There is No Enemy
Shi Song Shu having learned vegetable planting from his mysteriously intriguing human teacher, was in the garden tending to his corn stalks. The sun was directly overhead, signaling the appearance of mid-day. A breeze suddenly arose, and Song Shu stopped to bask in the brisk relief it brought from the pounding sun. A rustling noise caught his attention, and his ear twitched as it honed in on the direction of the sound. Being that there is a family of stray cats that roam around the neighborhood, Song Shu was quite sure he knew what the sound was, and he feigned obliviousness, continuing with his gardening. The cat closed in step by deliberate step. He got close enough to pounce, and as he leaped, Song Shu evaded his attack effortlessly. The cat continued to pursue, but his advances were futile as Song Shu seemed to dodge and float through the air as freely and evasively as rice paper caught in the wind. It was not long until the cat tired, and his advances were diminished to labored panting. Song Shu, seeing that the cat was unable to continue, approached him and drew his dried gourd of water and handed it to him. The cat initially stunned, not wanting to pass up a drink of water at this critical moment, grasped the gourd and tossed it back. Song Shu stood and smiled as he watched the cat take in this desperately needed water.
“Thank you,” the cat began, panting as the last drops of water dripped from the fur on his lower jaw, “may I ask why you saw it fit to give me a drink even after I just tried to eat you? I must say, it rather took me by surprise.”
“You needed water,” Song Shu replied in his even-toned voice.
“Well sure, but you could have died because of me,” the cat said, trying desperately to understand his former prey seemingly turned friend.
“Maybe, but I didn’t, and you still needed water,” replied Song Shu, still in his original even tone. The cat’s stomach grumbled. Song Shu continues, “I was just about to make something to eat. If you are hungry, I can make something for you also.”
“Well, I am hungry, but I don’t want to impose.” His stomach grumbled again.
“No imposition, I assure you it’s quite alright. Come.” Song Shu prepared two bowls of noodles for the two of them, and they sat together at the table at the base of Song Shu’s tree. Song Shu said nothing, but all the while, the cat was running thoughts around in his mind. He had clearly just tried to take this humble little squirrel’s life, but now he acted as if it never happened, and even made him a bowl of noodles to quell his hunger. Song Shu could sense the weight on the cats mind, and without looking up from his bowl of noodles, asked, “What’s troubling you, friend?”
“I’m just confused, I suppose. Most squirrels are afraid of us cats, and stay away. Likewise, we cats chase those squirrels and try to eat them, so naturally the squirrels would stay away. But you seem not to be scared, nor are you trying to flee. Instead you invited me to a bowl of your delicious noodles… Some would say that we are supposed to be enemies,” the cat explained. Shi Song Shu gave a soft chuckle at the cat’s last sentence, and lifted his chopsticks to his mouth, and sucked the noodles in with a quick slurp.
“There is only an enemy when your mind says there is an enemy. If one is not to be another’s enemy, he need only put down the idea for it to happen,” Song Shu replied, once again, in his tranquil tone. “You tried to eat me because you were hungry. Your mind saw a squirrel and equated me with food. When you could not catch me, I surmised that you were still hungry, thus, I offered to make you some food so you could fill your stomach.” Shi Song Shu took another slurp of noodles, then continued, “I have no wish to be enemies with you, so why would I act in a manner that enemies do?”
The cat was puzzled, for he did not know how to respond to Song Shu’s answer, and it completely took him by surprise. He had never thought of this type of situation in such a manner before. He had no words. Song Shu gently took notice of the cat’s silence.
“Ah ha!” Song Shu exclaimed, chuckling blissfully, “there you are! An honor to make your acquaintance, my friend,” bowing his head slightly, eyes seemingly shut. The cat was perplexed, yet also intrigued by this most peculiar squirrel. He replied, in soft acknowledgement, nodding his head in return, “An honor.”
“Some tea?” asked Song Shu, offering his special brew of pine tea.
“Yes, please,” replied the cat, humbly.