Sometimes without expectations or searching we come across interesting events, incidents or books, that immediately impress us deep inside. Recently I got a book about a great Zen teacher, “Great Master of Wisdom.” Going through the lines of the book was like receiving a gem. I would like to share some of it with our readers as I feel this context is prevailing in our country, therefore, it could be relevant for these days.
In the life of Chuang Tzu comes one of the most beautiful incidents. One morning he was sitting in his bed – very sad, very serious…and sadness and seriousness were absolutely against his nature and philosophy. He was usually the most hilarious man and had written the most absurd stories with such great significance – illogical, irrational, but yet pointing to the truth.
As his disciples gathered around him, they worried. “It has never happened, he has never been sad. He is a man of laughter, and today he is looking so serious. Is he sick, or has something gone wrong?”
Finally one disciple asked, “What is the matter, Master?”
Chuang Tzu said very seriously, “The matter is almost beyond my comprehension, and I don’t think you will be in any way helpful to me, but still I will tell you. In the night I dreamt that I had become a butterfly.”
All the disciples laughed and said, “That is nothing to be serious about. It was only a dream, so you don’t have to be so worried. Now you are awake; the dream is finished.”
He said, “You first listen to the whole story. When I woke up this morning, a strange idea arose within my heart: If Chuang Tzu can become a butterfly in his dream, why cannot a butterfly become Chuang Tzu in her dream? There seems to be no logical reason why a butterfly cannot dream to be Chuang Tzu.”
Still the disciples said, “You don’t need to worry about butterflies! Let them dream whatever they want to dream, but why are you sad?”
Chuang Tzu said, “You still have not grasped the problem. The problem for me now is – who am I? Am I a butterfly dreaming to be Chuang Tzu? Because Chuang Tzu was able to dream of being a butterfly, how am I to feel satisfied that I am not just a butterfly dreaming myself to be a Chuang Tzu?”
The disciples became sad themselves, because it was really a problem that could not be solved. And it has remained unsolved for almost twenty-five centuries. Unfortunately I was not there as one of his disciples, because to me the basic criterion is: while you were a butterfly in your dream, did you have any problem? Was there any doubt? Now that you are awake, you can doubt – who knows, you may be a butterfly. This is the only distinction between the dream and reality: Reality allows you to doubt, but in the dream there is no doubt.
To me, the capacity to doubt and question is one of the greatest blessings to humanity. Politicians have been trying to create the process of dreaming in the population for most of the time. They do not want people to wake and doubt their words and there is a reason why they have been doing that: because they want people to believe in certain illusions that they have been preaching. So I sum-up “DREAMS CANNOT BE DOUBTED – REALITY CAN BE DOUBTED.”