The great masters of the Chan School have always been like leisurely clouds and wild cranes, sometimes dwelling in the mountain forests, sometimes living by the water.
What, exactly, is the meaning contained within this gong’an? For instance, some have asked, what are people like? This is a very difficult question to answer because if there are things they are like, then there are things they are not like. If we answer that people are like ghosts, then there are also people among ghosts. If we say ghosts are like people, then there are also ghosts among people.
Some people may think it is strange that in this scientifically enlightened century anyone would want to talk about ghosts. In the past, even sages avoided the subject of the supernatural if they could. Confucius never spoke about ghosts. At the mere mention of ghosts, frightful images instantly arise in our minds of their pale faces, their wild hair and their sharp fangs. The truth is, however, ghosts generally are not very frightening. In fact, many of them are quite cute. Ghosts are like different types of animals: some of them are as frightening as lions and tigers, while others are as cute as bunny rabbits and as gentle as little kittens.