Taught by a Turtle
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Taught by a TurtleCrossing the road to awareness.
Enlightenment and epiphanies can show up in some pretty strange ways. The Buddha found it under a Bodhi tree, Nelson Mandela in prison, and spiritual guru Ram Dass through psychedelic drugs. Little did I know that my epiphany would arrive in the form of a turtle that was simply trying to cross the road. But this wasn’t just any hard-shelled reptile; it was the world’s most optimistic turtle. He was tenaciously determined to cross 20 feet of blacktop as cars zoomed by at 55 miles per hour. (Yes, I said “he.” Only a male would be stubborn enough to think that he could actually make it.) But today was his lucky day. My wife’s quick driving reflexes not only ensured that we wouldn’t be having turtle soup for dinner that night, but her act of kindness would eventually become the foundation for everything I teach today.
After we avoided running the turtle over by mere inches, we both agreed that we needed to turn around for what seemed like a simple rescue mission. Having found a safe place to park, I quickly hopped out of the car in the hopes of getting to him before any oncoming traffic . . . and I had no idea that my whole world was about to change.
As I made my way toward the middle of the road, a strange silence fell over the entire scene. There was no wind, there were no birds singing, and not a single car passed us the entire time we were there. All traffic on the normally busy street had completely stopped. I slowly walked toward the turtle, and I could now see that this creature, which looked like a rock with legs, was making very little progress. The fact that God would create something with four legs that was so slow almost seemed like a cruel joke.
Bending down, I gently placed my fingers underneath him and cradled his body in the palms of my hands. As I rotated his shell, admiring his prehistoric features, his tiny head slowly began to emerge and we were now looking into each other’s eyes . . . and that’s when it happened. In that moment, something strange yet beautiful began to take place. As I stood there, making eye contact with this little turtle, a wave of pure joy came over me. It was that warm, emotional sensation that we get during life’s greatest moments—when we fall in love or during the birth of a child, for example. I honestly had the sensation that my heart was completely opening up while everything else stood still around me. In no way would I have described the experience as Buddha-like enlightenment, but there was no doubt about it—helping this turtle just felt so damn good! But why? After all, it’s just a turtle, right? And then it hit me. I finally realized what was happening.
After gently placing my new friend back in the woods, a flood of inspiring thoughts surged through me. I walked back to the car, opened my journal, and wrote eight words that would later prove to be life-changing for me: “kindness creates happiness” and “live a life of kindness.”
The simple act of helping my green guru had revealed that a benevolent act was the key to getting out of my analytical mind and into my intuitive heart space. I now understood that any thought, word, or act delivered from the heart had the power to dissolve emotional suffering. It was the answer I’d been looking for. The secret to inner peace and lasting happiness was kindness—not random acts of kindness or simply being nice, but rather, kindness as a way of life. I’d already become familiar with the benefits of being kind through studying many Eastern philosophies, but I’d never actually considered it to be a lifestyle! And the day was just beginning. . . .