Monday, September 25, 2006

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 Nibbāna 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.