A MAN wished to buy a donkey, and agreed with its owner that he should try out the animal before he bought him. He took the donkey home and led it to the manger to mix with his other donkeys. Very quickly the new animal turned his back on the others and joined the one that was most idle and the greatest eater of them all. Seeing this, the man put a halter on him and led him back to his owner.
On being asked how he could have given it a fair trial in so short a time, he answered,
"I don't need a trial. I feel certain that he'll be like the one he chose for his companion."
❋ People often judge us by the company we keep.
A TRAVELLER hired a donkey to carry him to a distant place. The day was intensely hot, and the sun was even hotter. The traveller stopped to rest and sought shelter from the heat under the shadow of the donkey. The owner who accompanied him, found no other shelter there, and the donkey shadow gave protection only for one.
Both the traveller and the owner of the donkey claimed it, and took to arguing violently as to who of them had the right to the shadow. The owner claimed that he had let out the donkey only, and not his shadow. The traveller asserted that along with hiring the donkey, he had hired his shadow too. The quarrel went on from words to blows, and while the men fought, the donkey galloped off.
❋ In quarrelling about the shadow we often lose the substance.
A DONKEY congratulated a horse on being so amply and carefully provided for, while he himself had scarcely enough to eat and not even that without hard work. But when war broke out, a heavily armed soldier mounted the horse; riding him to the charge, he rushed into the very midst of the enemy. The horse was wounded and fell dead on the battlefield. On seeing all these things the donkey changed his mind and pitied the horse.
❋ Full of trust, many domestic animals look up to those who dominate them severely.
A DONKEY who was carrying a load of wood, was crossing a bog one day when he slipped and fell. Unable to rise because of his load, he groaned heavily. Some frogs in the pool heard all this moaning and said,
"What sort of noise would you make if you had to live here always as we do, when you make such a fuss about a mere fall into the water?"
❋ Men often bear little grievances with less courage than they do large misfortunes.
❋ "You may lament your corn on the foot till someone without a leg comes along."
A DONKEY heard some grasshoppers chirping and was charmed. Wanting to make melodies as well as they did, he demanded to know what sort of food they lived on to give them such beautiful voices.
"The dew," they answered.
The donkey decided that he would live only on dew, and in a short time starved to death.
❋ At times we have to examine ourselves to put our lives in order.
❋ We often do well when we stop longing for things that are not in our alley. Otherwise we can bring mishap on ourselves.
❋ We do well in pursuing nothing to our loss.
A DONKEY asked a horse to spare him a small portion of his feed.
"Yes," said the horse; "if anything is left over of what I am now eating, I will give it you for the sake of my own superior dignity. And if you come over when I reach my own stall in the evening, I'll give you a little sack full of barley."
The donkey said,
"Thank you. But I can hardly think that you, who refuse me a little matter now, will by and by confer on me a greater benefit."
❋ The brave man sets out to bring about and even correct his position before he confers food and benefits to others.
❋ Some weak characters can be bought for food, not unlike Jacob's brother Esau in the Old Testament.
A MAN had a donkey and a pretty Maltese lapdog. The donkey was left in a stable where there was plenty of oats and hay to eat. But the lapdog was fondled by the master and allowed to play with him. And when the man dined out, he would bring back titbits and throw them to the dog when it came running and rushing and wagging his tail.
The donkey on the other hand, had much work to do in grinding the corn-mill and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the farm. He often groaned over his own hard fate and contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the lapdog, till one day he broke his cords and halter and galloped into his master's house. Frisking around his master, he kept kicking up his heels without measure. He also tried to jump about his master as he had seen the lapdog do, but broke the table and smashed the dishes on it. Then he tried to lick his master, and jumped on his back.
The servants heard these things and noticed their master was endangered. They quickly helped him and drove out the donkey to his stable with kicks and clubs tied him up in the manger again.
As the donkey returned to his stall beaten nearly to death, he moaned:
"I have brought it all on myself - It should have been enough for me to toil with my companions and not wish to emulate the little lapdog!"
