Factual and psychological memory


Osho states, “Your being, your spirit, has no past and no future; it is always in the present.”

Osho eating

Are there two kinds of memories, a factual memory, and a spiritual memory? If yes, is there a connection between them?

Premrajo, there are two kinds of memories, but they are not a factual memory and a spiritual memory. They are a factual memory and a psychological memory.

There is nothing like a spiritual memory. Your being, your spirit, has no past and no future; it is always in the present. It has no memories and it has no imaginations, no dreams. It is pure existence, uncontaminated by the dead past that is no more, and by the future that is not yet. But there are two kinds of memory: the factual memory and the psychological memory. And the difference between the two has to be understood because it is of great significance for you all.

A factual memory keeps you only a watcher; you are not involved in it. For example, you remember that yesterday somebody insulted you… If you simply remember that somebody insulted you, it is factual. But if you still are angry, you still want to take revenge, you are still waiting for some opportunity to insult the person, then it is psychological memory.

I have only factual memories. I am not involved in any way emotionally with those memories. They have happened, but I don’t have any psychological reaction attached to them.

As you become more and more a meditator, your psychological memory will start disappearing, but the factual memory will become very clear, because now your energy is not divided. The psychological memory was creating a kind of darkness around the fact. You were not detached; you were not a faraway observer. You were too much attached to it – for or against does not matter.

As you become more and more a witness of your mind, a disidentification arises with the mind and all its contents. Your memory will become very clear, crystal clear, because now there is no fog of your emotions and reactions around it. You can meet a man who has insulted you as if he has never insulted you, although you know factually that he has insulted you. But because you are not affected by his insult you know that it is his problem. You have not taken the insult, you have not accepted it. Now he is absolutely free to say something, whether he says it or not. He can keep it in his mind; it is his problem. You have not become part of his problem and anxiety.

It happened one night that a man could not sleep…

He was tossing and turning. His wife said, “What is the matter?”

He said, “The problem is that tomorrow morning I***** have to give back a million-dollar loan and I don’t have a single dollar to give back. Tomorrow morning I will go bankrupt. How can I sleep?”

She said, “Who has given you the loan?”

The husband said, “It is nobody other than my friend who lives just in front of our house.”

The woman opened the window and called, “Fred, Fred.”

In the middle of the night, Fred jumped out of his bed and answered, “What is the matter?” He opened his door.

She said, “My husband has not a single dollar to give you tomorrow morning. Now you worry and let him sleep.”

It is so simple once you are not psychologically attached to it. Fred was perfectly well, asleep, perhaps happily asleep thinking that tomorrow morning he is going to get one million dollars. Now, there is no possibility of any sleep. What has happened? Nothing has happened; just a statement from the woman, but now it is a psychological problem. She has shifted the problem. She told her husband, “Now you rest. You were afraid to be exposed. I have exposed you. You were worried what people will think. Now let him worry how he is going to find one million dollars.”

A factual memory is perfectly mechanical. It is just like the memory of a computer. But a psychological memory is your identification.

I have heard about a very strange case in a psychology conference…

An old, well-respected, world-honored psychologist is reading his paper, but he is finding it very difficult. He is perspiring, although it is an air-conditioned hall. He has read thousands of papers, so he is not a new man afraid of the audience, and most of them are his students. He is so old, eighty years old.

But something is strange that he cannot manage to concentrate on his paper. Just in the front row is a beautiful lady; she is also a psychologist, his own student. And by her side is one of his colleagues, old colleagues, of the same age. They both have been students of Sigmund Freud and they have lived almost twenty years together under the same master.

That other old fellow is playing with the breasts of the young woman psychologist. Now it has nothing to do with the psychologist. He is neither the old man who is playing with the breasts nor is he the woman who has the breasts. But the disturbing factor is that the woman is absolutely unaffected; she is listening to the paper.

