In general, it is said that from among the attachments to food, clothing and reputation, the attachment to reputation is very difficult to abandon. It is possible that a meditator gives up good food and clothing and stays for years in meditation. Even though this person does not have attachment for food and clothing, at the bottom of his heart he may think, “Maybe the people in the village think I’m a great meditator.”
Once there was a hermit meditating in the mountains. Nearby, there was a butcher who slaughtered many sheep and goats. He had lined up some sheep to slaughter and was killing them one by one. Before he could finish, he had to go away for a short time. When he came back he could not find the knife he had been using; he looked everywhere, but could not find the knife, and then he noticed that one of the sheep was crying. When he went closer, he saw that the sheep had sat on the knife to hide it, and he realized that even these animals, whom he thought were dumb, understood that they were going to be killed, and that they did not want to be killed.
He developed strong regret for his negativities and thought to commit suicide by jumping from the mountain. However, he survived, and the hermit saw this and thought, “He jumped after committing so many negativities and survived, and I am a holy hermit who has been meditating in the mountains for years, [so I should be able to do the same and survive].” However, when he jumped off the mountain, he died.
The butcher was able to develop intense regret for his actions, but the hermit, although he meditated for many years, when he saw the incident with the butcher, developed strong pride.
~ Geshe Tenzin Tenphel, ILTK Masters Program, Ornament for Clear Realization, 2009