One summer morning Chuang Tzu's wife became very ill. The village doctors did all they could, but her illness moved too swiftly. Within a few days, her life had been taken from her.
Everyone mourned the loss of Chuang Tzu's wife. She had always been so kind and patient with visitors, especially the young students who would drop by, unannounced, hoping to have a word with the old Master.
Upon hearing news of the death, Chuang Tzu's old friend Huizi came to visit him and offer his condolences. The two men had attended school together as boys, matched wits often, and over time, had become close friends.
Huizi arrived at Chuang Tzu's home. There he saw his old friend, sitting outside, banging on a drum and singing as loudly as possible.
“I expected to find you in mourning”, said Huizi. “You loved her for decades. She raised your children, and you grew old together; but here you are, a smile on your face, banging on a drum and singing at the top of your lungs. Don't you think this is a bit much?”
“Not at all”, said Chuang Tzu, still smiling. “I mourned for a short while, but then I realized mourning would defy my own teachings.”
“People will think you never loved or cared for her” said Huizi, “You must grieve. People need to know how much she meant to you, how fortunate you were to have shared a life with her.”
“Yes, I was lucky” said Chaung Tzu. “I spent most of my life with someone I loved, and she loved me in return. Many men will live their entire lives and never know the joy that I had.”
Chuang Tzu continued, “That is why I do not mourn.”
Chuang Tzu doesn't have the heart to tell his friend the truth. The truth is, the old sage never mourned after his wife's death, not even for a moment. Instead, he celebrated their life together.
A new chapter now begins for him. His wife is not dead. How can anything die when it is still loved by the living? Her physical body has left our world, but everything else about her lives on in Chuang Tzu. He celebrates their lives together through his singing and drumming. He is fully aware that all living beings must leave this world at some point, but that is no reason to mourn.
Huizi, on the other hand, believes that if you don't suffer, it means you don't care. Chuang Tzu considers that to be nonsense, but Huizi is just repeating what he has been taught. He's concerned about the perception people will have of his old friend. Chuang Tzu, of course, couldn't care less.
When Chuang Tzu says, “Mourning would defy my own teachings”, he's talking about his teachings on reality. In the game of life, the sage knows that reality is undefeated.
He shared his life with someone he loved. He was happy then, and he is happy now.
Enjoy the ride.