You are the butterfly
And I the dreaming heart
Of Chuang-tzu.

— Basho

This haiku from Basho is a reference the writing of Chuang-tzu:

Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang-chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.

Chuang-tzu was a Taoist teacher and writer who lived in the fourth century BC.

Basho was a Zen master and writer of haiku poetry. He wrote:

You’re the butterfly, and I the dreaming heart of Chuang-tzu. I don’t know if I’m Basho who dreamed with the heart-mind of Chuang-tzu that I was a butterfly named Doi, or that winged Mr Doi dreaming he is Basho.

Doi was a friend of Basho who had given him a writing brush.

Taken from A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken.

For my lovely friend Sian who drew this haiku to my attention.

Also see

Four haiku by Basho

Leaves falling


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One Response to “Dreams”

  1. danceswithcrayons Says:

    This is beautiful and I have goosebumps : ) Thank you Keith!

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