No Time, Just the Present

“Out with the old year, in with with the new!” “Out with the old decade, in with the new!” And now begins the countdown to “Out with the old century, in with the new!” And even “Out with the old millennium, in with the new!” But who is this star of so many entrances andf exits? What is time? Book Review’s New Year’s greeting is a set of answers to those questions as offered in a chapter from “Zen to Go” (A Plume Book/New American Library: $14.95) by Jon Winokur, a Los Angeles writer whose most recent book is “A Curmudgeon’s Garden of Love.” Was the Buddha a curmudgeon? Or just strapped for time?

Time is not a line, but a series of no-points.


In order to be utterly happy the only thing necessary is to refrain from comparing this moment with other moments in the past, which I often did not fully enjoy because I was comparing them with other moments of the future.



The present moment is a powerful goddess.


There’s no present. There’s only the immediate future and the recent past.



The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.


There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now.


We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its coerciveness: It is always urgent, “here and now” without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point-blank.


No mind is much employed upon the present; recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments.



The word now is like a bomb through the window, and it ticks.


TOM SEAVER: Hey, Yogi, what time is it?

YOGI BERRA: You mean now?

The passing moment is all that we can be sure of; it is only common sense to extract its utmost value from it; the future will one day be the present and will seem as unimportant as the present does now.


Time and space are fragments of the infinite for the use of finite creatures.



Time is the longest distance between two places.


Time is the only true purgatory.


I am in the present. I cannot know what tomorrow will bring forth. I can know only what the truth is for me today. That is what I am called upon to serve, and I serve it in all lucidity.


Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

--MATTHEW, 6:34

Tomorrow’s life is too late. Live today.


Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going.


What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.


Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.


Only our concept of Time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session.


I have realized that the past and the future are real illusions, that they exist only in the present, which is what there is and all there is.


To realize the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.


We can never finally know. I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.