Qí lǘ zhǎo lǘ
Translation: Looking for the donkey on which one is riding.
Meaning: Originally it means that looking for another position while still being in one. Now the connotation is changed to looking for something right under one’s nose.
The proverb derives from Jingde chuan deng lu (The Transmission of the Lamp), a biographical account of prominent Buddhist monks compiled by Shi Daoyuan in the reign of Emperor Jingde (1004-1007 CE) of the Song dynasty.
There was once a farmer named Wang San. One day he drove five donkeys to a market to sell them, while riding on one of them. On his way, he thought of counting the animals. “One, two, three, and….” To his alarm, he counted only four! He counted again, and then again, and there were still four donkeys in front of him. One was missing! The dejected Wang San regretted being carelessness and losing one of his donkeys. When he reached the market and got off from the donkey under him, he counted again. This time it was five! Suddenly he realized that while he was doing the counting on his way, he had forgotten the one he was riding on.