Today’s teisho will be on Case Two in
the Mumonkan, “Hyakujo’s Fox.”
When Hyakujo Osho delivered a certain series of sermons,
an old man always followed the monks to the main hall and
listened to him. When the monks left the hall, the old man
would also leave. One day, however, he remained behind, and
Hyakujo asked him, “Who are you, standing here before
me?” The old man replied, “I am not a human being.
In the old days of Kashyapa Buddha, I was a head monk, living
here on this mountain. One day a student asked me, ‘Does
a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or
not?’ I answered, ‘No, he does not.’ Since
then I have been doomed to undergo five hundred rebirths as
a fox. I beg you now to give the turning word to release me
from my life as a fox. Tell me, does a man of enlightenment
fall under the yoke of causation or not?” Hyakujo answered,
“He does not ignore causation.” No sooner had
the old man heard these words than he was enlightened. Making
his bows, he said, “I am emancipated from my life as
a fox. I shall remain on this mountain. I have a favor to
ask of you: would you please bury my body as that of a dead
monk.” Hyakujo had the director of the monks
strike with the gavel and inform everyone that after midday
meal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk. The
monks wondered at this, saying, “Everyone is in good
health; nobody is in the sick ward. What does this mean?”
After the meal Hyakujo led the monks to the foot of a rock
on the far side of the mountain and with his staff poked out
the dead body of a fox and performed the ceremony of cremation.
That evening he ascended the rostrum and told the monks the
whole story. Obaku thereupon asked him, “The old man
gave the wrong answer and was doomed to be a fox for five
hundered rebirths. Now, suppose he had given the right answer,
what would have happened then?” Hyakujo said, “Oh,
you come here to me and I will tell you.” Obaku went
up to Hyakujo and boxed his hears. Hyakujo clapped his hands
with a laugh and exclaimed, “I was thinking that the
barbarian had a red beard, but now I see before me the red-bearded
Not falling under causation: how could this make the
monk a fox? Not ignoring causation: how could this make the
old man emancipated? If you come to understand this, you will
realize how old Hyakujo would have enjoyed five hundred rebirths
as a fox.
Not falling, not ignoring:
Two faces of one die.
Not ignoring, not falling:
A thousand errors, a million mistakes.
This is the third day of our winter sesshin, and a beautiful
day, right? The snow still looks fresh and pristine, the sky
is cold blue, the sub-freezing weather quite lovely, really--
classical winter weather. And we’re all here together
in the zendo, warm and safe, doing zazen early in the morning.
Wonderful, deep sitting this morning. Everyone has been practicing
wholeheartedly, coming into the dokusan room and really showing
their guts, as we say in Zen. Wonderful!
This is quite an important koan and its placement in the book
is significant. In the Mumonkan, as you all know,
koan number one is Mu. It’s the foundation of Zen practice
in the Rinzai tradition. Although Master Mumon put this koan
first when he compiled the collection, the koan itself was
invented by the great Joshu. Joshu was not yet twenty when
he had his first kensho--his first great awakening experience.
He could have just called it quits after that, but he was
fascinated by reality as it was opened up to him by this awakening.
Instead of stopping, he must have said, “I’m just
getting underway,” so he looked for a teacher who could
help him develop further, and eventually he heard about Nansen.
When Joshu went to study with Nansen, Nansen was already fairly
old. But Nansen lived a long time and the two men practiced
together for decades, developing a deep affection for each
other, a deep karmic compatibility. And even though one was
the student, the other they teacher, they both developed their
awakened minds through their interactions. This mutual enrichment
went on and on until Nansen died,which every one of us is
going to do. Then, after Nansen’s death, everybody expected
Joshu to become the head of the temple. But Joshu declined
and he instead set off on the open road.
