One neighbor of Yang Zi, a famous scholar, lost a sheep. He asked all his relatives and friends and Yang Zi’s servant for help.
His neighbor said, “Because there are a lot of branch road.”
“No,” they answered, “Each road has branch roads and each branch has its forked roads. We just do not know which road to follow. So we give up.”
On hearing this, Yang Zi became silent. His student did not understand what the teacher was thinking about. He passed the question to Xin Du Zi, a friend of Yang Zi. Xin Du Zi replied,
“Your tutor is worrying about your study. What have happened reminds him of the difficulty of learning and researching. He thinks that if you fail to find the right orientation and method of study, you can accomplish nothing, just like those people trying to find the lost sheep.”
The idiom is used to show that when confronted with so many choices and complicated things, one who seeks truth is likely to get loss or go astray without a correct method.