Su Shi Sample

Introduction: 400 word sample

Once upon a time, Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly happily flitting over the landscape. After a while, Zhuangzi woke up and knew he was himself – a man. He was confused as to if he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man, or had been a man who dreamed he was a butterfly. The distinction between being either a man or a butterfly is called the transformation of material things.

In Zhuangzi’s teaching, all external things are constantly transforming again and again – the Universe is Ever-Changing.


Afloat in reverie I’ve drifted towards the ever receding horizon seeking enlightenment since I first came face-to-face with Asian culture. One weekend when I was in high school my wonderful brother took my little sister, mom and me to Chicago. That short trip set a fire in my imagination which burns still. We visited the magnificent Art Institute. Standing in a darkened gallery within that Beaux-Arts style sanctuary I contemplated one painting in particular. A magical mountain floated atop curving empty space. At first glance, the blank spaces made the painting look strange and unfinished. But upon closer inspection it seemed the emptiness contained a hidden presence. A lone gnarled tree, clinging to the sheer soaring cliffs, reached into the blankness. The faint outline of what looked like a single narrow path was barely visible on the precipitous cliff-face. A lone scholar figure, dwarfed by the mountain, stood at the edge of the abyss. His robes billowed slightly, and his long hair flowed down his back. The scholar starred into the void just below the soaring mountain. Perhaps he scanned the skies for signs of an absent love or a path forward. Mentally stepping into the magnificent landscape blazed a path into my mind. I was entranced by the astonishing vertical perspective and bewildering depths of the artistic minds that created such astonishing works. My family wandered off. A profound calm surrounded me. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as a slight breeze flowed from the painting. My scalp tingled from the vibrations of potential, metaphysical illumination. The mystifying characters and wondrous red seals cascading down the scene conveyed unimaginable significance beyond my comprehension. Every element in the painting appeared to be under transformation – man, poem, mountain, wind, the Void… Swaying gently before the altar of art I began a metamorphosis which would take years to comprehend. Small wings began to beat within my soul. Just as it seemed I would take flight; my mom’s gentle touch interrupted my reverie. After the epiphanous moment subsided I began my journey towards transformation.

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