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                the turtle and the yoke

                here is something cold-sweaty
                and uncomfortable to face –
                so much potential, so little use –

                seduced by the whispers of maybe
                I am arrogant, I am lazy, I am
                self-indulgent; they advance

                tempting as bright sweeties
                unchecked by doesn’t-really-
                matter and giddy spontaneity

                facing them will not be entertaining
                or glamourous or noble, it
                won’t even feel good

                but that it would magnify
                longer term benefits if I simply persisted;
                but I have such weak and

                feckless faith: the befuddled
                turtle disturbs the sea-bed slow-motion
                it is time to rise to take the breath

                when civic façade fades to window,
                but there is so much ocean,
                I cannot see which way is up

                but trust to hope and buoyancy
                that it could be
                that this time will place my neck

                in the life-yoke brightly adrift
                about the shoreless sea, to realise
                I could be a radiant being


Bodhisattvacharyavatara IV, 20


from … Human Life is Extremely Hard to Find, by Geshe Sonam Rinchen; full article found: HERE

A blind turtle lives on the ocean bed and surfaces just once every hundred years. A golden yoke floats on the vast ocean, blown here and there by the wind. What are the chances of the turtle surfacing at just the right time and in just the right place to be able to put its head through the yoke? Our chances of gaining a life of freedom and fortune are just as improbable. You may think it couldn’t possibly be so difficult, but cyclic existence is like a vast and stormy ocean and we are like the turtle that spends most of its time in the depths and only surfaces very occasionally. For most of our lives we have been in bad rebirths and it happens only very rarely that we emerge from these into a good rebirth.

The yoke is made of gold and is therefore heavy, so it often sinks and is invisible. The yoke symbolizes the teachings of an enlightened one. An age of illumination is a period dur­ing which an enlightened one has taught in the world and those teachings are still extant, but there are much longer dark periods of time when the world is without such teachings.

The yoke does not remain in one place but is blown here and there by the wind. Similarly the teachings first flourish in one country and then in another. They thrive where people take an interest in practicing them and die out when they cease to be alive in people’s hearts. Sometimes the turtle comes up to the surface but in a place where there is no golden yoke. This is like taking a good rebirth but having no access to the teachings.

The turtle must actually put its head into the yoke, which signifies that the only way into the teachings is by taking refuge in the Three Jewels. Our lack of interest in the teachings and our reluctance to engage with them is due to our lack of intelligence, which is like the turtle’s blindness. No matter what good circumstances we enjoy, our life is not truly fortunate and free from obstacles if we have no interest in the Buddha’s teachings.



breathing wormhole: where did the silence go
meditation wormhole: may the supreme and precious jewel bodhichitta … // … take birth where it has not yet done so … // … where it has taken birth may it not decrease … // … but may it increase infinitely
practice wormhole: ‘still …’
talking to myself wormhole: next unexpected step
voices wormhole: Sheffield Park Gardens
windows wormhole: quiet river