April 20, 2015

The Natural Cycle



Tonight, a classic story. When the wife of Chuang Tzu died, his friend Hui Tzu came to offer his condolences and he was surprised to find Chuang Tzu sitting down, drumming on a potter pan and singing. Hui Tzu said, “You lived with her, raised children with her, and grew old together. Even weeping is not enough, but now you are drumming and singing. Is it a bit too much?” Chuang Tzu said, “That is not how it is. When she just died, how could I not feel grief? But I looked deeply into it and saw that she was lifeless before she was born. She was also formless and there was not any energy. Somewhere in the vast imperceptible universe there was a change, an infusion of energy, and then she was born into form, and into life. Now the form has changed again, and she is dead. Such death and life are like the natural cycle of the four seasons. My dead wife is now resting between heaven and earth. If I wail at the top of my voice to express my grief, it would certainly show a failure to understand what is fated. Therefore I stopped.”  

Chuang Tzu makes it clear that death in our society makes us sad but does not need to stop us from moving on with our life. Excessive and formularized expression of grief at the death of our fellow man is a sign of our civilization. Chuang Tzu held himself back from the local custom, the human culture.

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