Goat Who Saved the Priest [Ignorance]
a time, there was a very famous priest in a very old religion.
He decided it was the right day to perform the ritual sacrificing
of a goat. In his ignorance, he thought this was an offering demanded
by his god.
an appropriate goat for the sacrifice. He ordered his servants
to take the goat to the holy river and wash him and decorate him
with flower garlands. Then they were to wash themselves, as part
of the purification practice.
Down at the
riverbank, the goat suddenly understood that today he would definitely
be killed. He also became aware of his past births and deaths
and rebirths. He realized that the results of his past unwholesome
deeds were about to finally be completed. So he laughed an uproarious
goat-laugh, like the clanging of cymbals.
In the midst
of his laughter, he realized another truth that the priest, by
sacrificing him, would suffer the same terrible results, due to
his ignorance. So he began to cry as loudly as he had just been
who were bathing in the holy river, heard first the laughing and
then the crying. They were amazed. So they asked the goat, "Why
did you loudly laugh and then just as loudly cry? What is the
reason for this?" He replied, "I will tell you the reason.
But it must be in the presence of your master, the priest."
were very curious, they immediately took the sacrificial goat
to the priest. They explained all that had happened. The priest,
too, became very curious. He respectfully asked the goat, "Sir,
why did you laugh so loudly, and then just as loudly cry?"
remembering his past lives, said, "A long time ago, I too
was a priest who, like you, was well educated in the sacred religious
rites. I thought that to sacrifice a goat was a necessary offering
to my god, which would benefit others, as well as myself in future
rebirths. However, the true result of my actions was that in my
next 499 lives I myself have been beheaded!
being prepared for the sacrifice, I realized that today I will
definitely lose my head for the 500th time. Then I will finally
be free of all the results of my unwholesome deeds of so long
ago. The joy of this made me laugh uncontrollably.
I suddenly realized that you, the priest, were about to repeat
the same unwholesome action, and would be doomed to the same result
of having your head chopped off in your next 500 lives! So, out
of compassion and sympathy, my laughter turned to tears."
was afraid this goat might be right, so he said, "Well, sir
goat, I will not kill you." The goat replied, "Reverend
priest, even if you do not kill me, I know that today I will lose
my head and finally be released from the results of my past unwholesome
said, "Don't be afraid, my fine goat. I will provide the
very best protection and personally guarantee that no harm will
come to you." But the goat said, "Oh priest, your protection
is very weak, compared to the power of my unwholesome deed to
cause its necessary results."
So the priest
cancelled the sacrifice, and began to have doubts about killing
innocent animals. He released the goat and, along with his servants,
followed him in order to protect him from any danger.
The goat wandered
into a rocky place. He saw some tender leaves on a branch and
stretched out his neck to reach them. All of a sudden a thunderstorm
appeared out of nowhere. A lightning bolt struck an over-hanging
rock, and cut off a sharp slab, which fell and chopped off the
goat's head! He died instantly, and the thunderstorm disappeared.
this very strange event, hundreds of local people came to the
place. No one could understand how it had happened.
also a fairy who lived in a nearby tree. He had seen all that
had occurred. He appeared, gently fluttering in the air overhead.
He began to teach the curious people, saying, "Look at what
happened to this poor goat. This was the result of killing animals!
All beings are born, and suffer through sickness, old age and
death. But all wish to live, and not to die. Not seeing that all
have this in common, some kill other living beings. This causes
suffering also to those who kill, both now and in countless future
ignorant that all deeds must cause results to the doer, some continue
to kill and heap up more suffering on themselves in the future.
Each time they kill, a part of themselves must also die in this
present life. And the suffering continues even by rebirth in hell
heard the fairy speak felt that they were very lucky indeed. They
gave up their ignorant killing, and were far better off, both
in this life, and in pleasant rebirths.
moral is: Even religion can be a source