So what's the point if you can't remember?

#1
Ok. So one question keeps coming back to me time and again. And I don't know if this is really the forum for such questions, but I have a feeling there are some reading who might be able to offer an opinion or two...

1- Let's assume for a moment that there is a higher level to our existence which generally not available to us.
2- And let's assume that we are on some sort of long term iterative journey that involves returning to an earthly existence, probably for the sake of advancing spiritually.

For those who have a hard time accepting those two assumptions, perhaps this is not the thread for you.. : )

My quandary is this-
What is the point of reaching for a higher level understanding of the nature of our existence if it is all going to be forgotten next time around? How can one ever advance in anything if one can't remember what has been learned previously? Imagine when entering tenth grade, one couldn't recall what was learned in 9th!
 
#2
Ok. So one question keeps coming back to me time and again. And I don't know if this is really the forum for such questions, but I have a feeling there are some reading who might be able to offer an opinion or two...
1- Let's assume for a moment that there is a higher level to our existence which generally not available to us.
2- And let's assume that we are on some sort of long term iterative journey that involves returning to an earthly existence, probably for the sake of advancing spiritually.
For those who have a hard time accepting those two assumptions, perhaps this is not the thread for you.. : )
My quandary is this-
What is the point of reaching for a higher level understanding of the nature of our existence if it is all going to be forgotten next time around? How can one ever advance in anything if one can't remember what has been learned previously? Imagine when entering tenth grade, one couldn't recall what was learned in 9th!
According to many folks, the predispositions you come into in this life are "memories" from your past life. It's not a "storyline" kind of memory, but it would be the "lessons learned", at least as to how they brought about "soul growth", coming over into a new life.

Also, guys like Steiner and Cayce claim that we haven't always forgotten our past lives and we haven't always been in the dark with our obfuscated ego consciousness. There were times when we could remember past lives clearly and also were aware of the spiriutual as much as the physical while alive. They claim those times will come again.

I guess in some ways we're in the Dark Ages, as far as spiritual awareness.

Anyhow, one take on the matter ...
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#3
I suppose one could count forgetting past lives as an argument against the concept, though as Ethan points out there are alternatives...among them the idea that this life is a game and/or learning experience, this life is some kind of imprisonment, that we are souls who've lost the ability to remember, that the confines of this birth-death cycle is broken/sabotaged to make us forget, etc.

"The Empire never ended. You can only see it when you close your eyes."
-Hal Duncan, Vellum


The more negative possibilities are, IMO, more useful for comic book stories than basing your life on - at least it's a bad idea to be a negative Gnostic if the result is paranoia and/or depression. OTOH, one could see transcending one's baser instincts as a kind of inner alchemy rather than railing hopelessly against the Archons, as a humanity that's Awakening together might stand a chance of freeing itself. This works well, IMO, because it improves one's Self and the World even if there is nothing at all awaiting you after the end of this life.

’The work on the soul is an integral, though not always stated or understood, part of the process. This means being able to commit oneself to the work, to put into a secondary space the purely personal and ego concerns (the psychological concomitant of the earth-centered world view) and to see oneself as part and parcel of the entire universe. The image to be held before one is that every act by every person has an effect on all, changing the delicate balance that keeps the universe in motion.

Therefore, it was considered necessary by the alchemists to so conduct their work and their lives, which were really the same thing, as if the salvation of the world depended upon it.”
-June Singer, Androgyny
 
#4
It isn't like you forget what is important. I don't consciously remember how I learned how to talk and walk but that doesn't prevent me from talking and walking. I think it is the same thing. You may not remember how you learned the things that led to your character being what it is, but that character is there regardless.

AP
 
#5
Thanks guys. Good stuff here.

Andrew, I appreciate what you're saying but somehow it isn't believable. The fact that we can remember learning something (like walking or talking) just doesn't feel the same to me as this.

But more the bigger point is,,, I spent more than 50 years totally convinced in my scientific mind that we exist in a billiard ball world. For some inexplicable reason I was drawn to look more closely, and I am now, after years of work, in a very different place of understanding. I didn't get here by epiphany, but rather after thousands of hours of thought and research.

This was definitely not an incremental thing where I built my new concepts on top of old ones. No,, I burned the old ones to the ground because they no longer made sense. If the way this works is as a slow accumulation of lessons learned from prior lives, then why shouldn't this have been gradual?

Am I to believe that after countless lives I was finally ready to make this huge change? This doesn't fit with the theory of gradual change... Alternatively: perhaps I have made this huge change countless times before? Makes more sense to me, given the data, but man does that idea leave a sour taste in my mouth!
 
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#6
I'd argue that if we are eternal spiritual beings, having the memories of each and every last one of our previous existences would be horrifyingly overwhelming to us in human form, especially if some of our previous existences weren't the nicest of people. That being said, it wouldn't hurt to be able remember something that would keep you from coming to the conclusion of "well crap, this really is all there is".
 
