Transformation of Things

This is a form of the existence of things when the boundary between things is broken and one thing transforms into another. The term “transformation of things” comes from Zhuangzi, who illustrated the concept in the fable Zhuangzi Dreamed of Becoming a Butterfly. He believed that the boundary and difference between oneself and others, between in a dream and being awake, and between all things can be broken. Consequently, one may achieve the transformation between one thing and another. However, if one holds onto the difference between oneself and the others, one cannot achieve the transformation of things, as if in a dream. If one is bent on transforming things, one may still fall into a dream.


Once I, Zhuang Zhou, dreamed that I became a flying butterfly, happy with myself and doing as I pleased. I forgot that I was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly I woke up and I was Zhuang Zhou again. I did not know whether Zhuang Zhou had been dreaming that he was a butterfly, or whether a butterfly had been dreaming that it was Zhuang Zhou. There must be a difference between the two, which is what I call “transformation of things.”