Inari Japanese Fox Mask
citations from Dogen Zenji's
Attaining the Marrow Through Reverence
Flowers of Emptiness, trans. by Hee-Jin Kim
photo: —
Inari Mask (Japanese Fox Goddess/Bodhisattva)
__ __ __
MOST DIFFICULT for the person engaged in training for supreme, perfect 
enlightenment is to find a guide. It is irrelevant whether a guide has
male or female characteristics, and the like; what counts is that the
guide be a being of virtue, of thusness. One need not be of the past or
of the present; even the spirit of a wild fox may be a qualified mentor.
Such is the way of the attainment of the marrow: a mentor guides and
assists (sentient beings) without obscuring cause and effect, and may
be you, me or another.
__ __ __
Attaining the marrow and transmitting the Dharma are invariably 
dependent on a sincere heart and believing mind. There is no indication
that sincerity and faith come from outside, nor that they issue from
within; they consist merely of pursuing the Dharma at the risk of the
body [....] Valuing the Dharma means that, whether [your guide] is a
pillar, a lantern, buddhas, a fox, a demon, a man, or a woman, if it
upholds the great Dharma and attains the marrow, then you should offer
your body-mind as its seat and serve for immeasurable kalpas. Like the
rice, hemp, bamboo, and reeds of this world, it is easy to acquire the
body-mind, but it is rare to meet the Dharma.
__ __ __
Therefore, we should beseech the trees and rocks to expound [the, 
Dharma] and ask the fields and villages to interpret. Similarly, we may
put a question to the pillars, and learn from walls and partitions. Once
Indra paid homage to a wild fox as his mentor and sought the Dharma
from it. [This fox], it is said, was called "Great Bodhisattva." [The
qualifications for a mentor] have nothing to do with nobility or
ignobility due to past karma....
__ __ __
When [Kuan-ch'i Chih-Hsien] arrived at the place of Mo Shan  
[Liao-jan], the latter asked When Kuan-ch'i Chih-hsien arrived at the
place of nun Mo-shan, Mo-shan asked: "Where did you come from?"
Chih-hsien replied: "From the open road."Mo-shan asked: "Then why did
you not cover it?" The master was wordless. Immediately he made
obeisance and became her disciple.

The master later asked Mo-shan: "What kind of mountain is Mo-shan
[Mt. Mo]?" Mo-shan replied: "Its summit is not visible." The master
asked: "Who is the person in this mountain?" Mo-shan replied: "It has
nothing to do with male or female features or the like." The master
asked: "Why do you not change yourself ?" Mo-shan answered: "Since
I am not the spirit of a wild fox (*), how can I change?"
The master bowed in reverence. Eventually he aroused his mind, and
worked as the monk in charge of the vegetable garden for three years.

Later when he became abbot of a monastery, Chih-hsien instructed
the assembly saying: "I attained a half ladle of dharma-water at the
venerable father Lin-shi's place and another half at the venerable
mother Mo-shan's. The two together making a full ladle, I drank it
up and have been thoroughly full ever since."
__ __ __
Translator's note: 
The spirit of a wild fox can change into many other beings, but
one's essential nature is beyond change and no-change. Mo-shan's
answer refers to this truth.

(Zen Master) DOGEN ZENJI'S (道元禅師)
(Gender Inclusive) STUDIES OF THE WAY (學道) | INDEX
95-Fascicle SHOBOGENZO (正法眼蔵) & Other Writings