Zangzi On Death

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Death is always a controversial topic which has been constantly discussed in different periods of time. Classics discussed in the course, which are believed to be a representation of the menses in which it was written, show how different scholars with different background and from different periods perceive the topic of “death”. This book review, generally discusses this topic from Chinese and Western’s perspectives, with the ideas from the Confucius’s Analects, Laozi and the Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The most substantial conflict between Chinese thoughts and Western thoughts is their degree of acceptance on discussing “death”. It is universally admitted that Chinese perceive “Death” as an unfortunate issue and not willing to talk about it. This
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It is universally acknowledged that Zhuangzi’s central idea is “Wu-Wei” which means doing nothing and shows acceptance of what is unavoidable in our lifespan, and evidently this is also applicable on his perception towards death. There is a strong awareness of the process of change in Daoism. Both nature and human beings are continuously undergoing transformations. Zhuangzi therefore seems to consider death as a natural process or transformation, which ones change to another phase of existence. A well-known story about the death of Zhuangzi’s wife is a case at point. When Zhuangzi’s wife died, Zhuangzi sit on the ground, sing, and ban on pots. He explained his unordinary action, “At the very beginning, she was not living, having no form, nor even substance. But somehow or other there was then her substance, then her form, and then her life. Now by a further change, she has died. The whole process is like the sequence of the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter.” This story shows that he perceives death as natural as progression of four seasons, which life and death are just phases of the cycle of…show more content…
When his father died, he is in a deep depression, in which he even considers suicide, wishing that his “too too solid flesh would melt”. However, what makes him different from Zhuangzi is that he has a fear of death at the same time. Apart from his fearfulness of spiritual awe because of suicide, he is always in a strange position of both wishing for death and fearing it intensely. In one of Hamlets most thought provoking reflections on death, he concludes that fear is what holds back people from committing suicide, and those who can kill themselves must no longer be afraid of death, and do so to escape the utter in life. It is obviously Hamlet’s uncertainty and fear about the afterlife that stops him from killing himself. The main source of Hamlet’s fear of death – frailty of human existence, perfectly illustrated in the graveyard scene when he saw the skill of Yorick, a man who was once his fathers’ jester and whom Hamlet was fond of. He witnesses the ultimate physical transition between life and death from this experience and hauntingly asking the lifeless bones ‘Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?” shows his fear of the absolute finality of death. What one does in life, even those as powerful as Julius Ceaser or Alexander the Great (Hamlet references

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