He said to Shih-kung: “In that case you really don’t know how to shoot.”
The hunter then asked Ma Tzu, “Does your reverence know how to shoot?”
Ma Tzu replied, “Of course I do.”
“How many can you kill with one arrow?” the hunter asked.
“I can kill a whole flock with a single arrow,” answered the master.
At this, Shih-kung said…
Now you see the climate changing – he has forgotten about the deer and the hunting.
At this, Shih-kung said, “The beasts have life as you do…”
Killing the whole flock, it is so life-negative – and for a master like you..
“Why should you shoot down a whole flock?”
Ma Tzu said, “Since you know this so well, why don’t you shoot yourself?”
Searching for deer to shoot…the deer has life, you have life – why go just so far, why not shoot yourself? You are intelligent enough to understand that the whole flock should not be shot. But if you understand that much – that the whole flock should not be shot – why should one deer be shot? The principle is the same: don’t destroy life. And if you are intent on destroying life…
“Since you know this so well,” said Ma Tzu, “why don’t you shoot yourself?”
What does it matter whose life is lost – whether it is a deer’s life or your life?
“Even if I wanted to shoot myself, I would not know how to manage it.”
Shooting oneself is almost impossible with an arrow. With a gun, that is a different matter: you can just put it to the side of your head, and you are gone! But for an arrow, space is needed; you cannot manage to shoot yourself with an arrow, it is almost an impossibility.
At this point, Ma Tzu remarked,
“This fellow has accumulated klesha from ignorance for numberless aeons.”