❋ Keeping very still will not always be a cause for serious regret.
❋ Not to venture beyond our situation when it is good, may at times be the best alternative.
❋ Frisking about could ultimately lead to ruin and its remorse.
A DONKEY and a mule, both well laden, were trudging along the road together. As long as the donkey travelled along the plain, he carried his load with ease. But when he began to walk upwards along the steep path of a mountain, his load became more than he could bear. Therefore he begged his companion to relieve him of a small portion, that he might carry home the rest. But the mule paid no attention to it. In a short while after that, the donkey fell down dead under his burden.
Not knowing what else to do in so wild a region, the muleteer placed the donkey's load on the mule in addition to his own. Finally, at the top of all he put the hide of the donkey after skinning him.
The mule, groaning beneath his heavy burden, said to himself:
"I brought it on myself. If I had been willing to help the donkey a little in his need, I should not now be bearing his burden and himself."
❋ It is not just at the start but at the finish that we should judge each other's condition.
❋ At times a good pause may mark the turn for the better.
❋ The superior man may fall back on his inner worth to escape major difficulties. He may therefore withdraw into seclusion instead of persevering like an overloaded donkey into very bad fortune.
THERE was a donkey who belonged to an herb-seller who gave him too little food and too much work. So the animal begged Sir Success to release him from the herb-seller and give him another master. Sir Success then saw to it that he was sold to a potter. Shortly afterwards the donkey found that he now had heavier loads to carry and harder work as well. So he asked Sir Success for another master. Sir Success saw to it that he was sold to a tanner. This time the donkey found that he had fallen into still worse hands. And when he noticed what his master was doing for a living, he groaned,
"I would have been better off being starved by my first master or overworked by the other, than to have been bought by this new owner: Even when I am dead he will use me; flay me and tan my hide: make what is left of me useful to somebody."
❋ Good living and success may be had if you tackle bad people that make use of others to their hearts' content.
A DONKEY was driven along a high road when suddenly he started off and bolted to the brink of a very deep gorge. Just as he was throwing himself over, his owner seized him by the tail, trying to pull him back. When the donkey persisted anyway, the man let him go and said,
"Conquer, but conquer to your cost."
❋ One may rise into prominence and power by pushing upwards and visiting great men, but hardly by blindly deluding oneself.
A SHEPHERD, watching his donkey feeding in a meadow, was alarmed all of a sudden by the cries of the enemy approaching. He appealed to the donkey to fly with him to avoid being captured, but the animal lazily replied,
"Why should I? Do you think it likely the conqueror will place two sets of baskets on my back?"
"No," answered the shepherd.
"Then," said the donkey, "as long as I carry the baskets, what does it matter to me whom I serve?"
❋ In a change of government the poor change nothing above the name of their master.
A DONKEY grazing in a small meadow saw a wolf creep up on him, and at once pretended to be lame. The wolf, coming nearer, asked why he was limping. The donkey said that he had passed through a hedge where he had trod with his foot on a sharp thorn. He advised that the wolf pull it out, so that it would not harm his throat when he ate him. The wolf agreed and lifted up the foot, and concentrated on the hoof. Then the donkey kicked his teeth into his mouth and galloped away. Fearfully mauled, the wolf said,
"I deserved what I got. Why did I attempt the art of healing, when my father only taught me the trade of a butcher?"
❋ Enthusiasm of the heart expresses itself in more than galloping away.
❋ Be firm as a rock if it helps you to keep alive.
❋ Those who undertake things which are outside their natural abilities and expertise, may be in for troubles.
A DONKEY once carried a famous wooden image through the streets of a city. The image was to be placed in a temple. As he passed along, the crowd bowed low before the image. The donkey thought that they bowed their heads in token of respect for him, and bristled up with pride. He started to bray and refused to move another step.
The driver guessed what he went through and gave him a whip about his shoulders, saying, "You stupid bonehead! Men have not yet started to adore a donkey."
❋ Wise ones refuse to take the credit due to others.
❋ The superior man is inexhaustible in his will to teach.
