When Baizhang would give teachings to the assembly an old man would often appear and listen to his Dharma talks.
The old man usually left after the talks, but one day he remained behind.
Baizhang asked, “Who are you?”
The old man said, “I am not actually a human being. In ancient times, at the time of Kashyapa Buddha, I lived and taught on this mountain. One day a student asked, ‘Does a person who has cultivated great practice still fall into cause and effect?’ I said to him, ‘No, such a person does not.’ Because of this I was reborn as a wild fox for five hundred lifetimes. Venerable Master, please say a turning word and free me from this body of a wild fox.”
Then he asked Baizhang, “Does a person who has cultivated great practice still fall into cause and effect?”
Baizhang said, “Do not ignore cause and effect.”
Immediately the old man had a great realization.
The famous koan Hyakujo's fox is perhaps the most cited koan in the works of Dogen. It appears in the Shinji Shobogenzo, Eihei koroku, Zuimonki and is discussed at length in the chapters Jinshin inga and Daishugyo of the shobogenzo.
I've read an interesting statement regarding the name Dai-shu-gyo that led me to this blogarticle.
It is not an bad attempt, and it shines some light into the story.
He, Dosho mike port, explains the name as great-conduct oneself well-action.
This goes somewhat in line with what Dogen says about the story
When we thoroughly investigate the "great cultivation" (Daishugyo), we find that it is already "Great Cause and Effect" (dai inga).(110) This "Great Cause and Effect" is the completeness of cause and completeness of effect. Therefore, it is not a question of falling or not falling, or of obscuring or not obscuring.
even though he errors, there is falling into rebirth as a fox, and there is release from rebirth as a fox.
All of those who have not yet seen and heard the Buddha Dharma say that after the end of his rebirths as a fox the "old master" attained supreme enlightenment (daigo) and that the fox body was completely absorbed into the ocean nature of original enlightenment (hongaku no shogai).
This meaning implies the erroneous notion of "returning to an original self" (honga ni kaeru).
This has never been a Buddhist teaching.
Moreover, if we say that the fox had no original nature (honsho), that the fox was not originally enlightened (hongaku nashi) : this [also] is not the Buddha Dharma.
On a side note, the last quotation is also the most used when trying to explain Dogen's view on enlightenment...
The Koan brings to light such things as Cause & effect and enlightenment.
And we have seen somewhat what Dogen had to say about them.
He also says that Cause & Effect arise at the same time and is an inevitable fact of the human existence.
You can't have one and not the other, or?