all, man alone is more than an object.

Though, like objects, he has form and semblance,

He is not limited to form.

He is more.

He can attain to formlessness.

When he is beyond form and semblance, beyond “this” and “that,”

where is the comparison with another object?

Where is the conflict?

What can stand in his way?

He will rest in his eternal place which is no-place.

He will be hidden in his own unfathomable secret.

His nature sinks to its root in the One.

His vitality, his power hide in secret Tao.


If you persist in trying to attain what is never attained (It is Tao’s gift),

If you persist in making effort to obtain what effort cannot get,

If you persist in reasoning about what cannot be understood,

You will be destroyed by the very thing you seek.

To know when to stop,

To know when you can get no further by your own action,

This is the right beginning!

The empty Boat


Who can free himself from achievement

And from fame, descend and be lost

Amid the masses of men?

He will flow like Tao, unseen,

He will go about like Life itself

With no name and no home.

Simple is he, without distinction.

To all appearances he is a fool.

His steps leave no trace. He has no power.

He achieves nothing, has no reputation.

Since he judges no one

No one judges him.

Such is the perfect man:

His boat is empty.

Means and Ends

The purpose of a fish trap

Is to catch fish,

And when the fish are caught

The trap is forgotten.

The purpose of a rabbit snare

Is to catch rabbits.

When the rabbits are caught

The snare is forgotten.

The purpose of words

Is to convey ideas.

When the ideas are grasped

The words are forgotten.

Where can I find a man

Who has forgotten words?

He is the one I would like to talk to.


The man of spirit, on the other hand,

hates to see people gather around him.

He avoids the crowd.

For where there are many men

there are also many opinions and little agreement.

There is nothing to be gained

from the support of a lot of half-wits

who are doomed to end up in a fight with each other.