I decided to round out my last semester of college with an Asian Philosophy course, which has turned out to be a pretty good pick as far as containing actual interesting, thought provoking course material. In particular I've been interested in Daoism and the Daodejing. However, today we had a discussion about the eponymous Zhuangzi - a follow-up work to the Daodejing.
In the Zhuangzi, there is a passage about Zhuangzi mourning the death of his wife -
"Zhuangzi's wife died. When Huizi went to convey his condolences, he found Zhuangzi sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. 'You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,' said Huizi. 'It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singing – this is going too far, isn't it?'
Zhuangzi said, 'You're wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn't grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there's been another change and she's dead. It's just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.
Now she's going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don't understand anything about fate. So I stopped.'" (Zhuanghzi, chapter 18)
Interesting to look at a change as severe as death from another point of view, focused on fate and inevitability, and to free oneself of suffering as a result of the change, by opening up to new perspectives. I'm not a huge fan of Zhuangzi - I find his logic deplorable and his skepticism incredibly tedious - but he makes some fair points. There's a lot to be said of taking a moment to stop and consider different points of view.