At this time all over China there were public temples, just
like public schools now. And anybody who wanted to wake up,
anybody who wanted to be liberated from birth and death, could
go to a temple and practice--monks, nuns and lay people. You
could spend your life going from temple to temple. Of course
you had to have a letter which you carried in a backpack that
contained your personal items. The letter, with an imperial
seal, indicated that you were lawfully ordained. You could
go to any temple in China and be admitted, given a room and
food and work responsibilities. You would be expected to show
up for sitting and sesshin and so on.
So Joshu hit the road and he went all over China, visiting
numerous great teachers. Many of his adventures are recorded
in various stories in the Mumonkan and in the Hekiganroku
as well. When Joshu was quite old, a hundred or so-- he was
supposed to have lived to be a hundred and twenty--he devised
the Mu koan. The Mu koan was a great innovation and it revolutionized
Zen practice. It’s interesting that Joshu’s line,
his lineage, disappeared very quickly. He had a few able students,
but these students just didn’t manage to find other
students who were capable and so Joshu’s lineage disappeared.
But his teachings hugely influenced Zen in China. Mumon included
the Mu koan in the Mumonkan and he made it the first
one because mu-shin, the mind of shunyata, is the foundation
of everything we do. But the second one is the fox koan. That’s
interesting, right? It’s rather obvious why Mumon put
the Mu koan first in collection, but why is the fox koan second?
If you’re engaged in Mu practice, one day, while you’re
calling Mu, you are going to discover that there is a condition
of existence in which everything disappears. You can be sitting
on your cushion day after day, silently calling, “Mu,
mu, mu” while asking yourself, “What is this all
about?” Your legs might be hurting, your back might
be tired, but sooner or later, you will notice that your mind
becomes totally blank, totally empty. It will be like staring
into dark cave. Most people in the world --and there’s
about seven billion of them--never notice this their whole
lives. But in Buddhism this darkness is tremendously significant:
in our moment-by-moment awareness there are places where there’s
absolutely nothing. And if you go to those places infrequently,
only once in a while, you might think, “Oh, there’s
nothing of interest here.” If you stay there for a while
longer you might think, “This is boring.” Or you
might even feel lonely and isolated, like you’re locked
in a dark room all by yourself, which is not a pleasant sensation.
But if you stay in Mu long enough, something is going to change.
You’re really going to feel quite wonderful. There’s
a kind of energy that comes from that emptiness which is,
in Buddhism, very important.
I, myself, know almost nothing about physics. I barely got
through the high school course. And yet I do know that physicists
are very interested in the fact that the universe appears
to oscillate between something and nothing. Apparently some
physicists think that the universe is pulsing and that nothing
lies inside of something, and something arises out of nothing
at all. And that coincides quite dramatically with some of
the basic teachings of Buddhism. We don’t use calculations,
of course; we just sit on the cushion. But eventually, if
you stay in that darkness, that blankness, long enough, you
will feel this wonderful purifying energy. Sometimes you might
feel bored or lifeless. But if you really go back to that
blankness and you stay there long enough, you really will
feel better. You will feel tremendously energized.
That life energy is quite important. You can’t make
yourself feel it--it will arrive of its own accord if you
just stay with the emptiness. Please understand that part
of the work required by the Mu koan is simply sitting in that
blankness for a long time when nothing seems to be happening.
It can be frustrating because you’re waiting for the
payoff: you’re just knocking at a door that never opens,
that may never open, or so it seems. But eventually the door
will open and this wonderful energy will come out.
Now, even if you’ve been doing the Mu koan for ten
years, you can have a deep experience of Mu all over again.
After finishing my training with Webb Roshi, I came to New
Jersey because I had just landed a new job at Rutgers. And
after a number of years of practicing by myself I went up
to the Catskills for practice with Eido Roshi. When I arrived
at Daibosatsu Zendo I did not tell him anything about my background.
I just sat down in the zendo as a regular participant, with
some off-the-shelf robes for lay visitors. When I went in
to see him in dokusan, I said, “Yes, I was a student
of Genki Roshi and Webb Roshi with whom I finished my training.”
