You have been told and taught that time has three tenses: past, present, future. That is utterly wrong. Time has only two tenses, past and future. The present is part of eternity, not part of time. So when you are in the present, you are in the eternal.
The question is wrong on every step. It is going to be so, because the question is from the mind. First the questioner says: I have heard…. That must have been enough for Bodhidharma to start laughing, or he must have taken his staff in his hand to hit and beat this man.
It happens many times that you enter the room of the Zen master and before you have even uttered a single word he says, “Wrong, wrong!” You have not uttered a single word, but the way you enter is enough to say. The body language: you are entering hesitant, doubtful, suspicious. Or you are trying to prove yourself, trying to be very courageous, formulating a certain question or some experience: how to say it. And the master has seen it all and has heard it before you have even uttered a single word.
One disciple of Rinzai told him one day, “When I come with an answer – because you have given me a koan….”
A koan is a mystery; it represents existence. A koan is a riddle which is not soluble. A koan is something absurd. “The sound of one hand clapping,” that is a koan.
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Now, the disciple has been meditating on it. Every day he comes, he has to come to answer to the master. “What have you found? What is the outcome of your meditations?” And he brings all kinds of answers – and whatsoever answer he brings is wrong – and he is beaten and thrown out.
One day the disciple could not bear it anymore. It was too much, because he has not said anything and the master started beating him. He said, “But wait! I have not even said anything!”
The master said, “There is no need to say it, I have heard it. I have seen it in your eyes, I have seen it in your walk. I recognize immediately. When you have found the answer you will not be needed to say it, I will know it.”
And, yes, it happened exactly like that. When the disciple found the answer…. There is no answer; that’s what he found. One day he found that “I am just being foolish. There is no answer.”
You can say it from the very beginning, “This is foolish!” but that won’t do. You have to pass through all that fire of tackling an absurd question, knowing deep down that there is no answer to it and yet still searching for the answer. That’s how you dig deep within yourself.
One day, when he reached to his core, there was no question, no answer. He started laughing. That day he didn’t come to report. There was nothing to report.