Foxes Have Holes
Someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the human being has nowhere to lay his head.
“It is better to have nothing, than to have something good.” — Yunmen
We locate ourselves. All the facts and figures of our lives, the memories, the identities that we adopt as we make our journey through life, the religious beliefs that we hold. Our personal “I am” is always defined by our location, what we do or say, where we live, the roles we adopt. I am a minister. I am a husband and a father, an avid walker, a zen teacher. I am absent minded, attentive to others, alert to my surroundings. I am from Kentucky and live in Berkeley, or is it Santa Rosa? We locate ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves and others. Stepping along with Jesus in this koan, I can feel myself shaping my nest, digging my hole — locating myself on various maps – geographical, personal, interpersonal, societal. Just as I am getting settled, comfortable with myself Jesus says something disquieting, “the Son of man (a way he had for saying “human beings”) has nowhere to lay his head.
I want to locate this nowhere. Is it a stance towards life? Something I can change in order to become…someone else? But, finally nowhere means no-where and I recognize a call into a deeper life apart from all location, any conception or idea about who or where I am. When I am taken out of the equation, nowhere arrives — right here. The grass is green, my fingers tap out these words on the screen. Yeah, that’s right, nowhere is a good place to lay my head.
Great Zen Master Yunmen once said, “It is better to have nothing, than to have something good.”