Chuang Tzu one day saw an empty skull, bleached, but still preserving its shape. Striking it with his riding whip, he said, 'Wert thou once some ambitious citizen whose inordinate yearnings brought him to this pass? some statesman who plunged his country in ruin and perished in the fray? some wretch who left behind him a legacy of shame? some beggar who died in the pangs of hunger and cold? Or didst thou reach this state by the natural course of old age?'
When he had finished speaking, he took the skull, and placing it under his head as a pillow, went to sleep. In the night, he dreamt that the skull appeared to him and said, 'You speak well, Sir; but all you say has reference to the life of mortals, and to mortal troubles. In death there are none of these. Would you like to hear about death?'
Chuang Tzu having replied in the affirmation, the skull began: 'In death, there is no sovereign above, and no subject below. The workings of the four seasons are unknown. Our existences are bounded only by eternity. The happiness of a king among men cannot exceed that which we enjoy.'
Chuang Tzu, however, was not convinced, and said, 'Were I to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife, and to the friends of your youth, would you be willing?'
At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and said, 'How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of mortality?'I actually do that kind of thing...