Topics

Memory


Luan D. Pham
 

Dear everyone,


I have a question:

What is exactly memory in Abhidhamma?

Thank you.


Best regards,


KKT


Sarah <sarahdhhk@...>
 

Dear KKT,

Firstly, welcome to dsg...I think this is your first post here;-)

--- phamdluan@... wrote: >
Dear everyone,

I have a question:
What is exactly memory in Abhidhamma?

Thank you.
Usually memory is a translation of sa~n~na cetasika (mental factor of
perception/memory). As I was discussing with Frank, the way we use these
terms normally or in psychology or medicine is rather different from how
they are used in the Suttas and Abhidhamma.

In these texts, perception/memory arises at every single moment with the
citta (consciousness), lasts a very brief instant and falls away. Its task
is to mark the object like a 'woodcutter marking logs'. So, actually, even
when it seems that there is no memory or we're 'unconscious' of what we're
doing, there is still at these moments sanna (perception) performing its
marking task.

Good places to read more are:
1) Cetasikas, Ch 3
http://www.abhidhamma.org/

2) Sanna (perception, memory)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/files/Useful_Posts
..........

If you would care to share any more info re where you live, particular
interest in dhamma or whatever, we'd be glad to hear.

Look f/w to more questions and comments. You may also be interested to
follow the ADL study program just starting as a thread (see Larry's recent
post on Ch 1). Sanna will be coming up in it very soon;-)

Sarah
======


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Luan D. Pham
 

Dear Sarah,


<<
From: sarahdhhk@... (Sarah)


Dear KKT,

Firstly, welcome to dsg...I think this is your first post here;-)



KKT: Thanks for the welcome :-)
---------------

--- phamdluan@... wrote:
>
> Dear everyone,
>
> > I have a question:
>
> What is exactly memory in Abhidhamma?
>
> Thank you.


Usually memory is a translation of sa~n~na cetasika (mental factor of
perception/memory). As I was discussing with Frank, the way we use these
terms normally or in psychology or medicine is rather different from how
they are used in the Suttas and Abhidhamma.

In these texts, perception/memory arises at every single moment with the
citta (consciousness), lasts a very brief instant and falls away. Its task
is to mark the object like a 'woodcutter marking logs'. So, actually, even
when it seems that there is no memory or we're 'unconscious' of what we're
doing, there is still at these moments sanna (perception) performing its
marking task.

>>



KKT: The reason of my question is that:

If memory is a cetasika
and lasts a very brief instant
and then falls away then
how does << recollection >>
or << recognition >> work?


Suppose I meet Mr. X,
an image of X is a cetasika
making a mark in my 'mind'
but lasts only a fleeting moment.

The next time I meet Mr. X,
there is a << recollection >>
or a << recognition >> that
I've already known Mr. X,
that means the << old image >>
of X must be somewhere
in order to have a << comparison >>
between the new image and the old one.


Hope that it makes sense :-))


Best regards,


KKT


Lucy <selene@...>
 

Hi KKT:

I was so intrigued by your question last night that I sent it to a
friend/mentor who's been studying yogacara for 30 years.
I hope nobody minds me posting my friend's reply here, I think it addresses
KKT's follow up question and may give a slightly different view of the
"Alaya consciousness" which is not too at odds with Abhidhamma.

-----------------------------------------------------

KKT:
If memory is a cetasika
and lasts a very brief instant
and then falls away then
how does << recollection >>
or << recognition >> work?

Suppose I meet Mr. X,
an image of X is a cetasika
making a mark in my 'mind'
but lasts only a fleeting moment.

The next time I meet Mr. X,
there is a << recollection >>
or a << recognition >> that
I've already known Mr. X,
that means the << old image >>
of X must be somewhere
in order to have a << comparison >>
between the new image and the old one.
----------------------------------------------------
My friend's answer:

The response depends upon how you accept that past and present moments
present themselves to consciousness. Ths is really the same as asking how
or where do karmic 'seeds' reside.
A cetasika (awareness of a deliberation of mano) does not occur in a
vacuum but draws from various sources occurring within the present moment
of consciousness. Therefore there must be within present c'ness the seeds
for past events to be recreated.

Seeds being a metaphor for the agglomeration of latent forces composed of
events clung to in the present which have occurred in the past.

'Memories' are simply instances of such seeds being reformed (re-collected)
into a present moment of c'ness and acknowledged (re-cognised)

Because each process is 'new' there is the possibility of error in one's
memory. .

----------------------------------------------

KKT (2):

If memory and kamma are
<< never lost >> then logically
they must be << stored up >>
somewhere ?

I know that this << somewhere >>
is out of question in Abhidhamma,
not like in Yogacara of Mahayana
where a Storehouse Consciousness
(Alayavijnana) was postulated.
-------------------------------------------

In my friend's (and other people's) interpretation, based on the original
works of Asanga and Vasubandhu, the "Storehouse Consciousness" is not a
static, unchanging "store" of past events (that would be more the
Sarvastivadin view). It is a dynamic, always changing, trail of
"latencies" - Note my friend talks of "seeds" being "re-formed", they arise
anew in a present moment based on present conditions and latent forces
created by past kamma / events. They're not picked up by consciousness from
anywhere else. Thus, the "memory" is never identical to the past event.
Best wishes
Lucy


Sarah <sarahdhhk@...>
 

Dear KKT,

--- phamdluan@... wrote: >
KKT: The reason of my question is that:

If memory is a cetasika
and lasts a very brief instant
and then falls away then
how does << recollection >>
or << recognition >> work?
The simple answer is that each instant of �marking� is accumulated and
never lost. Each citta conditions the next citta and all its make-up is
collected, gathered and passed on by the work of the 24 conditions, Rob K
listed recently.

> Suppose I meet Mr. X,
an image of X is a cetasika
making a mark in my 'mind'
but lasts only a fleeting moment.

The next time I meet Mr. X,
there is a << recollection >>
or a << recognition >> that
I've already known Mr. X,
that means the << old image >>
of X must be somewhere
in order to have a << comparison >>
between the new image and the old one.
Exactly so. Howard was recently discussing the seeing of a rose --you
could check �rose� in escribe for the relevant posts-- and how the various
markings with moments of seeing and thinking, all accompanied by sanna,
lead to the idea of seeing a rose. We can say that none of the markings
are ever lost, but also that they never last or are ever the same as any
other marking.

Hope that it makes sense :-))
Likewise....good comments of yours.

Sarah
======


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Luan D. Pham
 

Dear Sarah,


Thanks for answering to my question.
-------------

<<
From: sarahdhhk@... (Sarah)


> KKT: The reason of my question is that:
>
> If memory is a cetasika
> and lasts a very brief instant
> and then falls away then
> how does << recollection >>
> or << recognition >> work?


The simple answer is that each instant of ‘marking’ is accumulated and
never lost. Each citta conditions the next citta and all its make-up is
collected, gathered and passed on by the work of the 24 conditions,
Rob K listed recently.

>>




KKT: I note the main point of your answer is:


<< the markings are never lost >>
although they last only for a fleeting moment.


This makes me think of kamma
which has a broader sense than
memory. The question is:


If memory and kamma are
<< never lost >> then logically
they must be << stored up >>
somewhere ?


I know that this << somewhere >>
is out of question in Abhidhamma,
not like in Yogacara of Mahayana
where a Storehouse Consciousness
(Alayavijnana) was postulated.


So how does Abhidhamma deal
with the problem of << never lost >>
of memory and kamma without
a << storehouse >> ?


Best regards,


KKT