There once was a poor man who, every day, led a donkey across the border from one country to another.
The border guards suspected him of being a smuggler. So, each day, as the man crossed the border, they carefully searched him and the donkey’s saddlebags.
However, they never found anything.
After some time, the man was seen wearing more expensive clothes, and he purchased a large house.
The border guards decided to intensify their efforts, inspecting the man and his donkey more closely, as they were now certain that he was a smuggler.
However, in their daily searches of the man and the saddlebags, the border guards never found anything – only straw.
After 30 years of this daily routine, one of the border guards retires.
One day, when the retired border guard is walking to market, he runs into the man and says “Sir, I am no longer a border guard. I can no longer hurt you. I need peace of mind, and I promise never to tell anyone – please tell me what you have been smuggling for so many years.”
“Only because I know that you can no longer arrest me, I shall tell you,” replies the man, before taking pause.
“I was smuggling donkeys.”
— Adapted from a Buddhist parable.