Chuang Tzu said, “I used to be, but last night I saw a dream and it has disturbed my whole attainment, achievement, self-realization, enlightenment – everything has gone down the drain.”
They said, “Just a dream?” He said, “It was not just a dream, it has shattered me into pieces.” They said, “Still, please tell us the dream!”
The dream was that Chuang Tzu saw that he had become a butterfly. All the disciples laughed. They said, “Unnecessarily being depressed and crying and tears and thinking that your enlightenment and self-realization have all gone down the drain…. It is an ordinary dream, nothing to be worried about it. In dreams people see themselves becoming many things, but a dream is a dream.”
Chuang Tzu said, “I understand that a dream is a dream. The problem is that I am worried, who am I? If Chuang Tzu in his sleep can dream that he has become a butterfly, a butterfly in her dream can see she has become Chuang Tzu. And now I am puzzled. Who am I? – a Chuang Tzu or a butterfly?
“If Chuang Tzu is capable of dreaming himself to be a butterfly, you cannot cancel the possibility of a butterfly taking a nap on the rosebushes and dreaming that she has become Chuang Tzu. Who can prevent her? And the question is, have I awakened, or is the butterfly dreaming that she is Chuang Tzu? You tell me who I am! – the butterfly or Chuang Tzu.”
They were all at a loss…what to say? This man goes on finding such absurd things. Millions of people for millions of years have been dreaming, but nobody has raised this question. You have been dreaming, but have you ever raised this question? – that when you wake up perhaps it is the beginning of a new dream.
What makes you so certain that you are not dreaming? – in the dream you were so certain that you are a butterfly, and now you are so certain that you are Chuang Tzu. There is no difference in certainty. In fact when you are awake the possibility of suspicion is there, you can doubt; but when you are dreaming, there is even no doubt at all, no suspicion, no question mark – you are simply a butterfly.
He said, “Sit down and meditate and find out the answer – who am I?” They looked at each other – how to meditate upon it, how to think about it? It is unthinkable, it is beyond the mind. His closest disciple, Lieh Tzu, had gone out to the nearest village. He returned; he saw the whole scene: Chuang Tzu in tears sitting on his bed, all the disciples with closed eyes, their minds completely stuck.
What can the mind say about it? The question is absurd. He asked one of the disciples who was near the door, “What is the matter? It seems to be really serious! I have never seen such seriousness here. And why is our master crying? Has somebody died or something?”
The disciple said, “He has created a new absurdity. Nobody has died and nothing has happened; he is torturing us and nothing else! Now we have to meditate upon it.” And he told him the problem. Lieh Tzu said, “Don’t be worried. You meditate; I am coming.”