The tears of animals
Pets are increasingly common in China, but how do Chinese people think of the relationship between humans and animals? This week’s digest proposes a reflection on this topic through two personal and original pieces about animal pain recently posted on 1510 .
The tears of animals
By Zhong Dao, 05 July 2012
‘The tears of people are light, but animals weep heavy tears. Their tears come from the depth of life.’
In this post, Zhong Dao shares the memories of two moments in his childhood when he discovered that not only humans have tears, but animals can weep as well, and feel sorrow.
The first instance is about his house cat. When it got old, it stopped playing with the family, but just sat on the window sill, waiting. One day, he saw a dry tear in its eyes, and he called his mother to see this. The cat looked at them for a moment, then slowly walked away. It had given a final farewell, then left the house to die, quietly, in solitude.
The second instance is about an old ox at a cousin’s place in the country. That ox was very smart, and often played with him and his cousin as children, coming when it was called, and separating them when they fought. But when it got old, that ox knew something bad would happen, and starting showing fear and sorrow. When finally the slaughterhouse people came to take it, flows of tears gushed out from its eyes, living a small pool on the floor. And memories of its heavy pain in the mind of the writer.
By Qiufeng Wuji, 23 July 2012
Qiufeng Wuji had a dream about her family cow. The cow had been sold, and her calf was taken away; the cow ran off, to protect her child, but it was too far already, and the mother-cow was powerless. Some time later, she learnt over the phone that her mother had sold the cow, and the buyers had tricked them: it was not sold to kind people in the village, but to the slaughterhouse. Qiufeng Wuji bursts into tears.
The cow had been in their family for years, and become like a family member. She remembers how intelligent the cow was, the way it interacted with people, and listened to them speaking. The cow also bore many healthy calves, and the author remembers teaching them things –where they were and weren’t allowed to go, and that if they came up to her, she would tickle with a stick. But when the calves were six months old, they would be sold off, and the mother cow would cry for days, looking for them.
The dream has determined the author to write this post. It also comforted her in her resolution to become a vegetarian, and tell everyone around her that if they must eat meat, at least they should make sure animals are not treated with cruelty. The post finishes with a meditation on karma – wishing the cow will not be reborn as an animal, as animals suffer the most in this world – but also accepting the karmic cycle of rebirths and suffering.
All articles in this digest and a large range of other Chinese readings are accessible at Marcopoloproject.org. Some are available in English, French and Spanish translation. (You can join the project if you’d like to help with translations.)
Danwei is an affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University. This posting is a result of one project that is part of that on-going collaboration.