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The tenth donkey

A long time ago, in India, there was a farmer who had ten donkeys, which he used to work the land. One evening, after a long day of hard work and sweat (the farmers in India work from before dawn till after sunset, with only a few hours of rest during the scorching afternoon sun), the farmer returned home with the donkeys and tied them to the stakes he had driven into the ground for this purpose. When he had hitched nine donkeys, he noticed to his horror that the tenth rope had gone.

What now? He could not let the last donkey roam free all night? The animal would surely run off.

Suddenly, the farmer saw that a bit further down, under a tree, a monk was meditating.

He was an ascetic, a Sadhu. The farmer approached the holy man respectfully and waited until he woke up from his meditation. He then sought the Sadhu’s permission to ask a question. The Sadhu asked with interest what the question was and the farmer put the problem of the nine ropes and the ten donkeys to him. The monk thought for a moment and then said: ‘The only thing you have to do when you get to the tenth donkey is to make the movements you would have made with the rope in your hands. Pretend to fasten the donkey, that’s all.’

The farmer returned to the tenth donkey, pretended to fasten a rope around his neck and then to tie the rope to the tenth stake. He then entered his little house, half trusting the Sadhu’s advice, half worried that his donkey would run off in the middle of the night.

When he went outside very early the next morning, all the donkeys were still standing nicely next to their stakes, even the tenth one. Glad that all had ended well, the farmer untied the donkeys and wanted to take the herd to the field to start work. But to his great amazement, donkey number ten refused to move an inch. The farmer pulled and shouted and smacked the donkey’s rear, but the animal kept standing stock-still where it was.

Then the farmer’s eyes wandered in the direction of the tree. The monk was still in the same spot and was observing him with a smile. Could the Sadhu have cast a spell on his donkey?

The farmer walked to the tree and told the monk what had happened.

‘Did you untie the tenth donkey from the stake?’ asked the monk.

‘No, of course not,’ said the farmer. ‘The animal was not really fastened, was he?’

‘Ah,’ said the monk. ‘But the donkey does not know that. He thinks he was tied to a stake yesterday and as you have not unfastened him, he thinks that he is still tied up.’

The farmer turned round, walked to his donkey, pretended to untie a rope from the stake and to take the rope off the donkey’s neck.

And then the donkey happily walked with him to the field.

Moral of the story - If you do what is only asked, there is no difference between you and donkey :)

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