Osho on Chuang Tzu Butterfly dream

Question : Beloved Master, If Zen is the path and you are the gate, then who lives in the house?

Osho : Prem Michael, Zen is the path and I am the gate and you live in the house. You have completely forgotten – that’s what makes the possibility of making a path, to remind you. The path is only a reminder. You have completely forgotten that you are in the house. You think you are out of the house; hence a gate is needed to bring you in.

I have told you the beautiful story of Chuang Tzu… One early morning he is sitting in his bed, covered with his blanket, very sad. His disciples have never seen him looking sad. They are worried – is he sick, ill or something? They enquire.

Chuang Tzu said, ”It is much more difficult than you think. Last night I dreamt that I had become a butterfly.” The students, the disciples started laughing. They said, ”That is not much of a problem. Everybody thinks many things in his dreams.”

Chuang Tzu said, ”I don’t know about everybody, I know only this much: it has created in me a very existential question. If Chuang Tzu can dream that he has become a butterfly, why can a butterfly not go to sleep and dream that she has become a Chuang Tzu? Now the problem is whether I am the butterfly who is dreaming she is Chuang Tzu or I am really Chuang Tzu.”

The disciples were at a loss how to figure out the problem. And then came Lieh Tzu, who had gone to another village for some work. He heard the situation: ”Chuang Tzu is still sitting in his bed. He does not want to get up until the problem is solved. And we are all trying to solve it but there seems to be no solution. It seems to be perfectly right, that if Chuang Tzu can dream he is a butterfly then why can the butterfly not dream she is Chuang Tzu? Now we are also puzzled.”

Lieh Tzu said, ”Wait, I will solve the problem.” He went to the water well, pulled up a bucket of ice-cold water, went in and poured it over the head of Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu laughed, and he said, ”You came at the right time; otherwise, the whole day I would have been sitting here, sad. You solved the problem.”

Lieh Tzu said, ”Do you need another bucket?” He said, ”No! The water is so cold. I am Chuang Tzu, because if I was a butterfly your bucket of ice-cold water would have killed me.”

Your question is beautiful. ”If Zen is the path and you are the gate, then who lives in the house?” You live in the house, but you have forgotten. And to remind you, a path has to be created; to remind you, a gate has to be created. To remind you, you have to be taken on the path and given help to enter the house, which in fact you have never left.

Just an imaginary game – getting out on the path, doing great disciplines, meditations, the master… Finally the gate comes and you say, ”Aha! I have arrived.” And this is the house which you have never left.

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