“Holy cow!” is a phrase used to express astonishment or surprise. At times it is used in place of “Holy Christ!” In Hinduism, cows are thought to be sacred, or deeply respected. They are held in high esteem and Hindus, especially in Nepal, worship cows during the five day long Hindu festival, Tihar. But where did this phrase originate? And why would “Christ” be equated to a cow?
The reason has to do with the agricultural uses of cows, and their gentle nature. In India, cows are seen as sacred, and as a ‘caretaker’ or maternal figure representing Mother Earth. Hindus utilize the milk of cows, also using them for tilling fields as well as their dung for fertilizer and fuel.
Since all things have their likeness and are created to bear record of God (Moses 6), of what significance is the cow? In the Biblical books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, Moses declares the cow as clean and acceptable because it chews its cud and has cloven hooves. But what does this mean?
As a cow grazes upon grass, she takes a bite, chews, and then swallows her food. Microbes within the part of the stomach called the rumen then get to work, helping the cow to digest the grass. The tough outer walls of the grass needs a second cycle of chewing, however, to get to the nutrients. The cow then activates a “controlled vomit,” sending a small amount of food called a bolus back up the esophagus and into her mouth. “Chewing its cud,” is the process by which a cow regurgitates (casts up) previously consumed food and masticates it a second time. The re-chewed feed combines with saliva and forms into a bolus before being swallowed a second time. “Chewing her cud,” for a while, she then swallows for a second time the digesting grass. Along with the chewing action, the enzymes in her saliva assist the bacteria get to the fiber and carbohydrates.
Evening is the prime time for a cow to ruminate. Stressors or dis-ease will effect how well the digestion process ensues. Helpful variables for rumination are low light, quiet environments, and a comfortable resting place.
To “ruminate” is a term used to mean to think about something. “I’m going to ruminate on that a little more before I make my decision.” Likewise, to “chew it over,” indicates taking some more time to think about something. Those human qualities stem from cattle and other ruminant animals such as goats and sheep.
Rumination for humans, like for cows, is best done in the evening and early morning hours when there is little to distract and the environment is quiet. This allows one to chew on and digest further thoughts and impressions that were not fully assimilated before. This is how prophets are made.
In scripture, cows are utilized to symbolize people who meditate over and over upon the words of Christ. Symbolic “cows” study and ponder deeply upon their lives, gleaning all the wisdom from their experiences they possibly can. These mortals are “clean” because they accept what they receive. Because they “believe all things,” they can then allow themselves time to contemplate and ponder upon their mental food with an open mind. They then are able to bring back up the issue from time to time to see it from a different angle, weigh it with a different scale, polish off some of the facets and discover the jewel lying within.
Today, society’s pace is so frantic that few have realized the tremendous value in being mentally and emotionally “still,” at peace, and discovering who they are through contemplation over past decisions, perceived appetites of mind and heart. I have talked often about the attribute of reflection. This deep pondering allows one to contemplate and make sense of life, gleaning all the nutrients and wisdom from one’s experience and allowing one to advance spiritually.
The following is taken from one of my Quora answers regarding how to read The Book of Mormon. This book has been one of my all-time favorite and dearly loved books. Though I am not now a “Mormon,” I would highly endorse anyone who has the least desire to read that book. It has the power to change one’s life!
To read the book, as in reflecting upon one’s life, in order to gain the greatest nutrients from one’s investment of time requires becoming a symbolic “cow” and “chewing the cud” over and over again until one has understanding and has gleaned wisdom.
