83. Another comparison

“The paths, fruitions, and nibbāna are personal: You can truly see them only for yourself. Those who practice to that level will see them for themselves, will be clear about them for themselves, will totally end all their doubts about the Buddha’s teaching. If you haven’t reached that level, all you can do is keep on guessing. No matter how profoundly someone else may explain them to you, your knowledge about them will be guesswork. Whatever is guesswork will have to be uncertain.

“It’s like the turtle and the fish. The turtle lives in two worlds: the world on land and the world in the water. As for the fish, it lives only in one world, the water. If it were to get on land, it would die.

“One day, when a turtle came down into the water, it told a group of fish about how much fun it was to be on land: The lights and colors were pretty, and there were none of the difficulties that came from being in the water.

“The fish were intrigued, and wanted to see what it was like on land, so they asked the turtle, ‘Is it very deep on land?’

“The turtle answered, ‘What would be deep about it? It’s land.’

“The fish: ‘Are there lots of waves on land?’

“The turtle: ‘What would be wavy about it? It’s land.’

“The fish: ‘Is it murky with mud?’

“The turtle: ‘What would be murky about it? It’s land.’

“Notice the questions asked by the fish. They simply take their experience of water to ask the turtle, and the turtle can do nothing but say no.

“The mind of a run-of-the-mill person guessing about the paths, fruitions, and nibbāna is no different from the fish.”