Thursday, August 2, 2007

What If...You Killed The Cow?

A good friend recently related the following anecdote:

There was once a very wise old man who traveled rural communities sharing his knowledge with the villagers. After listening to one of the old man's many lectures a young man, impressed by his wisdom, begged to join him on his travels. The old man agreed for the young man to become his disciple.

On one occasion after walking for hours they stopped at a humble cottage and begged for some water. A gentleman in shabby clothes invited them to rest in the shade of his humble home. He then told his wife to serve the travelers water from their well, some bread, and cheese. As they sat and ate, what in their opinion was some of the best tasting bread in miles, the visitors observed signs of abject poverty. The place was sparsely furnished and the man's children and wife were dressed in tattered clothing. The wise man asked the father how he managed to provide for his family. To which the father replied that they had one single cow that was their salvation. The cow provided milk from which they made cheese to have with some bread. The cow also helped in the plowing of a small potato and wheat plot they had in their backyard. On sacks hanging from the cows back they transported their little harvest to the market. The father remarked, "We owe our lives to our cow."

The wise man listened and after both he and his disciple were rested they went on their way.
That evening as they settled in a nearby inn, the young disciple commented his concerns for the future of the poor family. He pointed out with passion the inequality and injustice prevalent in this world. Why did good people have to suffer and work so hard for paltry survival, while others who were not as deserving reveled in wealth and surplus?

Instead of a reply the old man, gave his disciple a chilling command. Go back to that family's field and kill the cow! The young disciple stunned, questioned the wisdom of his order. The wise man repeated his charge without any signs of remorse, "Go and kill the cow now!" Not one to disobey, the disciple went back to the family's field, led the cow away from his shed and pushed her down a precipice. His deed done, he went back to the inn. Yet, he felt guilt over his actions and after a year he decided to part ways with the old man.

Six years later, the young man was passing through the village where he had committed that evil deed, and he decided to go in search of the family. There was now a huge beautiful house on the same spot where the cottage had stood. It was surrounded by a beautiful courtyard. He saw what seemed like delivery trucks coming in and out of the grounds. He went up to the gate and after ringing the bell was greeted by a servant. He explained that he was looking for the original owners of the place who had lived there about six years ago. The young servant assured him that the owners of the land still lived there and invited him inside the home to have a seat in the beautiful lobby. A few minutes later a well-dressed gentleman walked up to him, immediately recognized and greeted him cheerfully.

The disciple could not contain his curiosity and queried as to what had turned their fortune around. The man confessed that the day after their visit, they found their cow dead at the bottom of a nearby cliff. Not having any other immediate means for sustenance, he and his family were forced to create an alternate way to survive. They decided to start baking and selling bread. First, the children delivered the goods on foot from house to house. Soon, they were filling such large orders that required the purchasing of trucks. The death of the cow had signified the beginning of new life.
Perhaps in your own life you have been holding on to a person, circumstance, job or situation that you believe you would never be able to live without or get over. But what if that is exactly what is stifling your God-given creativity, and your opportunities to live a life of abundance? Is it time to kill the cow?

Written by Norka Blackman-Richards of 4 Real Women International


Anonymous said...
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Randee said...


I really love this story. It touches me deeply and serves as a reminder for me to "let go and let God".

This last year both my husband and I were forced to make a decision. To hold on or let go.

We let go. We killed the cow.

Anne said...

Norka, what a thought provoking story. I'm going to have to think about the cow in my life, and whether one day I'll be able to push it down a crevice or keep it for security. Hmm. Thanks for a challenging thought!

Lori Arriaga said...

Norka, thanks for the great thought provoking story! I need to really ponder this and see what cows I am holding onto in my own life.