Quotations: Shantideva, Bodhicharyavatara, This is why Lord Buddha has declared...

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དེ་ཉིད་ཕྱིར་ན་བཅོམ་ལྡན་གྱིས།  །

རྒྱ་མཚོ་ཆེར་གཡེངས་གཉའ་ཤིང་གི  །
བུ་གར་རུས་སྦལ་མགྲིན་ཆུད་ལྟར།  །

མི་ཉིད་ཤིན་ཏུ་ཐོབ་དཀར་གསུངས།  །

This is why Lord Buddha has declared
That like a turtle that perchance can place
Its head within a yoke adrift upon the mighty sea
This human birth is difficult to find![1]

Śāntideva, Bodhicaryāvatāra, Ch.4 v.20

Notes

  1. This originally appeared in Verse 24 of the Bālapaṇḍita Sutta in the Majjhima Nikāya of the Pali Canon. It's translated by Bhikku Bodhi in The Middle Length Discourses, page 1393: “Suppose a man threw into the sea a yoke with one hole in it, and the east wind carried it to the west, and the west wind carried it to the east, and the north wind carried it to the south, and the south wind carried it to the north. Suppose there were a blind turtle that came up once at the end of each century. What do you think, bhikkhus? Would that blind turtle put his neck into that yoke with one hole in it?” “He might, venerable sir, sometime or other at the end of a long period.” “Bhikkhus, the blind turtle would sooner put his neck into that yoke with a single hole in it than a fool, once gone to perdition, would take to regain the human state, I say.”