The Rabbit and the Tortoise

During one satsang, Guruji told his own version of the classic fable of the rabbit and the tortoise. He reminded us of how the rabbit had challenged the tortoise to a race, and boasted about how quickly his long legs would take him to the finish line.

The tortoise had replied, “I have legs too,” and the rabbit had just laughed at him. So the race started and off went the rabbit. When he looked behind him after a while and saw no sign of the tortoise, he felt sleepy and decided to take a rest under a tree. “I will reach the finish line after a short nap,” he decided.

Meanwhile, the tortoise began to walk and walk. Without stopping he kept going and barely noticed the sleeping rabbit as he passed him and continued on his way with his slow, steady pace. When the rabbit finally woke and made his final dash, he was incredulous to find the tortoise just crossing the finish line.

The rabbit felt ashamed. “You went steadily and you didn’t stop. I told you that I could run faster, but you are cleverer than me.”

Having heard this fable from Guruji, I felt immensely relieved and reassured by it. It was a message of “there’s hope for me as a woman yet” as my mind flooded with memories of the past eleven years of colourful and busy family life, of pregnancy, babies and toddlers, together with a number health challenges.

For the first twenty-five years of my life, I have to admit that I took my good health entirely for granted. But just before I was initiated, and well into the first years of motherhood, various health issues soon helped me to understand why Guruji said, “Health is wealth.” Interestingly, health is listed first in the obstacles Patanjali mentions in the Yoga Sutras.

Some of the health problems which were obstacles to my Kriya practice at different times early on: chronic bronchitis; back problems related to scoliosis of the spine; a rare virus which caused extreme fatigue; severe migraine attacks; abortion in the second pregnancy due to a rare disorder which meant the baby would not survive beyond mid-term; ongoing flu and ear infections until I was diagnosed with scarlet fever soon after the birth of our second child, and severe anaemia. To even have been on a par with that tortoise would have felt pretty good. Imagine a tortoise on crutches if you want to know how I felt about my progress in Kriya during these intense years!

It was interesting with the anaemia, because by the third time it became a serious issue and my iron levels were at rock bottom, I had enlisted the help of my husband to be able to undertake some long Kriya practice over the course of the week. It was due to practice that I realised something was wrong and booked a doctor’s appointment. Although I was physically not able to do the longer practice, it was the start of finding a permanent solution to this problem – and I thanked the gift of meditation and the conscious connection with body, mind and soul it affords.