After Zhuāngzǐ’s 庄子 (Master Zhuang) wife died, Huì​zi​ 惠子 (Master Hui), a close friend of Zhuāngzǐ came to visit.

As he approached Zhuāngzǐ’s house, he looked on in astonishment and consternation at the sight of his old friend, Zhuāng sitting on the ground, drumming on an old wash tub and singing.

Huì​​, perplexed at this seemingly undignified and inappropriate behaviour, admonished Zhuāng,

"Brother, what are you doing?

Your wife has only recently died!

Is this the way you honour her after all the years you were together?

Did you not marry in your youth?

Did you not raise a family together?

Did you not grow old together?

Did you not love her?

Certainly now that she is gone, do you not at least owe her the dignity of a suitable period of lamentation —

of mourning, fasting, and silence?

But instead, here I find you drumming and singing.

Really Zhuāng!

Have you gone mad?"

“Ah my dear old friend,” chortled Zhuāng,

Have no fear!

No.

I have not gone mad.

When she died, indeed for a time, I mourned just as any one else would.

But in contemplation of her death

I traced back the root of her Be-ing.

Not just this manifestation of Life.

Not just before she was born.

Not just before she took on a body —

but before that —

before she even manifested a soul.

From the womb of the Great Mystery

arose the creative impulse

to manifest a soul.

That soul entered into space and time

with the aspiration and intention

to incarnate on this planet —

to enter into this realm of physicality.

Thus she took on a body —

and

was

born.

Now another miraculous metamorphosis has occurred.

She has let go of the body —

and passed through the portal we call…

“death.”

The very same creative impulse

that inspired her

to what we call “birth”

has now inspired her

to what we call “death” —

a fundamental evolutionary process of change —

as natural and uninhibited

as the ebb and flow

of the times and seasons —

as natural and uninhibited

as spring turning to summer —

as autumn turning to winter.

When the time and season were right

she clothed herself in a body

and manifested in space and time.

Then when the time and season were right

she slipped out of the body —

just as a hand slips out of a glove —

and continued along the Way.

Simply.

Naturally.

Gracefully.

Peacefully.

Nothing missing.

Nothing broken.

The Way of Nature.

The Nature of the Way.

So yes, my friend —

for a time I grieved.

Indeed it is healthy and natural to do so.

But tell me, what good does it do

to dress all in black

and mope around all day

unkempt and unwashed

for months —

even years —

on end

(as some do)



melancholy and miserable —

wailing and pounding my chest



throwing dust into the air?



Does that not simply demonstrate

that I have forgotten

the Fundamental Nature of Reality



the Fundamental Nature

of

the

Way?

And is that not itself, brother…

utter

pathological

madness?

Not two.

/|\

— a literary adaptation of a parable from the Zhuāngzǐ 庄子, a collection of stories, parables and wisdom sayings attributed to 4th century BCE philosopher and teacher, Zhuāngzǐ 莊子 (Master Zhuang)