The use of memory

Omkaradatta's picture

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Most of mankind's problems can be traced to one specific thing -- the compulsive use of memory. Nisargadatta made a radical-sounding statement in "I Am That", or at least I recall thinking it was radical at some point:

"It is your memory that makes you think that the world continues. Myself, I don't live by memory. I see the world as it is, a momentary appearance in consciousness."

The notion of "not living by memory" probably sounds almost silly to most of us. Not to live by memory? We're so used to doing just that, the idea seems like some sort of silly nonsense.

Yet, "not living by memory" is in truth the solution to all our problems. We simply stop using our mind unnecessarily -- and believe it or not, most of it is unnecessary.

One really has to try "not living by memory" to realize the extent to which memory-based thought is unnecessary. It's really stunning... for all practical purposes, nothing ever has to be "thought about", and definitely nothing ever has to be "worried" about ('chewed on'). When we aren't living by memory, the right answers seem to 'come to us' as if by magic, without the need for careful consideration.

A greater intelligence begins working in our lives... an intelligence blocked previously by our compulsive need to think about things. Everything is simply clear, and right decisions are made instantly, without a second thought.

Of course, one cannot volitionally choose to stop using memory on a regular basis, although one may have some degree of influence on our own level of interest. In the end, it's our compulsive memory usage that's radical, not the stopping of it. The stopping may look radical from the everyday point of view, when we don't even remotely suspect how this constant "thinking about" is occupying almost all our energy unnecessarily.

If you can, give a 'higher intelligence' a chance to work in your life... by losing interest in "me" and its desire to control everything via addiction to memory and thought. The end result can look miraculous.

sisi's picture


Memory is what gives the fuel to the maintenance of a phantom "I" image. This itself is enough.

"Of course, one cannot volitionally choose to stop using memory on a regular basis..."

There are some ways to block the memory momentarily and it is important to try them in order to taste what it is being without memory - there is such an ecstasy and all worries, fears and sense of individuality are not.

The easiest one is similar to what is described in - the same way you stop there the thinking process, you can do to your memory retrieval process: observe for some time the amount of energy it takes to constantly retrieve memories - and then instead of trying to stop the process itself, stop the supply of the energy to the process, be "lazy" retrieving memories.

sisi | Fri, 04/24/2009 - 09:34
Omkaradatta's picture

Thanks Sisi...

I particularly like what you say above about being "lazy" retrieving memories. One can even get in the habit of this, getting gradually lazier as time goes on about both doing and thinking about issues related to "me". At some point it just becomes clear that it's not worth the trouble.

But of course, some existential fears can come up during this sort of process. Even feelings of being depressed, useless, life being pointless, etc. It would help to recognize the possibility so if it happens, one understands it's the (temporary) result of getting out of the "I"-habit... like a withdrawal from quitting smoking.

Omkaradatta | Fri, 04/24/2009 - 10:07