And he said, “What does that mean--'finished your training?’”
After I explained he said, “Ok, well, why don’t
you do the Mu koan.” And I thought, “Wait a minute.
I’ve already done the Mu koan--many years ago.”
But I did the Mu koan again and it was an astonishing experience.
It was fresh and liberating all over again, and I had an altogether
new experience of Mu, really quite deep and unlike the previous
experience. We sometimes think, “I’ve been there,
done that.” And sometimes it is indeed possible to do
shallow Mu practice. But if you’re really in that emptiness,
it’s hugely purifying.
For as long as we practice--as long as we remain alive, and,
indeed, even longer--Mu is the foundation. In fact, the Heart
Sutra teaches that there’s no obstacle that Mu cannot
dissolve if you go deeply enough into it. Of course people
discover this power while they’re doing the Mu koan,
which can take years to complete. The last part of the Mu
koan, by the way, is acting from that emptiness. That’s
why people come into the dokusan room and call Mu aloud. Sometimes
when you call Mu, it’s very feeble and forced. But sometimes,
when people have purified body, mind and heart after many
days on the cushion and when they come into dokusan to call
Mu, it’s really wonderful to hear. It’s as though
they are an empty vessel and the universe is pouring through
them. This morning Illusha did the sutras and I really think
his delivery was excellent. It was really coming out of his
hara and out of Mu. There was great, natural energy and I
didn’t think it sounded artificial at all.
The Mu koan is the foundation but after that we encounter
the fox koan. And the fox koan is quite important its own
right because after a person has “answered” the
Mu koan--has deeply opened up to the energy of emptiness--he
or she might begin to think, “I am getting to be an
enlightened person.” By the way, there’s nothing
wrong with thinking that you’re making progress in Zen.
You’re not really being selfish or something like that.
You can say, “I’ve been practicing for ten years.
I’ve answered a lot of koans. I feel better about my
life.” That’s ok. But sometimes, after we’ve
practiced Zen for a long time--perhaps we’ve even had
Dai Kensho, a great awakening experience-- we might think,
“My god, I’m totally clear, totally free from
obstructions.” But the reality is more complex than
this because even after Dai Kensho, people still have karma,
their personal makeup, their personal foibles and fears. And
you might not see the traces of this karma very often if you
get up in the morning and you sit, and then you go to work,
day after day, peacefully and placidly. You might encounter
your fox only very rarely. But then something might happen.
Let’s say that you have a job that you’re pretty
happy with. And maybe your romantic relationship is going
well and everything is clicking. Then all of a sudden something
happens. You go to work one day and your boss says, “I’d
need to see you in my office. Do you mind?”
“What could this be?” you think.
The boss says, “We’re closing your division down.”
“Oh, my god!!‘ you think to yourself, “You’re
closing my division down.” This actually happened to
a friend of mine, who practices Zen with another teacher.
“We’re offshoring your division”--that’s
what the boss said. And my friend was overcome with anxiety:
“I’m fifty seven years old and my job is gone.
Now what?” To his surprise he felt that he was going
to unravel. Sometimes you can be more shocked by your reaction
to the news than by the news itself. You just fall apart,
in spite of all your Zen training. That’s what happened
to my friend.
Here’s another scenario. Maybe your relationship hasn’t
been as good as you supposed. You’ve been saying to
yourself, “ I have a good relationship--solid.”
But then, one day your partner comes in and says, “I’ve
fallen in love with somebody else.” You’re incredulous:
“What? We’ve been together for fifteen years,
and I thought we were happy.” On an occasion like this
you can sometimes see your fox.
I met a man about a year ago who told me that he had been
married for thirty years. He was a litigator--a courtroom
gladiator--and he definitely had an edge. His profession had
made him into a slightly unnerving person. He had a sarcastic
sense of humor, not entirely well-meaning. But he told me,
and I could see he was in a lot of pain, “My wife came
home after thirty years and said, ‘I’m leaving
you. I’m going to go look for love,’” and
she left him. He had remarried to the woman who was seated
beside him, and I could already see a lot of strain and tension
between the two of them.
