When a friend sent us this image of Greta Oto, a wondrous butterfly with transparent wings, we thought immediately of “The Butterfly Dream” from an ancient Chinese text written by the Daoist sage Chuang-Tzu:

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

Here’s a beautiful 2 1/2- minute clip of some traditional Japanese Paper Magic whose theme is…the transformation of butterflies and thus the transformation of all living things. (We like it with the sound off. Video link here.)


Watch the entire 8-minute video of Japanese Traditional Paper Magic here.

*From Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, translated by the great Burton Watson. Video via David Saltman at The HoudiniFile.

With thanks to Chris Eldredge!

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2 replies on “Butterfly Dreaming

  1. This is the reason I subscribe and everyone else should. A moment of pure beauty and peace in an otherwise stressful and busy world. Thank you, Sally!

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