We are all living from memory. There is nothing that comes to our senses which is not known or understood from some form of memory.
Memories are information or knowledge from the past, whether it is being taught by another or through an individual experience, or even an observation. Whenever any piece of these information or knowledge is picked up whether consciously or unconsciously, they are retained in the mind. In other words, there is really no real sense of choice or choosing when or what comes and at the same time being picked up by the mind to make memory. In short, we can conclude (for the sake of mutual understanding that the function of retaining information or knowledge whether through observation, experiential or being taught is what we refer to as memory. If you haven’t noticed, any realization that you have had before also becomes part of memory.
Imagine if you were standing in a room with a table, a chair, a piece of paper and a pen on the table and a live chicken on the same table. Without memory, you would not be able to discern that the position that you have undertaken is actually standing not to mention the possibility of not being able to tell apart the floor, the door, the ceiling, the table, the chair, the piece of paper, the pen and the live chicken. Without memory too, you might not be able to tell or feel weird that a live chicken is sitting on the table. And that is what memory does, it forms your perception and hence an experience comes about.
People either appreciate or do not appreciate their experience. When they appreciate or do not appreciate their experience and try to recreate or detest that experience again, it is the function of memory occurring again with additional elements of attachment and greed to the same experience or its opposite. Either way, there is no difference as both are still functioning from memory. Now, memory is not the problem, but the meaning put onto that memory. In truth, memory is just memory but memory becomes heaven or hell depending very much on the information or knowledge on such information or knowledge itself. It is like those bricks which is laid cemented one on top of another building a wall. And that is how our blocks come about, as in the limitation of how we are each time perceiving and thus experiencing life – because a wall has been built, and is constantly thickening whenever further subscription is applied onto it – more bricks, more cement.
How the majority of the world functions today is that they try to change their outer circumstances in order to change their experience instead of realizing that their experience is churned out by memory. Now, I am not saying that we don’t change any outer circumstances if it is within our power to do so. For example, if it is within your power to walk from the centre of the room to the door, do it! And if you are on a wheel chair, and you want to move from the centre of the room to the door, you roll the handles on the wheel chair and move yourself from the centre of the room to the door. But if you want to walk when you are in the wheel chair, then there you have had it – your suffering, because even though it might happen through some form of therapy or surgery in near future, it isn’t going to happen today. And when it doesn’t happen today, you will feel resentful towards yourself being in such a situation. And that too, is because of memory, because there is a remembrance of what it was like before the current situation of being seated in a wheelchair. And like it or not, this very experience of resentment forms part of memory also, accumulating the bricks and cements.
Since the function of memory is not personal except taken personally, it is helpful to acknowledge that what comes up in experience is a meaning attached to memory. This is the first step in cultivating a new pathway in the mind for a different kind of experience away from suffering. In my observation, this methodology can form as memory only that this kind of memory frees you, instead of keeping you trapped in the previous meaning of memory that brings about limitation and suffering.
Because of this function, it does seem as if we can never ‘run away’ from the past. In this sense, it is somewhat true since memory is beyond our control. Yet, as mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with memory except for the meaning that we put onto memory. To constantly realise or to possess the inner knowing of this, is giving you a choice right now to choose again how you would relate to this memory.
Inviting you to a related article The World is Over, Long Gone, authored by a dear friend.