Once there was a beautiful forest, and in a small clearing, there was a boy, taking a walk. As he walked, he began to hear a slow, plodding voice. The voice said, "Young man, young man? Could you help me?" He looked around and saw no one, but the voice continued, "No, down here, it's me, and I need help."
The boy looked down and finally saw where the voice was coming from. He laughed and said, "Wow, it's a talking turtle!". Slowly, the turtle said, "Actually, I am not a turtle. I am a tortoise, and I slipped off the top of that big rock and landed on my back side. Most turtles can right themselves, but I can't. Could you please set me upright?". The boy thought a while and said, "Why should I do that. You can't pay me anything, and you're too slow and dull to be a playmate."
The tortoise said,"If you flip me upright, I will tell you the most interesting story you have ever heard. I promise."
The boy thought about that, and said, "Well, okay," and he turned the tortoise upright.
The tortoise said, "Thank you so much. Now I will tell you how I got to be a talking tortoise, and a few other very interesting things."
"First of all, every living creature has a soul, did you know that?"
The boy said, "My parents talk about souls sometimes, and they tell me that my soul is going to a very bad place if I don't do what they say, but I don't believe them."
The tortoise said, "Souls don't go to a bad place unless they create one for themselves. They just come back again and again until they have gotten all the lessons of life figured out right. Then they are wise and happy, and they don't have to come back here anymore."
The boy said, "But I like it here, except when my parents are yelling at me."
The tortoise said, "Well, when you are done with all this, no one yells at you anymore."
The boy said, "That would be good."
The tortoise said, "There's more. Most souls are part of a bigger oversoul, and those also have even bigger oversouls. Eventually, there is God, the oversoul of everything. When we get back there, we are in total bliss."
The boy said,"That's not what my parents say about God. They say he is a mean old man who floats around in the sky and throws lightening bolts at people he doesn’t like."
The tortoise said, "For some reason, your soul chose to live this life, with these parents. I don't know why that would be. We all make these kind of choices."
The boy said, "What about your soul. Why did you choose to be a slow, dull, turtle?"
The tortoise said, "I am not a turtle, I am a tortoise."
The boy said, "Whatever."
The tortoise said, "I don't know why I am a tortoise. Every winter, I dig a big tunnel into the ground, way below the frost line, and I go down there and sleep all winter. When I am doing that, I dream that I am a bird, flying swiftly through the sky and going some place where it does not get so cold. But that always ends, and in the spring, I am a tortoise again. I come back up to the surface and spend all summer trudging around, looking up at the beautiful birds in the sky, and wishing I was one of them, but I am not. I am a tortoise. Some times I climb up on big rocks like that one to try and see how the world looks up there, and imagine I can fly."
The boy said, "But you didn't fly. You fell off. Stupid tortoise."
The tortoise said, "That's what I mean about the oversoul. I think I have an oversoul who is living a life as a tortoise, a bird, and a human being, all at the same time. That's why I dream about flying, and that's why I know how to talk."
The boy said, "That's weird. I don't believe your stupid story, and I think I will put you on your back side again.", and he proceeded to do just that.
As the boy was walking away, the tortoise said, "Please help me. I can't right my self. Don't just walk away."
The boy kept walking, and said, "Stupid turtle."
When the boy was out of sight, a big bird swooped down and landed right next to the tortoise. As the tortoise craned his neck to look at him, the bird said, "I saw all of that. That's a very bad boy, and I am going to try to undo what he has done to you."
The tortoise was amazed, and said, "Wow, a talking bird. I don't know what you can do to help. I am very heavy, and I can't reach the ground and push at all. You will have to do it all by yourself."
The bird said, "Don't you get it? You and I have the same oversoul, and that's why I can talk to you. Some times I dream that I am a turtle, and you are that turtle! I have to turn you upright because you are me!"
The tortoise said, "Actually, I am a tortoise, not a turtle, but you are a beautiful bird, and you are fast, and you can fly! Why would you want to be like me?"
The bird said, "Some times I think I am tired of life in the fast lane, and I just want to slow down and take it easy. You can sit by the same flower all day and appreciate its beauty. I can't do that. That's why I dream about being you. Fast can be good, it can be fun, but too much of it can be, well, just too much. You can go back to being a tortoise before you start feeling that way, but I can't, so I dream."
Then the bird got under the tortoise's shell, put his back up against it, and gave a mighty shove. The tortoise turned a little, but did not turn upright.
The bird said, "This is not going to be easy. I think I can do it if I do a little at a time, and he got under the tortoise's shell and pushed again.
Several times, he did this, and then reached a point where he could not turn the tortoise any further, no matter how hard he tried.
The tortoise said, "See? I'm too heavy. This is not going to work."
The bird walked around for a while, thinking, and finally said,"I think I know something that will help. Try to imagine you are light, like me. Imagine you are floating in the clouds, and there are angels all over the place. Just think about that."
The tortoise said, "But I am a tortoise, I can't make myself lighter by just thinking about it."
The bird said,"Yes you can. In your dreams, you fly, and this world is really just another dream. Did you know that?"
The tortoise said, "I guess so. I'll try."
The bird said, over and over again, in a rhythmic way, "Light as a feather, light as an angel, light as the sky.", and they both started repeating that, over and over.
If anyone had come across this scene, they would have thought it was the weirdest thing they have ever seen, but no one did, and the mantra went on and on.
As they continued saying that, the bird put his back against the tortoise's shell again, and just repeated over and over with the tortoise, "Light as a feather, light as an angel, light as the sky."
Suddenly the bird gave another mighty shove, and the tortoise flipped completely over, once again on his right side. As soon as he landed, he said, "Whoa! what's up?", then he came out of his trance and realized what had just happened. He was on his feet again. He was going to live!
The tortoise said, "Thank you so much, bird! You saved my life!"
The bird said, "I could not have done that without that little dream we created. Even I am surprised it worked, but it did! Now that I have seen it, I wonder if you might some day be able to do that all by yourself just by floating in the air and turning upright. What a thought! Maybe a tortoise can fly!"
The tortoise said, "And maybe a bird can meditate and appreciate the beauty of a flower. I think that dream was stronger because we both contributed to it."
The bird said, "Let's work on that. I will look you up again. Right now I still have something else I want to get done today, and there is not a lot of time to do it. My legs are tired and they hurt, but my wings are still strong. I'll be back. I promise!"
With that, the bird made a great wind with his wings, and he was off the ground in an instant. The tortoise watched him fly away, and said, "I still wish I could do that."
As the boy got near his home, he thought about his day, and was glad he turned that stupid talking turtle on his back side again, because he was the kind of boy who made sure he did at least one mean thing every day. He laughed about that, as he neared the house.
Suddenly, he felt something wet and squishy hit the top of his head. He immediately put his hand up there and discovered it was a big, runny bird spot.
As the bird flew away, he looked back at the boy, and saw him yelling and shaking his fist, but he was already too far away to hear what the boy was saying. He didn't go back and ask, because he was sure it wasn't very nice.