Remember by Heart, and let the memory forget

Acharya Prashant
11 min readAug 2, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

आचक्ष्व शृणु वा तात नानाशास्त्राण्यनेकशः। तथापि न तव स्वास्थ्यं सर्वविस्मरणाद् ऋते॥

– अष्टावक्र गीता (अध्याय-१६ सूत्र-१)

Translation: Even after hearing from many scholars or reading many scriptures, you will not be established in self, as after forgetting every single thing.

Acharya Prashant (AP): The question is: What does ‘forgetting’ imply?

Whatever we have in the mind, is related to the world. Usually we think that ‘forgetting’ means, that what is there in the mind is no more there in the mind. It was an image of the world and the image is just no more there. In a way it has gone back to the world. It came from the world and it is no more there, so it’s gone. Gone where? Gone back to somewhere else. It’s no more in the mind. No more in the memory. It’s gone.

There is another kind of forgetting in which what came to the mind is no more there in the mind, because it has penetrated deeply to some other place. See, understand this.

You put soil in a tray, dry soil, and you put some water over it. You pour a little water on the soil, the soil is in a tray, and obviously the tray does not have great depth. So it’s only a thin layer of soil. It does not have depth. After sometime, you find the water is no more there in the soil. It is gone.

When you first put water in the soil, it remains on the soil. Right? This is called, ‘the state of memorization’; an input coming from the world and being registered by the mind. The input is the water and the soil has absorbed the water. This is memorization. After some time, you find that the water is no more there. Now, where has the water gone? Because the soil is a very thin layer, so where has the water gone? The water has gone back. It is no more there. It has evaporated. This is loss of memory. This is what we usually mean by, ‘forgetting’. This is our general usage of the word, ‘forgetting’.

Acharya Prashant