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Thanks for the Memories

By Glenys Lowery
October 2004

The keynote is

<Warrior I am and from the battle I emerge triumphant>

We meditate at the time of the full moon to co-operate with God’s Plan for humanity.

At the time of each full moon festival, spiritual energy qualified by the constellation influencing the period flows into the range of human awareness. By meditating with men and women of goodwill everywhere we can gain an awareness and understanding of the Plan of God and discover how we can work towards its fulfilment in our own little spheres of action and in so doing, join with God as a co-creator.

It is interesting that Scorpio falls near the end of the Celtic year which is celebrated as Halloween on 31 October. It is a time when the spirits of the dead are believed to come alive and the laws of space and time are suspended, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

So it seems appropriate that we are told that Scorpio is the sign of death and burial in the earth, of descent into the depths in order to be lifted again on to the heights (the mountain top in Capricorn). We are also told that the keynotes of this sign are test, trial and triumph and “two most occult factors emerge from the past and begin to engross the attention of the disciple. One is memory and the other is, as a consequence of the memory, the Dweller on the Threshold”. [1]

The ghosts of the past which return at Halloween are analogous to the memories that return time and time and time again to haunt us until we deal with them. Out of them spring most of our sense impressions, feelings, thoughts, desires, wishes, and moods, including all the illusions and fictions with which we have been fed, not only in our present lifetimes but all our past lifetimes as well. Our preoccupation with the past determines our future and we become trapped in time, unable to let go of our pain and suffering to experience the joy and revelation of the present.

The Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, tells us that the average aspirant cannot distinguish accurately between mind, emotion, feeling and the thoughtforms which memory guards, and the work of the disciple is to learn how to do this. He says “you must work as a mind and not as an aspirant or from the angle of memory”. This forms the battleground from which the Scorpio warrior must emerge triumphantly. [2]

Memory is a present act of consciousness that reconstructs the past when stimulated. While there is no universally agreed model of how memory works there is strong evidence that rather than storing tape recordings, video clips or pictures of experiences (i.e entire episodes), we actually store fragments of experience encoded in engrams - a postulated biochemical change in neural tissue that represents a memory. Studies have shown that we often construct memories after the event and we are susceptible to suggestions from others that assist us fill in the gaps. They also show that there is no significant co-relation between a subjective feeling of certainty that something has taken place and the accuracy of the event.

Scientists have also postulated that our interests and needs affect perception and so determine what we remember, and there is a difference between field memories, where one sees oneself in the scene, and observer memories which are seen through one’s eyes.Another interesting fact about memory is that studies have shown that there is no significant correlation between the subjective feeling of certainty a person has about a memory and the memory being accurate.

Furthermore, it is possible to create false memories in people's minds by suggestion. A recent study at Northwestern University in the USA [3] found that many of the visual images that the subjects were asked to imagine were later misremembered as actually having been seen. "We think parts of the brain used to actually perceive an object and to imagine an object overlap," said Kenneth A. Paller, professor of psychology and co-investigator of the study. "Thus, a vividly imagined event can leave a memory trace in the brain that's very similar to that of an experienced event”. (This explains some of the difficulties people have with Recovered Memory Syndrome.)

So we would not be overstating it if we said that memory is so malleable that we should be very cautious in claiming certainty about any given memory without objective evidence. It changes as our recollection interprets and re-explains what has happened as we grow in consciousness and understanding. One can understand why L.P. Hartley, the British novelist felt compelled to say, “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there”.

In the book Light of the Soul [4], the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, tells us that “memory is the holding on to that which has been known”. He further explains, “This memory concerns several groups of realizations, either active or latent; it deals with certain congeries of known factors, and these might be enumerated as follows:

  1. The thought images of that which is tangible, objective and which has been known by the thinker upon the physical plane.
  2. Kama-manasic (or desire-lower mind) images of past desires and their gratification.
  3. That memory activity which is the result of mental training, the accumulation of acquired facts, the consequence of reading or of teaching, and which is not purely based upon desire, but which has its basis in intellectual interest.
  4. All the various contacts which the memory holds and recognises as emanating from the five lower sense perceptions.
  5. Those mental images, latent in the memory making faculty, which are the total of the knowledge contacted and the realisations evoked by the right use of the mind as a sixth sense.

“All these forms of the memory faculty have to be dropped and no longer held; they must be recognised as modifications of the mind, of the thinking principle, and therefore as part of that versatile psychic nature which has to be dominated before the yogi can hope to attain liberation from limitation and from all lower activity. This is the goal.”

Murdo Macdonald-Bayne discusses how our memory disadvantages us in his book The Yoga of the Christ [5], “You will see now that the self has no reality; it is merely a bundle of memories and experiences which are being continually projected, so the self is caught up in its own thought experiences and this makes up the mind. You can see now that all this is of the mind; and when this is not discerned and understood, there is fear; and because you are afraid you hope. So hope and fear are opposites in the mind, and there can be no revealing of the Real that is ever present. While this conditioning remains the Living Presence is not realised…………..if you had no memory, your possessions, your beliefs, your religion, your nationality would not be important. Therefore memory strengthens the self which is the cause of conflict, that is why you must understand memory and when you understand memory its significance fades away.

“But if you see that memory creates yesterday, today and tomorrow, that memory shapes today and tomorrow; you will see it is the past that is projected into the present and the future, because the living Present is not realised.”

It is interesting that Macdonald-Bayne reminds us that memories are a product of time, the Tibetan tells us that time (and by implication, memory) is a product of the personality and at Halloween time is supposedly suspended for awhile. What a wonderful opportunity to use the energies of Scorpio to deal with our memories or anything which imprisons and holds us back.

