January 25, 2021
A hungry and thirsty Ass is made to stand midway between a hay pile and a bucket of water. The Donkey keeps looking left towards the hay and right towards the water, trying to decide-“hay or water, hay or water?”
The poor animal is unable to move because of indecision. It eventually falls over and dies from hunger and thirst since it cannot rationally decide between the hay and water.
14th Century French Philosopher Jean Buridan used the Donkey as a metaphor to present the paradox of human decision-making. When faced with two equally good choices, our mind goes into a stalemate, thinking, “This or That? If I choose one, I’ll miss out on the other”.
- Should I focus on Success or Happiness?
- When executing choices, what should my focus be? My happiness or the other’s happiness?
- Should I be ambitious or content? What should I trade for what?
- Should I be materialistic or spiritual?
- What should I focus on in my career- Title and Pay, or Passion?
- Should I let my Intelligence lead, or should I go with Acceptance?
All of us struggle with choices and paradoxes that paralyze us and prevent us from moving ahead. Like Buridan’s Ass, we get stuck in the This or That dilemma.
We think, to be successful, we have to sacrifice our peace and happiness. If we move towards a spiritual realm, we feel like we are missing out on the material dimension.
Like the parable of Buridan’s Ass illustrates, our struggle with making rational choices is often misplaced and exaggerated. We can do anything we want to do with foresight and patience.
We don’t have to struggle with This OR That. There is enough for us to look at This AND That.