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Releasing Your Cows

May 13, 2019 - Posted in Other Stuff , Writing Posted by:

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From the book No Mud, No Lotus by Zen Buddhist master Tich Naht Hahn. I hope this helps you in some way, as it is helping me.

One day the Buddha was sitting with some of his monks in the woods. They had just come from an almsround and were ready to share a mindful lunch together. A farmer passed by, looking distraught.

He asked the Buddha, ‘Monks, have you seen some cows going by here?’

‘What cows?’ the Buddha responded.

‘Well,’ the man said, ‘I have four cows and I don’t know why, but this morning they all ran away. I also have two acres of sesame. This year the insects ate my entire crop. I have lost everything; my harvest, and my cows. I feel like killing myself.’ The Buddha said, ‘Dear friend, we have been sitting here almost an hour and we have not seen any cows passing by. Maybe you should go and look in the other direction.’ When the farmer was gone, the Buddha looked at his friends and smiled knowingly. ‘Dear friends, you are very lucky,’ he said. ‘You don’t have any cows to lose.’

One of the biggest cows we have is our narrow idea of happiness. You may suffer just because of your idea; and you continue to suffer until, one day, you are capable of releasing the idea and right away you feel happy.

Every one of us has an idea of happiness that can become too entrenched, too rigid. Every one of us has cows to be released.

Consider practicing to release your cows. Take a piece of paper and write down the names of your cows, the things you think of as crucial for your well-being. Perhaps this week you can start by releasing just one, perhaps two. Or perhaps each one takes a year or more. The more cows you release, the more joyful and happy you become.

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