Sources of old Korean history tell the story of a monk named Won Gwang Beopsa who was approached by two youth, Gwisan and Chwihang. They ask him for advice, and he gives them five rules. Gwisan is confused about the fifth rule, so Beopsa elaborates a bit. However, I'm still confused about what he means. I understand that in days before refrigeration, meat would not keep long during the spring and summer, so killing during those months is more wasteful. It's also rather pointless to kill on a fasting day. Then he says to avoid killing domestic animals. This is where I get confused about his meaning. I can understand why you wouldn't want to kill beasts of burden. Cows and chickens, however, seem like animals that would be raised specifically for the purpose of food. Did they not eat poultry or beef? Is there a nuance with the translation that I'm missing? Would 'cow' have been better translated as 'ox' or something of that nature? What then of 'chicken'?
Really, I'd appreciate any insight you can provide into this story because I can't really find much information about it at all.
Below is the story according to the Haedong Goseungjeon and the English translation by Peter Lee.
沙梁部．貴山。帚頂。詣門摳衣告曰。 俗士顓蒙無所知識。願賜一言。為終身之誡。 師曰有菩薩戒。其別 有十。若等為人臣子。恐不能行。 今有世俗五戒。一曰事君以忠。 二曰奉親以孝。三曰交友以信。四曰臨 戰不退。 五曰殺生有擇。若等行之無忽。貴山曰。他則既受命矣。 但不曉殺生有擇。師曰。 春夏月及六齋 日不殺。是擇時也。不殺使畜。謂牛馬雞犬。 不殺細物。謂肉不足一臠。是擇物也。過此雖□所 □。但不 求多殺。此可謂世俗之善戒。 貴山等守而勿墮。
Gwi San and Chwi Hang from Saryang district came to the master's door and, lifting up their robes, respectfully said, "We are ignorant and without knowledge. Please give us a maxim which will serve to instruct us for the rest of our lives." The master replied, "There are ten commandments in the Boddhisattva ordination. But, since you are subjects and sons, I fear you cannot practice all of them. Now, here are five commandments for laymen: serve your sovereign with loyalty; tend to your parents with filial piety; treat your friends with sincerity; do not retreat from a battlefield; be discriminating about the taking of life. Exercise care in the performance of them." Gwi San said, "We accept your wishes with regard to the first four. But what is the meaning of being discriminating about the taking of life?" The master answered, "Not to kill during the months of spring and summer nor during the six maigre fast days is to choose the time. Not to kill domestic animals such as cows, horses, chickens, dogs, and tiny creatures whose meat is less than a mouthful is to choose the creatures. Though you may have the need, you should not kill often. These are the good rules for laymen." Gwi San and his friend adhered to them without ever breaking them.
I apologize if this is the wrong place for this question. If it is, please point me in the right direction.