The poor fellow cannot forget his philosophy. Now, dharma-dhatu is simply a philosophical way to say, enter into your fundamental nature. Rather than saying that – enter into your fundamental nature – he brings in the word dharma-dhatu. To the fools these strange words sound very profound – the man must know, must be a great buddha: dharma-dhatu! And it does not mean much, it simply means your foundation.
“…where it will talk about buddhas, when meeting buddhas; about patriarchs when meeting patriarchs, about arhats, when meeting arhats, and about hungry ghosts when meeting hungry ghosts.”
Now you can see how philosophy goes on creating great systems of thought and belief. Your very foundation is certainly the foundation of all the buddhas; your ultimate consciousness is the source of all the buddhas. A single sentence is enough, that you are containing a buddha within you.
And as far as hungry ghosts are concerned, I cannot agree with him. There are hungry people, but hungry ghosts? There is no reason for them to be hungry, they can eat in any restaurant without paying – and they do it. You cannot see them, so they can enter anywhere; locks and doors don’t matter. This is a stupid idea he must have got from his childhood which is still hanging around – hungry ghosts! To frighten a child just a ghost is enough, but to make it hungry means, “Beware!” A hungry ghost immediately gulps you. One moment you are and next moment you are gone. I know ghosts, but I have never heard…”Poor ghosts, hungry ghosts.” There is no reason for them to be hungry – just something to frighten children….
But Rinzai is still carrying his own childhood. There are no ghosts in the world, but all the religions talk about ghosts because their very foundation is dependent on a belief in God. And if people start asking questions about God’s existence, they are immediately repressed: “Even to disbelieve or doubt for a single moment about God you will be in trouble.” The ghosts come in the same line.
God lives far away; ghosts live just in the neighborhood. They may be living in your own house. To frighten children with a God who lives far away – no child is so unintelligent to be afraid. By the time the message reaches to him the child will think, “We will see. But first, bring the ice cream from the refrigerator.” But hungry ghosts? They may be in the refrigerator itself enjoying all your ice cream!
But a man like Rinzai talking about hungry ghosts simply shows that even if you grow older the child within you remains. And then he became very learned in his scriptures, so the scriptures and the childhood superstitions all got mixed up. Finally he became enlightened, but his whole past was still hanging around him like shadows. And when he starts talking about religion he has to come down to the mind, and the mind is full of those shadows of the past.