#8
Ok. So one question keeps coming back to me time and again. And I don't know if this is really the forum for such questions, but I have a feeling there are some reading who might be able to offer an opinion or two...

1- Let's assume for a moment that there is a higher level to our existence which generally not available to us.
2- And let's assume that we are on some sort of long term iterative journey that involves returning to an earthly existence, probably for the sake of advancing spiritually.

For those who have a hard time accepting those two assumptions, perhaps this is not the thread for you.. : )

My quandary is this-
What is the point of reaching for a higher level understanding of the nature of our existence if it is all going to be forgotten next time around? How can one ever advance in anything if one can't remember what has been learned previously? Imagine when entering tenth grade, one couldn't recall what was learned in 9th!

I'm not certain we forget anything. I'm sure it's overly simplistic but I don't believe our mortal frame of reference has all the the tools for understanding our spiritual natures in this life.
 
#9
My quandary is this-
What is the point of reaching for a higher level understanding of the nature of our existence if it is all going to be forgotten next time around? How can one ever advance in anything if one can't remember what has been learned previously? Imagine when entering tenth grade, one couldn't recall what was learned in 9th!
There's intrinsic and intellectual knowing. Why are some people born with "spiritual" personalities, having a seemingly inbuilt appreciation of something that underlies the everyday? Maybe what they've learnt in previous lives has permanently affected their essential being. They wouldn't necessarily be able to articulate what they know, especially as children. Whatever, it can't be denied that we don't all enter the world in the same state of intrinsic awareness.

Intellectual knowing can be transmitted conventionally via tradition, books, and other information sources. In and of itself, it doesn't effect change in one's being. One has to engage with such information and resonate with it to develop one's inner life. The soul isn't a repository for mere information, but for a state of being, and if reincarnation is a fact, it is this state that probably persists from life to life and gradually evolves. We would start each life with an informational tabula rasa, and one benefit of that would be the opportunity not to be so influenced by sources that in past lives hadn't been productive: we could find that we don't resonate so much with them. There are maybe advantages to losing attraction to some types of information, and maybe being attracted earlier in a new life to sources that we will resonate more easily with, offering the opportunity to go a bit further than previously.
 
#10
It’s just as well we can't remember ! It would make life intolerable; In just one life many people are overcome with remorse.What would it be like if we could remember all our terrible thoughts and actions from previous lives.
but what does happen is the small voice becomes louder , with repeated mistakes ..

& eventually we listen to our conscience, when we should.
 
#11
I'm not certain we forget anything. I'm sure it's overly simplistic but I don't believe our mortal frame of reference has all the the tools for understanding our spiritual natures in this life.
OK lets say I buy that.. So you are saying that we start from zero every time, and figure it all out (or not) again, and again, and again,,, ?
 
#12
There's intrinsic and intellectual knowing. Why are some people born with "spiritual" personalities, having a seemingly inbuilt appreciation of something that underlies the everyday? Maybe what they've learnt in previous lives has permanently affected their essential being. They wouldn't necessarily be able to articulate what they know, especially as children. Whatever, it can't be denied that we don't all enter the world in the same state of intrinsic awareness.

Intellectual knowing can be transmitted conventionally via tradition, books, and other information sources. In and of itself, it doesn't effect change in one's being. One has to engage with such information and resonate with it to develop one's inner life. The soul isn't a repository for mere information, but for a state of being, and if reincarnation is a fact, it is this state that probably persists from life to life and gradually evolves. We would start each life with an informational tabula rasa, and one benefit of that would be the opportunity not to be so influenced by sources that in past lives hadn't been productive: we could find that we don't resonate so much with them. There are maybe advantages to losing attraction to some types of information, and maybe being attracted earlier in a new life to sources that we will resonate more easily with, offering the opportunity to go a bit further than previously.
So in that case- the aspect of ourselves that "remembers" is the intuitive part: that thing that decides if something "feels right" to us,, that is used as the reference source of "resonance". That feels right to me.

Thanks for the POV.
 
#13
I'd argue that if we are eternal spiritual beings, having the memories of each and every last one of our previous existences would be horrifyingly overwhelming to us in human form, especially if some of our previous existences weren't the nicest of people. That being said, it wouldn't hurt to be able remember something that would keep you from coming to the conclusion of "well crap, this really is all there is".
Remembering the details of previous lives could seriously interfere with your ability to function in this one. It isn't what we usually want to hear--who wants to have information withheld even if it is for their own good? However, we already know this is true from the research Ian Stevenson and his colleagues have conducted, where memories of previous lives do frequently interfere with the subject's ability to meaningfully engage in the present life. Saints and sages are reputed to be able to remember previous lives in some detail with no loss to their ability to function in their present life. The difference with them is that they have trained their minds to the point where knowledge of past misdeeds, longings for lost loves, passions for various things, desires for personal accomplishment, are all controllable at will. This allows them go about their lives without the constant distraction of reminders from previous existences. For the rest of us, there is temporary amnesia, fully restored after bodily death. You can think of it as a kind of anesthetic given during surgery. You agree to have it administered because you know it is temporary and you know the end result is more important than the temporary loss of sensation.

