Memory has always fascinated me. Or at least, most people’s lack thereof. I’m only talking here about healthy adults, without any kind of disease or disability affecting the process of memory. Never feeling quite at home as a human, how the mind works is a constant source of amazement. How can some people remember nothing, while others have a photographic memory? More importantly, does it even matter? I believe it does, and that memory is tied directly to spiritual awakening.
All the esoteric knowledge points to memory as a vital part of spiritual development. When we are born we “forget” where we came from, and when we awaken we “remember”. No one teaches us anything, they just remind us of what we have forgotten. The story of Isis healing her partner, Osiris, by piecing him back together, or “re-membering” him. Memory is a big deal spiritually, but how does that look on a human level?
We all know the ego likes to mess with our memories, blocking things that differ from our beliefs, and embellishing what supports our patterns. We know that memories change over time, so many consider them unreliable. Here’s my current theory: If the person is ego-driven, then their memory is only utilized to support the ego; if a person is less ego-bound, then they are free to remember a much wider array of experiences and information.
We all have that friend who only remembers an experience if it is a peak high or low for them personally, but never has any recollection of what anyone else went through. It’s a very behaviorist existence – avoid pain, seek pleasure. Yes, we all do this at varying degrees, but I’m talking about people who live there most of the time. If memory is only used to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and bolster the ego, we are talking about some pretty animalistic behavior, but it may be a whole new angle on the nature vs. nurture debate.
The people I know with the best memories aren’t attached to the experience or information. Numbers are just numbers, facts are just facts, and experiences are just experiences, so they can remember them all, without picking the ones that support their ego. It’s not that they don’t have negative experiences, just that it isn’t what holds their story together. These folks have a sense of self outside of the ego story.
That said, we all fall along a continuum between the two. What’s more interesting, is that we are at different points on the line all the time. Told you memory is fascinating!
This also explains selective memory. Some people are great with facts and figures, but can’t remember interpersonal details. Are they ego-bound, but the ego has an attachment to being smart? Is their ego only triggered in personal interactions? I know some very intelligent people who do some pretty unconscious things, so the ego is playing a role.
This also explains abusers. I know a few people who had really abusive parents, and when they tried to discuss the issues (years later, as adults), the abuser had no recollection of the situation. Of course, that’s adding insult to injury, but maybe the abusers were so ego-bound that they really can’t remember the situation. My guess is they never will. I think this is why there is rarely an apology for abuse.
Even though I had an amazing childhood, there were several times I consciously chose to be less conscious, just because being awake was so painful. While I have vivid memories starting around 1-year-old, there are places (after choosing to be asleep) where I have very spotty and vague memories. Even though I am more awake now than I’ve ever been, with the coping skills to sustain it, I can’t get back those blank spots.
Then there is the other end – channeling. When people are so far from their ego, even briefly, they don’t have much memory of the information that comes through them. When I write or counsel I only remember broad topics, never detail. In my “human” life I have a detailed memory, but when information flows through me, I can’t hang onto it. So either end of the spectrum diminishes memory.
For years, I’ve believed that high I.Q. is just a good memory. The ability to adapt to new information requires a memory of the old. Finding patterns requires remembering a flow of information. As we collectively awaken, will the average I.Q. rise? Does meditation improve memory, not because of relaxation, but because it reminds us who we are? Sure will be interesting to watch.
Think back on your own memories… why did you pick those ones to hang onto? What areas are you currently trying to forget? Find your own patterns. And most of all, remember who you are.