You said that to live moment to moment one must throw away one’s dead past and memories. Does it mean that all the memories have to be dissolved and destroyed to transcend the mind? But one needs a strong mind and an intense and sufficient accumulation of memories to function in this world.
To die to the past does not mean that you will not be able to remember it. It does not mean that all your memories will be dissolved or destroyed. It only means that now you do not live in those memories, you are not identified with those memories. You are freed from them. They will remain but now they will be just a part of your brain, not part of your consciousness.
The brain is a mechanism, just like a tape-recording machine. The brain goes on recording everything. The brain is the physical part. It will go on recording, and your memories cannot be destroyed unless the brain is destroyed. But that is not the problem. The problem is that your consciousness is filled with memories. Your consciousness goes on identifying itself with the brain and the brain is always stirred by your consciousness – and memories go on flooding you.
When it is said, “Die to the past,” it means do not be identified with the brain. You can use the brain; then it is just an instrument. When you will need it you will use it. And you will need it. You will have to go back home; you will have to remember where you live – where your house is, what your name is. You can use these memories but use them; do not be used by them. That is the problem.
While you are here you need not think about the house where you live in your town but you go on thinking about it. You need not remember your wife while you are here but you go on talking with her and she is not here. When you go back home you must recognize that she is your wife but there is no need to be bothered with her now. She must not come in the mind; the mind must not go on functioning unnecessarily. It must not bring in the past; it must not flood the present with the past.
The memory remains. It is not being destroyed. Through meditation the mind is not destroyed. You simply start transcending it. It remains a storehouse; you need not live in it. If you live in it then you are mad. You need not live in a storehouse. When you need something, you go into the storehouse, bring that something out and use it. But a storehouse is not a living-room.
But you have made it one. Your storehouse of memory has become your living room; you live there. Do not live there, that is the whole meaning. Be in the present and whenever the past is needed use it. But do not allow it to go on continuously overflooding you. That overflooding by the past makes your consciousness dim and dull. Then you cannot see with clear eyes, you cannot feel with a clear heart. Then nothing is clear, everything becomes confused.
Rather, on the contrary, when you are not identified with the mind you will have a very clear memory. You do not have a really good memory because you are not your master. Your mind is just a mad mechanism. When you need to remember something, it will not come and when you do not need it, it goes on coming: you are not the master. You cannot be the master if you become identified with the slave. If you become too much attached to the slave, the slave will start mastering you.
So if you die to the past you will not become less efficient in the functioning of your mind, you will become more efficient. A master is always more efficient. When he wants to remember, he remembers; when he doesn’t want to remember, he doesn’t remember. When he says to the mind, “Function,” it functions. When he says, “Stop,” the mind stops. I have to use memories. I have to talk to you: I have to use words, I have to use language. But only when I am talking to you do I use them. The moment I am not talking the mind stops. Then there is total vacuum – void. Then there is no cloud.
It is just like your legs: when you want to walk you use your legs. But if you go on moving them while just sitting or standing, people will think you are mad. Then you may say, “What can I do? My legs go on moving; I cannot do anything.” And if someone says to you, “Stop this,” you will say, “If I stop, then when I want to walk what will I do? I will become less efficient. If I stop, then I will lose the capacity to walk, so I have to use them constantly.” Remember, if you use them constantly, when the time comes to walk you will feel tired. You are already tired.
While sitting there is no need to use the legs. While not talking there is no need to use words. Do not verbalize within. While not using the past there is no need to allow it to flood you. Dying to the past means becoming master of your mind. Then you will be more efficient. But that efficiency will be of a different quality – a totally different quality. There will be no effort in it.
Now whenever you want to remember you have to make an effort because you are so tired; your brain is so tired, continuously working. There is no stop for it, no relaxation. Even while you are asleep, the body is resting but the mind continues to work. Dreaming, it is working – constantly working. It is a miracle that you are not mad. Or maybe you are already mad but you are not aware; or maybe, because everyone is mad like you, you cannot compare and you cannot know what is happening to you.
Don’t be afraid, your efficiency will be increased. And the quality will be different because there will be no effort. When you need to, you can use your mind. It is just an instrument; just like your hands and legs it is a physical part of you. Memory is a physical thing, remember, so if your brain is destroyed you may be alive and conscious but you will lose your memory. If a particular part of your brain is destroyed, then a particular type of memory will be lost.
One of my friends, a doctor, fell down from a train. He fell down on his head and something was destroyed. For three years all memory was lost; he couldn’t even recognize his father or mother. He was alive, fully alive, conscious; but he couldn’t read, couldn’t write, because all memory was lost. He started from abcd again and only after three years was he able to use his brain again. But now he was just a child of three years; all the medical knowledge, all the degrees that he had, were lost, because particular tissues, particular nerves in the brain, were destroyed and with them all memory was lost or cut off.
Now, in China, they use brainwashing. They give some electrical stimulation to particular parts of the brain; just by electrical shock they destroy the inner memory. So if you are a religious man they will give you a shock treatment in the mind and all your memories – that you are religious, that you go to this church or you read this holy book, or you belong to this sect – will be destroyed. Then you can easily be converted into a communist because then you don’t know who you are.
