Excerpt About Memory
Representations alienate the self from its essential nature in another fundamental way, also discussed in previous chapters. The capacity for representation is a natural property of the mind. The mind discriminates things according to concepts in the memory. Our normal self-recognition through self-representations thus depends on conceptual memory. The mind tells us who we are. This happens to everyone, since the mind believes it is its job to tell us who we are. But our sense of who we are as defined by the mind can only involve knowing ourselves through memories, and thus, through concepts. No matter what we experience, even nonconceptual reality, the mind will try to define our identity according to that experience. The moment this definition occurs we are identified with a concept, and this concept can only be a memory. This is the usual knowledge of self. We are not saying that this pattern of development is not necessary, or shouldn’t happen. We are simply describing what happens. This is how the mind functions; we end up taking ourselves to be something according to the mind, and thus become identified with concepts of ourselves. This is the simple meaning of the idea that our identity is an expression of self-representations. When we are self-realized, we are aware of ourselves as completely pure, completely virginal, and completely new. We may say, “It feels like such and such.” We may conceptualize our experience. But if we take that description to define us, if we hold on to a memory to define who we are, then we will have lost our self-realization.