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The Joy of Fishes


From: Joy of Fishes - translation by Thomas Merton 


Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu

Were crossing Hao river

By the dam.


Chuang said:

"See how free

The fishes leap and dart:

That is their happiness."


Hui replied:

"Since you are not a fish

How do you know

What makes fishes happy?"


Chuang said:

"Since you are not I

How can you possibly know

That I do not know

What makes fishes happy?"


Hui argued:

"If I, not being you,

Cannot know what you know

It follows that you

Not being a fish

Cannot know what they know."


Chuang said:

"Wait a minute!

Let us get back to the original question.

What you asked me was

'How do you know

What makes a fish happy?'

From the terms of your question

You evidently know I know

What makes fishes happy.


"I know the joy of fishes

In the river

Through my own joy, as I go walking

Along the same river."




Chuang Tzu (Zhuang Zhou), 4th Century BC Taoist writer/philosopher. Excerpted from The Way of Chuang Tzu, an anthology by Thomas Merton (ISBN 978-0-8112-1851-1)

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