Chuang Tzu said, "Last night I dreamed that I had become a butterfly, flying in the garden, moving from one flower to another flower."
The disciples laughed. They said, "This is a dream, Master! "
Chuang Tzu said, "Wait, let me tell you the whole story. Now I am awake and I am puzzled. A doubt has arisen. If Chuang Tzu can dream that he can become a butterfly, why not the otherwise? A butterfly could dream that she had become a Chuang Tzu. Now who is who? Am I a butterfly dreaming that I have become a Chuang Tzu?"
Because if it can happen that you can become a butterfly in a dream, then what is the problem? A butterfly sleeping there this morning, resting, may be dreaming that she is you. And how do you know who you are? If Chuang Tzu can become a butterfly, why can't a butterfly become a Chuang Tzu? There seems to be no impossibility about it.
Night dreams come out of nothingness and they look real; in the day, dreams come out of nothingness and they look real. The only difference between the night and the day is: the night dream is private and the day dream is public. That is the only difference. In the night dream you cannot invite your friends to be there -- it is private. In the day dream you can invite friends -- it is public. The house in which you live in the day is public. If there is a possibility of private dreaming there is a possibility of public dreaming. We are here. If we all go to sleep there will be as many dreams as there are people here: private. Nobody's dream will enter into anybody else's dream. They will not clash with anybody, and everybody will forget about everybody else; he will live in his dream and in his own dream-reality. Then you are awake. You look at me and I am talking to you. This is a public dream, you are all dreaming together. That is the only difference.
There is a possibility of a greater awakening -- when you awake out of the public dream also. That is what enlightenment is. Then suddenly the whole world is maya.
A child was born in Chuang-Tzu's house. Chuang-Tzu was a disciple of Lao Tzu. When people came to congratulate him on the birth of his son, they found him sitting on the doorstep, beating his chest and wailing loudly. When they asked him the reason he said, "My guru has taught me to be cautious at the first step. I have seen death in birth. Therefore, I cry."
Then, when his wife died some years later, the king came to pay condolences to him. He found him sitting under a tree, singing a song. The king was shocked. "What is this you are doing, Chuang-Tzu? It is all right if you do not feel sorrow, but this is no occasion to sing and make merry!"
Chuang-Tzu replied, "At one time I saw death in birth. This time, I have witnessed birth in death."
If we begin to see this sutra in the multitudinous facets of life, we will gradually come to find that much has dropped away from us, without any effort on our part. We have done nothing to rid ourselves of the non-essentials, and yet they have fallen off. And one day, suddenly, the person realises that he is no longer in the race. He discovers, as if by chance, that the ego within him that existed on the support of others has fallen and disintegrated. No sooner is the ego annihilated than he begins to experience that which is authentic existence, one's very Self (atman).