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