Chapter 10: A Song Untouched by Time
You are making an ideal. Now you are going to be in difficulty. Again and again you will find the mind has slipped into the past; again and again you will find the mind has slipped into the future. You will catch hold of it, you will bring it back to the present. Again it is slipping. Again you are bringing it to the present. In fact, your now is not now! It is going to happen somewhere in the future when you have practiced how to live now! Your present is also not present. The present of your ideal cannot be present. All ideals are in the future.
“How to live in the present?” you are asking. Zen says there is no other way to live! And you ask, “How to live?” Zen says there is no other way at all! How are you managing not to live in the present? And you ask, “How to live in the present? Should I meditate, should I do this and that? Should I do a mantra, should I close my eyes? Should I leave my wife and children, because they lead me into the future - I have to think about them? Should I go to the Himalayas?” But these are all future ideas! “Should I go to the Himalayas?” - the Himalayas is in the future. “Should I attain to satori?” - this is again the future. Rather than understanding, you immediately create desire.
You ask: “The contemporary ideal of living completely within the present moment, no less than the classical mystical notion of living totally within the divine eternal, is as impossible as it is inhuman.”
If you make it an ideal, it is inhuman and impossible. And it will destroy you. All ideals are destructive, and all idealists are the poisoners of humanity. Beware of them!
Live a simple, ordinary life - a day to day existence. Feeling hungry, eat; feeling sleepy, sleep; feeling loving, love. Don’t hanker for anything perfect. Perfection is impossible. And don’t start creating a new ideal out of this simple fact.
For example, Zen masters say, “How marvelous! I carry fuel, I draw water from the well.” Now this is a simple statement of a fact. The master is carrying wood from the forest and he says, “How marvelous! This moment - this precious moment - the sun rising, the birds singing, the green all around, the flowers blooming, the fragrance of grass in the air, and I am carrying wood to the ashram. How wonderful! How beautiful this moment, this diamond-like moment!”
Now you can make an ideal out of it. You may not be a woodcutter. You may be a professor in the university. You renounce your post; you say, “I am going to be a woodcutter - I will go to the forest. I will cut wood and I will carry fuel. And I’m going to feel ‘How wonderful!”