Dismount your donkey at the summit

donkeyWhen I am busy, and I still feel like posting something, it is usually because some email I received sparked a response.   One I received today contained this Tao Meditation.

Your Donkey

Dismount your donkey at the summit.

Some places in this world are very hard to climb, and people use animals. Each person can only ride one, and each animal might have a different name. The riders go up the trail in different orders, and they discuss their varying opinions about their experiences.  They may even have conflicting opinions: One traveler may think the trip thrilling, another may find it terrifying, and a third may find it banal.

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.

From 365 Tao:  Daily Meditations by Den Ming-Dao (from here, here, and here)

Do all paths lead to god?  If you google “do all paths lead to god” or “do all roads lead to god”, you will receive a great many hits.  The answer is “no”, but why do people perpetuate such nonsense as this Tao Meditation suggests.   Some would make a religion out of tolerance.

I got the Tao Meditation when I observed that my some of email partners were in fact insisting that all religious beliefs are equivalent.   So I suggested that they read THE MYTH OF TOLERANCE, and I got the Tao Meditation in reply.  Here is what I sent in return.

You obviously did not read the THE MYTH OF TOLERANCE.  Traditional tolerance involves what we use to call forbearance.  Forbearance occurs when agree to disagree.  To tolerate Buddhists, Muslims or members of other religions, do I have to believe all religious beliefs are equal?

Your little donkey story is cute, but nonsense.  I have no idea how many people other people have sacrificed to their gods, but number is considerable.  Would the author of your donkey story calmly accept a religion that practices human sacrifice?  Why not?  What if some Satanic cult decided to sacrifice a friend of yours.  Would you still feel “All lead to the same place”?

Is it possible some beliefs are too terrible to tolerate?  If that is true, then is it also possible some of donkeys we agree to tolerate are much better than the others?

In a way, the donkey in the Tao Meditation is only too appropriate.  When toleration is taken too far and distorted, we accomplish little but to make asses of ourselves.  Unfortunately, this is the sort of thinking we have been teaching our children for years.  We have put tolerance on a pedestal.   It has gotten to the point that we even blame ourselves for the bad behavior of other people.  Here is what we think.

If we could only be a little more tolerant and nicer, those other people would be nice to us.

We never stop to consider what others expect to find at the submit.  In our pride, we assume everyone wants and seeks what we want and seek.  Others sometime search for different peaks.   Because we each can climb the mountain or descend into the abyss we have chosen, all paths do not lead to the same submit.  Some paths don’t even go up.


2 thoughts on “Dismount your donkey at the summit

  1. Agreeing to disagree is one form of tolerance, in my mind. Tolerance indicates, “I will leave you alone if you will leave me alone.” It also means, “I will consider what you are saying.” It doesn’t mean you have to love what the other person believes or believe the same things.

    Of course, in physical self defense, the “leave me alone” part doesn’t work, but that’s another issue. Some people WON’T leave other people alone. They persecute others. That’s a problem.


  2. lneely

    The Netherlands is a country whose creed is tolerance, even to the point of tolerating intolerance. All we must do is observe how radical Islam is hijacking their country and robbing the Dutch people of their freedoms to see where too much tolerance will inevitably lead us. As one might expect, their government is more than obliged, perhaps even eager, to hand their country over to terrorists. It’s gotten so bad that, lately, even the word “tolerance” has been making me instinctively cringe.

    The problem exists such that when one recognizes the line at which tolerance should rightfully stop, he’s labeled a closed-minded bigot. It’s a dangerous precedent, and it’s truly frightening.


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