Buddha was asked the same question again and again – when a buddha dies where does he go? Buddha always laughed and kept quiet.
At the last moment again the question was raised and Buddha said, “Bring a small candle.”
The candle was brought and Buddha said, “Light the candle.”
The candle was lit and then Buddha said, “Bring it near to me.”
The candle was brought nearer and nearer and then suddenly he blew it out and said, “I ask you where this candle light has gone; where has the flame gone?” The disciples were at a loss.
In Sanskrit the cessation of a flame is called nirvana. So Buddha said, “Just like this, when a buddha dies, he disappears. He becomes one with the whole. So it is irrelevant where he goes, because where can the whole go? Where has this flame gone? It has become one with the whole. Now it no more exists as an individual flame, the individuality is dropped.”
That’s why the word nirvana became most important in Buddhist terminology. It means cessation of a flame, total cessation of a flame. It remains because whatsoever is remains, but you cannot find it. Where will you find a flame which is no more? Individuality is lost, form is lost. Where will you find it? But can you say it is no more? It is, because how can a thing which was be no more? It disappeared, of course; became one with the formless, of course; became one with the whole, of course – but it is. Now it exists as the whole.
You have both possibilities. You can live in time, then you live as mind. Mind is time because mind divides life into past, present, future. Mind is the dividing factor. It is a great analyst, the great dissector. It dissects everything. You can live life through the mind, then you live in time. But you can live life directly, you can live life immediately, without mind. You can put the mind aside, then you live life timelessly, eternally. Then there is no past, then there is no future, then there is only present and present and present. It is always there.
Past is that present which you cannot see, and future is that present which you cannot see yet. Past is that present which has passed beyond you, beyond your perception; future is that present which has not yet come within the boundaries of your perception.
Just think of a small example. You are waiting under a long tall tree for someone. You can look at the road, but there is a limitation. You can look one furlong to one side, one furlong to the other side, and then the road disappears. Another man is sitting in the tree, at the top of the tree. He can see further. He can see one mile in one direction, one mile in another direction.