And now these techniques have become available to the whole world. Every government now has the secrets. And the most dangerous thing that is going to happen soon all over the world will be not physical violence but psychological violence. You need not murder a man; you simply destroy a particular memory in him. He is brainwashed, now he will have to learn from abc, so he cannot fight with you. If you want to convert him into a communist or an anticommunist, first destroy the memory; then he becomes like a child, helpless. Then start the training again. Now a new memory will be created, a new learning, a new conditioning.
The atom bomb is not such a great danger as these secrets are because the very soul of man can be enslaved through them. If Jesus is born now in Soviet Russia or communist China, they will not crucify him; first they will try to destroy his memory. They cannot be successful with Jesus but they can be successful with you. They cannot succeed with Jesus because he is already unidentified with the memory. If you destroy the memory nothing is really lost because he lives in his consciousness, not in his memories. You don’t really have any consciousness separate from the memories, so if your memory is destroyed your consciousness is destroyed. You don’t know how to function without the memories.
So for the new generation, the coming world, meditation is a must because only that can protect you from political dictatorship – nothing else. They will not put you in jail or send you to Siberia – no, those things are just out of date now. They will simply put an electrical instrument around your head, and they will give particular electric shocks to the brain, and you will become just like a child. They will wash out the memories just as you can erase on a tape recorder. What is done there is just an electrical stimulation and whatsoever is recorded is erased; then you can record again. The same is possible with the brain because the brain is a mechanism.
And when I say to die to the past, I mean do not get so attached to the brain that you do not know that you can exist without the brain. Knowing this, realizing this, that “Without the brain I can exist; I am consciousness and not the memories; memories are just my instruments,” you will become free from your own mind. And once you are free from your mind, no one can make a slave of you. Otherwise, everyone is trying to manipulate you to make you a slave.
Religions, so-called religions have done that. They go on manipulating your mind. When you were just a child they were trying to teach you that you were a Hindu or a Christian or a Catholic or a Protestant. They went on teaching you from the very childhood when you didn’t know anything; when you were not alert; when you were not aware; when you couldn’t recognize what is true and what is false. When you could not think, they started to teach you, to condition you. They made a Christian out of you or a Hindu or a Jaina or a Mohammedan. These are slaveries.
Now there is no need to get hold of children; even an old man can be made a child again by just washing his mind. Then he will have to learn from abc. And when you learn from abc you cannot argue, when you have to learn from abc you cannot disbelieve. That is why every religion wants to get hold of children and every religion tries to force some type of religious education because only in childhood….
Really, if you cannot get hold of a child before seven years of age, you will never get hold of him. Only before seven years of age can you make a slave of him. Then he will never know that he is a slave because slavery goes deeper than his awareness. You cannot think that being a Christian you are a slave or being a Hindu you are a slave – or can you?
Society has played a trick upon you. When you were not fully alert they conditioned your mind. Now when you think, the conditioning has gone deeper than thinking. Whatsoever you think, that conditioning colors it. Even if you become anti-Christian and you were taught to be a Christian, your anti-Christianity will carry your Christianity with it. Even your anti-Christianity will be colored by the conditioning that was given to you. You will be obsessed with the same thing in the reverse order.
Friedrich Nietzsche was against Christianity, particularly against Christ. But he was brought up as a Christian. His whole life he struggled; his whole life he went on writing against Christ. But he was so much obsessed with Christ that when he went mad, in the last stage of his life before he became mad, he started signing his name “Anti-Christ, Friedrich Nietzsche.” That conditioning had gone so deep! You can become anti, but you cannot be indifferent.
Die to the past, be alive to the present, to the moment you are in – it will not destroy your mind. Really, it will give a rest to your restless mind. Your efficiency will grow, and there will be no effort. You will not need to remember. You will simply remember because this is the functioning of the mind; you need not make any effort.
I have been traveling all over this country for fifteen years, and I have known thousands and thousands of people. Even after ten years I have been again to the same town – I remember the faces, I remember the names. Even I was surprised: What is the matter? – And I had not made any effort. But I am interested in people, that is all. If you are really interested in something, you will remember it; there is no need to make any effort.
Remembering is a mechanical functioning of the memory. If you are really interested in a person you will remember the face even after many lives. I remember many faces after many lives. You cannot forget them because there is no question of forgetting. The mechanical part of your brain just goes on recording everything. The only thing that is needed is your interest.
When you are interested your mechanism is focused on the person; it records just like the lens of a camera. If you are interested in a face the camera moves, it records. If I am interested in what you are saying my mind is focused; it records, it goes on recording. There is no need to make any effort. If you are not interested, then it will not record because then it is not focused.
So if you forget things it is because you are not interested. If you forget things it is because your mind is confused. If you forget things and cannot remember and are not efficient, it means that while you are seeing a face your many memories inside go on moving. Your mirror is not vacant; your lens is already overcrowded.
Someone is saying, “My name is Ram,” and you nod your head, yes, as if you have heard. But your mind is filled with so many things, you have not heard. And then you say, “Why have I forgotten the name?” Really, you never heard the name. You were not interested in the person – not so interested that your mind became silent.
Whenever you are interested the mind is silent – your whole being is open. The memories go on being recorded and whenever you need something it will come up. But it is not so easy with you. Because your mind is so much filled, whenever you need something everything gets entangled. Nothing is clear-cut; everything penetrates, trespasses, every other thing. Nothing is clear. The clarity is not there; only confusion is there. Because of that confusion you are not efficient. You will be more efficient, and without any effort, if you become alert to the moment and do not allow the past to go on overburdening you.
From The Supreme Doctrine, Discourse #11