Author Topic: Animal Bodhisatvas  (Read 1765 times)

Offline Lobster

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Animal Bodhisatvas
« on: January 07, 2013, 06:57:17 am »
Animals are our friends. Some are our teachers. Here are two contemporary events:

The cow that cried told by Ajahn Brahm
I arrived early to lead my meditation class in a low-security prison. A crim who I had never seen before was waiting to speak with me. He was a giant of a man with bushy hair and beard and tattooed arms; the scars on his face told me he'd been in many violent fight. He looked so fearsome that I wondered why he was coming to learn meditation. He wasn't the type. I was wrong of course.

He told me that something had happened a few days before that has spooked the hell out of him. As he started speaking, I picked up his thick Ulster accent. To give me some background, he told me that he had grown up in the violent street of Belfast. His first stabbing was when he was seven years old. The school bully had demanded the money he had for his lunch. He said no. The older boy took out a long knife and asked for the money a second time, he just plunged the knife into the seven-year-old's arm, drew it out and walked away.

He told me that he ran in shock from the schoolyard, with blood streaming down his arm, to his father's house close by. His unemployed father took one look at the wound and led his son into their kitchen, but not to dress the wound. The father opened a drawer, took out a big kitchen knife, gave it to his son, and ordered him to go back to school and stab the boy back.

That was how he had been brought up. If he hadn't grown so big and strong, he would have been long dead.

The jail was a prison farm where short-term prisoners, or long-term prisoners close to release, could be prepared for life outside, some by learning a trade in the farming industry. Furthermore, the produce from the prison farm would supply all the prisons around Perth with inexpensive food, thus keeping down costs. Australian farms grow cows, sheep, and pigs, not just wheat and vegetables; so did the prison farm. But unlike other farms, the prison farm had its own slaughterhouse, on-site.

Every prisoner had to have a job in the prison farm. I was informed by many of the inmates that the most sought-after jobs were in the slaughterhouse. These jobs were especially popular with violent offenders. And the most sought-after job of all, which you had to fight for, was the job of the slaughterer himself. That giant and fearsome Irishman was the slaughterer.

He described the slaughterhouse to me. Super-strong stainless steel railings, wide at the opening, narrowed down to a single channel inside the building, just wide enough for one animal to pass through at a time. Next to the narrow channel, raised on a platform, he would stand with the electric gun. Cows, pigs or sheep would be forced into the stainless steel funnel using dogs and cattle prod. He said they would always scream, each in its own way, and try to escape. They could smell death, hear death, feel death. When an animal was alongside his platform, it would be writhing and wriggling and moaning in full voice. Even though his gun could kill a large bull with a single a high-voltage charge, the animal would never stand still long enough for him to aim properly. So it was one shot to stun, next shot to kill. One shot to stun, next shot to kill. Animal after animal. Day after day.

The Irishman started to become excited as he moved to the occurrence, only a few days before, that has unsettled him so much. He started to swear. In what followed, he keep repeating, "This is God's truth!" He was afraid I wouldn't believe him.

That day they needed beef for the prisons around Perth. They were slaughtering cows. One shot to stun, next shot to kill. He was well into a normal day's killing when a cow came up like he had never seen before. This cow was silent. There wasn't even whimper. Its hear was down as it walked purposely, voluntarily, slowly into position next to the platform. IT did not writhe or wriggle or try to escape.

Once in position, the cow lifted her head and started at her executioner, absolutely still.

The Irishman hadn't seen anything even close to this before. His mind went numb with confusion. He couldn't lift his gun; nor could he take his eyes away from the eyes of the cow. The cow was looking right inside him.

He slipped into timeless spaces. He couldn't tell me how long it took. But as the cow help him in eye contact, he notices something that shook him even more. Cows have very big eyes. He saw in the left eye of the cow. Above the lower eyelid, water begin to gather. The amount of water grew and grew, until it was too much for the eyelid to hold. It began to trickle slowly all the way down her cheek, forming a glistening line of tears. As he looked in disbelief, he saw in the right eye of the cow, above the lower eyelid, more water gathering, growing by the moment, until it too, was more than eyelid could contain. A second stream of water trickled slowly down her face. And the man broke down.

The cow was crying.

He told me that he threw down his gun, swore to the full extent of his considerable capacity to the prison officers, that they could do whatever they liked to him, "BUT THAT COW AIN'T DYING!"

He ended by telling me he was a vegetarian now.

That story was true. Other inmates of the prison farm confirmed it for me. The cow that cried taught one of most violent of men what it means to care.

The White Fox

Offline Marcus Epicurus

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Re: Animal Bodhisatvas
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 05:53:15 pm »

Thank you...I loved this post.

I had read the story about the cow, but I had not heard the story of The White Fox.

Most excellent post...most excellent.

From the story of The White Fox:  Compassion should be extended to all living beings so that harmony can be created and maintained in the world.

The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what's skillful,
the cleansing of one's own mind:
this is the teaching of the Awakened.

Offline moonbeam

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Re: Animal Bodhisatvas
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2014, 06:57:54 pm »
Very nice story. We can learn a lot from animals.


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