Raven 162: The Way

This is Copperhead's first and only appearance in the annals of the Tallspruce Zen Center.

"Right Livelihood" is one of the components of the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. For the monks, this originally meant living from begging, but not accepting everything, and not possessing more than was strictly necessary. For lay Buddhists, it means avoiding any livelihood that causes suffering to sentient beings by cheating them, or harming or killing them in any way. Right livelihood does not trade in weapons, living beings, meat, alcoholic drink or poison.

The way does tend to orient those who find or seek it. Perhaps Copperhead's interest in the Way will orient her to seek creative modifications in her livelihood. Maybe not. The way, as Raven says, does not depend on that.

From your point of view, and mine, the presence of copperheads is an essential part of our path. In the unfolding wholeness of the universe, there is an essential role played by the people and beings we think of as evil and harmful -- Hitler, tsetse flies, Pol Pot, coronavirus, Jeffrey Dahmer, bed bugs. From Copperhead's point of view, as a snake interested in the Way, the possibilities of transformation are an open question.

Copperhead came by one evening unannounced. Mole made himself scarce, and Owl, Woodpecker, and Grouse set up a clatter.
Copperhead said, "Excuse me, everybody. I came for the Great Law, not for my dinner."
The birds quieted down, but Mole did not return.
Raven asked, "Do you have a question?"
"Yes," said Copperhead. "I'm really interested in the Way, but I don't seem to have the right livelihood for it."
Raven said, "The Way does not depend on your livelihood."
Copperhead asked, "What is the Way?"
Raven said, "We'd be totally lost without you."


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