Portrait of Chinese Daoist Zhuangzi.


(c. 369 BC - 286 BC)

Along with Laozi and Liezi, Zhuangzi is considered one of the three founders of Daoism. He once wrote, “Birth cannot be avoided, nor death be prevented. How ridiculous! To see the people of this generation who believe that simply caring for the body will preserve life…Why does the world continue to do this? It may be worthless, but nevertheless…we are unable to avoid it.” About his own death, Zhuangzi requested that his body be left to nature, prompting his disciples to caution that birds might pick at him; he replied, “Above the ground it’s the crows and the kites who will eat me; below the ground it’s the worms and the ants. What prejudice is this, that you wish to take from the one to give to the other?” He is also said to have influenced Chinese Buddhism and landscape painting.

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Chinese Taoist philosophers Zhuangzi and Hui Shi took a walk on a bridge over the Hao River in the fourth century bc. “The minnows swim about so freely,” said Zhuangzi; “such is the happiness of fish.” Hui Shi responded, “You are not a fish, so whence do you know the happiness of fish?” “You are not I,” Zhuangzi replied, “so whence do you know I don’t know the happiness of fish?”

Good fortune is light as a feather, but nobody knows how to hold it up. Misfortune is heavy as the earth, but nobody knows how to stay out of its way.

—Zhuangzi, c. 300 BC

Rewards and punishment are the lowest form of education.

—Zhuangzi, c. 286 BC

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I look for the end of the future, but it never ceases to arrive. 

—Zhuangzi, c. 325 BC

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