The Love of Life

68. The Butcher's End


Chao Fuch’io was a coarse man, but he was rich, because he made so much money selling beef. Every day he butchered at least three heads of cattle. That’s quite a bit of beef, so over a period of years, he became one of the richest people in the county.

Around the beginning of the nineteenth century, when Fuch’io was old, his son Kuanghua took over the family business. They were so proud of their business that they put an old stump in front of their gate. They had used that stump for many years as a chopping block. They would put the cow’s head on the block and smash it. When people saw that stump, they knew this was a butcher’s house.

But one night something strange happened. The stump turned into a cow’s head, and rolled all around the streets and roads of the city! The people who saw it were astonished.

That night, people passing by the Chao’s place heard the sound of innumerable cattle fighting inside. Nobody could figure out what was going on!

A day or two later, Kuanghua was doing business as usual when a soldier came to buy meat. But since he was buying meat on official business, he wanted a special low price.

“Are you crazy?” Kuanghua screeched. “I’d lose money!” So instead of losing his money, he lost his temper. They quarreled. Kuanghua got so mad that he picked up his cleaver and split that soldier’s head wide open!

When Fuch’io heard that his son killed a soldier, he was so upset that he fell over and died.

Kuanghua was put to death. Before long, his widow and children were in rags, begging on the streets. The neighbors said, “We never expected that the rich Chaos would be asking for handouts right outside the gate of their old mansion!”

A Buddhist explained it to them. “They brought it down upon themselves by killing so many cattle. If you do good deeds, you will earn a good fortune for you and your loved ones. If you do bad deeds, you will cause yourself and your family as much suffering as you caused others.

“This is why you should never eat meat. You should try to control your temper, and get along well with all living creatures so that everyone can enjoy life.”

Everybody thought that was reasonable. The other butchers in the area realized that what happened to the Chaos could easily happen to them, too, so they closed up their butcher shops and went into other lines of business. Chihho county was a pleasant, peaceful place for many years afterwards.

Now, of course, medical science has proved many times that eating beef is bad for your health. It causes heart disease and cancer. No matter how you look at it, you should know that eating meat can do you no good whatsoever.

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