The Story of Buddha and the Tortoise: Stepping out of comfort zone
This is an inspiration story of how a person should step out of his comfort zone before it gets too late to lament.
This story is from the time when Brahmadatta was ruling in Banaras, now called as Varanasi, in northern India. Let’s begin!
Boddhisatta was born in a village as potter’s son. He chose to be a potter and had a family to support. At that time there laid a great natural lake, close by the great river of Banaras, the Ganges.
When there was enough water, during the rains, the river and the lake were one. But when the water was low, they were apart.
Fish and tortoises know by instinct when the year will be rainy, and when there will be a drought.
At the time our story, fish and tortoises, which lived in that lake knew that there would be a drought. And when the two were one water, they swam out of the lake into the river.
But there was one tortoise that would not go into the river. The reason he said was “Here I was born, and here I have grown up, and here is my parent’s home. Leave it. I cannot.”This is the feeling of living in comfort zone.
Then in the hot season the water all dried up. He dug a hole and buried himself just in the same place where the Bodhisatta was used to come for clay.
Then the Bodhisatta came to get some clay for his pottery work. He dug down with a big spade. And unknowingly he cracked the tortoise shell.
He turned the tortoise out on the ground thinking he was some large piece of clay. In extreme physical and mental suffering, the tortoise thought “Here I am, dying.
All because I was too fond of my home to leave it”. And in the words of these following verses, he made his moan.
“Here was I born, and here I lived;
My refuge was the clay;
And now the clay has played me false in a most grievous way;
Thee, thee I call, oh Bhaggava;
Hear what I have to say!
Go where thou canst happiness, where’er the place may be;
Forest or village, there the wise both home and birthplace see;
Go where there’s life; nor stay at home for death to master thee.”
So he went on and on, talking to Bodhisatta, until he died.
The Bodhisatta picked him up and collected all the villagers to tell what happened. He told them what tortoise told him while dying, narrating the entire story.
And thus he said, the tortoise came to his end because he was too fond of his home. Take care not to be like this tortoise.
Do not cleave to these things with cravings and desire. Each being passes through stages of existence. He explained the tortoise fate as best he could with all his Buddhist skills.
The communication between the Bodhisatta and the villagers spread widely all over India. For 7 thousands year they remembered this tale.
The crowd was moved with Bodhisatta’s teaching and the tortoise. The crowd gave alms and respectfully bid farewell to the tortoise.
You see in life, never stay where it is too comfortable for you. Don’t be like the tortoise. Get out of that lake you are in, before it dries up.
Because then you will miss out real life, real adventure and thus real opportunities. Be courageous and live your life to the fullest.