At the summit all the travelers stand in the same place. Each of them has the same chance to view the same vistas. The donkeys are put to rest and graze; they are not needed anymore.
We all travel the path of Tao. The donkeys are the various doctrines that each of us embraces. What does it matter which doctrine we embrace as long as it leads us to the summit? Your donkey might be a Zen donkey, mine might be a Tao donkey. There are Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and even Agnostic donkeys. All lead to the same place. Why poke fun at others over the name of their donkey? Aren't you riding one yourself?
We should put aside both the donkeys and our interim experiences once we arrive at the summit. Whether we climbed in suffering or joy is immaterial; we are there. All religions have different names for the ways of getting to the holy summit. Once we reach the summit, we no longer need names, and we can experience all things directly."
This text was the reading for Saturday at the beginning of my Tai Chi class. Jim always reads a selection from this book before we begin. He followed the reading with the question: "Did you leave your donkey outside to graze, or bring him into the yurt?"
Interesting question. And an interesting conversation followed. And the reading has stuck with me so that I wanted to bring it here.
I've ridden more than one donkey on my particular journey. I'm riding one now, though I don't know its name. I do very much like the analogy, though. We ride our various donkeys until we reach the summit or the end of our journey - which is probably the same thing. And then we can dismount and enjoy the view.
This thought occurs: When the donkeys are unsaddled and allowed to graze, they do so peacefully, though not in close proximity to each other.
I am also rereading R. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and just read the section in which Jubal Harshaw is trying to explain religion and God to Valentine Michael Smith. (Mike had just seen a religious service on TV; has NO understanding of either term, and took it all at face value.) It is interesting to me that Jubal says practically the same thing as Ming-Dao when he states, "I told you that, while religions said many things, most of them said, 'God made the World.' I told you that I did not grok the fullness, but that 'God' was the word that was used."
Mike doesn't 'grok' it, though. The conversation continues. And then, ... get this:
"You grok," Smith repeated firmly. "I am explain. I did not have the word. You grok. Anne groks, I grok. The grasses under my feet grok in happy beauty. But I needed the word. The word is God." ...
Mike points triumphantly at Jubal. "Thou art God!"
Jubal slapped a hand to his face. "Oh, Jesus H. ___ What have I done? Look, Mike, take it easy! You didn't understand me. I'm sorry. I'm very sorry! Just forget what I've said and we'll start over another day. But__"
"Thou are God," Mike repeated serenely. That which groks. Anne is God. I am God, the happy grasses are God. Jill groks in beauty always; Jill is God. All shaping and making and creating together." He croaked something in Martian and smiled."
For you non-Heinlein fans, to "grok" is to achieve perfect understanding, the mutually merging rapport that should exist between special friends, or soul mates as it were.
All most interesting to me...