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Lao Tzu Once Dreamed…?

Lao Tzu once dreamed he was a butterfly. When he awoke, he did not know whether or not he was a man who dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
My question is how do you know what you think you are is what you really are?


  1. I know what I am, analyzing the motive I have in that moment.
    If I want to look for the flower when I want to eat, then I am a butterfly.

  2. if your happy, it doesn’t matter where life takes you, because you’re just along for the ride anyway, right?

  3. We only have 5 major senses with which to determine ‘what we are’.
    What we REALLY are may be entirely outside of those senses.
    So the most logical answer would be, “I don’t know”
    But you use what you have.

  4. Hi Ethan,
    Your question touches on the notion of what is β€œreality”? We tend to view reality as an objective, unchanging entity, not open to interpretation, but the truth is much different. My view of reality and your view might be quite different. The reason is we each bring to the table a unique set of experiences and preconceptions that unintentionally filter what we consider objective reality. Most people falsely assume that they are in touch with reality in its true form, what they don’t realize is that the very process of interpreting reality alters it in some way.
    An example of this is the story of the blind men and the elephant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Men_and_an_Elephant
    In the story a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it’s like. Each man describes a completely different creature, as one touches the tail, another touches the trunk, another touches the ears, etc. Each touches only one body part. “They then compare notes on what they felt, and learn they are in complete disagreement. The story is used to indicate that reality may be viewed differently depending upon one’s perspective, showing how absolute truths may be relative”, and how deceptive our view of “reality” can be.
    Each person paints their picture of reality with a brush dipped in the pigments of the past.
    – Jerry Andrus (Skeptical Inquirer, March/April ’95, p.7)
    Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
    – Arthur Schopenhauer
    “All the time we are aware of millions of things around us–these changing shapes, these burning hills, the sound of the engine, the feel of the throttle, each rock and weed and fence post and piece of debris beside the road–aware of these things but not really conscious of them unless there is something unusual or unless they reflect something we are predisposed to see. We could not possibly be conscious of these things and remember all of them because our mind would be so full of useless details we would be unable to think. From all this awareness we must select, and what we select and call consciousness is never the same as the awareness because the process of selection mutates it. We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”
    – Robert Pirsig, (Zen & Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance; p.69)
    We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are
    – Old Talmudic saying
    There are too many ideas and things and people. Too many directions to go. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size.
    – The movie: β€œAdaptations”
    The effectiveness of our memory banks is determined not by the total number of facts we take in, but the number we wish to reject.
    – Jon Wynne-Tyson
    I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.
    – Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
    The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble across a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it representative of a whole class.
    – Walter Lippman, (1929)
    The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
    – William James
    β€œI wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it and yet we didn’t see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. . . It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, β€˜Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling. I think what needs to be done is that we need to be trained to look for quality inside each of us, instead of looking towards society to decide what is good in our lives and what is not. Until this happens, we shall never know happiness.
    – Robert Pirsig (Zen & Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, p. 5.)
    Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices β€” just recognize them.
    – Edward R Murrow
    A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
    – Albert Einstein
    We must train ourselves not to see the world only through our own eyes.
    – Michael Levine
    Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
    – Albert Einstein
    Enlightenment is illusion-free reality.
    – Buddha, [Siddhartha Gautama] (?563-?483 B.C.E.)
    If you still want to learn more about “reality” visit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality


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