Basil the Turtle

While in Edmonton last week I visited the group of people who formed the congregation of the priory, now the Meditation Group. We joined for the usual Sunday morning schedule of meditation, morning service and a talk. This time I talked about not ‘traveling to other dusty countries’ while at the same time recognizing the value and place of pilgrimage to one of our monasteries from time to time. And during the talk I made reference to a Buddhist fable about a fish and a turtle (yes, it was a turtle). I’ve since discovered that I quoted the fable inaccurately. So for those of you there last Sunday and for those of you who were not, here is the actual story. Scroll down the page to the heading Is Nibb?na Nothingness? The book where this fable appears, The Buddha and His Teachings by Venerable Narada Mahathera, is a Theravada Buddhism classic and well worth a place on a shelf of Buddhists books, for reference purposes.

While driving from Shasta Abbey to the Redwood Coast the week before, I came upon a turtle, upside down, in the middle of the road in the middle of no where. The last line of the Fish and the Turtle goes, “And with that the turtle turned away and, leaving the fish behind in its little pond of water, set out on another excursion over the dry land that was nothing”.
I’m only so glad that I was able to rescue this wandering turtle. First turning it the right way up, giving it a ride and some time to recover itself and then liberating it in a stream connected to a lake, where it quickly made off.
It’s our custom to give the Precepts to animals and to give them a name. I named the turtle Basil.
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4 thoughts on “Basil the Turtle”

  1. The story reminds me of “A frog tries to convince a turtle to join him in his wonderful well, of which he is a master. After trying to get in and getting stuck, the turtle withdraws and tells the frog instead of how deep and wide the sea is. The frog is left dumfounded”. In Japanese it is succinctly rendered “the frog in the well knows nothing of the ocean ?????????????. (From the Japanese History Blog).

    From afar I imagine a Throssel autumn – kicking leaves in the lane.

  2. Hi Rev. Mugo

    The link to the story doesn’t seem to work anymore. Is it easy to fix? I’ll find it in the book if not.


  3. Thanks Michael for letting me know about the broken link. I just mended it. Glad you are still aboard and reading.

    And Thanks to you Walter for the reference. No kicking up of leaves just yet around these parts, but it won’t be long. The drive to the dentist at Haltwhistle over the moors was just wonderful, could almost see Scotland I think.

  4. Better late than never! I wanted to tell you about finding a badger seemingly dead in the road the other week. He was so beautiful. My friend & I drove by & talked about how “someone should move him” & “he shouldn’t be left in the middle of the road”. After several miles we agreed to turn round & go back. We were so glad we had because when we got him to the grass verge by some woodland he was still breathing! We left him there, probably to die but possibly to recover from the shock & move off. At least he was out of the traffic.

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