❋ The swift approach may confer a good deal more influence that a belated one.
❋ But, really, isn't a living being of taller value than carved and painted wood? Who were the ones to blame, really?
A DONKEY who had put on the skin of a lion, roamed about in the forest and amused himself by frightening all the animals he met. At last he came on a fox and tried to frighten him too.
But the fox had heard his voice before, and exclaimed,
"I could have been scared if I had not heard your bray."
❋ Kings and nobility learnt how to get impressive by clothes and hermine and stuff, whereas the much simple-minded donkey failed along such a vein.
❋ The strong personality holds together with others that appear to complement his own nature.
❋ Don't put on airs if you can do without it.
A DONKEY and a cockerel were in a straw-yard together when a lion drew near. He was about to spring on the donkey when the cock crowed so loudly that the lion fled - it is said that lions fear the sound of crowing cocks.
The donkey imagined that the lion fled because of him, and galloped after him, intending to attack him. But when the lion had run a little off and could not hear the cock, he turned round, seized the donkey and tore him to pieces.
As he was dying, the donkey brayed,
"How stupid of me to set out to fight when I was not born to warlike parents!"
❋ Overconfidence, no matter how sweet and brisk at first glance, may lead into trouble.
❋ In a good life, as good as everything needs to be treated with care, especially at the beginning, so that the return may lead to a flowering.
THE DONKEY and the fox agreed to hunt together for mutual benefit, and went out into the forest. There they met a lion. Hoping to save himself from the danger, the fox drew near the lion and promised to catch the donkey for him if the lion would promise not to harm himself. Then, while assuring the donkey that he would not be injured, the fox led him to a deep pit and saw to it that he fell into it. But as soon as the lion saw that the donkey was secured, he clutched and ate the fox, and saved the donkey for later.
❋ Some who betray, may not be able to get on with their living after that.
❋ The superior man (and donkey?) forgives misdeeds at his own wise decision.
❋ The struggle for living must not be carried on with the wrong means and weapons.
❋ The companion worth having, has freedom to act through proper means, and values his integrity above life when it comes to some major issues.
A SKILFUL BOWMAN went to the mountains in search of game, but all the beasts of the forest fled when he came near. The lion alone challenged him to combat. The bowman at once shot out an arrow and said to the lion,
"I send you my messenger, that you may learn from him what I myself shall be when I assail you."
The wounded lion rushed away in great fear, and when a fox who had seen it all happen told him to be of good courage and not to back off at the first attack, he replied,
"You counsel me in vain; for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I withstand the attack of the man himself?"
❋ Be on guard against men who can strike from a distance.
A DOE hard pressed by hunters sought refuge in a cave that belonged to a lion. The lion hid himself on seeing her approach, but when she was safe within the cave, sprang on her and tore her to pieces.
"Woe is me," exclaimed the doe, "who have escaped from man, only to throw myself into the mouth of a wild beast?"
❋ In avoiding one evil, care must be taken not to fall into another.
THE BEASTS of the field and forest had a lion as their king. He was neither wrathful, cruel, nor tyrannical, but just and gentle as a king could be. During his reign he made a royal proclamation that all the birds and beasts were to gather before him. When they did, he drew up conditions for a universal league, in which the wolf and the lamb, the panther and the kid, the tiger and the stag, the dog and the hare, should live together in perfect peace and amity.
The hare said, "Oh, how I have longed to see this day, where the weak shall take their place by the side of the strong, and without being punished for it." And after the hare said this, he ran for his life.
❋ There is a black sheep in every flock (American proverb).
ON A SUMMER DAY, when the great heat made the beasts thirsty, a lion and a boar came at the same moment to a small well to drink. They argued fiercely which of them should drink first, and were soon engaged in the agonies of a mortal combat. When they suddenly stopped to catch their breath for a fiercer renewal of the fight, they saw some vultures waiting in the distance to feast on the one that should fall first. At once they made up their quarrel, saying,
"It is better for us to make friends than to become the food of crows or vultures."
❋ You can catch more vultures and flies with carcasses than with vinegar.