“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 varying opinions about their experiences. They may even have conflicting opinions: One traveler may think the trip thrilling, another might find it terrifying, and a third might find it banal.

At the summit all the travelers stand in the same place. Each of them has a 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 Deng Ming-Dao’s 365 Tao, Daily Meditations.