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The Now, that indivisible point which studs the length of infinite line
Whose ends are nowhere, is thine all, the puny all thou callest thine. ~ Richard Francis Burton
The present is an infinitesimal between two infinites. 'Tis a line (a thing without breadth or thickness) moving across the surface of Eternity. The present is no more, by the time you have said, This is present. ~ Henry Harland
Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. ~ Ernest Hemingway
We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past. ~ Ken Kesey
This article is about the temporal point between past and future.  For the freely-transferred article, see gift.

The present (or now) is the time range associated with the events perceived directly for the first time, not as a recollection (perceived more than once) or a speculation (predicted, hypothesis, uncertain). It is a period of time between the past and the future, and can vary in meaning from an instant to a day or longer. It is sometimes represented as a hyperplane in space-time, typically called "now", although modern physics demonstrates that such a hyperplane cannot be defined uniquely for observers in relative motion.

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  • If you are living in the past or in the future, you will never find a meaning in the present.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, (2013), p. 9.
  • The present is nothing else than the sum of what one perceives, remembers and hopes for.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 56.


  • Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own;
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today.


  • Gott ist ein Gott der Gegenwart. Wie er dich findet, so nimmt und empfängt er dich, nicht als das, was du gewesen, sondern als das, was du jetzt bist.
    • God is a God of the present. How he finds you, so he takes and receives you, not as that which you have been, but as that which you now are.
    • Meister Eckhart, Deutsche Predigten und Traktate, J. Quint, ed., p. 72


  • The present is an infinitesimal between two infinites. 'Tis a line (a thing without breadth or thickness) moving across the surface of Eternity. The present is no more, by the time you have said, This is present.
  • Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. It's been that way all this year. It's been that way so many times. All of war is that way.


  • Heidegger's Sein und Zeit [Being and Time]... develops a "fundamental ontology" according to the modes in which the self "exists,"... and originates... several meanings of Being...explicated in a number of fundamental categories... [i.e.,] "existentials"... functional structures of the active movement of inner time by which a "world" is entertained and the self [is] originated as a continuous event. The "existentials" have... a profoundly temporal meaning... [i.e.,] categories of internal or mental time, the true dimension of existence... must exhibit, and distribute between them, the three horizons of time—past, present, and future... [I]n the classical... "table of categories"... the column under... "present" remains practically empty... For the existentially "genuine" present is the present of the "situation," which is wholly defined in terms of the self's relation to its "future" and "past." It flashes up... in the light of decision, when the projected "future" reacts upon the given "past" (Geworfenheit) and in this meeting constitutes what Heidegger calls the "moment" (Augenblick): moment, not duration, is the temporal mode of this "present"—a creature of the other two horizons of time, a function of their ceaseless dynamics, and no independent dimension to dwell in. ...a derivative and "deficient" mode of existence. ...[A]ll the relevant categories of existence... having to do with the possible authenticity of selfhood, fall in correlate pairs under... either past or future... No present remains for genuine existence to repose in. Leaping off... from its past, existence projects itself into the future; faces its ultimate limit, death; returns from this eschatological glimpse of nothingness... [T]here is no present to dwell in, only the crisis between past and future... balanced on the razor's edge of decision which thrusts ahead.
  • To look at what is there, at nature as it is in itself, at Being, the ancients called... contemplation, theoria. But... if contemplation is left with only the irrelevantly extant, then it loses the noble status... as does the repose in the present... Theoria had that dignity because of its Platonic implications—because it beheld eternal objects in the forms of things, a transcendence of immutable being shining through the transparency of becoming. Immutable being is everlasting present, in which contemplation can share in the brief durations of the temporal present. Thus it is eternity, not time, that grants a present and gives it a status of its own in the flux of time; and it is the loss of eternity which accounts for the loss of a genuine present. Such a loss of eternity is the disappearance of the world of ideas and ideals in which Heidegger sees the true meaning of Nietzsche's "God is dead"; ...[i.e.,] the absolute victory of nominalism over realism. ...[T]he same cause which is at the root of nihilism is also at the root of the radical temporality of Heidegger's scheme of existence...


  • We are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past.
    • Ken Kesey, As quoted by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) Ch. 11.


  • Not to the present is our hour confined,
    The great and shadowy future is assigned
    To be the glorious empire of the mind.

    The past was once the future, and it wrought
    In the high presence of on-looking thought ;
    All that we have, was by its efforts brought.

    To-day creates to-morrow, and the tree
    Of good or ill grows in past hours, what we
    Make for the future — certain is to be.
  • The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present.
  • Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act, — act in the living Present!
    Heart within, and God o’erhead!


  • In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse either in fantasies of the future or in modified visions of a half-imagined past.


  • Don’t shortchange the future, because of fear in the present.
    • Barack Obama, 10 Downing Street reception speech, April 1 2009.


  • We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.


  • There was nothing for it but to pace through just behind or ahead of the spooling present that was never there, caught in the nonexistent interval between the nonexistent past and the nonexistent future.



  • I hearing get, who had but ears,
And sight, who had but eyes before,
I moments live, who lived but years,
And truth discern, who knew but learning’s lore.
  • Many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment, and imagine living your whole live like that. Always, this moment is not quite good enough because you need to get to the next one.
  • The ego ... reduces the present to a means to an end.
  • The mind, to ensure that it remains in control, seeks continuously to cover up the present moment with past and future.
  • Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.
  • To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. This creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and an unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be. The compulsion arises because the past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. Both are illusions.
  • Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of the light, power, and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is “borrowed” from the Now.
  • Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed. Step out of the time dimension as much as possible in everyday life.
  • To be free of time is to be free of the psychological need of past for your identity and future for your fulfillment.
  • if your destination, or the steps you are going to take in the future, take up so much of your attention that they become more important to you than the step you are taking now, then you completely miss the journey’s inner purpose, which has nothing to do with where you are going or what you are doing, but everything to do with how. It has nothing to do with future but everything to do with the quality of your consciousness at this moment.


  • I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.


  • The present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.


  • Oogway: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the "present".
    • Jonathan Aibel and Glen Berger, Kung Fu Panda, (2008).
      • "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, Today is God's gift, that's why we call it the present." (Regarded as an "anonymous poem", in Joan Chittister's Heart of Flesh (1998), p. 129; in Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches (1998), Bethune-DuBois Publications, p. 27, and in Joan Rivers' "From Mother to Daughter" (1998), p. 30.)
      • "Yesterday may be History, Tomorrow is Mystery and Today is our Golden Opportunity!" (As quoted in H.S. Cheesbrough's Canada Lumberman, Volume 62 (1942), Southam-Maclean.
      • "Live today. The past is gone. Today is God's gift to us, whether it be a day of storm or sunshine. Tomorrow may never come, and that is immaterial." (From Friends' Intelligencer, Volume 91, No.1-26 (1934), p. 21)
      • "Yesterday is history; to-morrow is merely a hope; to-day is the only absolute asset of time that is yours." From Frank Pixley's Thoughts and Things (1912), in , Duffield & Company, p. 29.

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