11 Cows and a Dead Man

by Amod Joshi on October 8, 2012

I was listening to the Silva Life System CD and the story of “11 Cows and a Dead Man” (narrated by Laura Silva) re-surfaced. While listening to the story yet another time, I realised that there is a such a great moral to be derived from it. I couldn’t stop myself from sharing the story and the lesson that came with it. It goes like this…

11 Cows and a Dead Man Story

Are you using your imagination? Read the story.

One day, an old farmer died leaving behind his 3 sons and 11 cows. In his will, he had put a condition to distribute the cows among the three sons. The first son was to receive half of the cows. The second son was to get one fourth of the cows and the third son was to get one sixth of the cows. Also, the will had a strict condition that none of the cows should be slaughtered. Now the division would have resulted into five and a half (5 & 1/2) cows for the elder son, two and a three fourth (2 & 3/4) cows for the second son and one and five sixth (1 & 5/6) cows for the youngest son.

In order to solve this problem, the 3 brothers went to the wise man in the village. The wise man thought about the problem and decided to create an imaginary cow. This made the total number of cows as 12 and it could be easily divided between the 3 brothers. The eldest got half of the cows = 6. The middle one got one fourth of the cows = 3. The youngest got one sixth of the cows = 2. All adding up to 11 cows and yet everyone got more than what they would have otherwise got. The imaginary cow was then returned back from where it came.

Now, although we are Mathematically advanced people, we should not pass this story as a mere LCM (Least Common Multiple) puzzle. Let us take a step back and really understand, what this wise man did to solve this problem. In my view, the wise man used the most important tool that we all posses, but seldom use to solve our own problems – that is Imagination.

“Imagination is the most marvellous, miraculous, inconceivably powerful force the world has ever known.” – Napoleon Hill.

The wise man must have thought that he cannot divide the 11 cows into 1/2, 1/4 or 1/6. But he knew that he can do such division with 12 cows. In order to make the total number of the cows to 12, he used his imagination and created an imaginary cow to solve the problem. As a result, each person got more than they would have and none of the cows were harmed.

You can use imagination to solve problems. Imagination is one of the most powerful tool that a human being is blessed with. With imagination you can go to any place in this world – any city, any country, any planet, and even outside the solar system into the Universe. You can also create, modify or remove any object or a situation in your imagination. There is no time or space dimensions and you can travel into past and into future. You can access limitless information through your imagination.

But quite often, our imagination is canned as we start growing up. “Stop Day dreaming!!” “Look at this, pay attention” “This is nonsense. It is not real.” “Be realistic.” – Our Imagination is buried deep in the ocean.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein.

To use Imagination to solve problems, the best way is to relax your mind and let go all the thoughts. Close your eyes and if needed use headphones and listen to a soft music (this way you partially shut yourself off, from the outside world). Then imagine the way it would be if the problem was not there and you will start to see the solution.

Just like regular exercising helps our muscles to develop, you may want to be involved in little bit of imagination each day and build up that lost reservoir.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

Did you find any other moral in the story? Share it below in the comments section.

I like this one. Can you send me such articles to my inbox?


We take your privacy very seriously

This post was written by...

Co-creator of www.MyLifePuzzle.com and a passionate blogger, who shares his thoughts, ideas and reviews of some of the most inspiring material that will empower people to realise their dreams.

  • AC

    i would have look at the matter, the common denominator of the 3 division, would be 12. and 1/2 gives you 6/12, 1/4 gives 3/12 and 1/6 gives 2/12. and adding them up, gives 11 in total : without the need to use an imaginative cow.

    • Absolutely right. And I believe that is exactly what the wise man did. He figured out, like you did, that the common denominator is 12. But there are no 12 cows to be divided and hence created an imaginary cow. In today’s world we take things for granted. While solving a maths problems, we just apply the formulas and not really look at the practical aspects of it.
      Having said that 10/10 to you for solving the puzzle.Well Done!!

  • kenneth .I. Emmanuel

    Imagination is a tool for creativity. But it sad to know that only a few of the world’s population relates with this truth. Thanks to you Joshi, you’ve made it known to many more people.

    • Thanks Kenneth. Keep spreading the word!! World is becoming a better place. Just 1 person at a time.

  • Besides using imagination I believe that if you limit yourself to selfishness you miss the bigger picture, the other two brothers could have thought “he is already getting ¨5+ cows!! why is he getting 6 instead” totally overlooking the fact that if one gets more they could too get more as well
    Universe is abundant and there is plenty for everyone

  • In this world today using imagination it is so critical with so much negative in it , the only way is to stay focus on the positive side of any given situation . looking for the good in everything in one direction . To find peace , Love and Kindness in everything .

Previous post:

Next post: