Once there was a trader who was traveling on business. It so happened that the camel suddenly died on the way. The animal was loaded with valuable things such as jewels, clothes, carpet of first quality and sundries. The trader then skinned the camel. He went away leaving it to his two apprentices and said, “Watch the camel’s skin. Don’t let it get damp.”
Later, when it started to rain, the two dull men covered the skin with all the fine carpet, which became entirely ruined. Obviously the skin and carpet differed much in price. They put the carpet to cover the skin out of ignorance.
So are the people at large.
Abstaining from killing refers to the fine carpet, the camel’s skin, and wealth. To let the carpet get damp when it is raining means to undermine recklessly good merits.
The abstention from killing is the supreme motive to attain Buddhahood. Unfortunately, people do not effectively practice it. They merely adhere to build pagodas or temples and give alms to support monks. This is giving up the essential and pursuing the non-essential.
In other words, people are not conscious of seeking the fundamental. Unable to go out of the
vicious cycle, they lead their lives, through the Five Ways of existence. Therefore, the
commandment of the abstention from killing should be earnestly observed by the followers.