There is a story that Thich Nhat Hanh tellsabout, well, cows.One day Buddha is sitting in the woods with several monks when a farmer comes rushing by asking if they had seen his cows.Buddha inquires and the farmer replies that he owns four cows, all of which have gotten loose and his crops have been ruined by insects; all is not well.Buddha replies that he and the monks have been sitting there for quite some time and no cows have gone by. He suggests that the farmer head off in the opposite direction.As the farmer takes off in the other direction, Buddha says to the monks, aren't you glad you don't have any cows to lose?
The cows, in this story, represent our attachments but not just to things.They also represent our habits we do not let go of.Think of the items and habits you are attached to.Then, get out a piece of paper and write at the top "Names of my Cows".Then start writing. Your cow names may be Worry, Smoking, Fancy Jewelry, Fear, Pride, Shoes.My head cow is named Worry and she usually gives birth to a calf named Nail Biter.These are my attachments I can choose to reside with or choose to let go of.
There is a Yiddish saying that reads, "Whoever needs milk, bows to the animal."
Do you want to bow down to the words you wrote on your list? Do you want to surrender to Worry? Do you want to succumb to financial instability because you are attached to the cows "Fancy Jewelry" and "Shoes"?Do you want to be right all the time versus happy because you are so attached to the cow called Pride?
These unnecessary burdens become heavier and heavier by the day.
"He who lets the goat be laid on his shoulders is soon after forced to carry the cow. "Italian Proverb
Actor Russell Crowe said, "There's nothing like sitting back and talking to your cows." I am guessing he truly meant that literally.But in the context of this theme, talking to your cows uses up your time and energy.My mind and heart know how foolish it is to sit around chatting with Worry. Worry is an amazing storyteller and she has this way, while chewing her cud, of roping in and carrying me off on a story that has many incredulous endings. And when Worry has my attention, I sit and listen to every single one of her outlandish endings!
It is time to separate from the cows.It is time to put forth and be the best we can be without dragging cows behind us.There is another story where Buddha is sitting in a cave and his attendant is out in front when Mara comes along. Mara is a demon who represents all of the bad habits and delusions we are distracted by. Mara is the one who tried to bring Buddha out of meditation as he sat under the Boddhi tree so he would not reach enlightenment. Buddha's attendant was very upset to see Mara approaching. At first, when Mara asked to speak with Buddha, the attendant did not want to loet him in but Buddha invited Mara in wholeheartedly as he were a long lost friend. Mara explained how tired he was of doing his job. It was becoming more and more difficult because people were turning to meditation and it was getting harder to distract them. Buddha replied his job wasn't easy either.People were quoting him to have said things he never said and telling stories of things he had never done. He asked Mara if he would like to switch places. The attendant was relieved to hear Mara say no. And Buddha advised that he keep doing his job to the best of his ability and so would he, Buddha.
The question is are you doing your job and being your Divine Self to the best of your ability if you are juggling the weight of the cows you wrote down...