what they say…


An old man and a young man are traveling with a donkey. They have reached near a town; they both are walking with their donkey. School children passed them and they giggled and they laughed and they said, “Look at these fools: they have a healthy donkey with them and they are walking. At least the old man can sit on the donkey.”Listening to those children the old man and the young man decided, What to do? – because people are laughing and soon we will be entering the town, so it is better to follow what they are saying. So the old man sat on the donkey and the young man followed.

Then they came near another group of people and they looked at them and said, “Look! – the old man is sitting on the donkey and the poor boy is walking. This is absurd! The old man can walk, but the boy should be allowed to sit on the donkey.” So they changed: the old man started walking and the boy was allowed to sit.

Then another group came and said, “Look at these fools. And this boy seems to be too arrogant. Maybe the old man is his father or his teacher and he is walking, and he is sitting on the donkey – this is against all rules!”

So what to do? They both decided that now there is only one possibility: that they both should sit on the donkey; so they both sat on the donkey. Then other groups came and they said, “Look at these people, so violent! The poor donkey is almost dying – two persons on one donkey. It would have been better if they carried the donkey on their shoulders.”

So they again discussed, and then there was the river and the bridge. They had now almost reached the boundary of the town, so they thought: It is better to behave as people think in this town, otherwise they will think we are fools. So they found a bamboo; on their shoulders they put the bamboo and hung the donkey by his legs, tied it in the bamboo and carried him.

The donkey tried to rebel, as donkeys are they cannot be forced very easily. He tried to escape because he is not a believer in society and what others are saying. But the two men were too much and they forced him, so the donkey had to yield. Just on the bridge in the middle a crowd passed and they all gathered and they said,

“Look, these fools! We have never seen such idiots – a donkey is to ride upon, not to carry on your shoulders. Have you gone mad?”

Listening to them – and a great crowd gathered – the donkey became restless, so restless that he jumped and fell from the bridge down into the river – and died. Both men came down – the donkey was dead. They sat by its side and the old man said,

“Now listen… just like this donkey you will be dead if you listen to people too much. Don’t bother what others say, because there are millions of others and they have their own minds and everybody will say something; everybody has his opinions and if you listen to opinions this will be your end.”

Don’t listen to anybody, you remain yourself. Just bypass them, be indifferent. If you go on listening to everybody, everybody will be prodding you to this way or that. You will never be able to reach your innermost center.”





 may your day be filled with peace

9 thoughts on “what they say…

  1. Years ago I saw a cartoon panel drawn by Shel Siverstein that was similar to this proverbial analogy.

    In the first scene, our main character is with friends, and they are all dressed alike. In the second, he comes upon other friends who are dressed drastically different, and he morphs into their look. In the third scene he comes upon yet another group, dressed still differently, and morphs into their look. In the next to last scene, he encounters all three groups at the same time — morphs back and forth crazily — and in the final scene is reduced to a puddle of goo.

    “This above all; to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.” — William Shakespeare

  2. Bless you and yours many times over, dear Art, on this Palm Sunday weekend. Love the photo of the braying donkey in that little boy’s car window! This story is one I must carve into the inside of my forehead, for I fret far too often (not nearly so much as I once did, thank God!) about what “other people are saying.” Now, I am just “White Hair Walking”–hallelujah! Thanks for the gift of this helpful post, once again.

  3. Interestingly, there are so many versions of the story that I’ve read, the oldest one being attributed to the Legends of 1001 Arabian Nights… But your modern version is surely amusing..:-)

    Subhan Zein

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s