There are a number of different sources for the below material on memory. Some are from my studies at Tulane in 1973, others are from my studies at Naropa in 1975 and still others are from my studies with Adi Da Samraj (1983-present).
Through this ‘perfuming’ reelection takes place which is the thing as discrimination, and we have a world of opposites and contraries with all its practical consequences. The triple world, so called, is therefore the shadow of a self-reflecting and self-creating mind. Hence the doctrine of “MIND ONLY” (cittamatra)
VASANA (habit energy) is so contaminated with ignorance and wrong judgments and all sorts of attachments, it reacts upon an external world in a way detrimental to the realization of truth. The state of realization is obtained by a means of revulsion (Paravritti) at the deepest seat of consciousness know as the Alayavijnana.
Alayavijnana is a kind of mental receptacle where all the memory of one’s past deeds and psychic activities is deposited and preserved in a form of energy called VASANA or habit energy.
This is one of the most important conceptions in the system of Vijnanas (Mind).
Vasana comes from the root VAS meaning “to dwell”, “to stay” or “to perfume” and used in combination, that is, in the sense of a perfuming energy that leaves its essence permanently behind in the things it has perfumed. The Chinese have translated it “habit”, “long usage” or “repeated experience”. Vasana is therefore a kind of super-sensuous energy mysteriously emanating from every thought, every feeling, or every deed one has done or does, which lives latently in the storehouse called Alayavijnana.
Vasana is morally corrupt and logically erroneous inasmuch as it creates an external world and causes us to cling to it as real and final. In modern psychology, we can say that vasana corresponds to memory in its widest sense. This perfuming or leaving impressions is sometimes known as BIJA (memory/sowing seeds).
Psychologically vasana is memory, for it is something left after a deed is done, mental or physical, and it retained and stored in the Alaya as a sort of latent energy ready to be set in motion. this memory or ‘habit-energy’, or ‘habitual perfuming is not necessarily individual’ the Alaya being super-individual holds in it not only individual memory but all that has been experienced by sentient beings. When the sutra says that in the Alaya is found all that has been going on sine beginningless time systematically stored up as a kind of seed, this does not refer to individual experiences, but to something general, beyond the individual, making up in a way the background on which all individual psychic activities are reflected. Therefore, the alaya is originally pure, it is the abode of Tathagatahood (Buddhahood), where no defilement’s of the particle arising intellect and affection can reach; purity in terms of logic means universality, and defilement’s or sins means individuation, from which attachments of various forms are derived.
In short, the world starts from
memory, memory in itself as retained in the Alaya universal
mind. When we are removed from the influence of false
discrimination the whole Vijnana system woven around the
Alaya as center experiences a revulsion toward true
perception (paravritt). This is the gist of the teaching of
The experience of Me is not something remembered. There is no Spiritual event in the past that really is happening. People accumulate ideas and self-imagery based on this or that event that takes place in various moments of their living. And their idea of themselves, even as being somehow Spiritually aware, is based on this memory of their lives.
Whereas there is no relevant past Spiritualityat least not that is relevant to the actual moment in which existence is happening now. You are no more “Spiritual” than you are right now.
It does not make any difference how many experiences, or what experiences of Me may or may not be true or you declare to have happened — you are no more Spiritually aware of Me than you are right now. You are no more devotionally responsive to Me than you are right now. It is always a present-time process.
Fundamentally then, nothing that occurred in the past, nothing you have ever thought or experienced, is relevant. It is always now with Me, and that is that. Then it is whatever it is now with Me. It is always about that turning.
So the content, the memory, the accumulated patterns, the tendencies, the self-report, the self-imagethese things are totally irrelevant. If the intention were to discuss something that required you to recount experiences, it has relevance to that discussion. But relative to the matter of actual Communion with Me now, it is irrelevant, always irrelevant. [May 25, 2005]
The “prarabdha” karma, the remaining movements of one who understands, is a dramatization or activity that can take any number of forms. He witnesses all that arises as motive and action, he enquires, and realizes all such movements in the Heart. “Prarabdha” is not a matter of indulging various desires and patterns That arise, but of enquiring while free of the necessary attachment to motive and act. “Prarabdha” is not dramatization but enquiry. where any movement is not realized in the Heart, it is only movement, not understanding, and enquiry follows all such things.
One who understands may appear in many forms of action, for his life is ordinary. It is only that he understands and enquires, and so all his action becomes a creative occasion of truth. He enquires until understanding is perfect as the Heart. Then he lives only as truth, without drama, until the stillness takes his life.
Those who understand in truth seem to live a drama of many kinds. Those who live as radical understanding are only true to understanding. Those who understand perfectly no longer appear outside the Heart. They are not seen in any form, but such are the Heart itself.