This is creating trouble in his mind. What is the matter? The woman could have stopped him, but rather than stopping him, she is absolutely quiet about it as if nothing is happening. And the old man is enjoying tremendously. This is affecting the speaker who is standing in front. He cannot concentrate, because between his paragraphs, he has to look and see whether that thing has stopped or not.

The whole conference is worried about what has happened to him? This is not the way he has ever read, and it is a very important discovery that he has made about man’s mind, but his presentation seems to be very strange. Finally, he finished without waiting for the people to ask questions, which was part of everybody’s paper. When you bring some new theory you have to satisfy other people working on the same ground that what you have found is valid. He did not wait for that; he simply stepped down, almost stumbled, and asked the young lady, “Why are you not stopping this dirty old man?”

She said, “It is not my problem; it is his problem. I am not losing anything. And if he is enjoying it in his old age, let him. Perhaps he has missed his mother’s breast – before he wanted to leave it he was taken away. Perhaps his mother died early and he had to live on bottled milk. There can be a thousand and one reasons. Perhaps his wife’s breasts are not worth playing with. But it is not my problem; I am perfectly at ease, without any disturbance. If he is feeling some satisfaction in his old age, let him.”

It looks strange, but it makes the difference between the factual and the psychological. The factual is there, but the woman is certainly beyond getting identified. She has certainly understood a few fundamentals of life. Both the two old men who are colleagues are disturbed. The one who is playing with her breast must be afraid if anybody is looking at him what they will think. He cannot be without worry of being caught red-handed. And if the woman starts shouting and stands up… He is a well-respected man, and this will be very humiliating.

The other fellow is not at all concerned with the thing – could have remained just a watcher; it is not his business – but he becomes psychologically involved although there is no need because factually he is out of it. You can become involved in things in which you don’t have to get involved. Involvement has become people’s habit. And if you get involved in other people’s problems, then what about your own problems; how can you remain detached?

One old psychoanalyst and his young assistant were coming down the elevator after finishing their work for that day; it was already late. They should have finished three hours before, but the patients went on and on telling their dreams. It had been a very tiring day, and the young man was getting tired every day, so tired that he was thinking of dropping out of this business. Although the profession is the most highly paid profession in the world he was thinking of doing anything else – this was torture.

But he was wondering that the old man, his teacher and now his colleague, does not seem to have any worry. So on the elevator – finding him in seclusion, nobody else was there to hear – he said, “I wanted to ask, Professor, one thing. You never get tired, you are old; I get so tired with all kinds of rubbish and nonsense. The whole day listening, listening, listening; I cannot sleep in the night. Those patients torture me – even in the night they become my nightmares. The whole day I am tired and in the morning I get up utterly tired. I am thinking that this profession is going to finish me. What about you, I wondered. You look as fresh by the evening when we are returning as when you come into the office in the morning to start the work.”

The old man said, “You don’t know the secret. Who listens?” And he showed him from his pocket two earplugs. He said, “This is the protection. Once the patient is on the couch – and Sigmund Freud has very cleverly arranged that the patient cannot see the psychoanalyst; he sits behind the couch – the moment the patient has started, I immediately take my plugs, close my eyes and just sit silently. It is such a meditation. It is so beautiful. He is paying for my meditation. Otherwise, I would have been dead long ago. I wanted to tell you myself, but I was waiting for you to ask. Never tell it to anybody else; particularly the patients should not become aware that they are not being listened to – and the problems are almost the same.”

The whole psychoanalytic process is that the person who goes on talking about his worries, concerns, anxieties, just by talking feels relieved. It is not a question that you have to listen to it; if he could talk to a wall that would do the same as psychoanalysis. But it is difficult to talk to a wall; you look a little weird talking to yourself. The more highly you have to pay, the quicker you get better, because then you start bringing up all the rubbish quickly. If you pay cheap fees then you go slowly – first layer, second layer, third layer, and there are so many layers of crap. And you don’t want to expose yourself so quickly. But when you are paying too much, you don’t want to waste so much money and you immediately come to the basic layer.

