[37] The Parable Of Killing A Herd Of Cows From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之杀群牛喻

herd of cattle in daytime
Photo by Helena Lopes on

[The] Sūtra [Of A] Hundred Parables

[37] Parable [Of] Killing [A] Herd [Of] Cows


[In the] past, [there] was a person, [who] had two hundred and fifty count [of] cows, constantly driving [them to] lands [with] water [and] grass, at all times [for] feeding food and drink.


Then, [there] was a tiger, [who] devoured a cow. At that time, [the] owner [of the] cows had [this] thought [and] said, ‘[As I have] already lost one cow, [they are] together not complete [and] enough [now]. Because [of] this, [what are the other] cows for?’


[He] immediately then drove [them] to [a] deep pit [over a] high bank, lining [them] up [for the] pit’s bottom, completely killing them all.


Ordinary foolish persons [are] likewise thus, [having] received [to] uphold [the] Thus Come [One’s] Complete Precepts [i.e. Full Monastic Precepts, if [having] violated one precept, not giving rise [to] shame [for] pure repentance, then have [this] thought [and] say, ‘[As] I [have] already broken one precept, since [they are] not complete [now], for what [should I] uphold [the others] for?’

[Note 1: The two hundred and fifty precepts represent the Bhikṣu Precepts (比丘戒). For laypersons, they should contemplate this in the context of any other set of precepts committed to, such as the Five Precepts (五戒), Eight Precepts (八戒) and the Bodhisattva Precepts (菩萨戒).]


Those [with] all [precepts] broken without one existing, [are] like that foolish person, [who] completely killed [his] herd [of] cows, [to be] without one existing.

[Note 2: When there is a precept broken, there should immediately be the 3R‘s – sincere Repentance (忏悔) for the precept broken, Resolution to not break it again, and ‘Revival’ of the precept, by not letting remain ‘dead’, and by not ‘killing’ the other precepts. Instead, there should be better observation of all precepts after. (True Repentance should already include Resolution and Revival as above, but they are at times forgotten.)]

[Note 3: As an example, if one has committed to observing the Eight Precepts for one day, just because there is breaking of one precept, or difficulty to observe one precept, such as being too hungry, thus ‘needing’ to take an extra meal, there should not be thinking that since this is so, all other seven precepts should immediately be renounced for the day too.

After renouncing only that one precept, if ‘needed’, there should still be observing of the other precepts best one can, not thinking that, ‘Since I am not “pure” enough already, I will give up further purification practice today.’

If giving up all Eight Precepts due to such misguided ‘perfectionism’, this would be a case of ‘self-wrecking and self-abandoning’ (自暴自弃), not doing what is right. It is exactly through practice best we can each time, that perfection is eventually attained. Perfection is not attained by giving up easily each time.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Previous Parable:

[36] The Parable Of Destroying Eyes Of The Sage With Five Supernormal Powers

Next Parable:

[38] The Parable Of Drinking The Wooden Bucket’s Water

All Hundred Parables:

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Alert: Content is protected !!