In one book of the Dalai Lama, I got a very interesting interpretation of the ‘present’. We are generally advised to live in the present. This is so, because the past has gone and we can do nothing about it while the future is yet to come and is unknown, so why should we worry about it? Therefore, we should look at the present only so that we make the best and optimum use of our energy and efforts. This approach also helps us to insulate ourselves from the regrets of the past and the worries of the future.
While explaining this concept, the Dalai Lama has tried to define the ‘present’. He says that the moment we think of the present, it becomes the past and if we think about a point in time even slightly ahead, it is the future. The difference can be reduced to infinitely small units, as small as in nano-seconds or even less. Going by this logic, there is nothing like the 'present'. It is like a ‘Point’ in geometry which is defined as something which has no length or breadth. The moment we make a point it acquires both qualities. Similarly, with the ‘present’, the moment we try to catch it, it becomes either the past or the future.
This being so, ‘living in the present’ loses its meaning in the literal sense. It only means ‘living beyond time’ or in ‘timelessness’, thus caring neither for the past nor the future, nor even the present. It also means living at the level of consciousness which is beyond time. One may also call it the ‘spiritual concept of time’. Perhaps, the advice to live in the present is only a simple way of advising people to live in consciousness, in order to raise themselves from the worries of the past, present and future.