The question is not that the psychoanalyst should listen to you; the question is that you should believe that he is listening to you. That is what helps you. If the psychoanalyst listens to you, he may become psychologically involved. Then it is tiring; then he may carry it over into the night: he wants to sleep, but what he has been listening to and thinking about is not complete yet, so he has to go on thinking. Unless his whole mind is satisfied, everything is complete, sleep will not come.

But there is no spiritual memory. When you pass from one life to another life, two things go with you: your spiritual being and your psychological memory. Your factual memory is left behind. Your factual memory is part of the brain, and your psychological memory is your mind, and you have to learn the distinction between brain and mind.

Mind is created by the identification of your being with the brain. It is an epiphenomenon; it has no existential reality. The brain has an existential reality. It is a bio-computer, a perfectly good mechanism. But when your being becomes attached to the brain, a third entity comes into being which is the epiphenomenon. It comes only out of identification. That is why all the great masters have been insisting on disidentifying yourself with whatever goes on in your brain.

This is the way to dissolve the mind; otherwise, this fog of the mind will follow your spirit wherever you go. That is why it is possible to remember about your past lives. But the remembrance is only psychological, it is not factual. So you cannot depend on its really being true. It may be; it may not be.

Because you make so much fuss about small things psychologically, your remembrance will carry that exaggeration. The fact is no longer there, and there is no way to find out how longer you have exaggerated it. So people who remember their past lives either as an accident, a freak of nature, or through certain techniques which take you back into your past life, should not depend on what they remember. It is psychological impressions which may be correct or which may contain some fact, factuality, but they cannot be absolutely right.

I have studied many cases because they happen more in India than anywhere else. In other countries where Christianity is predominant, Islam is predominant or Judaism is predominant, the very conditioning prevents people from remembering their past lives. But in India, all the three religions agree only on one point, reincarnation. So there is no conditioning against remembering your past life.

Whatever nature creates as a barrier is so that you don’t go crazy; one life is enough. If you remember two or three lives and you have been passing through hundreds of lives, you are going to be crazy. One life is enough to make you insane – one wife is enough! When you remember hundreds of lives, you will remember wives too, and all the torture that you have gone through. And all the failures and all the humiliations, all the diseases, sicknesses, and all those deaths and the pain… it will be unbearable.

Hence, the natural process is that after each life it is as if a door closes. And it does not allow the past life’s memory to infiltrate into your life. But sometimes, there may be some accident, there may be some freak of nature or if somebody is himself trying to break the barrier, then there are techniques to break it.

The man who invented the techniques for breaking the barrier is Mahavira. He calls his technique jati-samaran, memories of your past lives. And his technique is absolutely perfect. But I don’t suggest that anybody goes into it, because you have to settle this life and that is enough. All that is only psychological impressions.

Studying people, I was wondering how they remember things which cannot be true. Nobody remembers that he was ordinary and he is ordinary right now. Everybody remembers that he was Alexander the Great, he was Nadirshar, he was the Emperor Ashoka. I have never come across any single person who remembers that he was nobody, just a shoemaker or a cloth merchant; nobody remembers. And certainly, what they are remembering is their psychological desire of that life; it has nothing to do with any factuality. They wanted to be Alexander the Great and they could not.

But that desire, that longing, that repressed idea has come with their minds. And now, they remember as if they WERE Alexander the Great. And right now they are just a shoemaker. It is against evolution. If you were a great man – good or bad – you will have moved directly more into that dimension. Either you would have become even worse – if you were a Tamerlane or Genghis Khan or Nadirshar, then you may become something worse – or remembering that you have been wrong in those lives, you may have risen in consciousness; you have become a wise man, a nonviolent man, a man of purity, innocence.

