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Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Li Po wrote poems that asked questions. A common theme was drinking alcohol, but, when I read his poetry, I wonder if it was alcohol or his intoxication with the world he lived in? What is real and not real sometimes blurs boundaries and we ask questions about what is real and not real. Who is the leader and who is not appears in Li Po’s poetry.

Herman Hesse blurred the lines between Leo as a leader and Leo as a servant in Journey to the East. Who serves who? What does it mean to lead and serve? There is a Taoist quality in those questions.

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

9 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  2. THIS, I understand is one of those classic paradoxes in philosophy. 🙂

  3. I found this very interesting. Iwonder sometimes the same. Are the poet/artist drunk or on drugs? I didn’t think to much about this until recently. And I don’t know why I stsarted to notice – maybe because I’m getting older ( soon 50) or maybe because I’ve pretty close seen what damage alcohol does to a persons mind and perception.

    I was about to post a video with Elvis for my mother in a post of mine. But looking around I caught myself looking for a video where he seemed to be sobver or not at any drugs. Because I find it so not worthy for the artist and the recipient – if the artist is on drugs.

    Now it occurs to me all the time when I watch music videos of som favourite bands – most of them are high on stage. I don’t know why I see it so clearly now. I don’t judge them. I just find it sad.

    The thougt of that our greatest poets have been writing the big works in a fog….I get shivers down my spine.

    Thank you for another great post!


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