Do we dream our life, or we live in our dreams?

"Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly"

Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi.

Zhuangzi, who is out of China known as Master Chuang, is a famous Chinese ancient philosopher who influenced development of Chinese Buddhism, known as Zen.

Do we dream our life, or do we live in our dreams?
Your thoughts?

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  • I find this question intriguing, and after consideration, my life experience tells me is is some of both; that is, we indeed do dream our life and live in our dreams.  As a newcomer to the study of Jungian influenced depth psychology and a new member of this group, I share a butterfly dream from last night.  Would welcome any thoughts from those of you more knowledgeable than I in Jungian interpretation. 

    It was around 5:30 am when my eyes opened and my body became conscious of feeling itself against the sheets, the pillow; all damp from the symptoms of change.  I lay without moving to try and remember the dreams that I knew had been part of the night…nothing would come at first; a blank page in my mind’s eye…how wonderful, actually, a moment of nothingness.  Then I was seemingly filled up with a vision of viceroy butterflies; hundreds of them in various stages of emerging from the chrysalis phase of their life cycle.  Some were so new they were barely moving, discovering themselves slowly, rich colors, moist and glistening…had they any idea the depth of their beauty?  Many were beginning their first flight, timidly exploring their newfound skills; others seemed slightly older and were flying confidently, yet staying close together; circling, spiraling, seeming to communicate with each other as they were navigating a new environment.   I was alone at first and then other people (two or three) came into the space which was a large porch with a white, tent- like canopy for a ceiling.  I was enthralled with the butterflies, sort of dancing across the porch, saying look, look, the butterflies…they are viceroys, not monarchs.  The others didn’t seem too interested, though I did not care, I was in heaven and grateful for my good fortune. 

    There was more to this dream, but I could not call it up.  Perhaps this is all I chose to remember…I don’t know, but it is enough for now. 

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