Here are the suggestions I have given to deeply reading and coming to understand the mysteries and jewels within both LIFE and, specifically, the Book of Mormon (B of M):
*Determine WHY you “want” to read the B of M. (To feel like a “good,” “responsible,” Mormon? Out of obligation? Were you given the challenge and you wish to complete it? OR, do you deeply, truly, desire to find the jewels hidden within it, to change your mind, your heart, your actions, your life, to become more in compliance with Who YOU were intended to be? Do you desire to KNOW TRUTH and have that truth “set you free”? Do you want to Really Know God and Christ and have the power of the Holy Ghost with you at all times… and know what all of those truly signify? You CAN! 🙂 It is not only possible, but intended for that purpose. So, of great importance: Determine first of all, your purpose in reading. Your purpose will determine the depth with which you read and the tools you use. Like all digging, there are striations of insight and wisdom that lie under the cursory level.
Contained within those levels are “jewels” of great insight that will change you deeply. Those jewels are on reserve for those who “read with real intent” and a “sincere heart.”)
*Do you know the Real Purpose for that book? (There are many who feel so “special” because they own it. There are those who spurn it or abhor it, having done much research to discover the “errors” and “fraud” and expose those. Do you really know who “authored” it and why? Every book has its intended audience and purpose. WHY was the time and effort and money invested to finally get a copy into Your hands?
Within the storyline, individuals such as Nephi, Mormon, Moroni risked their lives, gave all their worldly treasures, sequestered themselves in a cave for years and wrote, not via a keyboard or ballpoint pen, but with crude, laborious implements on metal plates and tablets which they had to first make themselves. There are those who gave years of their lives, their worldly possessions, tremendous sacrifice of all kinds… and it is now available for You to read. It was obviously (at least as far as the story goes) of tremendous value to many to make it available for you. WHY??? Although there are numerous ideas thrown around, the clearest and most accurate answer I have ever found for the Real Purpose and intent for The Book of Mormon can be discovered within the book: Without Disclosing My True Identity—The Authorized and Official Biography of the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. It can be found and read freely online.
*Set up a time and place to read The Book of Mormon when you will not be distracted, when you can apply your full and focused attention. With pen (pencils, crayons, you choose) in hand and a notebook for that purpose, open your mind and thought-fully ask yourself what questions you have that very moment that you desire help with. What is happening in your life, in your personal relationships? What questions do you have? Date and record those questions within your notebook. Then, again with an open mind, either randomly open up the book and allow your eye to fall upon a verse, or read sequentially. If your intent is earnest and pure… you WILL receive an answer meant for YOU in your life and present situation. Record your answer in your notebook. As you later go about your day, pay attention to how that answer is affecting your life and relationships. Later record those insights in your notebook as well. Allow your record-keeping to be your own personal journal, bridging your world and current experiences with Moroni’s knowledge of you. (Moroni 8: 34 “Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. 35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.”) If you can open your heart to try to conceive that yes, indeed, Moroni DID see YOU and give his life and effort to write what he knew YOU would benefit the most from, you will read… and find… the gifts he buried for you to find and apply in your present situation.
1) READ. Not just the words. Without glossing over the contents to fulfill a certain number of verses or time, but read slowly, savoring the words, the messages.
2) STUDY. Use the online 1828 dictionary to research words that stand out to you. What was the actual meaning intended by each word? As Lehi states in the second chapter, one of the two reasons for “the brass plates” was to preserve the language of his people. Definitions have deteriorated and changed greatly in the 190 years since the Book of Mormon was published; even many of the words and phrases that could easily be glossed over. Additionally, there have been over 3,000 changes to the text of the Book of Mormon since its first printing. Some of these are relatively insignificant grammar and editing changes. Some of the changes are far more significant, distorting the entire meaning of the passage or principle. To really understand, you might open your mind to study what those changes are. Don’t take anything for granted. Why were the words/ phrases/ stories/ principles contained within the book sequenced like they were? What did each word or phrase originally mean? Use a concordance. Draw maps. (Don’t rely on maps or charts generated by a church. Make your own in your notebook. ) If there seems to be a list of qualities or principles, write that list in your notebook. Connect the dots of the hints written within the text. THINK… CRITICALLY. Open your mind. FOCUS. Do NOT use “church authorized” study materials. FIND that which has been left undiscovered by most everyone else. Make it Your book, written for You.
