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The Wild Fox Koan

https://www.lightningpath.org/readings/the-wild-fox-koan/

Discuss below.

 

The text states: "The cure that gave him back his human form was finally realizing the truth: no matter how advanced you might be spiritually, you’re still subject to cause and effect, laws, and rules. You are part of the physical unit, just like everyone else. The lesson of the story is quite clear, and even stated explicitly: “Don’t ignore cause and effect.”

Hmm, I think that the man who was "punished" has been misunderstood. /By the way, it was not master Baizhang who was turned into a fox, but another man before him.)

I have a couple of issues with the little story.

- Why should a zen master be punished? Punishment doesn't make sense in any halfway sound spiritual system.
- Why is being a fox a punishment in the first place? (The way the story is presented makes it feel as a punishment.)

- His statement on the question " Does a person who practices with great devotion still fall into cause and effect?" is misdirected in my opinion.

Cause and effect is something that applies on the entire PU. So, it applies on matter, as well as on the psychologic/mental realm.

It is, of course, not possible to escape cause and effect on the physical realm - even if you have jesus-like abilities. But what about the mental realm?
Cause and effect, in this realm, would mean conditionings, triggers, reactions, etc.

So, I do think that what the man attempted to teach his student makes sense. One who practices lots of devotion, finds his/her "cause and effect" inside of him/her, and not outside of him/her. Thus, this person is more or less free from external influences, psychologically. The person choses autonomously, regardless of culture, trends, social expectations, as well as free from addictions and unmet needs. We might say the person is free.

I doubt the man (the previous master) didn't recognize this. As such, this little story possibly has some elite "ideological intruding" in it, if you ask me.

We might put it like this: Freedom is gained by minimizing cause and effect on the mental realm. Or rather, by putting the cause and effect from the outside, towards the inside. When the cause and effect are in the inside, your will has a great power over cause and effect.

Note that this way, external things may serve as causes as well, but the last word lies within. So, for instance, seing the state of the world, or a beggar on the streets, might prompt you to do something about it. But it lies entirely in your will, which, optimally, is informed by our assessment of the situation and of the possibilities, to follow that urge to help or not.

These are excellent points. Do you mind if I add them to the story exposition, particularly the stuff on punishment and judgment? I want to keep the story because it demonstrates ancient concern with themes identified in the Seven Pillars, but it needs to be contextualized and called out for the old energy thinking, as you correctly do.

As for mental cause and effect, your mental apparatus, neurons, are absolutely dependent on cause and effect. Experiences you have in your life modify your neurological coding. Experiences not only change your institutional/reactive and conscious responses to things, they also change the hard coding of your brain. So I don't think it is wise to argue that we can be above cause and effect, even at the mental level. Even single negative experiences can cause considerable psychological damage.  Having said that, I think we can counteract cause/effect at the mental/psychological/emotional level, by changing our thoughts and our interactions with physical reality; but we'd still have to acknowledge the impact.

 

 

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Do you mind if I add them to the story exposition, particularly the stuff on punishment and judgment?

Sure.

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