How a Butcher’s Experience Prevented Him From Killing

There was a butcher who earned his livelihood by slaughtering cattle. (Image: Publicdomainpictures,  CC0 1.0)
There was a butcher who earned his livelihood by slaughtering cattle. (Image: Publicdomainpictures, CC0 1.0)

The following story is based on true accounts that happened more than 10 years ago.

There was a butcher who earned his livelihood by slaughtering cattle. It came that the butcher bought a cow and her calf and that he intended to kill the cow, so he honed his knife in the yard. He suddenly remembered something, which made him put down his knife and go into the house. When the butcher returned after a short while, intending to continue sharpening the knife, he noticed it was gone. Even after searching the entire yard, the butcher could not find it. The butcher was surprised since no one else really came to the yard. How did the knife disappear? He eventually left the yard and intuitively went toward the field where he finally found the knife, lying on the ground, not far from his home. “How did the knife end up here,” he thought to himself. The butcher was confused.

After retrieving the knife, and after giving it a good grind, he again went to the house to get something. When he returned, ready to slaughter the cow, he found that the knife had disappeared, again. This time, the butcher was even more curious. He rushed out in search of the knife and after some searching, found it in the field again.

Butcher's Chopping Block. (Image: Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

A butcher’s chopping block. (Image: Michael Coghlan via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Puzzled by this reoccurring incident the butcher became worried. “No one comes to the house. But how is it that the knife landed in the field when I didn’t put it there?” He decided to find out what was happening and put the knife on the same spot he had left it before. Then he hurried into the house and watched it through the window from inside the house. Only moments later, he witnessed a shocking scene. The butcher noticed that the little calf that was snuggled up next to the cow came over, picked up the knife with its mouth, and ran away with it quickly.

“The calf is trying to save its mother from being slaughtered,” he thought to himself. The butcher was touched by his realization and understood how the knife landed in the field. His heart was moved and with this knowledge, and he couldn’t bear to create such grief for the little calf. “Even a calf dreads the death of its mother.” The butcher’s heart suddenly filled with fear and he thought to himself. “This cow should not die. If I kill it, God may not spare me in a moment of despair, and my family would be in great trouble.”

Even though the butcher had slaughtered countless cattle over the past years, still, his heart was still moved by compassion. So the next day, he took the cow and her calf to the market, where he sold them to a family who would keep them both for milk and not meat. The butcher’s deed didn’t pass without being noticed. Soon after, many people spoke about what the butcher did.

His heart was moved and with this knowledge, he couldn’t bear to create such grief for the little calf. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

His heart was moved and with this knowledge, and he couldn’t bear to create such grief for the little calf. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Looking at life from a holistic point of view, everything in life is interconnected. If the butcher had slaughtered the cow, it might have caused hardships for him in the future. Buddhism and similar belief systems teach that everything has life and intelligence in its own innate way. Above it all, things seem to fall into place not by coincidence, but according to a divine arrangement from above, by the heavens. Simply said, the forces arranging it all are of supernatural origin. We take up the top place, giving us not just the privilege to reign supreme over nature and its animals and plant life, but to cherish all beings, as each one of them is precious.

Research by Yi Ming

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