Zhuangzi glossary


cicada and the student-dove

蜩 tiáo, "cicadas," and 鳩 jiū, "doves" appear elsewhere in Zhuangzi and don't seem to have any particular symbolic significance. What is strange here is the description of it a xué, a "student dove." It may simply imply that the dove is small. But it draws attention to the fact that the character 蜩 tiáo contains the elemen zhōu, the name of thZhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC), the object of study by the Confucians. So the cicada and the dove may simply be narrow-minded creatures that measure everything by the yardstick of their own experience, or they may also represent students of the past who think only of what has been, not what could be. They reappear together in 8:07.