I don’t think that he expected his marriage to fall
apart. It just happened one day. If you’ve been doing
a lot of zazen you could think, “Well, I do zazen. I’m
sure I can deal with this.” And then you go back to
your empty house where you used to live with your wife and
all of a sudden you might feel frightened, right? You’re
frightened or you’re lonely or you’re generally
hurting. And this could be quite a shock to people who practice
Zen because if you’re really practicing Zen, especially
if you get quite accomplished at it, you could forget about
this part of yourself and you might not even think it exists
anymore. But we all have a fox.
I’m an admirer of a writer named Russell Banks, an
American novelist and, in fact, a very nice guy. He came to
Rutgers several times and lectured on creative writing. Russell
Banks’ father was a plumbing contractor in New England
who had a make-or-break moment when he landed a big contract
for the first time. It was his shot at breaking out of his
status as a small contractor. But the details got away from
him and ultimately ruined his business. He couldn’t
handle the scaling up, and Banks explained to me that his
dad became a very unhappy man and a physically abusive father.
He had a drinking problem and would fight with his wife and
so on. As I recall Banks said something like this: “I’m
a big, strong man and yet when things go wrong I’m a
little boy again. When things go wrong I find myself back
in that place where I was when I was a little kid and my father
was coming up the stairs to like punish me. I’m terrified
and I feel totally powerless.” Banks said, “That’s
been with me all my life.” He’s written about
this a couple of times. And he talked about how it made him
for a while a hard person to live with. That was Russell Banks’s
The fox is where we go--what we become-- when things aren’t
working out. Often we carry this karma from events in our
early, early life, but sometimes it comes from later years.
My mother had her fox as well. She grew up in truly grinding
poverty. My grandfather, her father, was a dairy farmer in
northern New York State during the Great Depression, and his
family had a very hard life with very little money. During
the Depression my grandfather lost his house and farm, and
so my grandmother left Plattsburgh to work in Albany as a
cook in the Governor’s Mansion. My grandfather became
a hired hand, a hired agricultural worker. As for my mother,
she lived with her father in a bunk house. Her job was to
get up early in the morning and cook breakfast for all the
hands on this farm. And then she would go off to school. My
mother used to recall that all her girlfriends would enjoy
visiting each other’s houses, and they would say to
my mother, “Well, Joyce, when are we going to come over
to your house?” But my mother didn’t have a house.
She had a bunk in a bunkhouse, and she was understandably
ashamed of that. Her mother was away in Albany and her older
sister was working in a department store. Her brother was
somewhere else, trying to finish school. Consequently, when
my mother was not at her best, she would become a little girl
living in a bunk house, ashamed of her circumstances.
As we grow up we think we leave that person behind, but in
a certain way that child--the little girl or little boy--is
always there. That’s our fox. Sometimes, especially
if we’ve done a lot of zazen, we can deceive ourselves.
We might think, “Well, all of that is in the past.”
But if you look carefully, you can sometimes see your fox
peeking out. You can see it. And when it does, please don’t
let it throw you. If you think that Zen practice is going
to liberate you from all karma, you’re right. But in
Buddhism we have a technical term for a person who is liberated
from all karma. The term is “Buddha,” ok? A Buddha
is somebody who is totally liberated from all karma. That
person has no fox. But all other human beings have a fox.
And sometimes in Zen practice you encounter your fox.
There might be a moment in your Zen practice when you’re
feeling down, or you’re feeling helpless or vulnerable
or angry. You think, “Why am I feeling angry? Why am
You know, I’ve worked with people over the years and
some have come to sesshin with a very calm demeanor. Day one
of sesshin, very sweet. Day two, very sweet. Day three-- furious.
Seeing that transformation, one might ask, “What happened?”
