The Boddhisattva was once a greatly respected advisor to King Brahmadatta, an intelligent but excessively talkative ruler. His advisor often pondered on how to cure the king of this habit without hurting his feelings.
At this time, there lived a turtle in a mountain pond. Two wild ducks looking for food came to the pond and struck up a friendship with the turtle.
Soon, it was time for the ducks to depart. They invited the turtle along and told him, “Clench the middle of this stick with your mouth and the two of us will lift it from both ends with our beaks. But remember – keep your mouth shut!”
Soon the three were airborne. A few children, spotting the trio, burst out laughing.
“Oh look, look at the turtle dangling between two birds! Doesn’t he look funny?”
The turtle was annoyed and shouted, “What business is it of yours, anyway?” Having opened his mouth, he lost his grip on the stick, plummeted to the ground and died.
The king went with his advisor to see the turtle. The latter guessed at what had happened. He grasped at the opportunity to make his point. “Death by a single sentence – alas! Merely by speaking at the wrong time, this turtle has brought about his own sorry plight.”
“You’re trying to tell me something, aren’t you?” asked the intelligent king.
“Whether it is you or another, great king, mishaps are inevitable for those who cannot control their tongue.”
The king accepted the Boddhisattva’s wisdom and strove to change himself.
Inner quiet, the stilling of our busy minds, is a theme that runs through all the Buddha’s teachings. Excessive talk destroys concentration. One may have to pay a heavy price for this apparently harmless habit!