“The only real treasure is in your head.
Memories are better than diamonds
and nobody can steal them from you”
Most of us, specially those who can claim we had a happy childhood we hold our memories of youth dearly, specially as we grow old the past come to our minds often, and sometimes with great detail, at least of certain things we cared about, or paid enough attention, since memory is selective, my relatives, and friends seem to remember things that I can’t recollect, and likewise I remember things they may have a vague idea, or not at all.
The Great Neurologist Oliver Sacks says about our fleeting memories:
“There is, it seems, no mechanism in the mind or the brain for ensuring the truth, or at least the veridical character, of our recollections. We have no direct access to historical truth, and what we feel or assert to be true depends as much on our imagination as our senses. There is no way by which the events of the world can be directly transmitted or recorded in our brains; they are experienced and constructed in a highly subjective way, which is different in every individual to begin with, and differently reinterpreted or re-experienced whenever they are recollected. (The neuroscientist Gerald M. Edelman often speaks of perceiving as “creating,” and remembering as “recreating” or “re-categorizing.”) Frequently, our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other, and ourselves—the stories we continually re-categorize and refine. Such subjectivity is built into the very nature of memory, and follows from its basis and mechanisms in the human brain. The wonder is that aberrations of a gross sort are relatively rare, and that, for the most part, our memories are relatively solid and reliable.
We, as human beings, are landed with memory systems that have fallibilities, frailties, and imperfections—but also great flexibility and creativity. Confusion over sources or indifference to them can be a paradoxical strength: if we could tag the sources of all our knowledge, we would be overwhelmed with often irrelevant information.
Indifference to source allows us to assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and think and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences. It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind, the general commonwealth of knowledge. This sort of sharing and participation, this communion, would not be possible if all our knowledge, our memories, were tagged and identified, seen as private, exclusively ours. Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds.”
One of my personal experience with the treachery of memory, came in the form of two decorated with relief figures clay pots for plants my Grandmother had inside at the house, as a child the figures fascinated me, and I remembered pretty well, or so I thought, the fact that I even dream about them in a couple of occasion, in my memory they had a dark green color as background for the reliefs figures, and that I last saw when my Grandmother was alive, sometimes I dreamed of the house and the mentioned pots, thirty years later visiting my family by chance I saw those same pots visiting the office of my brother in-law, my carnal brother who work with my in-law looking at my surprised face, told me he brought them there. The shock of seeing them at the entrance of the office, two hundred miles from their original place, when their lost was almost certain, accompanied by the fact the color of the pots wasn’t green, but a dark blue!
Our memories can seem true, but in reality are a sinuous, intricate path, with a historic shaky reality, that didn’t exist but in our minds, a road and foggy path, that may lead to a land of no where…
The Method of Loci
The ancients aware of this fact devised a method to exercise the mind to be able to recollect things in an accurate way, the Method of Loci.
The Method of Loci (plural of Latin locus for place or location), also called the memory palace, is a mnemonic device introduced in ancient Roman and Greek rhetorical treatises (in the anonymous Rhetorica ad Herennium, Cicero’s De Oratore, and Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria). The items to be remembered in this mnemonic system are mentally associated with specific physical locations. It relies on memorized spatial relationships to establish, order and recollect memorial content. The term is most often found in specialized works on psychology, neurobiology and memory, though it was used in the same general way at least as early as the first half of the nineteenth century in works on rhetoric, logic and philosophy.
In this technique the subject memorizes the layout of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street, or any geographical entity which is composed of a number of discrete loci. When desiring to remember a set of items the subject literally ‘walks’ through these loci and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any distinguishing feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is achieved by ‘walking’ through the loci, allowing the latter to activate the desired items. The efficacy of this technique has been well established (Ross and Lawrence 1968, Crovitz 1969, 1971, Briggs, Hawkins and Crovitz 1970, Lea 1975), as is the minimal interference seen with its use.
However my interest it is not the recovery of memories for practical reasons, or historical truth, but as to the realization, that our memories, are a device from our Alter ego, to guide us to a specific end, where memories, and dreams melt in to what becomes our Loci of Imagination a very useful tool to advance our understanding of ourselves, and our development as Spiritual beings.
There are the three dimensions that we are all aware of, but there is the fourth dimension, which is also a spatial dimension, but we don’t perceive it as that, we perceive the distances of the fourth dimension as the passage of time. If time is just a perception with no reality inherent, but to our vision of existence, as limited, and perishable, we experience time as a continuum passing through, but if we change our view in to a four-dimensional solid in which time is not passing, where every moment that ever existed or will exist is suspended, forever unchanging, from within this immense solid of space-time. Then the passing of time is an illusion that is only apparent to us as we move through this huge solid along what we perceive as reality.