That’s somebody’s fox. Don’t be afraid to
see your own fox, if you catch a glimpse of it. In America
we’re addicted to positive thinking. Everybody’s
supposed to go around with a big smile on his face. We’re
all supposed to be happy and cheerful. And actually, being
happy is what Buddhism is all about. But it has to be real
happiness, not a mandatory veneer. On television, everybody
walks around telling jokes and laughing and having a great
time unless you turn to a police drama. And as you know, salesmen
always smile. Part of American culture is this mandatory happiness.
But I think real true happiness, real joy, requires encountering
Sometimes you don’t have to go looking. It will simply
turn up. You often run into your fox when you’ve had
some kind of a personal defeat or injury. You’re not
likely to find your fox when you go to work and the boss says,
“Brilliant! You’re doing a brilliant job. Here’s
a raise.” You’re not going to find your fox when
you’re talking to somebody who pays you compliments
all the time. But when you get a pink slip, when you get a
rejection notice, when you give the audition and they say,
“Thank you. Thanks a lot,” with a big smile. “We’ll
be in touch,” meaning “We won’t be in touch,”
that’s when the fox makes an appearance. When that happens
you might go home and you think, “Oh my god! My father
is coming up the stairs to beat me.” Or you think, “I’m
in the bunk house and the wind is blowing through the boards
in the floor and there’s absolutely no one around. I’m
all by myself.” When the fox arrives you go back to
that position, that place. And people who get fall into depression
get stuck in that place with their fox.
It is quite possible to pretend not to see the fox at all
even when he’s sitting right in front of you. But I
think a lot of trouble can be caused by that sort of denial.
Some of you might have heard about the recent events at Dai
Bosatsu Zendo where I visited many years ago. The teacher,
the roshi there, was finally removed for having sexual relations
with his students over the course of many, many years. He
would have sexual relations with a student and then he would
get caught and he would confess and offer an apology and about
half the community would leave. And then he would say, “I
promise not to do it again.” You know where this is
going, right? Soon he’d do it again--on and one throughout
his whole career. I know him and I think that he’s a
brilliant person. He’s brilliant, charming, charismatic,
and as a result, people would make excuses for him.
Now that he’s been stripped of his authority, many
people have written in various publications to put in their
two cents. And most of the writing has been moralizing and
didactic. He was a bad roshi. He was supposed to be “good”
but instead he was “bad.” I agree completely,
but why was he "bad"? I don’t think people
fully understand that this teacher had a big fox he wasn’t
aware of. I think the teacher was trapped in a lonely room
by himself all alone. I don’t know his personal history,
but I think he was dying for affection, for human contact
and other things that we all need in order to be mentally
healthy. Perhaps he didn’t get that contact early in
his life and maybe he just couldn’t let let people in.Perhaps--and
this is just my speculation--he created an unhealthy situation
for himself because he didn’t confront his fox. We’re
all afraid of the fox because we think, “If I admit
to having a fox, that means that all my practice has been
I certainly think that Eido Roshi should have been removed--not
recently but many, many years ago. But to make the matter
a bit more complex, let me add that I'm also quite convinced
that Eido Roshi had experienced Dai Kensho. So one might ask,
“How could a man have had Dai Kensho and still posses
a fox”--a terrible fox that damaged everyone involved?
But, you see, all humans have a fox. The problem arises when
we don’t recognize our fox and we instead we say, “No,
no. I have no fox.” That’s the road to disaster
because when we’re in the spell of our fox, we do things
compulsively. If you’ve been physically abused as a
child, you’ve had this experience of being powerless
with nobody coming to your rescue. And when you’re in
that state you’ll make all kinds of bad decisions because
you’re terrified. And if you’ve been abandoned
and you’ve grown up alone as my mother did, you might
be willing to stay with my dad, who was a terrible husband,
for years and years until he finally abandoned her. And why
did she stay with him? Because she was stuck in that bunkroom
in upstate New York. I wish that my mother could have seen
her fox. She might have been more willing to leave my dad
if she’d only seen her fear for what it really was.
