Memory is a very curious thing. While it’s a dominant aspect of our experience, science does not yet understand it. We can trigger memories from the brain but they’re not actually stored in the brain. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake suggests memories are stored “in the field”. The idea is that memories are stored “in mind” and accessed via the brain. In other words, the brain is a receptor rather than a storage device. It needs synaptic patterns to more easily access the mind patterns and retrieve the memories.
Our brain is constantly being rewired to attune to more recent and relevant experiences. This shifts what memories are most easily available. Science tells us that during dreams at night, we purge synaptic connections that are less relevant or related to the priorities of our attention.
The body also stores memories or impressions. We tend to describe these as “sub-conscious” as they’re more primitive in mechanism and not “in mind”. We experience them viscerally but they may trigger emotions like fear or shame.
Memories can be considered neutral or charged by our relationship to them. For example, we can have strong positive emotions around an event like falling in love. We may see it as a nice memory. Strong emotions but we relate to it neutrally. Inversely, the memory can be charged due to either a craving or a resistance or both. These “charged” memories indicate the experience is incomplete. Perhaps we feel a lack of love and thus crave it’s infatuation. Or the experience ended badly and we now try to avoid similar experiences. In either case, the charge is getting in the way of our experience of life and happiness.
Clearly, part of our journey is to resolve these charged impressions that leave us feeling somehow lacking or incomplete.
Back to the memories themselves. What is it that memories are stored in? In mind? Mind and space have a close relationship in existence. Esoteric traditions talk of the “akashic records”; a storehouse of impressions that contains all experience. Akasha is a Sanskrit term for space.
What is the mechanism for storing something non-physical in space? Let’s consider the analogy of the effect of strong experiences as conscious evolves. They say that in ignorance, strong experiences are like a line carved in rock. They make a strong impression. As we become more flexible and easy with life, they’re like a line on sand. This is more easily washed away. Then on water and finally, like a line on air. But what of a line on space? Nothing but abstract geometry. (relationship) How is that storage?
Well, it’s not. Memory doesn’t really exist. It’s an illusion of perception. But it’s difficult to describe our experience without referring to it. All experience is relative to it’s space-time container. We could say that memory is a relationship with another point in time.
Perhaps you recall that time is an effect of a point of attention moving along the flow of consciousness? That everything is really just now? That past and future don’t exist as separate times but are really just right now? That’s the secret to understanding memory. Memory is a relationship with another point of experience. A sort of mental time travel to that point of experience where it’s currently “taking place”. The relationships form a mesh I’ve talked about prior. Space is the most flexible element, allowing the greatest access. It also has a direct relationship with mind so is the easiest “recall” field. Thus, while memories appear to be stored in space, it’s more that they are related through space.
As I’ve mentioned before, we only experience other “times” from where we are now, so our experience of it evolves as we change and our relationship with it changes. This is just like how we remember what it was like to be 8 years old. We really don’t, except in a broad way. Back to the charged vs neutral bit above: when the relationship is neutral, we can see it more or less as it is. But if there is something unresolved, we have a challenged relationship that is effecting our current perception. This distortion is the root of suffering. It’s not what we experience but how we relate to it.
Everything is being experienced all at once in the eternal now. For an even greater stretch, recall that all of creation is structured in the Veda, shruti, a series of sounds with a specific structure and sequence (mantra and brahmana). The Veda is structured in Smriti, divine memory. Smriti is stored in Lucite-like slabs that store complete 3D experiences. They’re grouped by the cognizer (sage) or experiencer. But how can such experiences be stored in something that is beyond even self-awareness? They’re not really. This is simply another human-limited way of experiencing the all of everything now that is eternally present in divine… um… words fail. You can’t even describe it as being when it is beyond even the duality of being or non-being.
Happily, the principle is simple enough that we can see the unintended consequences and the means by which we can clear the roots of suffering. Happy day… er now.