Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Coyote Tale - The Wolf

As mentioned on the Facebook page for this blog, I am working on a post about karma and its relevance to being gay. A lot of stuff to read about that first, and life is filled with distractions. But another distraction of sorts that has been on everyone’s minds of late is the use of violence as a means to accomplish a goal, such as ridding the world of someone like Osama bin Laden.

It is ironic that I’ve been reading “Buddhist Warfare” at the time all this discussion arises, at the very time of bin Laden’s assassination, because regardless of your point of view on the matter, I think we must recognize that his death was via assassination. It was an extra-judicial killing, an act that we as Americans have loudly condemned when committed elsewhere in the world by other governmental regimes.

And in reading “Buddhist Warfare,” I get it that Buddhists have over hundreds of years found ways to justify violent acts through what I call suspect interpretations of the Dhamma. Even I, as pacifistic as I believe myself to be, am realizing that total resistance to violence is not always the right path to take.

Kyle, who writes The Reformed Buddhist, left a comment on the Facebook page for My Buddha is Pink that has been oft repeated by many, and that is if we act with true compassion, then a violent act may be committed because the act, in fact, was committed with Right Intention.

That idea just drives me freaking crazy. It bugs the hell out of me because on one level, I see the truth in that assertion; but it also freaks me out because such a statement can be so easily misunderstood and abused. We all suffer from greed, hatred and delusion, and of the three, delusion is the most difficult to deal with because how does a deluded mind understand that it is deluded?

This recalls for me a legend told by many Plains Indians among a canon that is known by American Indians as Coyote Tales. In this case, it is the story about The Wolf, which I shall present as follows.

Old Many Coyote was wandering about the plain when he saw The Wolf up ahead loping about the prairie. Knowing that The Wolf was a difficult character to deal with, Old Man Coyote turned and hastily retreated.

Old Man Coyote next encountered a rabbit. Feeling benevolent, Old Man Coyote warned the rabbit that he should take shelter and hide because The Wolf was near.

“I am not afraid,” replied the rabbit. “I will befriend The Wolf and he will let me be.”

“You are wrong,” said Old Man Coyote. “He is The Wolf, and he is what he is.”

Shortly after Old Man Coyote left the rabbit, The Wolf arrived and pounced upon the rabbit. As The Wolf was about to eat the rabbit, the rabbit began to plead for its life.

“Oh, Mr. Wolf, you are so strong and intelligent, please have mercy upon me and spare me my life,” said the rabbit. “Why eat me? I am such a small morsel. I have never done anything to harm you nor have I ever said anything bad about you.”

The Wolf paused and considered the rabbit’s words. He then replied, “It may be true that you have not said anything bad about me, but it is also true that you have never said anything good about me.”

Just before The Wolf swallowed the rabbit, the rabbit cried out, “Old Man Coyote was right! The Wolf can justify anything with his mind.”


  1. I love Coyote Tales. But the one you told also reminds me of the tale of the Scorpion and the Turtle from the Bidpai collection of tales.

    Where in kindness the Turtle takes the scorpion on his back to cross a raging river. The turtle warns that stinging him while crossing would cause both the drown.

    The scorpion assures the turtle that stinging his only means across the river would be foolish since it would surely be the death of both of them.

    The scorpion, of course, stings the turtle while crossing. While drowning, the turtle asks "Why would you do this" to which the scorpion replies "It is my nature, my nature."

    It is the age-old question. What is our nature and do we have control over it.


  2. That is a good one! I must remember it. I think the answer to the age-old question is that yes, we do have control over our "nature" because we created it. However, having said that, it is very difficult because it means changing a deluded mind into one that sees things as they really are. Sounds like we should avoid a rebirth as a scorpion! LOL.

  3. Kind of reminds me of the three characters in the Good the Bad and the Ugly - Blondie, Tuco and Angel Eyes. All three of them were hard killers, who each wanted the money. At the end we rooted for Blondie as the good guy, saw Tuco as a bit of a comic relief and not necessarily all bad, and Angel Eyes as the villian. Who was really bad and really good? Well, hard to say. But I like Blondie's line where he says "Every gun makes its own tune."

    I think everyman makes their own reasonings for what they do? What is for certain, is if you act out of greed or hate, then you've probably already blinded yourself to right intention.

  4. Oh, I love that movie! I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan. There's a parallel here with another Eastwood film, The Outlaw Josey Wales. There's the scene when the bounty hunter confronts Josey in that saloon. Josey tells him all he has to do is walk away. "Dying is a hell of a way to make a living." The bounty hunter leaves at first, but returns to say he had to come back. Josey says "I know," just before he kills him.

    At the end, Fletcher realizes Josey is done killing, it's finished. Plus Josey is mortally wounded. Wales suffers the consequences of his revenge and dies via a violent act, but he knew that all along that would happen, didn't he?

    What a great movie. I should read the book it's based on.