In Buddhist philosophy, the preciousness of life is often illustrated in a myriad of ways of which my favorite involves metaphorical storytelling. Since life itself is so uncomprehendingly mysterious and vast, the stories often offer a grounded way to help partially wrap our minds around seemingly infinite magnitude surrounding life. One such story involves a blind turtle who remain at the bottom of a vast ocean with only the opportunity to rise up to the surface of the ocean
once every one hundred years.
During this time, there is a yoke with a space just enough to fit a turtle’s head, floating on the surface of this vast ocean. This yoke gets drifted randomly in all directions by the winds and the tides. As uncomprehending as it may seem, during the slimmest moment where the blind turtle’s neck meets the hole of the yoke, human life becomes possible.
Like the blind turtle, this story which remains buried within the depths of my unconsciousness, has risen time and again through the various stages of life. So, I composed an ode to honor its timely visits.
All Within Eternity
Oh! to the blind old immortal turtle
You, who live at the bottom of the ocean
Wrapped in the overwhelming cloak of water
Adorned with the precious jewels of solitude
Fiercely, independently, utterly lonely
You, for whom there are no words large enough
Please tell me, What’s more hopeful than hope?
I beg you, What’s more faithful than faith?
Is there something more undying than love?
You, whose only companion is your own breadth
Crumbling sands under you feet, darkness all around
With only the sounds of heavy vast current
To lull the lullaby of remembrance
You, who sit steadfastly from ages unto ages
Calmly passing into the place beyond insanity
Silently escaping the claws of oblivion
Serenely conquering the land beyond rationality
You, for whom thousand lifetimes isn’t enough
To enlist you into the legion of forgetfulness
If only you had eyes to see our side,
We, who can’t bear the pain of a single lifetime
We, who have chosen to live in doubt and fear
We, for whom life is never gift enough
We, who have discarded all history
We, for whom the present is transitory
We, who laugh at those who identify you
We, for whom simplicity is not worthy anymore
We, who have burned our letters of life
In hopes of collecting its burning red ashes
So that we may discover a single moment,
Where we can all hold witness
To the moment when you meet your yoke
Where life itself will be born
Where we will all hold witness
And understand the singularity of life
Where we will all speak in unison,
“We are all within eternity”