Zhouzi was walking in the forest when he came upon a shaman seemingly in a trance within a circle of stones. Thinking he remained unseen, Zhouzi turned to find another path, but the shaman called out to him saying, "Turn not away, Zhouzi, for I have long wished to meet you." Thereupon Zhouzi returned and presented himself before him.
"The villagers fear me for my power," said the shaman, "and they ignore you for your lack. But what think you, Master, are we not really just the same?"
"We are the same together with the villagers", replied Zhouzi. "Here in the forest one may meet a tiger and die or a squirrel and laugh, but tigers and squirrels, dying and laughing, do they not all have that in common of which the unity of the forest is but an echo?"
"It is just as you say," replied the shaman. "Yet I have chosen to be the tiger; have you then chosen the squirrel?"
"I have not chosen, and thus perhaps I am them all," answered Zhouzi. "And not having chosen, can I not thus honor them all? Tell me then, what has the 'tiger' to teach me here today?"
"That you are no squirrel, but a wily fox who wends his way through the woods as a lord unscathed, though it be alive with danger. Even the tiger knows it would be tiresome folly to give you chase. What then has the fox to teach the tiger this day?"
"That you are no tiger at all, but the forest itself; and though the villagers fear even that, your gift to them would be to dispel their fears that they might join you therein."
"Does the tiger or forest care for the fears of the village?" replied the shaman.
Even at that moment the thump of a woodcutter's axe met their ears, and the shaman exclaimed, "The forest rebukes me! Master, you need say no more! We harm what we fear, but honor what we love; I will speak for the forest lest the villagers lop off their own limbs!"
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