Tuesday, November 09, 2010

White turtle repays gratitude

White turtle repays gratitude

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White turtle repays gratitude

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Once upon a time in Jin dynasty (China, year 265-420), General MAO Bao was in charge of Wu Chang town. One day, a soldier of his went to market with a few others for groceries.

When they were about done and heading back to camp, there came a fisherman...

Fisherman: Selling turtles! Turtles!

The fisherman came up to the soldiers and in his hand was a white turtle.
He said: Sirs, this white turtle is the only one left. I'll sell to you officers at cheaper price!

Soldier A: Hey! It's white? White turtle?!
The soldier: She's so cute! I'll buy her!

Soldier B: Why do you buy her for?
The soldier: So that I can raise her and set her free when she's older. It's good merit!


Soldier A: Hey, you have kind and sympathetic heart! Great!

And so he paid the fisherman and all of them got back to camp with their groceries.

Back in camp, the soldier raised the white turtle in a water tank, taking good care of her whenever he could.

As days went by, the white turtle grew bigger. They'd developed a strong bonding.

A few years went by, the white turtle could no longer live in the water tank.

One day, the soldier talked to white turtle sadly:
Oh, white turtle! You've grown up. I'll be sending you back to river. River is your real home.


A few days later the soldier brought the white turtle to a river.

He padded the turtle and said:
Go! White turtle. I hope we can meet again one day. Be careful, don't let fishermen catch you again. Take care!

White turtle swam a few strokes and turned back to gaze at the soldier, as if she missed him.

And then she continued moving forward, disappearing in the river.

The soldier was already missing the white turtle.

A few more years went by. SHI Ji Long, king of Zhao kingdom, attacked Jin dynasty. General Mao was given order to secure Zhu city.


In year 340, King SHI sent his top general with tens of thousands of troop to attack Zhu city.

General Mao and his troops defended the attack for a few days before being defeated due to poor back-up. He then led his troop to fall back and flee.

Enemy kept pursuing and Mao and his troop had no choice but to jump into a river.


The soldier who bought and raised the turtle jumped too to save his own life.

The moment he landed, to his shock, he felt he landed on a piece of big rock.

"This is strange! Why's the river so shallow?" He thought to himself.

And when he looked more carefully, it's the white turtle he saved and raised many years ago. He was in pleasant surprise.

The white turtle swam swiftly toward the opposite shore.

He tilted back, everywhere he saw was soldiers screaming and struggling in rapid flows.

And arrows from the enemy came down as if it was raining.


At last the white turtle managed to carry him to the opposite shore.

He said, appreciatively:
Thank you, white turtle. If it wasn't you, I would've died without doubt.

The white turtle looked at him, eyes to eyes, seemingly understanding the soldier.

Then the white turtle slowly turned around and swam back to the river. The soldier waved goodbye, full of thankfulness.

Jin troop suffered great loss in the battle of Zhu City. General Mao and his troop of six thousand soldiers all died in the river. Only the soldier, who saved and raised the turtle, survived because of the white turtle's help.

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Jun shi ci bei neng zhi jin
Bai gui tu bao qi ci xin
Ye de gong zhong bu gong ye
Fang sheng jie sha he tian xin

Army officer's compassionate mercy can throw gold
White turtle desire repay won't avoid difficulty
For getting living together not sharing karma
Release life abstain killing suit God's heart


It doesn't seem easily or readily understandable what the poem says; basically it means:

The compassion and humanity of the army officer can create miracle.
White turtle wanted to repay gratitude regardless of how difficult the situation could be.

In order to live together (and thus probably or unavoidably creating bad merits) but not sharing bad merits, preserving life forms and abstaining from killing is in line with God's will.

The individual merit of the soldier who saved and raised the turtle helped himself to be rescued when things were bad. Bear in mind that he most probably had done much more good deeds than just saving the turtle, with a heart of compassion and sympathy as he had. And in God's will he be saved and continued his good deeds and merits making, helping all living beings on earth.

And yes, we're gonna be just like him, if not more!

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+) Story modified by 慧长(Hui Zhang); comics drawn by 牧谷(Mu Gu); English translation by www.lews.info.

+) Story modified from 晋书(Jin Shu; JIN Book / Book of Jin Dynasty), 廿五史/二十五史(Nian Wu Shi / Er Shi Wu Shi; Twenty Five History / Two Ten Five History; "Twenty-five Official Dynastic Histories")

+) Some names of people/places/events involved: 毛宝将军(MAO Bao sergeant general), 武昌(Wu Chang, name of a city), 赵国(Zhao Kingdom), 石季龙(SHI Ji Long, king of Zhao Kingdom), 邾城(Zhu Cheng; Zhu City), 东晋咸康五年(Dong/East JIN Xian Kang 5th year, the year 340), 白龟报恩 (Bai Gui Bao En; White turtle repays gratitude).