The Cowherds Test the Buddha's
After having thought in this way, they paid reverence before the Buddha, sat down, and then asked, "What methods does a cowherd perfect that he is able to cause the herd to flourish and what methods might he fail to perfect that the herd thereby fails to grow and become peaceful and secure?" The Buddha replied, "There are eleven methods by which the cowherd is able to cause the herd to flourish. What are these eleven? They are: knowing the color; knowing the characteristics; knowing how to groom; knowing how to properly dress sores; knowing how to make smoke; knowing the good road; knowing the proper place for cattle; knowing the good place to ford; knowing the peaceful and secure place; knowing how to preserve the flow of milk; and knowing how to care for the lead bull.
"If the cowherd knows these eleven methods, he will be able to cause the herd to multiply. The Bhikshu is also like this. If he knows eleven methods, he is able bring about increase and growth of wholesome dharmas. "What is meant by 'knowing the color'? One is knowledgable about the relative value of cattle which are black, white and various other colors. The Bhikshu is also like this. He knows all forms are the four great elements or are composed of the four great elements.
"What is meant by 'knowing the characteristics'? One knows the characteristics of cattle which indicate auspiciousness and inauspiciousness. Whether or not a cow will be harmonious with another herd is known on the basis of its characteristics. The Bhikshu is also like this. On seeing the characteristics of wholesome karma, he knows one is a wise person. On seeing the characteristics of bad karma, he knows one is a stupid person.
"What is meant by 'grooming'? When the blood of cattle is being sucked by insects, then there is an increase in sores. By grooming, one gets rid of this harm and then the cow is happy and its hair is glossy. The Bhikshu is also like this. When the insects of unwholesome and deviant insight and discursive thought drink the blood of one's wholesome faculties, this increases the sores of the mind. When they are gotten rid of one abides in peacefulness and security.
"What is meant by 'dressing sores'? This refers to employing dressings made from grasses and leaves in order to prevent the noxious bites of mosquitoes and biting flies. The Bhikshu is also like this. He employs the dharmas of proper contemplation to cover up the sores of the six sense organs and thus does not allow himself to be harmed by the stings of the noxious insects of afflictions such as lust and anger.
"What is meant by knowing how to create smoke in order to get rid of mosquitoes and biting flies? When from a distance, the cow sees smoke, then it will come towards the dwellings. The Bhikshu is also like this. He speaks in strict accord with what he has heard and gets rid of all of the mosquitoes and biting flies of the fetters. He employs the [signal-fire] smoke of speaking Dharma in order to lead beings forth that they might enter into the dwelling of no-self, the reality mark and emptiness.
"What is meant by knowing the road? This refers to knowing the good and bad roads for having the cattle come and go. The Bhikshu is also this way. He knows that the eightfold holy path is able to take one to nirvana and distances himself from the bad paths of annihilationism and impermanence.
"What is meant by knowing the appropriate location for cattle? When one knows the appropriate location for cows, one is able to cause the cattle to multiply and have but little disease. The Bhikshu is also like this. When the Dharma of the Buddha is spoken, he gains a pure Dharma bliss and all of his wholesome faculties increase to repletion.
"What is meant by knowing where to ford? One knows the place where it is easy to enter, where it is easy to cross, where there are no waves or noxious pests. The Bhikshu is also like this. He is able to go to the abode of a learned Bhikshu and inquire about Dharma. The one who speaks Dharma is aware of the relative sharpness of mind and relative weight of afflictions possessed by the person before him. Thus he influences him to choose a good fording place and to succeed in making a safe crossing (from samsara to nirvana).
What is meant by knowing a peaceful and secure place? One knows of a place to dwell which has no tigers, wolves, lions, noxious insects or venomous animal life. The Bhikshu is also like this. He knows the peacefulness and security of the four stations of mindfulness where there are none of the noxious demons and venomous beasts of the afflictions. The Bhikshu enters into these and thus is peaceful, secure and without calamity.
What is meant by preserving the flow of milk? The cow produces milk out of affection for the calf. By leaving whatever milk is in excess of the need, the cow is happy and there continues to be an unexhausted supply. The lead bull as well as the cowherds benefit from this every day. The Bhikshu is also like this. The laypeople donate clothing and food. One must know how to be conservative in the amount one accepts and thus one is able to prevent this resource from being exhausted. If this is the case, then the donors are happy and their faith is not cut short and yet the recipients have no shortage of essentials.
"What is meant by knowing how to care for the lead bull? If one protects the big bull, he will be able to guard the herd. Therefore one ought to care for it and protect it and not allow it to become gaunt. It should be given sesame oil to drink, provided with the adornment of a necklace and given the distinction of metal-covered horns. It should be kneaded and brushed and effusively praised. The Bhikshu is also like this. When among the multitude of Sangha members, there is a great man possessed of awesome virtue who is able to protect and benefit the Buddha Dharma, is able to utterly defeat in debate externalists and is able to influence the eight-fold assembly to succeed in planting roots of goodness, one should afford him respect and make offerings to him according to whatever he needs."
When the cowherds had heard these words, they thought to themselves, "What we cowherds know doesn't go beyond three or four of these subjects and the master cowherders at the very most aren't familiar with more than five or six subjects."
Now that they had heard this discourse, they exclaimed over hearing what none of them had heard before and agreed, "If he is aware of these matters, then he must know all the rest as well. Truly, he is an omniscient man." They then had no further doubts.
To be continued