Dreams and flutters show way

City Talk | Feng Shui by Kerby Kuek 13 Sep 2016

To continue with our focus on Taoist pioneer Zhuangzi, here is a quote that illustrates his ruminations on life, dreaming, freedom and awakening.

"Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly.

"I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, myself again.

"Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man."

This story is short and simple, and yet it carries the most valuable philosophical lesson about life and the universe.

Let us be inspired by the essence of the story.

Regarding dreaming, this is simple to understand.

We are all dreaming, whether we like it or not.

As for cohesiveness and oneness, the fact that a man and a butterfly can be perceived as one is the most significant unification of living beings on earth. The rationale is to pinpoint that human beings are not invincible and do not have superiority over other living beings.

The cosmos is in itself an undivided whole, a single thing without division, of which we are a part.

The point about freedom illustrated by butterflies flying freely is another crucial message in this story.

Taoism advocates freedom and liberalization of our minds and bodies to achieve a higher state, and that stage is reached only when one can free a human from being attached to the material world.

Awakening and becoming fully awakened is the goal of Taoism. As in the state of wakefulness, our everyday consciousness resembles sleep, and everything we consider real in life turns out to have no more reality than a dream that fades into nothingness.

By now readers should know that such a story serves to remind us that we should come to our senses and live with purpose, and we should seek that purpose.

Kerby Kuek has published 15 books on feng shui, inner alchemy, Taoism and metaphysics. He can be contacted at


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