Are Memories Ever Truly Forgotten?


Is it true that forgetfulness of a deliberately memorised thing is merely a temporary state and that in reality, we never forget anything? I read that any new idea leads to a different neural linkage or arrangement in brain. Each idea I feel is unique and the cosmic world is a whirlpool of ideas which a brain borrows from when in a particular state of vibration. In the height of my spiritual consciousness, I have seen words and ideas come to me which I thought I never possessed at all.

—Ashutosh, India


Dear Ashutosh,

Very well said! Thank you. I think of ourselves (in terms of our brain and minds functioning in the human body) as a kind of crystal radio set. Ideas, memories, images, thoughts and emotions flow in and out of these crystal radio sets based on a matrix of influences, not least of which is our conscious mental activity but much of which is hidden having its source in the subconscious mind and in vibrations and thoughts from around us according to our own magnetism.

The question is this: when you say “we never forget anything” that’s a more subtle statement. For one, the conscious mind — “we” — forgets lots of things, don’t we? So who, then, is the “we?” Thus from a practical point of view, that which “we” forget is as forgotten as it gets (joke). The only “we” that counts from our point of view is the me! And if me forgets than we have forgotten. (Sorry, I am playing with words here). Do you see my point? We can say that “we never forget anything” but that doesn’t really help us from day to day when, in fact, we can’t remember something. The cosmic mind, the Akasha, never forgets. Our subconscious mind, too, retains a lot of impressions too. But if we can’t access this data when we want or need it, we have to admit: we have forgotten!

Moving now to a higher state of consciousness beyond the ego and beyond the subconscious mind: YES: the intuitive mind (the soul) has potential access all the way to Infinity: the Akasha. And yes, indeed, it happens that in meditation sometimes a flood of images or thoughts appear from “nowhere” and many of these thoughts or images have no obvious relationship to us.

I remember a story in which Swami Vivekananda mentioned to Ramakrishna Paramhansa that during meditation he, Vivekananda, was having inner sight of people and places far away. Ramakrishna said, in effect, forget those things: they mean nothing. Don’t dabble in such (powers). Put another way, all manner of things can come in meditation but we need to stay focused on God, guru, or divine states of higher consciousness. There are many distractions potential in the inner world of the mind and of greater, cosmic consciousness. But we can get lost in these worlds which are infinitely more vast than the physical world in which our bodies inhabit.

Devotion is the greatest protector of our heart and our mind. Stay focused in self-offering and the heartfelt seeking of moksha (spiritual freedom). Through guru’s grace, we can be protected from the astral and causal temptations which accrue to the awakening soul. If ever there was a reason for the guidance of a true (sat) guru, this is surely one of them.


May the light of wisdom shine upon you and light the path to freedom!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA