Yoga Sutra 1.11 memory is not letting slip away an object experienced

Sūtra I.11

Memory is not letting slip away an object experienced

Now he explains memory. Memory is not letting slip away an object experienced. Memory is described at the end because it is the effect of all the other mental processes, beginning with right knowledge.

The compound object-experienced means both what has been experienced and a particular object. That alone is the object which has been experienced, but what has been experienced is not necessarily an object. Otherwise a memory of another memory would be no memory, because a memory has no qualities like sound (as objects have). And since memory is intelligible to itself, it is necessary to have also memory of other memories. Not letting slip away means that there is no stealing away or disappearance (of any of it). Though the object itself is not present, memory is, by reason of similarity to it, an appearance as if the object were being perceived.

Is it the object, or the thought of it, that the mind remembers? The thought, coloured by the thing known, shines out in the forms both of the thing and the knowledge of it, and sets up a saṃskāra of the same kind. That manifests in accordance with its manifesting cause. The saṃskāra gives rise to a memory also consisting of the thing known and the knowing experience. A thought has primarily the form of the knowing experience; memory has primarily the form of the thing known.

Thought and memory are equally appearances in the form of their object, so wherein lies the difference? To show the distinction between them he begins, Is it the object, or the thought of it, that the mind remembers? Though there is a distinction by the fact that (in memory) the object must have been experienced, but (in thought it is only that it) is not being experienced now, still there is a confusion because of their similarity, and he clears it up to show that there is a cause-and-effect relation between the two. Here the Vaināśika Buddhists, who do not admit anything external, say that the only cause is thought (buddhi). Well, is it an object or a thought that the mind remembers? (As objects of the verb of remembering, both words are in the genitive case in the text.) Mind remembers: he rules out any agency of Puruṣa, showing that it is only memory and thought that are agents. For the agency of thought, or agency of memory, are not from Puruṣa, because thoughts are simply objects perceived by Puruṣa. It will be shown later how things like jars must, by the very fact of being seen, be other than their perceiver.

Now, if mind remembers the object, then since the latter is also the object of the thought, memory would be no different from a thought. Yet if it is the thought that mind remembers, it would not accord with the sūtra which refers to a perceived object. For then the sūtra should have said ‘not letting slip away an experience of perception’. So he says coloured by the thing known; resting on the thing known, it is coloured by it, like a crystal coloured by red lac placed behind it. shining out in the forms both of the thing and the knowledge of it: appearing as the form of the jar, which is perceived as having a wide base and so on, and in its own luminous aspect as knowledge, and so shining out in both forms.

The thought arises, and then while dying away lays down a saṃskāra in its possessor, the thinker. The saṃskāra corresponds to its cause and so has the two forms. That manifests in accordance with its manifesting cause (sva-vyañjaka-añjana). The manifesting cause is the karma which is the cause of the thought that lays down the saṃskāra, whose result is another action of a similar kind, which appears directly to produce its own result. And so he will say (sūtra IV.8), Therefore their consequent manifestation is of those saṃskāra-group s (vāsanā) that are compatible with it (the fruition of their karma). Or (one could say that) what is set up by the karma is a representation of a similar kind. Manifesting in accordance with its manifesting cause means, that it is made to appear as what manifests it.

The saṃskāra gives rise to a memory also consisting of the thing known and the knowing experience. Otherwise there would be no maturing of the karma which is its manifestor.

Of these, the thought has primarily the form of the knowing process. The knowing process is acceptance – pure receptivity precedes any knowing (of a particular thing). For one is not aware of a particular thing until there is first some (general) knowing process, desired or undesired; it is as when a light has been lowered into a jar (with perforations, see sūtra 1.25) and then the net of radiance comes out (by the holes).

Memory has primarily the form of the thing known, because it refers to something that has been experienced. If memory were primarily of a knowing process it would be like an idea and would not have reference to something experienced. But it does have that reference. So in memory it is the thing known, the object, which comes first, not the knowing process. Still, it comprises both, inasmuch as the memory and the saṃskara have the same (double) form. If one of them (the form of the object or of the knowing process) were excluded, memory would be impossible. And so it is said to be retention of an experienced object. The memory and the thought may be of the same object, and in both of them there is a knowing process, but there is no fallacy of equivocation (in the above account).

The latter (i.e. memory) is of two kinds: where the things remembered are actualized, and where they are not. In dream the things remembered become actual, but at the time of waking such things are not actualized. All memories arise from experience of right knowledge, of illusion, of logical construction, of sleep, or of other memories, and all these are essentially pleasure and pain and delusion. Pleasure and pain and delusion are to be explained as taints: Desire is the consequence of pleasure (II.7), Hate is the consequence of pain (II.8), while Delusion is Ignorance (II.5). All these mental processes are to be inhibited. When they are inhibited there is either cognitive or ultra-cognitive samādhi.

Memory is of two kinds. What two? Where the things remembered are actualized and where they are not. Actualized (bhāvita) means that the thing has a reality because it is continuously brought into being – as a stream of oil is continuously brought into being out of some different substance. Because it is continuously actualized it does not need any further effort of attention etc. (to sustain it).

A case where the thing remembered does not need any further effort of attention is the memories actualized in dream. But in the waking state it is the reverse; there is need of further efforts of attention (to sustain memory). All memories arise from experiences of right knowledge and the other mental processes, and all these are essentially pleasure and pain and delusion which are the nature of saṃsāra. Pleasure and pain and delusion are to be explained as taints by the sūtra-author when he will say: to the clear-sighted, everything is pain alone (II.15). Here, however, he is merely saying where they abide.

Therefore the mental processes are to be inhibited, because they are essentially pleasure and pain and delusion. What then? When they are inhibited, there is either cognitive or ultra-cognitive samādhi.

Now what means are there for their inhibition?

 

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