The Turtle Story: Precious Human Life

The Turtle Story: Precious Human Life

In 2003, I was living in my hometown, Rio de Janeiro, working in the IT industry and consulting for the national Oil & Gas Brazilian company Petrobras. My work colleague Branca Duboc invited me to join a meditation session in an urban Tibetan Buddhist temple. Despite being raised as catholic, back then I was already practicing yoga (mostly to better handle work stress) and was curious about meditation, so I said yes!

After attending a couple of meditation sessions I got curious about the philosophy behind the practice and was recommended to check the book Gates to Buddhist Practice from Chagdud Rulku, the Rinpoche who introduced Tibetan Buddhism in Brazil. To be honest, despite my intellectual appetite, I found the book quite difficult to read, gave up on it and decided to simply focus on the actual meditation practice which was already giving me good results.

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In 2006 when I migrated to Australia I packed a few books with me including this one. During my very first silent meditation retreat at the Sunnataram Forest Monastery in Sydney, I picked up the book again and this time I was so delighted that I finished it up in just a couple of days.

There are a number of principles and messages I still carry with me but the turtle story was by far the most memorable and had the most significant impact on my mindset and outlook in life.

The story goes that the Buddha used the following metaphor to illustrate how precious human birth is. Imagine all the billions of universes/galaxies were equivalent to a vast ocean and there was a bucket floating on its surface. Consider that a blind turtle lived in the depths of this huge ocean. Once every 100 years the turtle would come to the surface to breath and then return to the bottom of the ocean. The probability of that old blind turtle to hit its head on the bucket once surfacing to breath is as rare as the chance of obtaining a human birth.

Moral of the story, instead of taking our human birth for granted we should be grateful, reflect on our immense good fortune and use this lifetime wisely to purify our mind/heart and thrive to become better human beings.

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others…”

His Holiness the Dalai lama

To learn more:

  1. Watch this TED Ed 4 min video – How many universes are there? –
  2. Check this article –

#zenhighachiever #mindfulness #reflection #gratitude #wisdom #life

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