life at sea, part one, kōan 670.

the tortoise was floating, upside down, in the middle of the lake, looking up at the sky. he tried to paddle, but his legs would not reach the water. he wriggled his shell, but he could not roll over. he called out for help, but no one answered.

so there he was stuck, alone and helpless.

and so, he worried. what if he never got back to land? what if he floated forever? what if he spent the rest of his life at sea? these thoughts raced through his head, and he began to fret.

but then he noticed, for the first time, how quiet it was. how peaceful. how the air was warm, and the water was cool, and the sky was beautiful, white and blue.

and so, he took a deep breath, and he smiled a big smile.

and he enjoyed his life at sea.

this kōan was prompted by zachary schroeder, who donated to the sage’s school and suggested the topic “life at sea.” pledge $3 to get your own koan.