Creative Mythology: The Mystic and the Fox

Note: this story is Zen influenced. It’s relatively short.

A mystic was walking in a forest and came upon a fox.  The fox did not run away, it did not even move.  Curious, the mystic approached the fox.

“Why do you not to run away at the approach of a man?  Do you not realize that men are dangerous?  They kill living creatures such as yourself for no apparent reason.”

The fox was silent.

“Come now, this is no chance meeting.  Do not be coy, as they say, like a fox.”

The fox was silent.

“Of course a fox cannot speak in the language of humans.  But I am a mystic, I will open my mind to the interface that allows us communication.”  He paused.  “There, I believe you can speak with me now.”

“Thank you,” said the fox.  “As you say, this is not a chance meeting.  We do have an appointment.”

The mystic was intrigued.  “Please, do not leave me guessing.”

“I have a most important question that I believe only you can answer,” continued the fox.  “If a being achieves supreme enlightenment, do they leave the world of cause and effect?  Are they above consequences and unfortunate circumstance?”

“Of course not,” answered the mystic.

“Are you certain?” asked the fox.  “I have always believed that the enlightened being avoids causation, literally avoids the path of causation through participation in a larger reality.”

“This is intriguing.  Can you give me an example?” asked the mystic.

“If a bullet is waiting, the enlightened one goes in another direction, where the bullet is not.”

“Perhaps,” answered the mystic.  “But not every bullet can be anticipated.  Therefore, I do not believe that every fate can be avoided.  Enlightenment sometimes means accepting reality just as it is.”

“But sometimes” countered the fox, “the enlightened being can choose to accept the acceptable – walk on feathered clouds with angels and Buddhas.  Their world literally expands.  Not only is that desirable, it becomes unavoidable.”

“What you say is true.  The enlightened being can choose to accept the acceptable – whether floating on air or becoming stuck in unanticipated mud.”

The fox was silent.

“What do you think, have you achieved enlightenment?” the mystic asked the fox.

The fox was silent.  The mystic decided he needed to be patient.  If the fox said yes, perhaps the answer was really no.  If the fox said no, perhaps the answer was really yes.  At any rate, who was he to try to pin down an answer from this noble creature?

The mystic had a friend who’d caught up.  His curiosity was aroused by what he witnessed.  “Why are you talking to a dead fox?”  His friend could see the fox had been shot – perhaps by a hunter for sport.

The mystic was silent.  The fox was silent.  The friend decided to repeat his question.

“I heard you speaking, but I could not quite make out the words.  What could you possibly have to say to a dead fox?”

“After all the full experience with its life, I wanted to know if the fox had achieved enlightenment.”

“What did you learn?” asked the friend.

The mystic was silent.  The fox was silent.  The friend was also silent.

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