Chapter 7: Temple Fire
While Tokai was a visitor at a certain temple, a fire started under the kitchen floor.
A monk rushed into Tokai’s bedroom, shouting: “A fire, master, a fire!” “Oh?” said Tokai, sitting up. “Where?” “Where?” exclaimed the monk. “Why, under the kitchen floor - get up at once.” “The kitchen, eh?” said the master drowsily. “Well, tell you what, when it reaches the passageway, come back and let me know.”
Tokai was snoring again in no time.
The whole ignorance of mind consists in not being in the present. Mind is always moving: into the future, or into the past. Mind is never here and now. It cannot be. The very nature of mind is such that it cannot be in the present, because mind has to think, and in the present moment there is no possibility to think. You have to see, you have to listen, you have to be present, but you cannot think.
The present moment is so narrow that there is no space to think about. You can be, but thoughts cannot be. How can you think? If you think, it means it is already past, the moment has gone. Or you can think if it has not come yet, it is in the future.
For thinking space is needed, because thinking is like a walk - a walk of the mind, a journey. Space is needed. You can walk into the future, you can walk into the past, but how can you walk in the present? The present is so close, really not even close - the present is you. Past and future are parts of time; the present is you, it is not part of time. It is not a tense: it is not at all a part of time, it doesn’t belong to time. The present is you; past and future are out of you.
The mind cannot exist in the present. If you can be here, totally present, mind will disappear. Mind can desire, can dream - dream a thousand and one thoughts. It can move to the very end of the world, it can move to the very beginning of the world, but it cannot be here and now - that is impossible for it. The whole ignorance consists in not knowing this. And then you worry about the past, which is no more - it is absolutely stupid! You cannot do anything about the past. How can you do anything about the past which is no more? Nothing can be done, it has already gone; but you worry about it, and worrying about it, you waste yourself.
Or you think about the future, and dream and desire. Have you ever observed? - the future never comes. It cannot come. Whatsoever comes is always the present, and the present is absolutely different from your desires, your dreams. That’s why whatsoever you desire and dream and imagine and plan for and worry about, never happens. But it wastes you. You go on deteriorating. You go on dying. Your energies go on moving in a desert, not reaching any goal, simply dissipating. And then death knocks at your door. And remember: death never knocks in the past, and death never knocks in the future; death knocks in the present.
You cannot say to death, “Tomorrow!” Death knocks in the present. Life also knocks in the present. God also knocks in the present. Everything that is always knocks in the present, and everything that is not is always part of past or future.