Long, long ago in Huanch’eng lived Yu Penshu, who never ever ate beef.
One day Yu Penshu got sick. His doctor prescribed medicine to be taken with cow brain. When his friends heard about this, they gave Yu beef and cow brains for his medicine. Yu gave the brain to his servants to eat and took the medicine. He thought that this way he was not guilty of any crime against living creatures.
One night he dreamed that a god dressed in splendid clothes scolded him, saying “You must eat beef. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t smell so foul.”
Yu defended himself. “That’s not true! I never eat beef?’
The god had his attendant get out the official records and look up Yu’s case. “You have not eaten any beef yourself, but because of your sickness you have broken universal commandments. Then you have given the dead body to your servants to eat. For this your life should be shortened.
“However, you have a clean record, and display sincere regret. If you take part in no more killing, and advise others not to eat beef, you will be pardoned for the time being.”
Yu asked, “What should I do if someone gives me beef?”
The god smiled. “Certainly you should know that dead bodies should be buried with proper respect. You can do many good deeds if you set your heart to it, and stick to it.”
When Yu Penshu woke up, he knew it had been a dream, but what the god told him was so important, he wrote it down for everybody to read. Living creatures are not to be killed. Even if someone makes you a present of a piece of meat, remember that it is a dead body, and dead bodies are to be buried.