Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Swami Nirvikalpananda Saraswati

Once upon a time, the turtle, the dog and the rabbit decided to go to the land of Enlightenment. Starting at the same time, at the same place, the rabbit immediately took the lead, followed by the dog. The turtle was the slowest, and soon lost sight of both of them.

The rabbit hopped on very fast at first, thinking: - I am the fastest, so I will reach Enlightenment first. It's not necessary to make any real effort, for I will be the first one anyway.

So when he was sure that the dog was far behind, he slowed down and finally stopped to pick some blueberries. After this he felt so tired, that he lay down under a tree and fell fast asleep.

Meanwhile, the dog was running very fast, hoping to after all reach Enlightenment before the rabbit, but when he came to the tree under which he saw the rabbit sleeping, he also slowed down.

- So here he is sleeping, the dog thought. That's fine; he will be sleeping for a long time. Meanwhile I can go on without hurrying, and reach Enlightenment before him anyway.

The dog went on slowly, sniffing around as dogs usually do. And suddenly he caught the smell of a fox, and started following its trail, forgetting all about Enlightenment.

Meanwhile, the turtle went on very fast in comparison to common turtle-speed, but very slowly in comparison to the others. He went past the blueberries and the sleeping rabbit, thinking:

- Eating and sleeping are not necessary; I can eat and sleep when I reach Enlightenment.

He, too, saw the trails of foxes and other animals, but he was not interested and thought:

- If I want to chase foxes, I can wait till I have reached Enlightenment.

So he went on, determined to reach the sacred land as soon as possible. After some time, he came to a high mountain range, which seemed very difficult to climb. He looked at it and hesitated, but then he thought:

- This is the shortest way to Enlightenment.

So he started to climb the mountain, using his mouth, claws and everything he had.

Meanwhile the dog had stopped chasing the fox, and suddenly remembered that he was on his way to Enlightenment. So he ran as fast as he could, soon reaching the same mountain range as the turtle was climbing. He looked at it and thought:

- It's impossible to climb a mountain range like that. It would be better to walk around, instead of trying to climb over it.

Then the dog began a long circumambulation of the mountain. The turtle meanwhile climbed with great effort to the top of the mountain and down the other side. There he soon reached the borders of Enlightenment, and was thus the first one to walk in through the gate, being royally greeted by Shiva and Shakti themselves.

The dog reached the gates of Enlightenment two days later, having walked around the whole mountain range as he hadn't wanted to waste energy on climbing.

And what happened to the rabbit?

Well, probably he is still asleep under the tree, if he is not eating blueberries. The dog and the turtle are still waiting for him in Enlightenment for up until today, he hasn't arrived.