True Friends

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A long time ago in China there were two friends, one who played the harp skillfully and one who listened skillfully.

When the one played or sang about a mountain, the other would say: 'I can see the mountain before us.'

When the one played about water, the listener would exclaim: 'Here is the running stream!'

But the listener fell sick and died. The first friend cut the strings of his harp and never played again.

Since that time the cutting of harp strings has always been a sign of intimate friendship.

Transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps