PUSH THAT COW DOWN THE CLIFF

A long time ago, a Monk set out on his travels accompanied by his assistant, a Brother. Night was falling when the Monk told the Brother to go on ahead to find lodging. The Brother searched the deserted landscape until he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived in the hovel. The mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Brother asked if he and the Monk could spend the night in their dwelling. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father of the family. They prepared a simple meal consisting of fresh milk, cheese and cream for the Brother and the Monk. The Brother felt moved by their poverty and even more by their simple generosity.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they managed to survive in such a poor place, so far away from the nearest neighbors and town. The wife looked to her husband to answer. In a resigned tone of voice he told them how they managed to survive. ‘We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbors who do not live too far away. We hold back enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream-that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Brother and the Monk said their good-byes and set out to continue their journey. After the Monk and the Brother had walked a few miles, the Monk turned to the Brother and said, “Go back and push the cow off the cliff!” “Father,” the Brother replied, “they live off the cow. Without her, they will have nothing.” The Monk repeated his order “go back and kill the cow.”

With a heavy heart, the Brother returned to the hovel. He worried about the future of the family because he knew they depended on the cow to survive. His vow of obedience bound him to follow the orders of the wise Monk. He pushed the cow off the cliff.

Years later, the young Brother became a Monk. One day he found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of remorse he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, in the place where the hovel used to be. The new house exuded a sense of prosperity and happiness. The Monk knocked on the door.

A well-dressed man answered. The Monk asked, “what ever became of the family who used to live here? Did they sell the property to you?” The man looked surprised and said he and his family had always lived on the property. The Monk told him how he had stayed in a hovel on the same spot, with his master the old Monk. ‘What happened to the family that lived here?” he asked.

The man invited the Monk to stay with him as his guest. While they ate, the host explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know Father, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we did not even know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

Source and author: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got’ – Henry Ford

  • Do you have a cow you need to push off the cliff? What is its name?
  • What are some of the things and habits you have been relying on for a very long time, things and behaviours that are perhaps holding you back?

EVERY BUCKET COUNTS

One day, having learned that the King of Fez was hunting lions in the neighbourhood, the town of Creamoria (known to have the best goats milk in all the land) decided to invite the King and his court to a festival, and killed a number of sheep in his honour.

The sovereign had dinner and drank of the goats milk, claiming it was the best he had ever drank. The King asked if he could have some more milk in the morning for his breakfast. The town was pleased and stated they would prepare him some so the King went off to bed. Wishing to show their generosity, they placed a huge goatskin bottle before his door and they all agreed to fill it up with milk for the royal breakfast.

The villagers all had to milk their goats and then each of them had to tip his/her bucket into the container. Given its great size, each of them said to themself that they might just as well dilute the milk with a good quantity of water without anyone noticing. To the extent that, in the morning, such a thin liquid was poured out for the king and his court that it had no taste other than the taste of meanness and greed.

From this day forward the town of Creamoria was known as the town with the worst goats milk in all the land. Even though their goats still delivered the finest goats milk anyone had ever tasted.

Source | Adapted from a story by Amin Maalouf in “Leo Africanus
(New Amsterdam Books, 1998) page 127

CONSIDER THIS

If you are known for your qualities, do not hold back.  Chances are you will lose your quality as well as your reputation.

 

SIX CARTONS OF MILK

A wife asks her husband, “Would you please go shopping for me? Buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get six.”

A short time later the husband comes back with six cartons of milk.

The wife asks him, “Why on earth did you buy six cartons of milk?”

He replied, “They had eggs.”

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Good communication is not as easy as it sounds! Misunderstandings can happen so easily.
  • Are we really listening to what is actually being said?