"But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (from the 'Self Reliance' essay, 1841)
Living in the moment, or in the present is based on the Vedanta philosophy of "mindfulness." To experience the present moment a person has to train to mindful and aware of the present moment. Described as a calm awareness of one's body functions, feelings, thoughts and consciousness, mindfulness is the seventh element of the Noble Eightfold Path. Mindfulness helps in the development of wisdom.
Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth, postulates that the human mind identifies and understands its surroundings using memory. The manas or mind is preoccupied with the past based on memory, and on the future based on desires. Since, the past and the future are illusionary, Tolle asserts that to connect with the Supreme Being the individual has to remain mindful only of the present, so that the ego does not exist.
Tolle says, “...awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. This is why we may also call it Presence. The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.”