A man and his young son were taking their donkey to a town to sell it. They had reached near the town. They were both walking with their donkey. Some school children passed them. They giggled and said, “Look at these fools: they have a healthy donkey with them and they are walking. At least the boy can sit on the donkey.”
Listening to those children the man and the young son decided, “Since people are laughing and soon we will be entering the town, so it is better to follow what they are saying.” So the boy sat on the donkey and his father walked by the side.
Then they came near a group of people and they looked at them and said, “Look! The young boy is sitting on the donkey and the poor old father is made to walk. The young boy can walk, but the old father should be allowed to sit on the donkey.” So they changed places. The young boy walked by the side and his father rode the donkey.
Then they came across another group, they said “Look at these fools. This man seems to be quite sturdy. Maybe the young boy is his son and he is walking, while the man is enjoying the ride on the donkey. This is not right!”
So they both decided that there was only one possibility: that they both should sit on the donkey. So they both sat on the donkey. Then another group passed by. They seemed to be animal lovers or animal rights advocates. They commented, “Look at these people, so inconsiderate! The poor donkey is finding it difficult to bear the burden of two persons. It would have been better if they gave some respite to the donkey and carried the donkey on their shoulders.”
So they again discussed the matter. They had now almost reached the town, so they thought: “It is better to behave as people think in this town; otherwise they will think we are fools.” So they found a bamboo; tied the donkey’s legs, hung the donkey by its legs tied to the bamboo and carried it on their shoulders.
The donkey tried to rebel, as donkeys cannot be forced very easily. It tried to escape because it doesn’t believe in society and what others say. But the two men were too much and they forced it, so the donkey had to yield.
Just then they came across a bridge over a river. On the bridge in the middle a crowd gathered and said, “Look, at these fools! We have never seen such idiots. A donkey is to ride upon, not to carry on your shoulders. Have you gone mad?”
Due to the crowd and seeing the water so near because of its upside down position, the donkey became restless and panicked. In the struggle the knot loosened and the donkey fell from the bridge down into the river and died. Both of them came down and found the donkey was dead.
Just like this man and his son we will be ruined if we listen to people too much. Don’t bother what others say, because there are millions of others and they have their own minds and everybody will say something. Everybody has his / her opinion, according to his / her own mental conditioning and level of intellectual understanding. If we start listening to everyone’s opinions this will be our end.
We can listen to everyone, seek advice from the wise and experienced people, but we should use our own intellect, assess the situation and act accordingly. We should not get carried away by what others say. If we go on listening to everybody, everybody will be prodding us to do this way or that. We will never be able to accomplish anything and, on the contrary, it may be disastrous as well.
We should not worry about what others will say or think. The so called “others” are equally worried about what ‘others’ will think!! What other people think of us is none of our business. We can’t please everybody and if we try to do it, we are bound to land in trouble. We should not let criticism bother us.
In this world whatever we do — whether good or bad — there will always be some critics. However good one may be, one will still be criticized. No avataara-s (divine incarnations), saints, sages, masters, prophets and revolutionaries have ever been spared from criticism. Then how can we expect to be spared from criticism?