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Chuang Tzu ( 369 - 286 )  Category ( Religious_Leaders_Figures ) [suggest a correction]

Chuang Tzu, or Chuang Chou, was an ancient Chinese philosopher, poet and mystic. He is best known as a founder with Lao-Tzu, who lived two centuries earlier, of the important system known as Taoism.

Born in the Meng district of China in what is now known as the Honan Province, Chuang-tzu briefly held a minor local government spot. He soon lot all interest in fame and fortune and became a recluse. His teachings consisted mainly of the relativity of knowledge, equality of things, and absolute truth and freedom in the Tao. He presented his ideas through imagery, anecdote and parable, as well as the allegory and parody of the Chuang-tzu.

Written in poetic prose, several of the thirty-three chapters of this work are considered to be literary masterpieces. The characteristic humor, charm and detachment of this work are evident. For example, in the translation by James Legg, Chuang Tzu (1:13 - The psyche butterfly that is understood as something else):

'Formerly, I, Chuang Chou [Kwang Kau], dreamt that I was a butterfly, a butterfly flying about, feeling that it was enjoying itself I did not know that it was Chou. Suddenly I awoke, and was myself again, the veritable Chou. I did not know whether it had formerly been Chou dreaming that he was a butterfly, or it was now a butterfly dreaming that it was Chou. But between Chou and a butterfly there must be a difference. This is a case of what is called the Transformation of Things.'

From the translation above, it may become apparent to Zen enthusiasts that Chuang Tzu's philosophy was influential in the development of Chinese Buddhism, especially Chán (also known as Zen).

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