3) VISUALIZE. Create the movie in your mind. See the color, the textures. Use each of your senses. What did the individuals depicted smell, hear, feel, see, taste? Allow your internal camera to span onto each of the characters. What are they wearing? What is their body language? What are they thinking or feeling? Get into their minds, and not just “the good guys.” Try to understand the antagonists as well. What might make him feel justified in thinking and doing what he does? Have you ever felt or acted similarly? See from each and all perspectives.
4) PONDER. Perhaps you only read a small section within your allotted time. Maybe only one verse or even one phrase. Ponder upon it. Allow your mind to explore and open and make connections.
*Record the book in your own voice or utilize the recordings made by others. Play it and listen as you drive in your car, walk, relax, meditate, eat meals…. Purposely listen to the same section repeatedly. Upon that second—or fifth—or 17th time, something of great significance might just “pop out” at you with great meaning. Don’t rush your experience.
*Choose each day to bring your behavior into conformance with your changing insight. Allow yourself to be changed by your reading.
*Ask… if these things are NOT True…. Read and Believe and Act as if what is contained within this book IS TRUE. Like a pure, little child… have a believing heart. ACCEPT what you read as if it IS True. Your question must be: “I assume that what I read is true and right and correct and meant for me and for my life. I will live and experiment on these insights and principles. Reveal to me if it is contrary, if it is NOT true. Otherwise, like a pure and trusting child, I will receive this gift with gratitude and joy. (This method of believing/ receiving is totally opposite of most who read with cynicism and Unbelief and, therefore, cut themselves off from the ability to find the great Jewels possible. Of course, this attitude and its unprofitability then proves to them its non-validity. Their very unbelief and intentions becomes self-fulfilling. However, it need not be IF “Moroni’s Promise” is applied correctly and sincerely.)
*CONTINUE. Realize that The Book of Mormon is just THE FIRST THIRD of “the golden plates” and that “GREATER THINGS” are held on reserve for YOU… after the “trial of (your) faith.” TRULY, if read with sincere heart and real intent, the mysteries of Godliness will be unfolded to YOU until you know them IN FULL! (Moroni 8: 12 “And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.”) Search “The Sealed Portion” of the Book of Mormon. Read what was held on reserve for all those who willingly went through “the trial of their faith.” REJOICE and read that which was NOT included within the original (1/3) Book of Mormon.
*Realize that you DON’T KNOW, yet that you CAN KNOW. This is having a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” This is being “teachable.” And, unless you are truly teachable, you cannot, will not be capable of Really learning. But, if you can and DO… THEN… “Ye shall KNOW the Truth and the Truth shall SET YOU FREE!” You will be let out of your mortal prison, your “probationary state.” You will “wake up” and truly become “alive in Christ,” having “a new name,” and a Real Purpose for living. You will then KNOW Christ, Joseph, Nephi, Moroni, and all those who have gone before you with full purpose of heart. You will then be a recipient of the JOY that was the very reason for your creation. May you seek… ask… knock… and FIND. And be set free.
*Let Your LIGHT Shine… so that others might catch the vision and want what You have found. Spread the JOY!
*Ruminate, like the cow, in the early morning and evening hours. Bring to your mind the stories and principles you have been reading. Ponder more and from a different angle. Look for anything that has remained hidden from your view.
*Feast! EnJOY your life and extract all the meaning and wisdom you can!
In my pursuit of Real Truth, I have given up everything. Crawling through the “eye of the needle,” I have learned the *mysteries* and am now giving my life to assist YOU to dis-cover Who *YOU* really are, along with your unique gift to offer humanity. As you learn to seek (in the right place and with purified intent), you WILL find treasures of lasting value, along with every promised reward. Together, we will establish a society of humane beings and live life ALIVE, on PURPOSE, and with a sociality unequaled… because we will each BE and view each other as equally and profoundly DIVINE! Please… catch this Hope and Vision and join with me.