The Memory of Awakening

The Memory of Awakening

I was recently reminded of a useful point. Awakening is not a discovery of something new. It is the rediscovery of what you already are. Many people awakening recognize they have always been awake – they had simply not remembered it until then.

This recognition or realization requires memory in consciousness. We remember what we are. This remembering brings with it a knowing that removes all doubt.

I’ve noticed that it’s similarly common for people to forget what it was like to not be awake in due course, much as teen forgets what it was like to be a toddler.

However, it would be a mistake, as some make, to teach this as the means to people who are not yet awake. Telling people they’re already awake and thus require no practice is quite misleading. It is failing to recognize your truth is not everyone’s truth. It’s like saying you’re already in New York, so don’t bother travelling there. But it’s only actually true when you get there.

This memory is known as Smriti in Sanskrit. The knowing of who we are, the remembering of it. Even the history of an apparent person is a form of memory.

But I can observe a funny thing about memory – it’s a side effect of how we’re experiencing. Memory is not really something stored somewhere. There is no vast secret warehouse of all history – there is just history itself. What is happening is that we’re immersed in the process of experience, so we’re experiencing a sequence of events or time. There appears to be a past and a future, a sequence of events that lead to an awakening or whatever. But creation actually “happens” all at once, so memory is just awareness of more than now. We’re here in time but connect to there in time to some degree, hence a remembering.

Technically the “future” can also be remembered because it’s already happened too. However, to remember the future from the present is often distorted. This is because while it’s already happened, this is only true globally. The details have not been filled in. And that is the point of having detailed experiencers (us) making choices.

Even more deeply, creation never even happened. It was simply an idea that came up in divine mind. We might say there was a momentary dream of it for self-illumination. This does not mean it’s an illusion – it never even happened. Of course, this does not make any sense unless we have shifted into a stage that supports experiencing in this way. Or rather, where we’ve stepped out of experiencing, out of consciousness altogether.

OK – so now I’ve introduced two whole sets of paradoxes. (laughs) If we don’t talk about a process and unfolding, there is nothing to be said. And while nothing ever happened is true from one perspective, this cannot be applied to a person living their individual life. It would be a mistake to render anyone’s life meaningless. Even from the perspective of nothing, there is infinite value in discovering it. That is why a process is being experienced and why we’re invited to engage our life fully. It is why we’re here – the details.

There is a profound richness behind these apparent paradoxes that is beyond description.

Last Updated on December 8, 2015 by

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  1. Chris

    Hi David, this is a rich post you have here!

    I recently watched this short video of Swami Laksman Joo, and what he said reminded me a bit of what you’re saying here regarding memory, and what you’ve wrote about in “100x the Bliss”.

    It also brings to mind something from your post “Everything Awakens” :

    “One way this is described in the Veda is as memory, smriti. The aliveness of consciousness is its own memory, tickling alertness to remember itself. In that perspective, we can see life and the world as a vast process of remembering.”

  2. Hi Chris
    Yes, Kashmir Shaivism is quite similar to the perspective here, although the emphasis on a few things is slightly different and what I’d consider the “final goal” is further along than Shiva. Swami Lakshmanjoo was a high proponent.


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