In the quote I gave at the beginning from Esoteric Psychology, the Tibetan said that the disciple has to deal with memory and the “consequence of the memory, the Dweller on the Threshold.” There are many definitions of the Dweller but basically it is the sum-total of the forces of the lower nature as expressed in the personality. It is all that comprises us apart from the higher spiritual self; the part of us which identifies with the form nature. It takes the form of a massive thoughtform which the disciple has to confront and transmute.

The Dweller represents the past, all that holds us back, so it is no wonder that it is linked to the memory. The author John Irvine could have easily been speaking of the Dweller when he said this of memory, “It keeps things from you – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have memory but it has you!”

The Dweller grows in strength until we have no choice but to deal with it if we want to progress, and it is its overcoming and the thoughtforms it guards that constitutes the battleground for the warrior disciple.

But how do we deal with the deceit and duplicity of the memory? We can only do it through the direct apprehension of the Truth (which is of the present moment and not the past like memory). This apprehension which is instant comes from the intuition which is a function of the higher, abstract mind (manas in the Sanskrit) ie it bypasses the lower, concrete mind which holds our memories. Philosophical insights, revelations, and “aha” moments generally fall into this category.

Then there is an even higher form of intuition involving the buddhi nature of the soul. This is quite rare and can only be assessed by disciples who have managed to achieve a high degree of contact with their souls and established a balance between their head and heart centres.

The buddhi plane is the higher correspondence of the astral or emotional plane which is the battleground for disciples and the place where memory and the Dweller haunts them. It is only by raising oneself to that plane that the battle can be won.

But just in case we are beginning to think that it is all bad news concerning memory, there is an element of memory that plays a useful function on the path of discipleship. This is the part that relates to right mindfulness which, in turn, relates to right forgetfulness, or the elimination out of our consciousness all of those forms which have hitherto veiled the Real. Djwhal Khul tells us that “this leads to a condition of true apprehension or the ability to register correctly that which the soul has perceived, and the power to transfer that correct perception to the brain of the physical man. This is the memory referred to here. It does not refer so specifically to recollection of the things of the past, but covers the point of realisation and the transference of that realisation to the brain where it must be registered and eventually recollected at will.” [6]

This reminds us of Rule Two for Disciples and Initiates:

The Word has now gone forth from the great point of tension: Accepted as a group. Withdraw not now your application. You could not, if you would; but add to it three great demands and forward move. Let there be no recollection and yet let memory rule. Work from the point of all that is within the content of the group's united life. [7]

Djwhal Khul explains this apparently contradictory rule, “The initiate wastes no time in looking backward towards the lessons learned; he works from the angle of developed habit, instinctively doing the right and needed thing. Instinctual response to environing forms builds, as we well know, patterns of behaviour, of conduct and of reaction. This establishes what might be called unconscious memory, and this memory rules without any effort at recollection.

“The habit of goodness, or right reaction and of instinctual understanding is distinctive of the trained initiate. He has no need to remember rules, theories, planes or activities. These are as much an established part of his nature as the instinct of self-preservation is an instinctive part of the equipment of a normal human being. Think this out and endeavour to build up the right spiritual habits. In this way the Master wastes no time on soul or personal plans. He has the habit—based on divine instinctual memory—of right activity, right understanding and right purpose. He needs not to recollect.” [8]

This kind of memory or inner recollection is termed occult memory and concerns the memory disciples invoke into their consciousness of their relationship to the Plan of God for Humanity and their specific purpose as souls. It also involves a memory of the wider group life in which the soul participates and a growing awareness of their place and role within that group life. This memory, once invoked into the brain consciousness, releases the power that they require to assume responsibility for their soul inspired service activities; the service that is the reason for their incarnation.

Lucille Cedercrans sums it up in her book, Nature of the Soul, [9] “a disciple’s creative will, that is the Divine Will of his Soul, is released to him as he develops that invocative strength which invokes into his consciousness the relationship of the group service potential to a specific time and place.……………. At long last he knows, and he can begin to see from that perspective which envisions a service plan from its end to its beginning, over a whole cycle of incarnations. He is planning a contribution which will require not just one short lifetime to complete, but many. He is initiating a contribution to the One Life which will evolve with his own consciousness, with that of his group, and with humanity.”

Scorpio governs the Path of Discipleship and the tests and trials it brings assist disciples to reorient themselves to the life of the soul so that they can become Initiates in Capricorn and become sensitive to the Plan in Sagittarius. Many of the points of crisis faced by the disciple during these tests and trials involve the right use of memory, so that which is no longer useful from our past is set aside to make room for the remembering of our place and purpose in God’s Plan for Humanity; a place and purpose which fills our hearts and minds as we align ourselves with that Plan. As we do so, we can declare with Carl Sandburg:

When nothing is ahead of you,
then you have come to an end.
When nothing is behind you,
then ahead of you is a beginning.

[1] Alice Bailey,1951, Esoteric Astrology, Lucis Trust
[2] Alice Bailey, 1955, Discipleship in the New Age Vol II, Lucis Trust
[4] Alice Bailey, 1927, The Light of the Soul, Lucis Trust
[5] M. MacDonald-Bayne, M.C., PH.D., D.D., 1993 reprint, The Yoga of the Christ, L.N. Fowler & Co. Ltd
[6] Alice Bailey, 1927, The Light of the Soul, Lucis Trust
[7] Alice Bailey, 1960, Rays And the Initiations, Lucis Trust
[8] Ibid
[9] Lucille Cedercrans,1993, The Nature of the Soul Wisdom Impressions, Whittier, CA

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