A man in Turkey was travelling in the winter with his old donkey, a faithful companion for years. At the end of a hard day on the road, he came to an inn and decided to rest there for the night. As he took off the saddle bags, a youth working in the inn ran out to greet him.
“Assalam-u-alaykum! Welcome to our humble shelter, Sire. There is delicious food here and you can rest beside the fire.”
“I’d love to but first I must make sure my donkey is well cared for,” replied the man, patting his donkey on the back.
The youth smiled: “Allow me to attend to these details, you are an honored guest here.”
“He’s an old donkey and needs a nice bed of straw to lie upon. If there are stones upon the floor, he doesn’t sleep well and gets in a bad mood. So, will you sweep the floor first?” the man asked.
“Don’t you worry, Sire. We take the best care possible,” the youth reassured him.
“Will you also add some water to his hay? His teeth are getting loose and he prefers some fresh, tender hay to begin with. And after he is through eating, he likes a little rubdown along the spine,” the man continued.
“Trust me Sire, just leave everything to me!” the youth insisted.
Filly, the man gave in and entered the inn. He ate a hearty dinner by the fire and lay down on a comfortable bed. The youth remained at his side until he fell asleep. He then went out to gamble in a nearby den.
But somehow, the man could not sleep well. Despite the warm sheets, he kept having nightmares of his donkey chained up without water or food, lying on the cold stone floor. The vision wouldn’t leave him. At last, the man got up, put on his robe, and walked down the steps into the stable.
Just as he had suspected, the man found his donkey in exactly the condition he had feared – cold, hungry and faint with thirst.
Telling this story, the sage Rumi summed up by saying: “The world is full of people who say whatever is necessary to get their way. When it comes to looking after our heart donkey, it is entirely up to us.”
For, we are the only real keepers of our innermost thoughts and feelings. No one knows better than us what we really need. It is in our intuition we must trust; it is for us to take care of our hearts as though it were an old, faithful companion.