The Transformation of Things, a poem

Zhuangzi Dreaming of a Butterfly, Ming dynasty, mid-Sixteeth Century – ink on silk


A Man sleeping …
A Butterfly flitting… 
Zhuangzi, dreamer of Butterfly,
ponders what joy there might be
in that tiny Butterfly brain

so subtle

too subtle to be perceived by I or eye

Is he dreaming me? Zhuangzi asks.
Imagine the Universe thus engaged.

THUNDER

a Cosmic Belly Laugh 

Ho! Ho!

Then Zhuangzi knows: He is silent,
flitting from flower to flower in eternal spring.

coming and going, going and coming

This is called the Transformation of Things.

©2011, Jamie Dedes


Zhuangzi dreaming a butterlfy, a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterlfy; a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi

I love this allegory from The Book of Zhuangzi, one of the two greatest books of the Chinese mystical Tao. (The other book is the I Ching.) The allegory is about chi (qi), the energy of creation, which some might call God. 

Illustration credits: first illustration courtesy of Lu Zui and in the public domain/ second illustration courtesy of About Qigong.