Philosophy in Persona 1

If you’ve played the beginning of Persona 1, you should be at least somewhat familiar with the seemingly out-of-context quote that shows up right at the beginning. It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently, and I really appreciate the message behind it. At least, what I think the message is.

To provide context, the quote, which was said by a Chinese philosopher named Zhuangzi, goes something like this: “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly. At the time, I was only conscious of my happiness of a butterfly. Soon, I awoke, and was myself again. However, I wondered, was I dreaming I was a butterfly? Or am I now a butterfly dreaming I’m a man? However, there is a clear distinction between the two, and that is the transformation of the physical.”

I may have butchered the quote itself, but that is more or less what the quote is. You get the general idea. Every time I think about this quote, it makes me rather happy, strangely enough. I think it’s because of what I took away from the quote, particularly the last part. The fact that the distinction between the two is the transformation of the physical. To me, this indicates that regardless of you being a butterfly or a human, you are still yourself on the inside, which I feel is quite fitting for a Persona game. Aside from that, the other thing I took away from that is the fact that he felt his happiness as a butterfly. My interpretation of this is that it’s very well possible to feel the same happiness as humans that we would simply fluttering around like butterflies. It’s a good mindset to have. We as humans are so bogged down by the world around us, by the minuscule problems that snowball into much larger problems that cause us to crash and burn that we simply forget happiness, or actively choose not to be happy because we’re afraid that feeling happy will backfire on us. However, something important to remember is that bad things will always happen. But if you’re spending all your time being grouchy and upset simply in preparation for these bad things to happen, you’re gonna miss all the good times that come along.

To me, this quote sort of indicates that. We as human beings can be as happy as we would be fluttering as free butterflies. It simply takes putting ourselves in that mindset, I feel. I know it’s not that simple, but it’s certainly something I’d like to put into practice myself to see if I can find more personal happiness within.