Ja 18 The Story about Feasts for the Dead

In the present the monks hear about a Feast for the Dead which involves animal sacrifice, and ask the Buddha if any good can come of it. The Buddha replies that it cannot, and tells a story of a goat who laughed and cried when being prepared for slaughter: he laughed as this was his final punishment for making a sacrifice, and cried in compassion for those who would suffer a similar fate (full story).

1. Evaṁ ce sattā jāneyyuṁ: dukkhāyaṁ jātisambhavo,
Na pāṇo pāṇinaṁ haññe, pāṇaghātī hi socatī ti.

If beings knew thus: this leads to a rebirth full of suffering, no one would kill living beings, for the slayer of beings grieves.

In this connection, if beings knew thus means if these beings knew thus.

What? This leads to a rebirth full of suffering, this gradually here and there, birth after birth, leads to what is considered growth entailing, old age, sickness, death, being joined to what is not dear, being separated from what is dear, having the hands and feet cut off, this is the foundation of the various sufferings, if beings only knew this leads to suffering.

No one would kill living beings: “Slaying another leads to birth and getting slain, being oppressed and getting crushed.” Knowing that this leads to a rebirth having a foundation in suffering, a state of suffering, he would not kill any other living beings, a living being would not kill living beings, this is the meaning.

What is the reason? For the slayer of beings grieves, wherefore, with one’s own hand and so on in six ways, using whatever means to cut off the life faculty of another, the person who slays living beings, in the eight great hells, in the sixteen prominent hells, in the manifold animal kingdoms, in the realm of the ancestors, amongst the body of Asuras, in these four downfalls there is an experiencing of great suffering, so he grieves by internally meditating on the sign of grief for a long time.

Since this goat, through fear of death, grieves, knowing: ‘He grieves in this way for a long time,’ no living being will kill other living beings, he will certainly not do the deed of killing any living beings.

Only through delusion, confusion, ignorance, blindness, not seeing the danger in this, do they kill living beings.