Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Last night, we discussed the koan of Hyakujo's fox:
Whenever Hyakujo gave lectures, there was an old man who was always in attendance. When the monks left after the lecture, he also left. One day the old man did not leave. Hyakujo asked him, “Who is standing in front of me?”

The old man said, “At the time of Kashapa-buddha in the distant past, I was living on this mountain. Once a student asked me whether a person of the great-practice would fall into causality or not. I replied to him, ‘No, (such a person) would not fall into causality. ‘ Because of that answer I became a wild fox for five hundred lives. I beg you to please give me a pivot-word.”

Hyakujo replied, “Such a person is not blind to causality.”
Once Ejo asked, “What is the meaning of not being blind to cause and effect?”

Dogen replied, “Not moving cause and effect.”

Ejo asked, “How can we be released then?”

Dogen said, “Cause and effect are self-evident and occur simultaneously.”

Ejo inquired further, “Then does cause bring about effect or does effect bring about cause?”

“If it is so in every case, what about Nansen’s killing the cat? When his students could not say anything, Nansen immediately killed the cat. Later, when Joshu heard about the incident, he put his straw sandal on his head and went out. This was excellent action.”

Dogen also said, “This action of Nansen’s that is, cutting the cat, is a manifestation of the great-function of the buddha-dharma. This is a pivot-word. Upon hearing this pivot-word, see the cat itself as nothing but the Buddha-body. Upon hearing this word, students must immediately enter enlightenment.”

Dogen also said, “This action, that is, cutting the cat, is nothing other than Buddha’s action.”

Ejo said, “What shall we call it?”

Dogen said, “Call it cutting the cat.”

Ejo asked, “Is it a crime or not?”

Dogen said, “Yes, it is a crime.”

Ejo inquired, “How are we able to be released from it?”

Dogen said, “Buddha’s action and the criminal action are separate, yet they both occur in one action.”
(adapted from Zuimonki, Book 1, Chapter 6)

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