A student asked Zhao Zhou, ‘The true path knows no difficulty, just avoid picking and choosing. But as soon as someone speaks, that is picking and choosing. So what can we do for the people (and the animals)?’…

Zhou said, ‘Only this: The true path knows no difficulty, just avoid picking and choosing.’

~ Blue Cliff Record, Case 59

The great generosity of the Tao, or the Way that we follow, is that it allows all things to walk upon it, without judging, without favoring, without fearing. And it invites us to be equally as generous in avoiding picking and choosing, narrowing and limiting.

In Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, there is a sandy trail that stretches just three hundred meters from the Vic Falls Hotel to the Lookout Café. Though short, the path seemingly allows all that is Africa ~ with its many competing claims ~ to pass over it, without picking and choosing. Anchoring one side of the path is the hotel, a beautiful century-old colonial structure built in an era when Cecil Rhodes was trying to push the native Africans off their lands in the new Rhodesia. As an improbable counter-weight at the other end is the sporty Lookout Cafe, perched 120 meters above the Zambezi River and falls, with white water rafting and zip lining for the adventurous.

Yet along that sandy path also wait a dozen persistent African vendors hawking cheap trinkets and worthless Zimbabwean $200 million notes for a dollar or two. The vendors and the bank notes are all a legacy of the collapse of the economy under a bad government for the last 25 years, and they are in desperate shape.

Also treading the path are troops of Vervet monkeys and Chacma baboons, with a leopard’s track not far away. Early one recent morning there was a herd of five elephants grabbing and chewing the thick shrubbery bordering the path. The nearby national park in Zimbabwe is said to have been decimated of many large mammals in recent decades, and one wonders if the elephants are seeking shelter from poachers near the hotel.

So what can we do for the people and the animals? Perhaps they know how to find their ownn way ~ the hotel, the vendors, the elephants. If we choose life and respect, and perhaps love, maybe they will be just fine. But then, I am picky and choosey..