Everything we are, meaning our reactions to situations, thoughts and emotions, is all based on our memories. Many of our pains and pleasures are felt when we think about, or associate the current moment, to an event that happened in the past, thus a memory.
As soon as you realize something has or is happening, it is already a memory. Nothing is happening that is not already a memory by the time you think about it due to the time delay in the natural and mechanical process of intellectual comprehension. It happens very quickly, but by the time you realize what is happening, it already has passed and now you are remembering the event and reacting once it has been processed and identified in your mind. This is why we are often just that split second behind perfect reactions and decisions.
We cannot intellectually perceive of the actual event in the instant it is happening, that virtually requires foreknowledge of what will happen so you can react as it happens. Perceiving the event is being fully present without thinking. Thinking is reviewing what just happened in your memory. Thus we are never truly ‘in the moment,’ we are always living in the past or imagining the future based on past experiences. This is why we miss out on life, we are never actually here! This flaw is expressed in the references to being in a conscious sleep state.
Let us look at the negative end of the scale of life. The reason to commit suicide or desire death is essentially to erase all memories because the memories are too painful. We may think that they are not memories and that they are the current situation which we are concerned with, but in fact, if you are right here right now, you would not know about the problems that are troubling you.
When we go to sleep, the memories of all the things that trouble us do not occupy our conscious mind, and so death is basically a nice deep sleep were you no longer have to deal with your memories. This is why one of the signs of depression is an apparent need of ten to twelve hours of sleep, and being perpetually tired. I am not saying we are all suicidal, but it is reasonable for anyone at some point in their life to contemplate ending it. The point of accepting this as normal is to bring us closer to understanding the cause of our pain so that we may end our suffering and enjoy a positive life.
Everything is a memory, every thought and emotion is based on a memory of some event. If we could erase our memories we would be free of all guilt and pain. This is the point of meditation. When you are actively focusing on some single point on your body or an item in front of you or your breath, any single point of focus, you are no longer in your memories because you are fully in the object of your meditation. That is why guided meditations which take the practitioner off on a dream make people feel so good because they take you away from your memories. These memories can occupy your thoughts so much that it can literally drive some people crazy and this is why highly stressed people find meditation to be so beneficial.
Some people try to repent from their sins. Repenting sometimes works, but it does not really work in the way you may think. When you repent for your sins, you undertake certain actions to compensate for those things which you feel you did are wrong. What you actually do is create new memories of good things that you can be proud of to replace the memories of those things which you regret. And so repenting for your sins through certain actions is really the act of creating new and fresh memories to replace the older and negative ones.
You can repent all you want, but if you keep the memory of what you regret alive, all your repentance will serve no purpose. On the other hand, if you understand that everything is just a memory and we need to work on that aspect of our mind by no longer living in memories and rather live in the present moment, only then can you achieve the goal of repentance and be free, even without any repenting sacrifice.
When you go to sleep, while you sleep you may not think of the memories, but when you wake up, they are right back in your mind. The meditations or other practices which temporarily take your mind off the memories and put it on some other journey in your imagination, are only a temporary distraction but not a cure. This is the same problem with acts of repentance done without understanding the real problem and necessary cure.
We must learn how the mind works, what a memory really is, and that we do not live here but rather live there. We can start to live here, only when we know what it is that keeps us living there and how to stop doing that. Of course knowledge alone is not enough, effort is required in the application of the knowledge and training of the mind to change.
There are many schools of non-duality and unity. That is just a concept, and lives only in your imagination. The idea is to be fully aware at all times that you are living in your imagination of separation, and you may eventually realize that it is all in your own mind and thus within your power to change. The problem is that if you take the concepts alone, and build them in your imagination without true and complete understanding, it is replacing one drug with another while the illness of conscious sleep persists.
First we must learn how to learn before we can learn anything. The way we think we learn now is that we take a concept intellectually and follow that while ignoring the reality of the mind that the concept is placed in. If the mind is distorted, then the concept will be distorted and bring bad results rather than good ones. Before anyone can learn anything, we must first put the mechanism of learning in good order. This is why so many people never learn anything. They think they can learn but their mind is distorted so what they learn is distorted, beginning with their opinion of the condition of their mind.
Until we accept the malfunctioning condition of our mind, and work to correct that, we can never really learn anything of great value and benefit to our lives in the pursuit of happiness, balance and success, spiritually or worldly. If someone talks to you in a language that you do not understand, you will not fully comprehend what they are saying, first you must learn their language.
It is the same with spiritual concepts from another culture. The words may be understood, but we only learn them on the surface which means we do not grasp the subtle meaning. We think we understand but we do not. First we must understand how the eastern mind works in order to understand eastern concepts as they are intended to be understood.
Before a westerner can begin study of eastern concepts such as non-duality, they must first learn to think like an easterner, but that is the crucial step which is ignored and thus keeps people stuck in their current position, because they are trying to learn something without knowing how to learn it, which is to say that they still live with opinions which are memories of what certain words mean, which filter all the information and thus taint it rather than being able to take the information in its pure state and gain it’s subtle meaning.
Language after all, is merely a function memory. Words are just sounds that we identify in our memory as to what that sounds means. If an animal can learn to understand commands without mastering the language, why would humans be any different in the method by which they learn to communicate.
Our entire vocabulary is housed in our memory, and thus every conversation is a constant alternation between the sounds of each word and our memory. Think about it, how could you function if you did not have your memory?
Be patient enough to learn how to learn first, then, when you are ready, you may actually learn something.
You may find this article I wrote about learning how to learn interesting; Learning How To Learn