The Gateless Checkpoint of the Zen Lineage

Chan Zong Wumen Guan (J. Mumonkan)


By Wumen Huikai (1183-1260, J. Mumon Ekai)


Translated by Gregory Wonderwheel © 2007



2. Baizhang's Wild Fox

       Venerable Baizhang: when holding a series of general meetings it happened that a certain old man regularly accompanied the multitude to listen to the Dharma.  When the multitude of people withdrew, the old man also withdrew.
        Suddenly one day, the old man did not withdraw. The master proceeded to ask, "Who is this returning and standing in front of me?"
        The old man said, “Well, I am not a human! In the former life of Kashyapa Buddha, at that time long past, I dwelled on this mountain. Because a scholar asked me, ‘Does the person with a foundation in the great practice of the teachings still fall into the law of cause and effect or not?’,  I answered saying, ‘Does not fall into cause and effect.’  So for five hundred births I have fallen into to a wild fox body.  Now I request, will the Venerable substitute one precious turning word to take off the wild fox?”
        The old man then asked, “Does the person with a foundation in the great practice of the teachings [MM 11] still fall into cause and effect or not?"
        The master said, "Not in the dark about cause and effect."
        At these words the old man then had great awakening.  After performing proprieties he said, "I have finished taking off the wild fox body and it dwells on the backside of this mountain.  I dare say Venerable, I beg you, to comply with the customs for a dead monk."
        The master had the temple director bring them together the sounding board mallet and inform the assembly that after the meal they would see home a dead monk.
        The great assembly discussed these words,  "Everyone is entirely peaceful; furthermore, in the Nirvana Room infirmary no person is sick. For what reason do we hear this?"
        After the meal, just to see, the master guided the assembly and arrived at the back side of the mountain below a cliff. He used his staff to poke and took out a single dead wild fox; accordingly he observed the cremation rites.
        When evening arrived the master went up to the hall and before the whole group told the cause and reason of the events.
        Huangbo expediently asked, "The ancient man was merely confused when he answered one turning word and fell into five hundred lives in a wild fox body. If turning after turning he was not confused and acted correctly, then what would be counted?"
        The master said, "Come up in front close, and I will show his path.”
        Huangbo proceeded close to the master and gave the master one slap.
        The master clapped his hands, laughed, and said, "I was going to say, the barbarian’s beard is red, instead here comes a red bearded barbarian."

[MM 12] Wumen Says:  Why does “not falling into cause and effect” result in falling into a wild fox?  Why does “not in the dark about cause and effect” result in taking off the wild fox?  If from within you are able to manifest the one single eye, then you get the wisdom of how the first Baizheng won five hundred graceful lives.

The Ode Says:

Not falling, not darkening:
Two colors, one game.
Not darkening, not falling:
One thousand mistakes, ten thousand mistakes.


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This page last edited September 08, 2007.