The Love of Life

64. Eleven Lives as a Cow


In about 1815, a man named Lin Szuch’i died. His family and friends were sad, because he had been such a nice person.

Lin found himself in Hell. There is a court there, presided over by the King of Hell. The bailiffs are demons with bulls’ heads and horses’ faces. Other demons are waiting eagerly to go get the next to die. The walls are hung with terrifying instruments of torture. These are all created by our own wicked thoughts and evil acts, not by any gods or devils.

A doctor, Yin Chih, was dragged into the court. “Oh no, I’ve just died! Then this must be the court where I’ll be judged.” Just thinking about it horrified him.

“On your knees, scum!” roared the bailiffs. Yin knelt, and noticed someone else kneeling beside him. Then he realized he knew the other prisoner — it was his friendly local butcher, Li Pi.

Li Pi was in no friendly mood now. When he saw Dr. Yin, he stuck his finger in his face and told the king, “It’s all his fault! He’s the one! If he didn’t eat beef, I wouldn’t kill any cattle! Take him, and let me go!”

Yin wouldn’t have any of that! He said, “Your honor, if he didn’t kill cattle, I wouldn’t eat beef.” Li was furious when he heard that, and the bailiffs had to drag them apart.

The King slammed his fist on his desk. “SILENCE! One killed and the other ate. You’re both equally guilty!

“Don’t you have a conscience? Cows and bulls plow fields to grow grain to feed you, but you don’t have any gratitude; you eat these innocent beasts. If people eat a lot of beef, a lot of cows die. If people eat a little beef, few cows die. If people eat no beef, no cows die. Do you two understand that?” They nodded submissively.

“Li Pi! For your crimes against living creatures and against your conscience, I sentence you to Hell, where you will suffer until you have learned your lesson. Take him away!” The demons gleefully dragged the howling butcher away, kicking him as they went.

“Dr. Yin Chih! You have eaten too much beef. Every time a patient invited you to dinner, you insisted on eating beef. Do you have any idea of how many cows you have eaten? Do you admit your guilt?” Dr. Yin hung his head and nodded.

“Not only that, but eleven of your patients died due to your stupidity and carelessness.

“For your crimes, I sentence you to eleven lives as a cow, wherein you will pay back your debts to those victims of your malpractice. You will end each life in suffering under the butcher’s knife, as just compensation for the torments you caused innocent living creatures. Take him away!” Dr. Yin screamed as the demons pulled him out of the court.

“As for you,” the King turned to Lin, speaking in a different tone, “You have been good to your parents and loyal to your country. It’s not your time yet, so you can go back. But be sure to tell everyone what you saw here, so they do not end up in this predicament.”

And with that, Lin Szuch’i came back to life.

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