If time is an illusion, then all movement and change are also illusions. So the only thing that gives us the illusion of movement and change and events and time is the fact that our consciousness is moving through this thing called existence, If you imagine it as a film, a movie encased in existence, each of those individual small moments are a part of a large frame, If they each represent a moment, that only is changed by our inability to recognize our consciousness is moving along . Individual moments are not going anywhere, but as the light, or focus of our consciousness passes across them, it provides the illusion of movement, this produces an idea of a past, who has never really passed, it just exist somewhere else.
But as we saw before, this reality of the past if it ever existed, has been transformed in to the new reality of our memory, and de facto transformed in to our new reality, as untrustworthy this may seem, this process allows to bend time, and have a rich malleable repository of experience an Akashic record. In theosophy and anthroposophy, the akashic records (from akasha, the Sanskrit word for ‘sky’ ‘space’ or ‘aether’) are a compendium of mystical knowledge supposedly encoded in a non-physical plane of existence known as the astral plane. A library, or file cabinet of Universal knowledge, rising in the mist of our consciousness, when we are ready to dip on it, for Spiritual progress.
Our personal Heaven
This bring us back to our personal reality, our individual sack of memories, given to us by the Ontological fact of existence, existence that allow us a myriad of memories, different but analogous to some one else, our own private Universe of consciousness.
I remember as a child the long trips to reach the towns were my to Grandmothers lived, like a pair of opposites, they were antithetical in geographical location, one living north of us, the other south, a contrast on environment and weather as well, desert like in the north, humid, tropical, dense jungle forest like in the south, those conditions now days I realize were excellent for creating a rich environment for my web of dreams, providing numerous symbolic archetypes to my future dreams.
Relatively recently a tree in the property of my maternal Grandmother become a sort of secret Axis Mundi of my Imagination, now in my Grandmother house were numerous trees, and at the time during my childhood never saw anything remarkable in this particular tree, neither remember hearing anything about it, however from time to time I will dream about this tree. A few years ago a little before my mother died I had a powerful dream were my mother signaled the tree, and indicated she wanted to put her ashes under the Nacapule tree. Immediately asked for a leave of absence at work, and went to visit her, she was living with my sister at the time, and as soon as my sister could talk in private to me she let me know, what already I knew by the dream, my mother was living her last days. Without revealing my dream, I just mentioned I was aware of the situation, later talking to my mother, I asked her about the tree of course without telling her the dream, to my surprise the tree had a very interesting story; my Grandfather a man who died eight years before I was even born, brought the tree from his old town and planted it like some sort of connecting symbol between his new home and the old one, and the tree was his special care, and worry, suffering the harsh desert heat, and even strafing by airplane in 1929.
When grandmother died in 1973 the house was sold, and the new owner destroyed the house to the ground , and cut all the many trees of the property, and beautiful garden, except for the Nacapule tree, and two palm trees, to my further surprise Mother produced an old piece of paper with a poem about the house and the tree made by an aunt of mine, her sister when they sold the house, poem that I translated and posted in this blog on May, 2010.
On many of my dreams the tree, and the town of my Grandparents had been a recurrent dream of mine, one theme that appeared frequently was the desire to take young spiritual friends of mine to that particular place, but in my dreams always was frustrated in this endeavor, they will excuse themselves for one reason, or another, or I would be by alone myself in this Archetype Geographical paradise, to the point I was a little bit sad to the fact it seemed I will never be able to show them what it is Sacred ground for me. Finally one day I had a dream, that at the old house were many Nacapule trees, all over the yard, and in each one a friend of mine resided, I interpreted the dream to mean, that this particular tree it is my personal Archetype axis mundi symbol but that each individual has his own according to their own life circumstances, regardless of how estrange, particular, or mundane this relations may be, a few days later a friend of mine told me something he considered strange about another common friend of us, he told me confidently:
“I spent a whole day with X and all we did was going around this lackluster neighborhood (the place is known as very unhip, and drab place to live among people who is familiar with this place, and of course do not live there.) and he showed me his old house, his old school, his grocery shop, etc. It was weird, the place is so uncool, what possible he could see in it?”
I understood that we all have a heavenly place in our memories, and has nothing to do with it’s beauty, or his lack of it, this place come to us from time, to time, but in our dreams this place is special, and much more beautiful, that it is in our wake up reality, after all this place it is unique since it belongs to our hearts…