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Attention and time || Acharya Prashant (2013)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
11 min
66 reads

Speaker: Is there any relation between reading in immersion and memorization? Is it necessary that whatever has been read in attention, will be remembered and can be recalled? Conversely, if something cannot be remembered, wasn’t there attention?

Let’s go into the relationship between attention and time. For too long, too many people have said that attention is to live in the now, and the matter has not really being understood.

Where there is a now, there would always be time, there would always be a past and a future.

It is impossible to say that it is 7:30p.m. right now, without being in the zone of time. If it is 7:30p.m. now, obviously it will be 7:50p.m. in a while. Time is a spread, just as space too is a spread. In attention, it is not that one lives in the now excluding the past and the present. It is not as if the two sides of time are being clipped away. They come together, the spread reduces. Often our version of attention is it that I am living in the now, and the past and the future have miraculously vaporized. It is impossible because there is no now without the past and the future.

Attention is the crystallization of time, the coming together of the past, the now and the future into one. They are not different anymore, they are not spread out, and so there is no place to go to. Not because the future has gone away, but because the future has come close. See, when you say that an attentive man does not live in imagination, does this mean that future has been clipped away? No, it means that his future is now seamlessly one with…

Listener 1: Now.

Speaker: The future is now, the past is now. They all have come together. In a disturbed mind they are very, very distant. And the more distant they are, the more there is scope for imagination.

Remember one thing: the further the action, the greater the imagination.

What is right up close cannot be fodder for imagination. But the further the action, the greater the imagination. In attention this distance reduces, the spread reduces. It all just comes together to a point.

Listener 2: There are two stretched legs, one is past and the other is future, and they have come close. My question is -Is the movement of one leg directly proportional to the other one?

Speaker: Yes! Past and future, always.

Listener 2: Is it that if I am thinking of the future, then surely, I have stretched the other leg also? I cannot have distinctly one leg in the present and the another leg in the future?

Listener 3: Is it that if I am being futuristic, there is an equivalent of past in my mind?

Speaker: There is no question of hoping for the future without deriving images from the past. And if there is one authority on this, it is J. Krishnamurti. If you really want to understand how past flows into the future, you must read him. He does not like the word authority, but he is the absolute authority on this.

Listener 3: While sitting here, I can make many assumptions, imaginations or anything about playing football in the playground.

Speaker: And all of them will come from the past.

Listener 3: about what I am going to do in the game.

Speaker: Yes, yes.

Listener 3: and when the ball will come, the action would be at that moment.

Speaker: But, this is not always the case. You may still be past bound. Don’t think that just by physically present on the football field, the mind had seized his disturbed ways.

Listener 3: The further the action in the future, the greater the imagination. That is why we revere the personalities who are far away from us because now mind has the capacity to imagine so many things.

Speaker: This also means that our reverence is imagination. So, farther the action, greater the imagination.

Listener 3: This is the reason that 500 years from now, I will be able to design the Krishna in more sophisticated and fashionable ways.

Speaker: Don’t you see the Mahabharata serial which is being telecast these days? The tone of the characters, the cast in which they have been shaped in this Mahabharata, is very different from the Mahabharata we saw 20 years back. The characters are more muscular, jazzier; the entire show has a particular gloss about it.

Coming back to the question about memory. When the mind is attentive, it does not really need a very conscious memory. It is not as if things are not being memorized. You asked that is there any relation between reading in immersion and memory. Is it necessary that whatever has been read in attention, will be remembered and can be recalled?

You do not only recall what you remember. Recalling is independent of remembering. You can recall too many things which you will not even know to have entered your memory. Every single moment in the flow of time is going into memory. There is nothing that escapes memory. It is just that an attentive mind does not need a very conscious memory.

Imagine, a liquid in which there are granules of solid, is being poured from a height. The granules are of various sizes and all the granules are in this liquid. This liquid is made to pass from various levels of filter. The mesh size of the first level of filter is very large. So what will it capture?

Listeners(everyone): Just the large granules.

Speaker: Only that which does not liquefy, which is not a part of the flow, gets captured at the most surface level of the memory otherwise, it flows down. That which is coarse, that which is undissolved, will remain on the surface of memory, the rest of the stuff will flow down and then get caught at the next level, and then the next level. What will not get caught at all will ultimately enter the deepest part of being, where it anyway belongs. Now the mind is conscious at only about the first two or three filters. So, when it comes to active recalling, it can only recall that much. But, because everything is going into memory, recalling is happening every time. All of that is anyway becoming the part of the mind. The deeper it has gone, the more it has been understood. Now it may not be able to consciously recall it. If you ask yourself, ‘do I know?’ You will probably get an answer, ‘No, I don’t know’. But, it will become a part of the flow of life. It will come to you when you need it, in the most unexpected ways. Somebody asks you, ‘have you read that book?’ You may not even remember the title but the book is now a part of you, the book is there in your responses, the book is there in your love, the book is there in your flight. How does it matter if you cannot recall? The recalling is happening in your life. It may not be happening in your words but, it is happening in your life. What is better: That the granules remain at the highest level of filter, where they can be picked easily or that they get dissolved in flow of time and they enter the deepest part of mind, where they cannot be recalled but, they are life now? What is better? So, don’t worry if you are unable to put forward and recall a quote or something. It is a part of you.

See, mind remembers only two things: the pleasant and the unpleasant. Ask yourself, ‘what do you remember in life?’ You remember either what was very pleasant or you remember what was very unpleasant. Mind only remember things to which it is attracted. We talked about dhyana . Will mind remember that? Mind cannot even cognize that, forget remembering. Please don’t be too concerned about remembering. In fact, if you remember too much, it means that it is not yet part of your understanding. It is still being processed by the mind. Some kind of thought is going into it. That does not mean you must forget everything and if you remember everything, it’s a crime. I am not saying that. I am saying that it becomes a part of you and it pops up when needed, it pops up without your invitation, without your summoning. It sometimes happens that you don’t know from where this line came up and it just comes. And this happens greatly with meditative people. They don’t even know from where something has come up and it just comes and others think that he is a very well read man, he seems to remember so much. Fool! He doesn’t remember anything, it just pops up. Ask the egg. Does it remember how to hatch? It somehow knows. All this is meditative knowledge; it will not be a part of memory.

Listener 5: It is like that when I sit to write a poem, I cannot write.

Speaker: Yes! That’s why no saint ever likes to claim ownership of his work because it is not his work. See, if he tries to write he cannot write. And .his is not humility when he says that it is God’s work not my work. It is actually not his work. If you make him sit in this room and ask him to write something here, he cannot write. It just happens. When would it happen? He cannot tell. In which language or in what words would it happen? He cannot tell. So, how can he claim ownership. In a very real sense he says that it is not my work, it is the work of God.

Listener 6: But are words not coming through remembrance?

Speaker: As long as your are still needing the words, it only means that the granules are large. Words anyway do not mean much. A mantra may be given to you as a tool of remembrance, but if you need the words very often, you are still not home. They may be a good tool to begin with. If the mind is very chaotic, it is good to use the mantra, but the mantra has to become a pat of your being. You have to forget the mantra, you have to dissolve the mantra in you. It means that there should be no need to remember it. What is the need? It is there. It is so safe that I can forget it. What can you afford to forget? That which is safe, that which is in you. So, I can forget it. There is no need to remember. Forget it!

-Excerpts a Clarity session held at Advait office. Edited for clarity.

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