Confucius was hiking in the hills with Zilu. Feeling thirsty, he told Zilu to fetch some water from a brook nearby. Zilu came upon a tiger on his way. He fought fiercely with the tiger and managed to kill it by grabbing its tail. He cut the tail and brought it back, eager to show Confucius his trophy.
But first he asked: “Master, how does a superior man kill a tiger?”
“He kills a tiger by aiming at its head,” Confucius replied.
“How does an average man kill a tiger?”
“He kills a tiger by getting at its ears.”
“How does a lower man kill a tiger?”
“He kills a tiger by grabbing its tail.”
Zilu threw away the tiger’s tail, ashamed. Soon his shame turned into anger. He was so upset that he picked up a big stone and intended to smash the master’s head with it.
“How does a superior man kill a man?” he asked Confucius before taking action.
“He kills a man with his pen.”
“How does an average man kill a man?”
“He kills a man with his tongue.”
“How does a lower man kill a man?”
“He kills a man with a stone.”
Zilu turned around sheepishly and tossed away the stone.