On one occasion, when the lord Buddha was having a discussion with a group of monks in an open space (garden), a desperate man came to the Buddha. He asked the Buddha and monks whether they had seen some cows running around. The Buddha replied that he did not see any cow going past and asked the man for a reason of his question. The man said that he owned 12 cows and they had all left his farm. He had been looking for them since the morning and had not had anything to eat or drink. In addition, he said “I had a sesame cultivation which was completely destroyed by insects. I do not know what to do now. I feel like I must die.”
The Buddha realized that it was not the right time to preach Dhamma to him. Instead, the Buddha said “we did not see any cows here. You have better look for them in some other directions.” As the man was about to take his leave, he heard the Buddha saying to the monks “Oh monks, you are very lucky people. You do not have cows to lose nor having sesame crop being destroyed by insects.”
The man stopped and turned back to the Buddha. The Buddha suggested that he should go the monastery to eat something first. After taking some leftover food, he waited for the Buddha to return to the monastery. He approached the Buddha and asked for a way to relieve his troubles. The Buddha explained that he was suffering because he was attached to his cows and the sesame crop that he once owned.
“Let go of your cows and you will be a free man!” Having realised the nature and problems of possessing things, the man requested the Buddha to ordain him. After becoming a monk he practised very hard and became an Arahant.
All of us own some cows and we always worry about losing them. Hence, we experience great sufferings. If we can let go of our cows, we will gain peace and true happiness.