AP
 
#14
What is the point of reaching for a higher level understanding of the nature of our existence if it is all going to be forgotten next time around? How can one ever advance in anything if one can't remember what has been learned previously?
Such learning doesn't have to be consciously accessible. Just because you think you haven't got conscious access to information, doesn't necessarily mean that you haven't learnt it?

A few things I find interesting...

1) There are some lovely studies showing massive bursts of dendritic overproduction during childhood, the unused areas of these structures (networks) if not reinforced by use, are simply eliminated over time. Sort of carved away like a sculptor.

2) There are interesting studies showing external information breaks into consciousness when it is novel or new. One interesting study is where they show people deliberately altered photographs. As an example - a women taking a tray of cakes out of the oven, except the researchers altered the photo, replacing the baking tray with a chessboard complete with chess pieces. These odd images break into consciousness considerably faster than normal images. This seems to indicate that consciousness is at least partly to concerned with learning.

3) There seems to a be difference between knowledge vs wisdom (perhaps this is explicit vs implicit access to information, - I'm not sure). I stumbled across study last year, which I believe beautifully demonstrates this. the researchers showed a mixture of colour, and black & white photo's to people in their 20's, and people in their 60's IIRC. Afterwards both age groups were asked to recall randomly whether particular photos were in black & white, or colour. The 20's group recalled if a photo was black & white far more accurately, where as the 60's group recalled virtually all the black & white photo's as if they had been shown them in colour.

4) Rodent epigenetic behavioral studies show learning is passed from a male parent to his offspring, through at least 3 generations. Even when the father was killed to extract sperm, prior to the female being fertilized through IVF, so that both female and offspring never have any contact with the male.
 
#15
So in that case- the aspect of ourselves that "remembers" is the intuitive part: that thing that decides if something "feels right" to us,, that is used as the reference source of "resonance". That feels right to me.

Thanks for the POV.
I have always relied on what feels right to me. When I was a kid into my young adulthood I had the greatest intuitive sense of life,death etc. When I started intellectualizing things it got me into mental/emotional trouble. I am trying to get back to that point...I think I'm about 60% there.
 
#16
Here are a couple of speculations.

The first is some kind of greater version of you or entity that you are part of, remembers and learns from all your lives. In that case every reincarnation might be informed by past lives without actually having to remember them but the lessons are retained.

The second is that the greater reality is vast. This consensus reality is a purposely limited, rule bound game or play. We are all human here but maybe we derive from completely different kinds of beings on completely different types of journeys who inject small aspects of themselves into this game to learn and interact in this way. So some people reincarnate some don't. NDE similarities maybe because the transition is still attached to this consensus reality domain. But once they stay and leave the airport so to speak everyone goes to different places.
 
#17
To me, Alan Watts put it best.

...forgetting about things that renews their wonder. Just think, when you opened your eyes for the first time as a child, how brilliant colours where, what a jewel the sun was, what marvel the stars, how incredible the trees were. That's because they were new to your eyes...and so by the dispensation of forgetting, the world is constantly renewed, and we are able to see it again and again, and to love again and again....always with renewed intensity, and without the contrast of having seen them before before before, always, always and always
 
C

chuck.drake

#18
To me, Alan Watts put it best.
Right. We can look deeper into what it might mean to die every moment. By focusing on some event at the end of physical life as The Death, we miss something. Everything is made fresh every moment. This will still be true after the physical body dies.
 
#19
Remembering the details of previous lives could seriously interfere with your ability to function in this one. It isn't what we usually want to hear--who wants to have information withheld even if it is for their own good? However, we already know this is true from the research Ian Stevenson and his colleagues have conducted, where memories of previous lives do frequently interfere with the subject's ability to meaningfully engage in the present life. Saints and sages are reputed to be able to remember previous lives in some detail with no loss to their ability to function in their present life. The difference with them is that they have trained their minds to the point where knowledge of past misdeeds, longings for lost loves, passions for various things, desires for personal accomplishment, are all controllable at will. This allows them go about their lives without the constant distraction of reminders from previous existences. For the rest of us, there is temporary amnesia, fully restored after bodily death. You can think of it as a kind of anesthetic given during surgery. You agree to have it administered because you know it is temporary and you know the end result is more important than the temporary loss of sensation.

AP
I agree. In some Stevenson's cases subjects wanted to kill those who had murdered them in previous lives. Less extreme reactions could cause problems as well.

According to many sources, we keep a permanent record of every experience. Therefore temporary loss of memories is ultimately insignificant. Dreams of past lives also suggest that memories are available during physical life, even if one doesn't have any past life memories as a child. I also think that our various interests may have their origins in past lives. I started to read about psychical research 16 years ago, because I found the subject fascinating. Perhaps that interest was caused by knowledge which I obtained in a previous life, or during a discarnate state.
 
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