Chapter 4: Always Now and Here
For a man whose desires have disappeared, whose greed is no longer there, do you think there will be even a slight shadow of tomorrow? With the desires and longings going away the future dies, and with the memories and imaginations and the dreams dropping, the past disappears. Then what remains in your hands? You cannot even call it present, because present is possible only if there is something past and something future. In that context the present is the middle, but if the future disappears and the past dies, the present cannot live. The present is also part of your mind.
Your mind is time.
And when times ceases, your mind ceases.
Then you simply are.
You have to understand this background, only then will you be able to see Basho’s tremendous insight into things, transforming small experiences into great metaphysical truths.
As he saw the wild duck fly past Basho said, “What is it?”
He is not asking about the wild duck, he is asking about it - and the it contains the whole existence. But obviously anybody who understands only language and knows nothing about that which is beyond language, will agree with Hyakujo.
Hyakujo said, “It is a wild duck.”
But he has not understood that Basho would not ask about the wild duck; he can see it himself. He is asking about it, another name of existence. “What is it?” The wild duck is just an excuse to raise the question: What is existence? Existence is not a wild duck, although a wild duck is part of existence - but existence is far bigger.
The it of Basho contains the totality; the poor wild duck is not even a dewdrop in the ocean. But he gives another chance to Hyakujo to understand that his question is not directed about the wild duck.
Basho said, “Where is it?”
Hyakujo goes on committing the same mistake. That is the nature of mind; it goes on committing the same mistake again and again.
Hyakujo said, “It has flown away.”
The simple word it in the eyes of Basho contains the whole existence; hence it cannot fly away. Where will it go? It contains all, but poor Hyakujo is still concerned with the wild duck. He cannot understand that a great master like Basho cannot ask such a stupid question and if he is asking, then there must be much more than language contains. He said, “It has flown away” - still he is concerned with the wild duck. Naturally Basho could see that Hyakujo will not understand easily.