Mystic Mantra: Memory is a problem

Columnist  | Amrit Sadhana

Opinion, Oped

Osho harps on the importance of the direct perception of reality.


Memory is said to be a vital instrument in learning. Although memory starts with perception, it is encoded and stored with the help of neurons. Once memories are “encoded”, they are transferred to either the long-term memory or the short-term memory. This transfer is a part of memory storage, which is the second step in the formation of memory. Memory retention is very important for learning through the mind but for the enlightened ones who live in the no-mind zone, memory is a hindrance in the direct perception of reality.

The great Yogi Patanjali says, “Memories are unforgotten sensory experiences.” The experiences that are not allowed to be dropped or forgotten become memories. This is exactly why the mystics are not in favour of indulging too much in memories. Taoism also believes that memory is the problem and because of memory, we are not really alive. Memory holds us back in the past, it never allows us to be in the present. It is dead weight. It goes on growing everyday. Everyday the past becomes bigger and bigger. Everyday more and more experiences, more and more memories become accumulated. And they hold you back.

Osho harps on the importance of the direct perception of reality. He draws our attention to the fact that the child is free because he/she has no past. The old man is not free. He has a long past. The child has nothing to look back to, he/she has everything to look forward to — he/she has the future just opening up for him/her, a great adventure. The old man has nothing in the future. Everything has happened. And all that has happened goes on cluttering his mind. It is a weight that pulls him down backwards, it does not allow him to go with the times. He lags behind.

“Memory is how you are rooted in the past. Unless you become so free of memory that you need not look back — memory no longer clouds you — you will not be able to live in the present. If you cannot live in the present the future is not yours — because the future is contacted only through living in the present, the future becomes a reality only through living in the present. If you are looking at the past, you will miss the future because during the time you are looking at the past, the future is entering into the present and you cannot look both ways simultaneously” says Osho.

There is physical memory and there is psychological memory. We certainly need to remember things like our name and address, etc but it is not a barrier to learning. What bogs us down are the psychological memories, heaps of them piled in the brain. If you are too much interested in the past, too attached to your memories, you start creating an unreal future — in the imagination. Remember, reality is new every moment; it is never the same.