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The Art of Developing Memory Part I by Paramhansa Yogananda

Praecepta Volume 2 Praeceptum #48

Why Should You Develop Memory?

Memory is the art of recalling conscious, subconscious, superconscious, pre-natal, and post-natal experiences. In order to perform important duties, recall valuable experiences for daily use, and in order to write, think, and feel, one must be able to work in the precious material recalled to the conscious mind by the power of memory.

Hence, development of memory is very important. Some eminent psychologists say that the quality of memory is a congenital gift and can not be developed by training. This is false. The more you practice remembering deep experiences, the more you will develop memory, that faculty of the conscious mind, which, through the help of the subconscious mind, can reproduce any past conscious human experience.

While the conscious mind in the brain keeps in touch with the exterior world through the afferent and efferent nerves and the five sense-telephones of touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing, through the medium of sensations, perceptions, and conceptions, the subconscious or sub-mind, or inner flowing mind keeps a record of all human experiences, with special emphasis upon the important ones.

The semi-superconscious state is felt during deep sleep and the superconsciousness is felt during deep meditation. Both states have intuitive power. That is why it is through intuition, and not through the medium of the senses, (for sensations are absent during deep sleep) that each Soul knows of his deep state of sleep upon waking.

How the Superconscious, Subconscious and Conscious Minds Work

The superconsciousness is the pure intuitive, all-seeing, ever-new Blissful consciousness of the Soul. This superconsciousness descends into the deep sleep state and becomes semi-superconsciousness marked by the state of semi-conscious Blissful-state. Then this semi-consciousness, descending into the dream state and the state of imagination, becomes the subconscious mind and is marked by disturbance mixed with Bliss. The subconsciousness, descending into the nervous system and muscles, becomes the conscious state. This conscious state is mostly mixed with worries and very little of the joyous state (mostly hopes of joy only).

After all, the one superconsciousness of the Soul, while it is located in the brain and in the point between the eyebrows, and is marked by the all-seeing power of intuitive Bliss, it is called “superconsciousness.” Then, when the superconsciousness becomes located in the lower brain and lower spinal center and viscera, it is called “subconsciousness” (state of mixed joy and disturbances). When that superconsciousness comes down into the nerves, muscles, and the senses, it is called “conscious mind.” The subconscious mind and the conscious mind, being manifestations of the superconsciousness, hence both have intuitive powers. That is why sometimes dreams perceived by the subconscious mind come true. That is why strong feelings of the conscious mind also come true.

The superconscious, subconscious, and the conscious minds, all are working together. Sometimes one is more active than the two others, keeping the two others of this trio working in the background. When one is calm and Blissful, his superconsciousness is manifest in the conscious. When one is imaginative, then his subconscious mind is manifest. When one is thinking fast, his consciousness buries beneath it all calm or imaginative traits.

Where is Your Consciousness Centered?

The subconscious mind is the memory mind. It is the mental refrigerator. It keeps experiences locked up, ready to be used again upon instant notice. Experiences from the conscious mind enter the subway of consciousness, remain locked up there only to come out again through another opening into the conscious mind.

The superconscious mind remains buried beneath the subconscious mind and conscious mind. The subconscious mind is buried beneath the conscious mind, working like a janitor during sleep, keeping the fire of the body and the circulatory functions doing their round of duties. It is continuously memorizing conscious experiences during the state of wakefulness. Therefore, the subconscious mind is always awake, working the involuntary organs during sleep and memorizing conscious experiences during the state of wakefulness.

The superconscious state, through intuition, knows everything that goes on in the subconsciousness and consciousness. It can remember all experiences forgotten by the subconsciousness and consciousness. The superconscious state can be educated in the school of meditative discipline, then it can recall experiences of past incarnations. Jesus, developed in superconsciousness, could remember the past incarnation of John the Baptist, when he was Elijah.

The conscious mind is only manifest during wakefulness. It sleeps during the advent of the subconscious mind. The subconsciousness can be trained in the superlative way, so that it can correctly memorize and recall at will all conscious experiences.

As the conscious mind becomes fossilized without school training or introspective creative thinking, so also the subconscious and superconscious minds are not at all given the necessary training in most individuals, and thus the subconscious mind remains without creative imagination, or power of recall, and the superconscious mind loses its all-seeing power of intuition.

Here we learn that one’s subconscious mind, likewise without training, develops forgetfulness and the lack of the power of recall. Memory is the recalling power by which we are saved from being children every day, and stops us from repeating our experiences every day. Through memory the identity of individual existence is maintained. For instance, a minister who lost his memory for a while, thought that he was a grocery man, changed his name, and opened up a grocery shop far away from his home town. After three months, his memory came back and he returned home again as a minister. This happened somewhere near Boston, Massachusetts.