Chapter 5: The Eye of Zen
The question starts from I have heard, and from the very beginning it is wrong, because it is not even your question. The question is also borrowed. It is based on other people’s experience. It is just an opinion that you have gathered from somewhere and now you are making a question out of it. It has no roots in you. It is like a plastic flower you have purchased from the market. It will not have any fragrance, it is not alive.
The real question cannot arise out of others’ opinions. You have to be in a meditative mood to find the real question. You have to learn how to commune with existence.
The question starts: I have heard - it goes wrong from the very beginning - that all buddhas in the past, present and future.. Now, for a buddha there is no past, no present, no future. The buddha exists only in the eternal. That’s why he is called the buddha: that he has transcended time.
To be in time is to be asleep. Time is our sleep, time is our mind, time is our dreaming. To go beyond dreaming, thinking, mind, means to go beyond time. Time does not consist of the present, remember. It consists only of past and future. Have you ever encountered the present?
The moment you say, “Yes, this is the present,” it is no more the present, it is already the past. The moment you recognize through the mind that this is the present, it has already slipped by. Mind cannot grasp it, it is so fast. The moment mind becomes aware, the bird has already flown out of the cage.
The mind can think of the past because it is a dead phenomenon. The mind can accumulate dead things very easily: it is an antique collector. Or, the mind can think of the future. The past is no more, the future not yet. In one sense they both are the same, because both are nonexistential. And mind is clever with the nonexistential. It can go on into the future because it can dream, project, imagine, and there is no hindrance.
But as the question arises of the present, mind is absolutely impotent, because the present is so alive and mind is clever only with the dead. And the present is present, and mind is clever only in dreaming, desiring, projecting, imagining. You cannot dream in the present, you cannot desire in the present. If you desire, it is in the future. Desire brings the tomorrow in.
Jesus says to his disciples: Look at the lilies in the field. How beautiful they are! And what is the secret of their beauty? Why are they so beautiful? More beautiful, Jesus says, than Solomon was ever in all his grandeur. The poor lilies are far more beautiful than Solomon. Why? For the simple reason they think not of the morrow. For the simple reason they are in the present.
That is the beauty of the trees, of the roses, of the lotuses, of the stars, of the earth, of the sky, of the animals. Look into the eyes of a cat or a dog, look into the eyes of a small child. What depth and what innocence and what clarity! What is the secret of it all? A simple phenomenon: they live in the present, they are not yet corrupted by the past and the future. The mind has not yet appeared. Time has not yet appeared.