In spite of her obstacles, my mother did many good things
with her life. She became a legal secretary. Then she became
a court reporter. She passed the exam for a real estate license
and sold real estate. She was an administrative assistant
for many years. So my mother didn’t let her fox get
the best of her. She was a very capable person but she forgot
about that at times. In moments of stress she would become
once again an abandoned little girl. But we all have our fox
and it’s important to be aware it and also to realize
that there’s more to us than our fox. We have other
resources. When we sit on the cushion we can experience mushin
and with it comes this deep connectedness to the world around
us-- you know, deep connectedness and real energy. People
walk into the dokusan room sometime and they really call Mu.
When I was listening to Ilusha reciting the sutras--I don’t
want to make him embarrassed-- but I thought, “Oh, that’s
perfect. There’s real joyous energy in his voice.”
If you’re going to do something, ideally do it with
joyous energy. And it’s not always possible to do that
naturally, and so our actions can become a little artificial
sometimes. But sometimes the energy simply arises spontaneously.
If you’re going to recite the sutras, one way to do
so is halfheartedly. Some people barely manage a mumble. Others
make a full-throated, whole-hearted effort. A person who used
to come here frequently wanted to be noticed, and so he would
never recite the sutras in sync with everybody else. He would
always be a syllable behind. I’m sure you know who I’m
talking about if you’ve practicing for a few years.
He’s gone now but when he would recite the sutras, he
would always finish a line after everybody else had all stopped.
After a while it was like having blurred vision in your ears.
I felt like yelling at him, “Would you knock it off!!!"
But he clearly wanted to be noticed and so I decided not to
make an issue of it. Probably if he had kept practicing this
behavior would have fallen away.
It’s a problem if you are always out of sync, but there’s
nothing wrong with reciting from your heart. It’s a
little embarrassing sometimes to be open and energetic but
that’s the best way to do anything. Sometimes, when
we’re open and energetic, it creates tensions and resentments
because we might make others uncomfortable. And that’s
a difficult situation. But the important thing is to be alive
and not to be too daunted by our setbacks and to realize that
we all have a fox. Getting to know your fox is so important
because otherwise we just think it’s who we are fundamentally.
When we’re on the cushion--fortunately--we sometimes
realize that some of our thoughts are just bullshit. We’re
caught up in this or that concern, growing more worried or
more tense, and then suddenly we just realize, “That’s
bullshit,” and we go back to Mu or back to the breath.
But sometimes our thoughts are very compelling because they’re
closely related to our fox. And those are thoughts like these:
“I’m helpless. There’s nothing I can do,
I’m trapped,” or “I’m worthless,”
or “I’m an idiot.” Generally those ideas
or feelings are very close to our fox. And so when you find
yourself getting into the familiar cycles, it’s important
to realize, “Ah, this is my fox.”
Please remind yourself, “There’s more to me than
my fox. I’ve encountered vast emptiness. I’ve
encountered boundless compassion. I’ve encountered unquenchable
energy.” I’m sure you’ve discovered that
energy if you come to sesshin before. For those of you who
are here for the first time, let me recommend that you get
plenty of sleep. But at some point you’re not going
to be able to sleep anymore because you will have so much
energy. I, myself, have been a bit sick at this sesshin, and
yet I can’t sleep. The first night I went into my bedroom
after dinner at 7 o’clock and I thought, “Ok,
I’m sick. Let me gt some extra rest.” But instead
of sleeping I just lay there. This happens to me quite often
at sesshin. I don’t think it’s nervous energy
or some neurotic agitation. Instead it feels perfectly natural
Use that energy to deal with your fox. If you get trapped
in a box with your fox, you can get depressed. And then you
might think, “There’s no way out of this. I’m
trapped.” But this feeling of being totally blocked
you should learn to recognize as the hallmark of delusional
thinking. There’s always something you can do. When
things aren’t going well, for example, it’s important
to reach out to other people, to your friends. Human contacts
are important. It’s important to do zazen--of course--
and also to explore new avenues.If you’ve been stuck
for a long time in a job that you don’t like, there’s
usually some alternative job that you would like more. The
best way to deal with your fox is to try to stop repeating
all the old behavior. You really can’t get out of the
mental loops unless you actually do things differently.
