A woodsman from Zheng saw a deer in the field, shot
and killed it. Afraid he would be caught, he hid the deer and
covered it with banana leaves. He was pleased with himself.
Rightaway he forgot the hiding place, and thought that the whole episode was a dream! On his way home, he kept telling himself that it was only a dream. As he mumbled to himself about his dream, he was overheard by a passerby.
The passerby thought about what he had heard and figured out
where the deer was hidden. He found the deer and
took it home.
He told his roommate, "The woodsman dreamt he killed
the deer and forgot where he hid it. I now found the
deer; so his dream must be true."
The man replied," I now have the deer. It doesn't matter whether his dream or my dream is true."
The woodman went home, and was depressed about his lost deer. That night he had a dream. He dreamt about the passerby who had heard of him talking to himself and then found the hidden deer. Next morning, following his dream, he found the passerby and the deer. So he took him to the Magistrate and sued for the recovery of the deer.
The Magistrate said,
The case was appealed to King Zheng, who jokingly remarked, "Jeez, next thing I will be told that the Magistrate had dreamt about dividing the deer." and sent the case to his Chief Adviser for an opinion.
The Adviser reported, "Sir, whether this case is about dreams or reality I cannot tell. Only (really wise men like) Huang Di or Confucius can differentiate dreams and realities. Since they are both dead, I recommend that we leave the Magistrate's decision be."