One day the Buddha was sitting with a group of monks in the woods near the city of Sravasti. They had just finished a mindful lunch and were engaged in a small Dharma discussion. Suddenly a farmer came by. He was visibly upset and shouted, "Monks! Have you seen my cows?"As quoted by Thich Nhat Hanh, in Essential Writings, 2001, pp. 86-87
The Buddha said, "No, we have not seen any cows."
"You know, monks," the man said, "I am the most miserable person on Earth. For some reason, my twelve cows all ran away this morning. I have only two acres of sesame seed plants and this year the insects ate them all. I think I am going to kill myself." The farmer was really suffering.
Out of compasision, the Buddha said, "No, sir, we have not seen your cows. Maybe you should look for them elsewhere."
When the farmer was gone, the Buddha turned to his monks, looked at them deeply, smiled, and said, "Dear friends, do you know that you are the happiest people on Earth? You don't have any cows to lose."
So, my friends, if you have any cows, look deeply into the nature of your cows to see whether they have been bringing you happiness or suffering. You should learn the art of releasing your cows. The key thing is to let go and free yourself.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Not My Cows
Not My Cows, Amherst, NH, July 2003, Sony Cybershot, Exposure 1/80 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, no flash, © Steven Crisp