Tell me, does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke
of causation or not?” Hyakujo answered, “He does
not ignore causation.” No sooner had the old man heard
these words than he was enlightened.
The fox koan is all about the psychological problem of repetition:
even though the results are always the same and always unsatisfactory,
we keep doing the same thing, again and again. How do we get
out of the mental trap which we create for ourselves? There
is a wonderful song by Cole Porter and it’s entitled
Before you leave these portals
to meet less fortunate mortals,
there's just one final message I would give to you.
You all have learned reliance
on the sacred teachings of science,
so I hope through life you never will decline,
in spite of philistine defiance,
to do what all good scientists do.
Experiment! Make it your motto day and night.
Experiment! And it will lead you to the light.
The apple on the top of the tree is never too high to achieve.
So take an example from Eve.
Be curious! Though interfering friends may frown.
Get furious, at each attempt to hold you down.
If this advice you'll only employ, the future can offer you
infinite joy and merriment.
Experiment, and you'll see.
As far as I’m concerned these lyrics are Buddhism 101.
Cole Porter, you might already know, was born to wealth, which
must be great. He was raised quite strictly as a Baptist and
his family, expecting him to become a lawyer, sent him to
like Yale Law School--all according to plan. There was only
one problem. Cole Porter was gay. Actually he had two problems.
One of them was that he was gay. The other was that he wanted
to write popular music and he didn’t want to be a lawyer.
And so he went to Paris. It was easier to be gay in Paris
than in New York at that time. And he was able to explore
his identity in that context where he began writing songs.
Years later wrote some beautiful Broadway plays like “Kiss
Me Kate” and “Anything Goes.”
At that time, for a gay male to come out of the closet was
very difficult and risky, and in fact Porter never came out
entirely. Instead he married a woman who was not interested
in him as a sexual partner but just as someone with whom she
could share a life, and they conspired together to maintain
the fiction of a heterosexual marriage. But it was well known
among their friends that Porter was gay.
Porter eventually became a tremendously creative, lively
person. And I think this happened precisely he was willing
to experiment. He could have said, “Oh dear, my parents
want me to be a lawyer. There’s nothing I can do. I’ve
got to be a lawyer.” He could have said, “Well,
my parents want me to be a Baptist. I have to be a Baptist.
There’s no way out.” And he could have said, “Gee,
I really like men but there’s no way out.” But
he didn’t do those things. He experimented and I think
he saw the light. So it’s important to be true to your
true nature and not to be intimidated by your fox. And we
all get knocked down occasionally and then this little fox
scampers over. And he says, “You’re no good. You’re
trapped. You can’t get out.”
But please remember what Cole Porter says: “Experiment.
Make that your motto day and night. Experiment. And it will
lead you to the light.” That should be added to the
Not falling under causation. How could this make a monk
a fox? Not ignoring causation. How could this make the old
man emancipated? If you come to understand this, you will
realize how old Hyakujo could have enjoyed five hundred rebirths
as a fox.
Not falling, not ignoring:
Two faces of one die.
Not ignoring, not falling:
A thousand errors, a million mistakes.
The fox always comes to us and says, “You’ve
made a terrible, terrible mistake.” But there’s
no other way to live except to make mistakes. If you run into
a fox, don’t feel demoralized, OK? It's quite important
to encounter your fox, and if you pretend not to have one,
you are deceiving yourself. The only way to deal with your
fox is to enter into deep samadhi and let go--trusting yourself
to that boundless emptiness, that deep connectedness and energy.
And then you have to try something new.