The Heart Donkey
There was a man in Turkey who was travelling with his favourite donkey, a faithful companion for years and an animal very close to his heart. At the end of a hard day on the road he came to an inn and decided to rest there for the night. No sooner than he had taken off the saddle bags than a youth working for the inn came out to greet him.
“Salaam Aleikum, sir, welcome to our humble shelter! Please, come inside and get some warm soup and sit beside the fire.”
“Of course, I’d love to but first I must make sure my donkey is well cared for.” The man said, patting his donkey on the back. The youth smiled generously.
“Please, sir, allow me to attend to such details, you are an honoured guest here.”
“But it’s just that he’s an old donkey and needs a nice bed of hay to lie in.”
“Sir, we guarantee you the best care possible.”
“But you will sweep the floor first to make sure there are no stones? He gets in a terrible mood if he doesn’t sleep well.”
“Please, sir, just trust me, we are professionals here.”
“But you will add some water to his straw – his teeth are getting shakey and he likes just a little fresh grass to begin with.”
“Sir, you are embarrassing me!
“And you will give him a little rubdown along the spine – he goes crazy for that!”
“Sir, please just leave everything to me.”
So finally the man gave in and entered the establishment to enjoy a fine dinner by the fire and a comfortable bed. Meanwhile the youth rolled his eyes and… then went out to play cards in a nearby den.
The man could not sleep somehow, despite the silk sheets, as he kept having nightmares of his donkey chained up without water or food, lying on the cold stone. The vision wouldn’t leave him and so he got up in his dressing gown, walked down the steps to the stable and there! His donkey was in exactly the condition he’d imagined – cold, hungry and dying of thirst.
[Rumi then sums up by saying: the world is full of those who say whatever is necessary to get their way. When it comes to looking after your heart donkey, it’s entirely up to us. We are the only real keepers of our feelings and no one knows better than us what we really need, hence the value of trusting our intuition and taking care of our hearts as though it really were an old, faithful companion.]