List of Chinese Quotations - Z - Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi (pinyin), Chuang Tzŭ (Wade-Giles), Chuang Tsu, Zhuang Tze, or Chuang Tse (Traditional Chinese characters: 莊子; Simplified Chinese characters: 庄子, literally meaning "Master Zhuang") was a famous philosopher in ancient China who lived around the 4th century BCE during the Warring States Period, corresponding to the Hundred Schools of Thought philosophical summit of Chinese thought. Another well-known part of the book, which is also found in Chapter 2, is usually called "Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly".

莊周夢蝶
Zhuāng Zhōu mèng dié
"Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly"
(昔者庄周梦为胡蝶,栩栩然胡蝶也。自喻适志与!不知周也。俄然觉,则蘧蘧然周也。不知周之梦为胡蝶与?胡蝶之梦为周与?周与胡蝶则必有分矣。此之谓物化。
“Once Zhuang Zhou 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 Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn't know if he was Zhuang Zhou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zhou. Between Zhuang Zhou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.”
Translated by Burton Watson 1968. The name of the passage has become a common Chinese idiom, and has spread into Western languages as well. It appears, inter alia, as an illustration in Jorge Luis Borges' famous essay "A New Refutation of Time", and may have inspired H. P. Lovecraft's 1918 short story "Polaris".)

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