But that doesn’t seem to be the problem. You are just very ordinary. That shows your past has not been extraordinary. But their memory is very certain and they don’t forget it. The easiest way to lead anybody into his past lives without breaking the barrier… because I don’t like to break anybody’s barrier; it is dangerous. It is opening a flood of so many memories you may not be able to contain them in your head; you may burst forth; you may start doing things which nobody has ever expected; you will not be in your own control.

So the methods of Mahavira are perfectly right, but dangerous. And I don’t propose that anybody uses any kind of method that breaks the barrier. Without breaking the barrier the past can be remembered, and that is through hypnosis. You can be made unconscious. In your unconsciousness you can be taken back slowly: first, to the moment of your birth in this life which you don’t remember consciously; then, to the day you got impregnated which you don’t remember; then, slowly backwards to your death in the past life. Naturally, if that comes first, it will be like reading a book from the back.

First, you will be dead, then you will become the old man, then you will become the young man. First your children will be born and then you will get married. The whole story will be going backwards. The beauty in unconsciousness through hypnosis is that you will not remember anything. When you wake up the hypnotist will know and he can tell you that this is what you remember of your past life. But it will not disturb you, because you don’t remember; your conscious mind remains without being flooded.

To check whether the man was really getting into his past life or just imagining, dreaming, I have hypnotized the same person a hundred times. He comes always to the same memory. Certainly, it is not imagination. Certainly, it is not dreaming. It is very difficult to dream the same dream again. And he is unconscious, so he cannot manipulate. He comes back to the same point again.

Now scientists, particularly brain surgeons, have discovered seven hundred centers in your brain which contain all your life. And the strangest phenomenon that they discovered, and could not believe in the beginning, but had to believe because there is no other way, is that those seven hundred centers each control one aspect. For example, one controls your sex. Ordinarily, you think that the genitals is where sex is. It is not the genitals; it is in your brain from where your genitals are just offshoots. Your hands are controlled by the brain, your legs, everything; your tongue, your eyes, everything is controlled from the brain. And if you touch with an electrode – a very thin needle with electricity running through it – if you touch a center, suddenly the man starts doing things.

For example: if you touch his dream center, even if he is awake he starts talking as if he is in the dream. You take away the electrode and he stops talking. The great surprise was that if you put the needle again on the same center, the man does not start talking from the point where he has stopped. He starts the dream again from the very beginning.

It seems there is an automatic reversal process. You have to reverse a tape, but your brain reverses immediately. When you put the needle on the dream center again it starts from A B C, not from the point where it has stopped. If you take the needle away again, it reverses so quickly that no time is lost. Put the needle back and it starts from A B C again. If the man was saying, “I am Alexander the Great…” – if you have touched his past life memory center and he was saying, “I am Alexander the Great,” and if you take the needle away and put it back again, he will again start with, “I am Alexander the Great.”

Your brain contains all the memories, psychological memories of your past lives. But the more you meditate, the more you go on erasing all psychological memories. Begin first from this life, then slowly, slowly your meditation gets deeper and the past life’s memories are also removed, erased. And a man with no psychological memory at all is the man we call enlightened. I am trying to give you different dimensions of enlightenment.

Just a joke after a serious matter in which you had to contain your laughter. It has no concern with the question; it concerns you. So my tapes, my videos, my books should be read with the idea clearly that I am not concerned what I am saying, I am more concerned to whom I am saying, and why I am saying.

My concern is not theoretical.

It is absolutely practical.

So just to erase the seriousness which I know… past lives, new information, psychological memories, spiritual memories, factual memory. These are not the things that are going to help you have a good laugh. This is none of those memories….


“Mommy,” asked little Sadie, “does everyone have their legs up in the air when they go to heaven?”

“No,” the mother replied. “Where did you get such a silly idea?”

“Well, I just came from the bedroom. The maid had her legs up in the air and was screaming, `God, I’m coming. God, I’m coming.’ But daddy was on top of her and he would not let her go.”


Okay, Maneesha?

Yes, Osho.


Osho, The Invitation, Ch 16, Q 2

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