Chapter 10: A Song Untouched by Time
But what happened? People listened to Buddha and they thought, “He must be right. He says. ‘With desire there is misery,’ So now we will desire desirelessness. How to attain desirelessness.?” Now they are ready to go on another journey of desire. Just the object of desire has changed. first they were thinking how to have more money, how to have more power, how to go to New Delhi, Washington, London, Moscow; now, their goal has changed - how to attain nirvana, moksha, God, desirelessness.
But the object is there, and with the object the desire ii there. They have committed something very absurd. They missed the point. Buddha is not saying to create a new desire. Buddha is simply saying: Understand desire. Look into desire and you will find misery. Once this understanding has penetrated deep into your being, that desire is misery, then the problem has disappeared. Then you don’t desire at all. And, when you don’t desire, there is desirelessness.
Desirelessness cannot be desired; moksha cannot be desired; God cannot be desired. If you desire, God has become an object of lust. You are again in the same trap - with a new label, but the disease is the same. Maybe the skin is new, but the wine is old.
The same is happening in the modern world. And this, too, is happening because of Zen. Zen says: Be herenow, because that is the only way to be here - that is the only way to be. Now is the only moment there is! How can you be in the future? The future is not yet; how can you be in the future? You can only think. That will be just your mind game. How can you be in the past? The past has disappeared. You can only be in the memory - memory, imagination. But both are non-existential.
To exist means to be herenow. These trees exist, you only pretend. Rocks exist, you only pretend. Stars exist, you only pretend.
Zen has a simple message. It says: See into life - only the present is true. Future is imagination, past is memory. Memory is nothing but a taped record in the mind. And imagination is nothing but a projection through the memory, a desire coming out of the past - to have the same pleasures again and again, or to avoid the old sufferings. And meanwhile the present moment is passing by. Life is slipping out of your hands.
Zen is very pragmatic, very existential. The message is very simple: Be here, and be now.
Now, you can create an ideal out of it. You can jump upon the idea. You say, “Right! Now I will be here and now. I will try, I will not leave any stone unturned; I will do my best. I will be here and now. I will practice, I will meditate, I will sit in zazen, but I have to be here and now!” Now you are creating an ideal out of a simple fact which was a statement, it was a truism.