Knowledge of Impressions
All the Impressions are stored in the Subconscious mind. Impression is known as “residual potency” also. When all thoughts die away, the frame of the mind remains with the Impressions. This is termed the Potential Mind. A Yogi brings into direct consciousness (conscious mind) the previous life-states by getting direct knowledge of their Impressions.
Like forces, Impressions aid or inhibit one another. When you see a man in serious sickness and when the feeling of mercy arises in your heart, all the Impressions of your previous merciful actions coalesce together and force you to serve and help that sick man. Similarly, all the Impressions of charitable actions come forth to the surface of the conscious mind when you see a man in a serious distress and in straitened circumstances and they force you to help this man. You begin to share with him your physical possessions.
When one Impression or virtuous action comes into play, another Impression of dissimilar nature may emerge out and come in the way of its fulfillment. This is fight between a virtuous and a vicious Impression.
Past Impressions in Subconscious Mind
When you are born, the mind is not a smooth or blank tablet or a blank sheet of white paper. It is a storehouse of Impressions, predispositions, predilections, etc. A child is born with his Impressions. A child is born with his past experiences transmuted into mental and moral tendencies and powers. By experiences, pleasant and painful, man gathers materials and builds them into mental and moral faculties. The earthly experiences are worked up into intellectual faculty. The mind evolves through the impressions received from the universe through the senses. It will take many bodies till it gathers the complete experience of the world. Every man is born with his inborn or inherent Impressions and these are embedded, lodged or imprinted in the Subconscious mind. In earthly life, he gains many more Impressions or experiences through actions and these are added to the original store and become the future accumulated actions (Karma).
All Impressions lie dormant in the subconscious mind as latent activities, not only of this life but of all previous innumerable lives from beginning-less time. The Impressions of animal life, the pleasureful life, the kingly life, the life of a peasant, are all hidden there in the Subconscious mind. In human life, only those Impressions which are appropriate to that particular type of birth will operate and come to play. The other kinds of Impressions will remain concealed and dormant.
As a merchant closing the years ledger and opening a new one, does not enter in the new all the items of the old but only its balances, so does the soul hand over to the new brain his judgments on the experiences of a life that is closed, the conclusions to which he has come, the decisions to which he has arrived. This is the stock handed on to the new life, the mental furniture for the new dwelling real memory.
Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda