Dhamma Letter No. 37

The blind turtle parable


It’s hard to be born as a human being. - The blind turtle parable

In Majjhima Nikaya 129, the Buddha used very vivid similes to describe what life is like in the hell and animal realms and how difficult it is to be reborn as a human being.

“Mendicants, suppose a person were to throw a yoke with a single hole into the ocean. The east wind wafts it west; the west wind wafts it east; the north wind wafts it south; and the south wind wafts it north. And there was a one-eyed turtle who popped up once every hundred years.”

“What do you think, mendicants? Would that one-eyed turtle poke its neck through the hole in that yoke?

“No, sir. Only after a very long time, sir, if ever.

“That one-eyed turtle would poke its neck through the hole in that yoke sooner than a fool who has fallen to the underworld would be reborn as a human being, I say. Why is that? Because in that place there’s no principled or moral conduct and no doing what is good and skillful. There, they just prey on each other, preying on the weak.”

Buddha emphasized that  

...losing fortune, losing a family, and tying yourself up in such a situation is not a problem. It is a far greater defeat to be reborn in a painful place, a bad place, a fallen place, or hell after death.

For more understanding of rebirth in Samsara, please read Dhamma letter No. 33, No. 34, No. 35, and No. 36 .

May you all understand the Buddha’s teaching well and cultivate wisdom to purify your actions of body, speech and mind!

May you all be free from any kind of suffering!

May all beings be happy and well!

with Metta,

Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha


If you have any questions related to dhamma & meditation, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at Bhikkuni.Kosalla@gmail.com . 

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Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu! 
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!

​Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!  
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!

Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !