I said, “Yes.” And in India if you want to find donkeys, you will find them near the river because the washer men use donkeys to carry their clothes to the river. Only the washer men use the donkey. Nobody else even touches the donkey because the washer man is untouchable and his donkey is untouchable too. So while they are washing clothes their donkeys are just standing on the bank of the river waiting for the washer men to load them again, and then they will start moving home.
So I said, “There is a donkey. Just give me your begging bowl; and don’t be worried – if he eats it I will bring you a full bowl again from my house. If he does not eat it, you have to eat it.
He said, “I take the challenge.”
I put the begging bowl in front of the donkey and the donkey simply escaped. He escaped for two reasons: one was the food, the other was me. That was not known to the monk – that any donkey would have escaped. All the donkeys of my town were afraid of me because whenever I got a chance I would ride on them – just to harass my whole village. I would go to the marketplace sitting on a donkey. The whole village used to say, “this is too much!” And I would say, “The donkey is a creation of God, and God cannot create anything bad. And I don’t see what is wrong. He is a poor fellow, and nice.”
So all the donkeys knew me perfectly well. It became so that even from far away, even at night, if a donkey was standing there and I was coming towards him, he would just escape. They started recognizing me. The monk was not aware that there were two reasons for the donkey running away, but he certainly saw that the donkey refused the food.
I said, “This is what your religion has been teaching you, to fall below the donkey. Even a donkey can sense that this is not food, not worth eating.”
But everything that gives any hint of life has to be cut from its very roots. The monk should wear only rags that he collects from streets where people throw them. In India people are very generous about that, they throw things everywhere. Although the municipal committees have specific places to throw away things, nobody takes any notice of it. Who bothers to go that far?
It was too difficult for me to explain to my grandmother that throwing all unnecessary things, clothes, dirt, from the window of the second story onto the street was not right. She said, “but I am seventy years old, and for seventy years I have been doing it. Don’t disturb me. I am not going to live much longer and I can’t change my habits. I can’t go downstairs and go to the municipal place, no. And in seventy years no problem has arisen so why should it arise for two or three years more? I will manage.”
I told her, “Every day a problem arises, but you don’t think it is a problem. Your things sometimes fall on people and they shout.”
She said, “That is their problem!”
People go on throwing things, and the monks have to collect clothes this way; and out of small pieces, any kind of clothes, they will make their robes, clothes. My father used to give new clothes to sannyasins he liked very much, but they would say, “We cannot accept new clothes. You can give us old clothes and first tear them into pieces, and then we will sew them.”