When Hyakujõ Oshõ delivered a certain series of sermons, an old man always followed the monks to the main hall and listened to him.
When the monks left the hall, the old man would also leave.
One day, however, he remained behind, and Hyakujõ asked him, "Who are you, standing here before me?"
The old man replied.
"I am not a human being.
In the old days of Kashyapa Buddha, I was a head monk, living here on this mountain.
One day a student asked me, 'Does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or not?'
I answered, 'No, he does not.'
Since then I have been doomed to undergo five hundred rebirths as a fox.
I beg you now to give the turning word to release me from my life as a fox.
Tell me, does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or not?"
Hyakujõ answered, "He does not ignore causation."
No sooner had the old man heard these words than he was enlightened.
Making his bows, he said, "I am emancipated from my life as a fox. I shall remain on this mountain.
I have a favor to ask of you: would you please bury my body as that of a dead monk."
Hyakujõ had the director of the monks strike with the gavel and inform everyone that after the midday meal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk.
The monks wondered at this, saying, "Everyone is in good health; nobody is in the sick ward. What does this mean?"
After the meal Hyakujõ led the monks to the foot of a rock on the far side of the mountain and with his staff poked out the dead body of a fox and performed the ceremony of cremation.
That evening he ascended the rostrum and told the monks the whole story.
Õbaku thereupon asked him, "The old man gave the wrong answer and was doomed to be a fox for five hundred rebirths. Now, suppose he had given the right answer, what would have happened then?"
Hyakujõ said, "You come here to me, and I will tell you."
Õbaku went up to Hyakujõ and boxed his ears.
Hyakujõ clapped his hands with a laugh and exclaimed, "I was thinking that the barbarian had a red beard, but now I see before me the red-bearded barbarian himself."