How good is your memory?

The four good characteristics of a good memory: (1) If you read once a passage and if you can reproduce the same nicely, it is a sign to indicate that you have a very good memory. (2) If you can reproduce the same thing without increase or decrease, addition or subtraction. (3) If you can preserve a fact or passage or anything for a very considerable period (retentive memory). (4) If you can reproduce a passage at once without any difficulty when it is needed.

But mine is somewhere between 1 and 2. 😦

It would be great if our memory had all the 4. 🙂

Memory and Recollection – How it works?

Memory is a function of subconscious mind. Memory is used in two senses. We say, .Mr. John has got a good memory. Here it means that Mr. John.s capacity of the mind to store up its past experiences is very good. Sometimes we say, I have no memory of that incident. Here, you cannot bring up to the surface of the conscious mind, in its original form, the incident that took place some years ago. It is an act of remembering. You do not get any new knowledge through memory. It is only a reproduction.

How does Memory arise?

Suppose you have received a nice watch as a present from your amiable friend. When you use the watch, it sometimes reminds you of your friend. You think of him for a cause of memory.

If your brother is a tall man, the sight of a similar tall man in another place will bring to your mind the memory of your brother. This is memory due to the similarity of objects.

Suppose you have seen a dwarf at Madrid. When you see a very tall man, this will remind you of the dwarf whom you saw at Madrid. The sight of a big palace will remind you of a peasant’s hut. This memory is due to dissimilarity in objects.

When you walk along the road on a stormy day, if you happen to see a fallen tree, you conclude that the tree has fallen owing to the storm. In this case, the memory is due to the relation between cause and effect.

The new impressions wash away the old impressions. If the impressions are fresh and recent, it is easy to recall them back quickly. They come up again from the depths of the subconscious mind to the surface of the conscious mind. Revival of old impressions takes place. If you visit once the college wherefrom you received your education, ten years after you became an officer in the Government, all the previous impressions of your college days will be revived now. You will remember now your old professors, old friends, old books and various other things.

The Process of Recollection

When you desire to remember a thing, you will have to make a psychic exertion. You will have to go up and down into the depths of the different levels of subconsciousness and then pick up the right thing from a curious mixture of multifarious irrelevant matter. The subconscious mind can pick up the right thing from a heap of various matters.

In a big surgical clinic, the assistant surgeon allows only one patient to enter the consultation room of the senior surgeon for examination. Even so, the mind allows one idea only to enter the mental factory at a time through the mind door. The subconscious mind brings to the threshold of the conscious mind, during an act of memory, the right thing at the right moment, suppressing all others. It serves the part of a censor and allows only relevant memories to pass by. What a wonderful mechanism it is! Who is the driver for these dual minds? Who created these? What a magnanimous Being He must be! My hairs stand on their ends when I think of Him! Don.t you like to dwell with Him? What a great privilege and joy it is to be in communion with Him!

When you try to remember something, sometimes you cannot remember. After some time, the forgotten something flashes out to the conscious mind. How do you explain this? It is a slip of memory. The impressions of the particular thing has sunk deep. The Subconscious mind, which is the storehouse of impression, has to exert a bit, to analyse and sort and bring it to the surface of the conscious mind through the trapdoor. After some exertion, revival of the old impressions takes place and the forgotten idea, or name of a person, which you wished to recollect sometime back, suddenly flashes to the conscious or objective mind. There ought to have been some congestion in the brain, which might have prevented the revival of a forgotten thing, idea or person. As soon as the congestion is relieved, the forgotten idea floats on the surface of the mind. When the mind is calm, memory becomes keen.


Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda

Memory and Impression


A whirlpool or thought-wave arises in the mind-ocean. It operates for sometime. Then it sinks below the threshold of normal consciousness. From the surface of the conscious mind wherein it was uppermost for some time, it sinks down deep into the region of the subconscious mind. There, it continues to be a subliminal action and becomes an impression.

A conscious action-whether cognitive, affective or conative assumes a potential and hidden form just below the threshold of consciousness. This is termed an Impression.


The impressions are embedded in the subconscious mind or Chitta. The subconscious mind is otherwise known as the unconscious mind. Subjective mind, subconscious mind, unconscious mind and Chitta are synonymous terms. The seat of this subconscious mind is the cerebellum or hindbrain. You can recall the past experiences from the storehouse of Impressions in the subconscious mind. The past is preserved even to the minutest detail. Even a bit is never lost.

When the fine Impressions come up to the surface of the conscious mind back again as a big wave, when the past comes back to the surface of the conscious mind again by recollection, it is called memory. No memory is possible without the help of Impression.


An experience in the sense-plane sinks down into the depths of the subconscious mind and becomes there an Impression. An Impression of an experience is formed or developed in the subconscious mind at the very moment that the mind is experiencing something. There is no gap between the present experience and the formation of an impression in the subconscious mind. A specific experience leaves a specific Impression. The memory of this specific experience springs from that particular Impression only, which was formed out of that particular experience.

When you perceive an orange and taste for the first time, you get knowledge of an orange. You know its taste. You know the object, orange. An Impression is formed in the subconscious mind at once. At any time, this Impression can generate a memory of the object, orange and knowledge of an orange. Though the object and the act of knowledge are distinguishable, yet they are inseparable.


An object awakens or revives Impressions in the mind through external stimuli. Hence, a thought arises subjectively from within, without a stimulus from outside. When you think of a cow which you have seen before, you repeat the word cow mentally. Then only, the mental image comes. Then, a thought is formed. Impression causes thought, and thought causes Impression, just as seed is the cause of the tree, and tree is the cause of the seed, in turn. There is cyclic causation on the analogy of seed and tree.

This cycle of thought-wave and impression is beginningless, but has an end when one attains Divine Knowledge and liberation. They get dissolved into Nature. They cease to produce any effect on the Soul. Impression should be fried up by continuous Samadhi. Then only you will be free from births and deaths.



Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda