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Do Cows Cry?

People come to A Buddhist Perspective many ways, one of which is through keyword searches. I just saw that a recent keyword search was "do cows cry." I cannot answer that but immediately remembered a story a good, and trusted, friend had related to me.

He and his wife were visiting their son and his wife who lived out of town on some acreage that was next to a farm. One morning during the visit, they all awoke to sounds of cows in great distress. Not knowing what was happening, but concerned, the four of them drove over to the farm and found the farmer.

When they asked what was happening, he explained.

One of the older cows had died during the night. When he heard the lowing, he went to the field and saw that the cows were all standing around the dead one and lowing in great distress. He quickly got his tractor, dug a deep hole, and maneuvered the dead cow into the hole.

To his amazement the cows positioned themselves around the hole and one or two even tried to climb down into it. The others were around the rim and the older ones pushed their way to to the edge of the hole as the younger ones were pushed away to stand behind the older ones. It was as if senior mourners had taken their place before younger ones. The farmer had had the older cows since they were calves and hadn't wanted to kill animals just because they were not productive so the herd had been together for several years.

My friend had shaken his head when he told me of this, saying he had never seen anything like it before.

So. Do cows cry? I do not know. But apparently, they can feel loss and great sadness and distress. Something we would do well to understand.

(For a related account I personally witnessed please read Mother and Child)


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Reader Comments (9)

I have this picture of a cow on it's knees after the sri lankan monk saved all of them from being slaughtered..let me have your email..i will share it with you..=) amitabha
March 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbenny
Having been around animals in one form or another almost my entire life, I am convinced that they are emotional and intelligent beings in their own right. They may not demonstrate their emotions/intelligence in the same fashion as humans but it is there, being expressed in their own unique fashion.

I am also a believer in that as we progress through the various cycles of lifetimes, heading ever towards our eventual liberation, we pass through various stages of evolution. Each stage teaches us something about the fundamentals of existence and suffering. Each stage prepares us for the progressing stage to come. These stages are not limited to the human form but rather open to all forms of existence, from the most coarse to the most subtle.

It may be that there are the odd occurrence when other species have the opportunity through body language and vocalization to clearly express their understanding and connection to suffering just as much as we would. I was moved deeply by this story. Why cant a group of cows who grew up together, shared births and deaths, lonely moments, and moments of play and learning not feel loose when one of their own is no longer there.

I bow to the potential Buddha hidden within them. May they some day find self awareness and liberation from the long and difficult road they have travelled.

Namo Amituofo,
Peace & Love, Geo
March 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeo
It is said that "A sheep dies and becomes a human. A human dies and becomes a sheep." We are all caught in the cycle of rebirth by our greed, anger, and ignorance. But noticing the direction of these rebirths certainly gives one pause as to the superiority of one species over another.

And yes, I too see no reason why other animals cannot express their grief in their own way. It is arrogance to believe we alone can feel grief in the face of death.
March 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterVenerable Wuling
All animals connect. It is us who disconnect. Even fish connect I had a group of fish for 5 years. Every morning, the largest one would make a huge loop around the tank to say, "Good Morning". (It was a vertical loop, not a circling feeding loop.) As this fish was dying, I sat vigil with it for 3 days. it was barely breathing. I looked and it made the effort to make one huge verticle loop around the tank and then died. I'm sure it was saying, "Good Bye".

I thought it was important to share this story for all who think they are "saving a fish from drowning" when they eat it. I don't eat fish. These coy were my friends for 5 wonderful years.
March 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSue K
This is such a lovely and profound story, Venerable Wuling - thank you for sharing it.

My husband and I had two guinea pigs. When one of them unexpectedly died last year, the other pig became what I can only describe as depressed. He barely ate, he barely moved. His eyes were dull, he didn't squeak anymore or show any curiosity towards anything. We wanted to mourn the loss of our little pig friend for a while, but we ended up adopting another guinea pig from the humane society within days because we were so worried for our other pig. Within hours of the new pig being in the house (not even in the same enclosure yet, due to quarantine precautions), the bereft pig perked right up and began eating and squeaking again. It was amazing to witness. Both pigs are still very happy together, over a year later. Animals are our brothers and sisters on this planet and I am honored to have these little pigs as companions in our home. They teach me much about being content with food, shelter, warmth and companionship.
March 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa
Dear Ven Wuling,
This is such a lovely story hope do continue share with us again coz saw bro Benny comment that he got the story ...=)
Amituofo !
March 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErica
Beautiful story, and much more uplifting, in a way, than my recollection of cows crying.
My friends live across the road from a dairy farm. I will never forget the sounds from the mothers and babies - the heifers and the calfs - when they were separated. I believe this happens when the calves are just days old so the farmers can get all the milk to market. The sound was an utterly overwhelming wall of despair, that's what it was.
Thanks again, for sharing, and for sharing both sides.
June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
Shannon, I know that sound all too well. It is estimated that for maximum milk production here in Australia, one million calves are taken from their mothers every year, and killed.
June 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterVenerable Wuling
Plants are also living things and they also experience pain when we pluck fruit from the trees but the frequency is such that is not audible to humans.
August 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterglass baby bottles

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