present moment is timeless
Most of us live in the past glorifying or just remembering what
happened some years ago. Some of us seem to be living in the future
building castles in the air. Only a very few people live in the present.
To the ego the past and the future are more important than the present.
We want to keep the past alive because we think if there is no past
there is no life. Those who project themselves into the future also
think that everything will be all right in times to come.
So, both these categories ignore the present moment. Living in the
present moment is difficult because you cannot fool yourself by
daydreams and thinking of past events which cannot be relived.
Most philosophers such as J. Krishnamurti and Ekhart Tolle have
emphasised that the present moment is timeless. The human mind does not
want to live in a timeless present so it loves to cling to the past or
the future. The attachment to the past and the future is so strong that
we find it difficult to separate time and the mind easily.
Unless you train your mind to accept the present, you will always
stray away from it.
If you think in a philosophical way, nothing ever happened in the
past and nothing will ever happen in the future. Everything happens in
the present moment. As Ekhart Tolle says, your past is a trace of a
former present. On the other hand, the future is an imaginary present.
In fact, you think of the past and future when you are living in the
present. If you stretch the argument a little further, nobody can think
in the past or future. You can bring back past events to your memory and
speculate on future events. Whether such events will take place is
As stated earlier, the present moment is timeless but it is an
intensely alive state. When a moment is free of time, it is free of
problems and free of thinking. From time immemorial, most spiritual
leaders have emphasised the importance of the present moment over the
past and the future.
For instance, the late Indian sage J. Krishnamurti says, "Time is a
deceiver as it doesn't do a thing to help us bring about a change in
ourselves. Time is a movement which man has divided into past, present
and future and as long as he divides it, he will always be in conflict."
Although we think time is important, inanimate objects such as trees
and flowers are not anxious about the past or future. They live in the
present moment. Trees give us shade, fruits and timber without expecting
anything in return. Flowers make us happy with their beautiful colours
and fragrance not thinking of their ephemeral existence.
The great Zen master Rinzai used to ask his students, "What at this
moment, is lacking?" without expecting any answer. In fact, the Zen
master knew that the present moment had everything! Stowe put it
succinctly, "The past, the present and the future are really one - they
If you go deep into the Zen tradition, you naturally come up with,
"If not now, when?" Even Sufis say, "Past and future veil God from our
sight; burn up both of them with fire."
That is more powerful than what the Zen masters have said. All this
means that we should focus our attention on the present moment which is
more precious than the past that is dead and the future that is
uncertain. Once the Buddha stopped on his way to admire the beauty of a
Although there were many other bhikkhus following him only Ven.
Kasyapa understood why the Enlightened One was looking at a flower. The
Buddha knew the importance of the present moment and its relationship to
Sometimes, the belief in a future heaven on earth can lead to a
present hell. Karl Marx had a dream that we could create a classless
society through Communism. He did it with a good intention.
However, those who took upon themselves the task of ushering in a
classless society killed more than 50 million people in the name of an
imaginary classless society. The Communist leaders' dream of bringing
about a heaven on earth has not been fulfilled and the countries that
toyed with the novel idea are drifting away from their dream world.
The importance of the present moment can be felt immediately when you
are in a critical situation. When a man meets with an accident, we rush
him to the emergency ward without consulting anybody.
Similarly, when you are in love, you value every moment you spend
with your loved one. During that short period, you do not encounter any
problems because the present moment is timeless and not conducive to
such situations. If you train yourself to live in the present moment,
you will never face unhappiness and your life will begin to flow with
joy and ease.
Madame Chiang Kai-Shek said, "We live in the present, we dream of the
future and we learn eternal truths from the past." An inscription of an
ancient sun dial says,"
"Time was is past - thou canst it not recall.
Time is thou hast - employ thy portion small.
Time future is not, and may never be.
Time present is the only time for thee!"