“I see it.”…
The master asked Dogo, “Where does the fire come from?”
Dogo said, “I would like you to ask me something that has nothing to do with walking around or zazen or lying down” – at which Isan left off talking and went away.
Dogo has closed all the doors. When Isan was asking, “Do you see the fire?” he should have been alert. When you are with a master you have to be alert every moment. What he says must imply some greater significance which may not appear in the words.
Now, it is a strange question. They both are seeing the fire; but if the master asks, “Do you see the fire?” he means many things which Dogo is missing. He means, “Are you here?” You can be seeing the fire and yet you may be somewhere else and the fire may be just a faraway, faded thing. It may not be a living experience right now. If your mind is full of thoughts, you can even miss the fire, because who is going to see it? You have to be here – that is the point that is hidden behind the question.
If Dogo had had the understanding he would have immediately thought that the question means his mind has moved somewhere else. He must have been thinking of other things, other worlds, other matters.
I have told you a story about two friends.
One morning they met. The first friend said, “You will not believe it: last night I had a dream I had gone fishing, and I caught such big fish that I had to carry one fish at a time. The whole night it continued. It was strange – for years I have been fishing and I have never found such great fish. You should have seen what a joy it was.”
The other man said, “That is nothing. Last night I dreamed that in my bedroom, in my bed itself, on one side was Marilyn Monroe, utterly naked, on the other side Sophia Loren, utterly naked. I was greatly shocked. I had never believed that this chance would arise in my lifetime.”
The first friend said, “You idiot! Why did you not call me?”
The second man said, “I did call, but your wife said you had gone fishing!”
People seem to be somewhere, but their minds may be anywhere. To be in the moment is a clear-cut message of Zen.
Isan’s asking Dogo, “Do you see the fire?” certainly meant that Dogo was not there. He was just sitting there but his mind had roamed away. It would have been right for him to say, “I don’t see it, because I have gone into my thoughts somewhere else.” But rather than telling the truth he said, “I see it.”